Sunday, February 15, 2009

Trade Deadline Closing In - Part 1

Between now and the trade deadline - Wednesday, March 4 at 3pm ET we'll take a look at some of the hottest rumors & most likely players to be dealt before the deadline.

Jay Bouwmeester (Defenseman, Florida) - UFA July 1st

Bouwmeester has been rumored to be on the move for quite some time now, mostly because Bouwmeester and the Panthers have had contract negotiations in the past break down. He'll be a UFA this summer so the Panthers will want to either get him signed before the deadline or trade him so that they don't lose him this summer for nothing. Similar to the Thrashers situation last season when they traded Marian Hossa, who they knew they were going to lose over the summer to free agency for noting. I've always thought that Bouwmeester was rated higher than he actually was, but after having recently seen him play, he has definitely made major strides this season. He's amongst the league leaders in avg. ice time per game and he's still a young guy at just 25.

Where's he going? Will the Panthers hold onto him because they are making a major push for a playoff berth? Most would say that if the Panthers can't get him signed by the deadline then they have to trade him. Most teams can't afford to lose their #1 defenseman for nothing and the Panthers definitely can't. Philly have been in the rumors for some time but with their cap situation that seems highly unlikely. He's most likely going to go to a team that knows they have a legit shot at re-signing him on July 1st - he's not just a rental.

Marian Gaborik (LW, Minnesota) - UFA July 1st

Gaborik, most famous in NY for tormenting the Rangers last season when he became the first NHL player in 11 seasons to score 5 goals in one game (Youtube Video). He is one of the most dynamic forwards in the game and combined with his ridiculous speed has the potential to be a real game changer. Rumors are circulating around Minnesota that the Wild are going to trade Gaborik because they don't want to lose him to free agency this summer. However, they may not get as much in return as one might expect because of Gaborik's career long battle with injuries. Gaborik had hip surgery in January and is expected to miss almost three months - will someone take a gamble?

Where's he going? Probably nowhere until July 1st unless the Wild decide to trade him for relatively nothing (such as a draft pick) just so they can get something in return. The problem with Gaborik is that he has such a problematic history with injuries most teams see him as too much of a risk and not someone that they can depend on for a Cup run. Many Rangers fans want this guy on Broadway, I for one do not. He is going to demand big bucks over the summer and the possibility of him missing half the season with a groin injury are more probable than not. The upside is he can score 30 goals in a season (if healthy!) with his eyes closed.

Keith Tkachuk (LW, St.Louis) - UFA July 1st

It seems like Tkachuk's name is in the rumor mill every season around the deadline and this year will be no different. With the Blues unlikely to make the playoffs, Tkachuk is one of the most affordable and experienced rental players that'll be available at the deadline. Keith's the prototypical NHL power forward and can also play center and take faceoffs. At 36 years old 'Walt', is nearing the end of his career and he could be a solid pickup for someone making a run at the Cup. But, I must point out that in Tkachuk's 18-year NHL career that he has been on the winning team of a playoff series just 3 times! {He was invisible 2 years ago when the NYR swept the Thrashers in the first round.} Wouldn't be surprised if he ends up back in St.Louis as a UFA this summer.

Where's he going? You won't be surprised that the Rangers are rumored to be interested in him -- after all that's been the rumor pretty much every single season for the past 7-8 seasons. I think it would be a stupid move for Sather, although Tkachuk is the type of player that the Rangers need, he's about 8 years too old. The Rangers aren't competing for the Cup this year, so to mortgage their future on a fading star wouldn't make sense. Boston might be interested, seeing Tkachuk in a Bruins uniform doesn't seem far fetched. According to the The Boston Herald Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli wouldn't mind adding some size to his roster before the trade deadline. The Red Wings might also be interested, they need some grit for the playoffs. Those are the teams that would benefit most from a guy like Tkachuk, because he'd be an improvement to their roster and they would have many other stars to actually rely on and let Tkachuk be a part of the supporting cast. In my opinion anything more than a lower end prospect or mid-level draft pick would be overcompensation.

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