Monday, March 2, 2009

NHL Trade Deadline - Available Prospects?

Wednesday is D-Day in the NHL, the last chance for NHL clubs to improve their organizations until after the playoffs. Some franchises will get better by adding players that they feel can help them in the short term and potentially make them contenders for the coveted Stanley Cup. Other clubs will be looking for the long term fix and will be willing to part with NHL caliber bodies for those still Coming Down the Pipe.

Here's a list of prospects I think could be available from teams who are thinkng more short term and want to add to the present by dealing some of their future away.

Anaheim - There are lots of rumblings that the Ducks are willing to sell off Chris Pronger which leads one to believe they are more in the long term frame of mind but since they did just trade away Eric Tangradi... who knows? Logan MacMillan was a 1st round pick in 2007 (19th overall) but has had struggles since then. He missed a lot of time in 2007-08 for an undisclosed reason that one source suggested was mental fatigue (think Stefan Legein?). Rimouski added him this year as they host the Memorial Cup and he's collected 27 points in 37 games. MacMillan still has some value but also might come with a buyer beware notice too.

Atlanta - Definitely a team looking to add picks and prospects but consider Chad Denny, the big 6'3 and 227 lb blueliner that was taken in the 2nd round in 2005 out of Lewiston in the Q. He's played more games in the ECHL than the AHL and this year has just 7 points in 33 games for the Chicago Wolves. He's got the size that would be attractive to other teams but with Boris Valabik much higher on the depth chart, might Denny be redundant and available?

Boston - Cleary a team that will be willing to part with some youth for immediate help. The Beantowners could offer up Matt Lashoff, a 1st round pick in 2005 that has plenty of opportunity to stick in the NHL but keeps bouncing back down to Providence. We've heard the name of Vlad Sobotka mentioned and if the smallish 21-year-old is available then could others like Martin Karsums, Zach Hamill or Wacey Rabbit be too? Brad Marchand is having a solid rookie year so you wouldn't expect him to be on the market, nor collegian Joe Colborne but if the other end of the trade offer was sweet enough, who knows how far a team might go in order to win the Cup this year. The Bruins are clearly legit contenders and they have an excess of talented prospects.

Buffalo - The Sabres are overloaded with defencemen in their system but I don't think the big name guys like Tyler Myers or T.J. Brennan would be available. Marc-Andre Gragnani is having another strong year on the farm so scratch him too. How about forward Marek Zagrapan though? The Slovak was taken 13th overall in 2005 and is now in his 3rd AHL season. As a rookie he had 38 points, followed by 40 last year. This season he's got 33 so is on track to basically repeat his previous two year's production rate. Is he progressing or has he been passed on the depth chart by Nate Gerbe and Tim Kennedy?

Calgary - Kris Chuko had a horrible NCAA career as a Golden Gopher and the former 1st rounder from 2004 wisely bolted after 2 years. He's been decent on the farm for the Flames but he's a 1st rounder now in his third AHL year so it's not unreasonable to think the organization might consider moving him for immediate help. I don't know how much Calgary could get for him but added onto a spare part from the big club, Chucko could help the Flames put together a nice package.

Carolina - I honestly don't see the Hurricanes as a team that would move any prospects of note simply because they don't have many high end ones. Outside of Drayson Bowman, Zach Boychuck and Jamie McBain I don't know who other teams would actually covet in return. Jakub Petruzalek leads the Albany River Rats in scoring with 45 points. The winger was a 9th round pick by the Rangers back in 2004 so he's definitely exceeded the normal success of someone taken that late. I'll forgive you for not getting too excited at his name though.

Chicago - Like the Bruins, the Hawks have depth galore at the prospect level. Jack Skille hasn't yet lived up to expectations and some have suggested the 7th overall pick from 2005 could be had. How about Evan Brophy? A 3rd rounder in 2005, he's definitely been passed on the depth chart by younger players but at 22 and with 29 points in 60 AHL games this year he might still garner some interest as part of a package.

Colorado - Likely one of the teams looking to move current for future players and I don't see much coming down the pipe for the Avalanche righ tnow either. Goalie Trevor Cann has been very average over his OHL career with Peterborough but was dealt to London and is reaping the benefits of being on a great team. His trade value might never be higher than it is today, but I don't expect it's much more than "package material" right now either.

