One of the most exciting and interesting days of the hockey season is nearly upon us. With just seven
days until the deadline, general managers all over the NHL are positioning themselves to deal a number
of assets before the deadline passes next Wednesday.
The trade deadline hasn’t been the firework filled affair that it was a few seasons back, when teams
would swap assets willingly, but rather a day of measured decisions that has been impacted by in-
Thanks to Ray Shero’s brilliant maneuvering, the Penguins managed to add a trio of well-seasoned
veterans to a roster that was already teeming with talent. As a team expected to be a major buyer,
the Penguins haven’t disappointed. Even after acquiring Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray last
week, Shero managed to pull an 11th hour deal for Jarome Iginla to polish off a roster only found on the
memory of an Xbox or Playstation.
Things may shift significantly with Iginla off the market. Since the deadline’s biggest name has already
moved, there may only be ancillary trades made for most of the day next Wednesday. That isn’t to say
that there won’t be any shocking deals – there always is – but the expectations will certainly be lower
than they were before the Iginla deal went down.
If you’re holding out hope that this deadline will have some fireworks, pin your hopes to the fact that
the salary cap for next season is dropping and there will be teams looking to get out from under heavy
contracts. If a team is desperate enough, there might just be some big names moved.
Down at one Seymour H Knox III Plaza, Darcy Regier is likely working the phones on a handful of hockey
trades. Local media (and some national media) have wondered if Jason Pominville, Ryan Miller or even
Thomas Vanek could be on the block as the Sabres look to hit the reset button on their roster.
I, for one, think that Regier could find solid value for Pominville and Miller. However, he may be better
suited to shop that pair in the offseason as the league’s general managers have a better idea of how
they will settle into next year’s cap situation.
Maybe Regier will managed to pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade that ships out one of the team’s
core leaders before the clock strikes midnight on the third. However, I expect to see at least three trades
come from the Sabres. Two will be to ship out potential rental players (see: Regehr and Leopold) while
the third will be a textbook hockey trade.
Regier made a brilliant move last year when he sent Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani to
Vancouver for Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer. While Sulzer was a pleasant surprise, Hodgson has
blossomed into a dynamic scoring center. It was a trade that benefitted both organizations and went a
long way in addressing a primary need that the Sabres had. The same could be said of the deal he swung
to acquire Steve Ott and Adam Pardy. The Sabres gave up something, but also obtained pieces that can
be used now and in the future.
For a team in desperate need of a fresh start in a number of places, don’t be surprised to see Regier
swing a trade that not only improves the roster, but that you didn’t expect to see come through.
There are some names that keep cropping up in trade rumors, here are a few thoughts on each:
Ryane Clowe: Now that Iginla is off the market there isn’t necessarily one single pending UFA who could
be considered the gem of the deadline class. Clowe is one of those players that every team wants. He is
a gritty forward who isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty while adding a significant offensive touch. Granted,
he has gone a long while without scoring a goal this season, but he still has the type of intangibles that
playoff teams value.
Reports point to Clowe’s pricetag as a first round pick and a prospect. That is an awful lot to pay for a
rental who hasn’t scored a goal yet this season. However, for teams who are desperate for depth on the
wing, Clowe will be an attractive option.
Robyn Regehr/Jordan Leopold: For those fans in Buffalo, this hits a little closer to home. Both
defensemen have playoff experience, are upcoming free agents and are playing for a team that has been
said to be selling on everyone. Regehr has been connected to a number of Western Conference teams,
namely the LA Kings while Leopold has also had his name crop up in a number of circles.
While many fans may scoff at the idea of Regehr or Leopold fetching any sort of return, remember
that Regier managed to snage a first round pick for Paul Gaustad last season. While neither of these
defensemen would be worth that much, don’t be surprised if they bring back more than many were
Derek Roy: Here is a name that has only been mentioned recently as some reporters have indicated that
he and the Stars haven’t been able to reach an agreement on a new contract. Aside from the fact that
the Steve Ott trade would look that much better for the Sabres, Roy could certainly be worthwhile on
the trade market.
Roy does have some limited playoff experience and is a gifted playmaker. He is also an adept faceoff
man who can kill penalties if need be. He is a valuable asset and could certainly fetch an impressive
price tag if the right team came calling. Considering that the Blackhawks and Kings missed out on Iginla, I
could see them kicking the tires on Roy.
Valterri Filppula: Filppula is one player who I don’t expect to get moved. While he is a pending free
agent, the Wings will likely look to keep him on board for this season’s playoffs and for the long-term as
they will soon see some of their world-class mainstays skate into retirement.
While Filppula would be a tremendous asset for any team to add, I’d also expect the asking price to be
high. One scenario I could envision would be a team looking to rebuild offered a number of pieces to the
Wings in exchange for Filppula (with the hope of re-signing him) and picks. While it might be unlikely,
that’s probably the only way he is moved.
Even if Iginla is the only name on this list who is traded next week, it will mark the biggest name moved
at the deadline in a number of years. Just for that alone, this will be a fun deadline to keep track of.