Tracking The Trade Deadline, Pt. 3: Tom’s Take
(Ed. note: With both guest entries in Tracking The Trade Deadline taken care of, Black & Blue & Gold’s staff will now offer their views on what might happen. First up is Tom, who focuses on what might occur at the foot of Washington Street.)
I’ll start by saying that I have a very love/hate relationship with the trade deadline. I’ve always loved to see players move around, and changes made. Of course, as Justin Bourne from Puck Daddy recently wrote, the deadline can REALLY suck for a player. The downside for me has been post lockout. Starting with Dwayne Klessel and The-Website-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, tons of nonsense rumor blogs and websites have popped up. The VAST majority of these websites get their rumors from trolling fan forums, and just plain making stuff up. Hockey fans, as rabid as we are, like to eat these things up, throwing rational analysis right out the window for most of the month. This drives me bananas. (For those that know me, that means more bananas than I already am.)
In reality, the trade deadline means your general manager has to make tough decisions. Do you think you have a legit shot at the Cup, or at least a playoff run? Do you know you’re not good enough, and think that you should build for the future? Can you sign that upcoming unrestricted free agent, or should you get something for him while you can? Tough choices to be sure. No GM wants to admit that their team has no shot, but sometimes that’s the only choice to make.
Phil and the others have focused their post on specific player names from outside the organization. I’d like to focus on moves that the newly unchained Darcy Regier should at least be considering, even if he can’t pull them off.
Pending Unrestricted Free Agents
Tim Connolly, Mike Grier, Rob Niedermayer, Cody McCormick, Craig Rivet, Steve Montador, Patrick Lalime
McCormick is the only lock to stay. Montador is a maybe, but he might be at his highest value ever, and could be worth using to fleece a team desperate on the back end. The Rivet situation is already pretty clear; he’s gone one way or another in the next week via re-entry, or buyout. Based on other trades that have gone down to date, Connolly might garner as high as a second round pick. A bag of pucks for Connolly, or anyone else in this group, would be a reasonable move in the eyes of many.
Pending Restricted Free Agents
Drew Stafford, Nathan Gerbe, Andrej Sekera, Chris Butler, Mike Weber
Stafford is a tough call. He’s played great this season when not injured, scoring at a torrid pace. He’s gone quiet in the last week, but then again the whole team has. Stafford is arbitration eligible, which complicates things. Darcy would be wise to sign him early, and give him another season or two to see if this year was the real deal or a fluke. On the flip side, if someone comes calling for his services and can provide good return, I could see him being moved.
Mike Weber gets a 2-3 year deal. He’s been a nice player this year, really looks like he’s made the step to be a solid NHL d-man.
The rest? Very meh. Reasonable depth players, but also may be decent enough bait to turn for something else. I wouldn’t move them for picks, but a package for a veteran that isn’t a washed up from a team looking to dump salary would be nice.
The glaring need is down the middle. Aside from Roy, there isn’t an offensive center on this roster that’s worth anything. Even Roy, who was having a great season, might be worth a look at moving. I doubt it happens; his production vs cost shows him to be a bargain. Right now, the hopefully-soon-to-be-departed Tim Connolly and Strokin Jochen are your top two centers. These guys are not going to get your very far. There’s some youth in the pipeline that has promise, but if they plan on making a serious run inside Mr. Pegula’s 3 year window, they need to make a big splash in this area.
Backup goaltending is also a huge hole to fill. Ruff has no confidence in Lalime, as evidenced by the team calling up Enroth to spell Miller. They can address this in the offseason, but snagging a reliable backup, or at least one that will see a game once in a while, might be a decent move. It all depends on their plans for Jhonas. If they think he’s gotten all he’ll get from the AHL, they might stand pat here.
Defensively, more is always better. They have no glaring needs, but any move that can upgrade the back-end would be welcome. Finding a way to pick up another top 4 defenseman would go a long way towards their goal of picking up non-rental players.
Most fans are looking for Regier to do something. I don’t feel that this team as currently constructed has much of a chance to do any damage in the playoffs. Any moves geared towards next season and beyond should be applauded.