Columbus - I've always liked the Blue Jackets from a drafting perspective; they always seem to select guys that I like at each draft too. Right now I look at their system and I see Jared Boll and Derek Dorsett at the NHL level and I wonder if Tom Sestito might be expendable. He's big and tough and I think would be a player who could help get Columbus a NHL player to help them hold onto a playoff spot this year. Forward Alex Picard could clearly use a fresh start elsewhere but I don't know how much the Blue Jackets could get for an 1st round pick with 2 points in 58 NHL games.

Dallas - Colton Sceviour isn't regarded as a top tier prospect but since he was dealt to Lethbridge from Portland last year, he's put up some nice numbers. He was a 4th rounder in 2007 but with 31 WHL goals last year and 27 so far this season, I think Sceviour would be taken higher if you could redo that draft. He'd have to be part of a package I would expect.

Detroit - The team that traded Shawn Matthias away for a rental of Todd Bertuzzi has shown they're willing to move top prospects for immediate payoff. Would it be unbelievable for the Red Wings to trade goalie Thomas McCollum then? Keep in mind that Detroit still has Jimmy Howard and Daniel Larsson in the pipeline and has never had any problem convincing UFAs to come to Motown. We saw McCollum implode at the WJC earlier this year but since he has been traded from Guelph to Brampton, he's been solid (as you would expect going to a strong team).

Edmonton - The Oilers have two former 1st round picks who probably would welcome a change in scenery in Rob Schremp and Ryan O'Marra. Schremp has been passed by several players on the depth chart but has respectable numbers as a pro so there is bound to be another team willing to give him a chance. O'Marra has been at odds with the franchise since he was acquired 2 years ago at the trade deadline. His offensive numbers are almost non-existent but defensively he's capable and is one of the better faceoff men in the organization let alone on the farm. Again, pieces for a bigger package.

Florida - Winger Kenndal McArdle has overcome a lot in his lifetime - a speech impediment, racism and poverty. He was a 1st round pick in 2005 (20th overall) but has not had much success as a pro. He's got 18 points in 43 games this year for Rochester but well back of the numbers for rookies like Mike Duco and Mikael Repik. Shawn Matthias is also struggling this year and has fewer points than McArdle. Also worth considering is former Medicine Hat Tiger Stefan Meyers who hasn't materialized since being a 2nd round pick in 2003.

Los Angeles - Absolutely loaded when it comes to prospects, the Kings could deal a big name player from just about any position and not blink doing it. Colten Teubert has had some second half issues this year in Regina which earned him a phone call from Dean Lombardi. Both Brian Boyle and Trevor Lewis could be moved without much interupption to the franchise. More interesting to me is that Jonathon Bernier has been by-passed by Jonathon Quick and the Kings still have Jeff Zatkoff in the pipe as well as a young Erik Ersberg in the NHL. Bernier would fetch the Kings a nice return.

Minnesota - I don't know if he has much value, or any, around the league but Denmark's Morten Madsen is floundering under the defensively mad Minnesota franchise. He's now 2 years removed from a 100-point season in the QMJHL but can't produce in the AHL under Kevin Constantine. Is he a guy worth gambling on, someone who would rebound in an offensive environment, or someone who benefitted from the year in the Q because he was a 19-year-old rookie at the time.

Montreal - Kyle Chipchura was a 1st rounder in 2004 and was peged as a can't miss 3rd line NHL regular. Since then he's appeared in only 49 NHL games. He does have 14 points though so his production per game is actually pretty positive. You have to give something to get something and I wonder if the Habs could live without Chipchura if it meant getting something in this historic 100th season that could help them contend.

Nashville - There were only 2 players to hit 100 points in the WHL last season and Mark Santorelli was one of them. His rookie year as a pro hasn't gone the way he'd like but you'd have to think he could live off of his WHL scoring title this season anyway. He'd have to be part of a package though as his 5 points in 40 games this year isn't going to wow anyone by themselves.

New Jersey - 16 games in the NHL and 14 in the AHL this year plus already clearing waivers once this season probably doesn't make Petr Vrana a likely candidate for trade. He could be a throw in to a bigger package though and he did have 61 AHL points last year so he's got some ability. He just can't stick with the Devils.

