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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Trades and Trade Rumor

(hat tip: The Fourth Period)

Alrighty, I don't know how many of you out there like hockey, so if you don't, close your eyes and look somewhere else. The Olympic break is coming up in a matter of days. That means the March 3rd (I think that's still the date this year. They might have changed it.) trade dead-line is fast approaching. So, it's time to talk trades and trade rumors. First, we talk about the trades that have already happened, especially with St Louis.

-St Louis- The St Louis Blues are in the process of trying to sell the team to a new owner. Because of all the restructuring, the Blues are at the bottom of the pack this season, surpassing Pittsburgh as the losingest team in the NHL. That means that this season will the first in 25 years that they have not made the playoffs. Now, don't get too sad about this streak. It's deceiving. In this whole time, they've only made it to the Conference Finals one or two times, and have never won. And, since they're trying to sell the team and the team's not going anywhere, they're trying to sell off their high priced marquee players in order to make the team's price more attractive to potential buyers. It's only been a calculated move since the couple of youngsters they've brought up to replace these guys have already made a nice positive impact on the team. Here who's moved:

Big man, Dough Weight, and Erkki Rajamaki have been sent to the Caroline Hurricanes in exchange for three players and three draft picks. Weight loves St Louis and still wants to finish out his career as a Blues, but his career is on its bottom end, and the team has talked about sending him to a Cup contending team. Caroline certainly is one of those teams.
St Louis has also traded their leading scorer, Mike Sillinger to the Nashville Predators for forward Timofei Shishkanov. The Predators is a hard working team, and Sillinger is a hard working player, so the fit should be good.

-Calgary Flames-

Last night, the Flames traded forward Steven Reinprecht and goalie Philippe Sauve to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for winger Mike Leclerc and goalie Brian Boucher.

I hadn't heard any rumors about this, so this is news to me. Calgary has been playing very well this season after a slow start. Brian Boucher, a generally unknown goalie, is famously known for having the longest shutout streak in league history. I think this trade is mainly about shoring up some loose ends for the playoffs. I'm never seen Kippy's back-up play, but Boucher is a great back-up with potential starter capabilites. I think Calgary has the potential to make it to the Conference Finals again this year, but I think with the exception of Kippy, the rest of the team has not generally played liked the team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals a couple of years ago.

-Edmonton Oilers-

The Oilers have traded for defensemen Dick Tarnstrom and Jaroslav Spacek from Pittsburgh and Chicago, respectively.

I'm not going to even talk about this trade, because it's not the interesting part. I like Spacek a lot, and I think he'll pan out nicely for the Oilers. But, like the Vancouver Canucks, the Oilers are one of the top teams vying for a playoff caliber goal-tender. The Oilers have so many good defenseman that they feel that they can trade one or two and still be potentially successful in the playoffs. If the playoffs started today, The Oilers would be the #8 seed. But, they're only within a handfull of points of being in the 5,6,and 7 spots. I think if they can get a quality goalie, they will be a back-door force to be reckoned with this post season.

OK, those are the major trades so far, so now we're going to take a look at the top major trade rumors.

-Vancouver Canucks- With the likes of Bartuzzi, Ohlund, Naslund, and company, the Canucks are always a formiddable team. However, their goalie situation has been a problem for a while now. Dan Cloutier has always been a good season goalie, but when it came to the playoffs, he just has never been clutch. He's usually seemed to fold under the pressure. A great example of this happened in the 2002 Quarter Finals. They were playing agains the Wings and were up 2 games to nil. They were winning the third game, when right before the whistle blew for the (I think) second intermission, Nicklas Lidstrom took a nothing shot from between the blue and red lines. Funnily enough, Cloutier misplayed the puck, and it went in. It was all the motivation the Wings needed, Cloutier folded and cracked, and the Wings went on to win the series. This season, I'm not sure if Clouts is injured or have not played well at all, but Auld has played most of the season. Bottom line, they need a clutch goalie to get forward in the playoffs.

Coyotes netminder Curtis Joseph could be available if Canucks' general manager Dave Nonis wants to pay the price. The newspaper also claims that the Canucks are also interested in Washington's Olaf Kolzig and if the Caps fail to sign him to an extension, he could be dealt by the trade deadline.

Now, having seen Cujo play in the playoffs, I'm not sure he's a clutch goalie. Don't get me wrong, I've seen him make some excellent saves in the playoffs, especially the one he made off the shaft of his stick in the 1997 playoffs against Dallas when he was playing for Edmonton. The Oilers had miraculously come back in the last few minutes of the game, forcing overtime. In overtime, Cujo made a save, the puck rebounded to his right, Dallas had an open net, but Cujo came back, extended, and saved the game with the shaft of his stick. Todd Marchant came back, speeded down the left wing boards, and scored the winning goal for the Oilers. But, I'm just not sure he's got what it takes.
Olie, on the other hand, has been to the Stanley Cup Finals, and was very close to winning had the Wings not been just too tough for him to handle. I think Olie has it in him to get it done. If I were the Canucks, I'd go after him. Sorry, Cujo. I love the mask, but I think Godzilla is just more clutch.

-Chicago Blackhawks- After making the most intense deals this past summer, including getting the "Buhlin Wall", goalie, Nikolai Khabibulin, from the Lightning, the Hawks are nowhere near making the playoffs, and the "Wall" has been coming down all season long. He has just not looked like the goalie that won the Stanley Cup two years ago. The fact is, eventhough people forget b/c of the Cup, he hasn't actually had a very consistent career. The Wings played against a few times in the playoffs when he was the Coyotes' goalie, and he wasn't spectacular but sporadically excellent. The Hawks should have taken a look at the big picture when the rushed to pay the big gelt to get this guy. After looking at the rumors, it seems Chicago won't look at all the same after the Olympic break.

The Hawks have already traded Matt Ellison, Jaroslav Spacek and Anton Babchuk and lost Craig Anderson and Mikhail Yakubov through the waiver wire.

While the Blackhawks won't part with their young talent (Tuomo Ruutu, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith), they are willing to trade such players as Jassen Cullimore, Adrian Aucoin, Tyler Arnason, Matthew Barnaby, Curtis Brown and Jim Dowd.

One more:
-San Jose Sharks-The Sharks have two great goalies in Nabokov and Toskala, so the rumors are starting that they might be willing and ready to give one of them up for some veteran help on the blue line.

Both Nabokov and Toskala are set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. The trade speculation gained speed when Nabokov sat out the Sharks' game against the Lightning on Jan. 16, due to an apparent sore groin.

Stay tuned. I think some big and exciting things are going to happen over the next few wks. Of course, I'm the most interested in seeing if the Wings are up to anything, but, as usual, they've been very tight lipped about their potential moves. I've heard about them maybe wanting to trade for another stay at home defense-man. However, with Kronwall back in the line, after being out over 4 months with a torn ACL, over a month before he was scheduled to, the Wings might not be rushing to anything. But, what I really want to know is if they're looking to get in a playoff goalie. No offense to Ozzie, I love him a lot, but he has not played very well this season, and I don't see him suddenly turning it on in time for the playoffs. Even the best rumor mills don't have anything. Damn!


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