New York Islanders - Looking to add youth and picks, not delete them. However, one has to wonder about Jeff Tambellini. He was a 1st round pick in 2003 and coming out of college looked like a sure fire NHLer. But since then he's played 4 years as a pro with two of the worst NHL teams (LA and NYI) but has yet to fully claim a NHL job. He's played 45 games with the Islanders this year but has just 6 points to his credit. IN 124 career NHL games he has only 23 points. Is he a bust or just a guy who needs to get away from the Islanders?

New York Rangers - The Blue Shirts took Dane Byers out of Prince Albert with a 2nd round pick in 2004 but he's failed to deliver since then. The big winger has a bunch of PIMs but not much else although he scored 23 goals last year for Hartford. He's only played 9 games this year though so he's probably got next to zero trade value by himself.

Ottawa - It would probably be smarter for the Sens to hang onto their prospects but you never know what could happen with Ottawa. Denmark product Peter Regin and NCAA standout Erik Condra might have some value. Defenceman Brian Lee can't seem to hold onto his NHL job and the former North Dakota star should still be worth something on the trade market.

Philadelphia - Would the Flyers actually consider parting with James vanRiemsdyk? I don't see why they would but his college numbers haven't grown with another year of development although he was pretty effective at the WJC. Former Bowling Green center Jonathon Matsumoto is having another productive year with the AHL Phantoms. I don't know how much value he has by himself but he'd be a nice add on I think.

Phoenix - Sellers not buyers, I'm sure the Coyotes would be happy to unload Al Montoya to anyone who wants him. Maybe Alex Bourret too.

Pittsburgh - Keven Veilleux is a talented player and a big piece of the puzzle for Rimouski this year except he's been hurt a lot. He's appeared in just 24 games this year but has 32 points. Hockey's Future has him ranked as Pittsburgh's 15th best prospect.

San Jose - The Sharks chose Lukas Kaspar with a 1st round pick in 2004 and he's put together 3 nearly identical AHL seasons since then. 40 points followed by 41 points and this year he has 39 points, all with Worcester. If Kaspar isn't available then perhaps former Ottawa 67's winger Jamie McGinn is - and I'd rather have him anyway. He's got 19 goals in 44 games on the farm for the Sharks. Both players are left wingers. As usual, San Jose has an overabundance of goalies too.

St. Louis - Lots to work with but at the same time, not much that the Blues would be willing to part with. They could give up goalie Marek Schwarz and not even notice.

Tampa Bay - Some nice high-end prospects but the Lightning would have to be stupid to give up on guys like Riku Helenius, Dustin Tokarski, Dana Tyrell or Ty Wishart at this point. The way he's playing this year, Torrie Jung might be a nice addition to a package though. Of course Tampa is selling and not buying this year so it's a moot point.

Toronto - Someone recently said that everyone not named Luke Schenn is available in Toronto so assuming that's true, one could gamble on Mikhail Stefanovich, a highly touted prospect this time last year who fell to the Leafs in the 4th round. He's got size and talent but sometimes not the killer instinct.

Vancouver - Austrian Michael Grabner has scored 20 goals again this year, his second AHL season. He has barely gotten a sniff from the Canucks though and his 34 points are good but not great. He's got lots of upside and if Vancouver is looking to add something late this year they might be able to at the expense of the Austrian. Patrick White is stalling at Minnesota and the 1st round pick the team used in 2007 is looking pretty wasted.

Washington - Hockey's Future lists goalie Braden Holtby as the 4th best goalie in the Caps' system. If so and he's available, I think any team in the NHL would be smart to grab him if they can. Not only is Holtby a solid netminder for Saskatoon but he's personable, intelligent and engaging off the ice as well. Defenceman Joe Finley was targetted by Dean as someone he thinks could be had and if he's right, he'd be a huge addition for any team. At 6'7 and 240 lbs, Finley is a monster at UND and will be turning pro next year.

On an end note... this is all purely speculation on my behalf and I have not been pounding the pavement or the number pad on my phone trying to dig up who is shopping who. I've simply listed a player or three from each team that I think makes sense to have available.

If you disagree, that's cool. Surely we can agree that there are top prospects traded every year that few expected would be moved when they were. Did anyone think San Jose would trade Steve Bernier for Craig Rivet when it happened? Or Ryan Parent to Philly?

You might look at the list and say "As if _____ would ever move ____" but ask yourself if it's really that crazy to think that on Wednesday when teams are losing their marbles at the NHL trade deadline.

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