No Whispers on Leafs-Phaneuf and A Long Look at Hawks Trade Scenarios

The biggest non-trade deadline transactions in a very long time happened over the weekend. A lesson should be noted for all those who want to believe trade chatter. 

I did not read one rumor which forecasted Dion Phaneuf going to the Maple Leafs. 

Not one. 

After checking with someone who reads more trade gossip than I… He concurred, not one mention of Phaneuf to the Leafs. 

It was speculated Phaneuf could be available but Toronto wasn’t mentioned as a destination. Obviously the Flames were floundering and Phaneuf appeared expendable. 

Almost always that’s the way it is. Word of a trade comes out after it is already done, not before. 

Big trades seldom happen these days and it is extremely difficult to find relevant information before a trade goes down. This weekend was a perfect illustration. 

Unfortunately my summer trade scenario featuring Cristobal Huet going to the Leafs is kaput. 

Certainly many ardent Toronto fans would rather have J.S. Giguere in the blue and white than Huet. 

After all Giguere is a former Stanley Cup winner and had more wins last season and a better save percentage than Huet. Well, one out of three will have to do for Leaf fans. 

The Leafs stabilized an important position with the acquisition of Giguere. 

But if I were keeping score Bob Murray got the best of his former boss. After all Giguere was only a back-up in Anaheim and was too highly paid to sit the bench. 

The Ducks did have to swallow the hefty contract of Jason Blake until 2012, but he should relish a change of scenery. Plus the Ducks are in desperate need of another goal scorer. 

Blake could feel like someone who received a pardon from the governor. He could flourish alongside Bobby Ryan or Ryan Getzlaf. 

As far as the other Maple Leaf trade, the Flames may have gotten got the better of that deal if they can re-sign UFA’s Matt Stajan,Niklas Hagman and Ian White. I think White could be a solid dman for years to come. But the Leafs did get a well thought of prospect in Keith Aulie. 

Interesting the Flames would trade big Dion for many players not signed beyond this season. 

One has to wonder if another big fish is on Darryl Sutter’s radar screen because he will have available cap space this summer. 

Phaneuf was too costly to be the fourth best defender on the Flames. With the emergence of Mark Giordano and the acquisition of Jay Bouwmeester, Phaneuf was expendable. 

The Flames needed a jump start to make the playoffs and the Leafs want to desperately fast forward their rebuilding process. 

If Phaneuf can become an All Star blueliner in Toronto everyone may have gotten what they needed. Both teams were desperate to make improvements and they took action. 

The Blackhawks at this point are far from desperate to do anything. 

The Hawks don’t need to shed salary yet. Actually they might be able to acquire another defenseman without trading anyone off the current roster. 

Concerning the possibility of a Blackhawks trade happening soon… 

There is a chance something will happen before the Olympic break.  This will be so if the acquired player will not be representing his country in late February. 

Why would any general manager take the chance now of acquiring a player who could get injured during the Olympics? 

Right now the Leafs appear the only team to be in aggressive trade mode. 

As far as Blackhawk fans are concerned, those who are waiting for a blockbuster deal should take a deep breath. 

As of today the Hawks are near the head of the class in the Western Conference. Stan Bowman will be very cautious before making any trades. The Hawks could use a tweak or two, primarily depth on defense. 

If Dave Bolland is only a shadow of his former self when returning that could change Bowman’s intent. According to reports Bolland is pain free and is almost ready to return to action. 

For now, additional defensemen which would add some skill, muscle and insurance against injury will be on Bowman’s shopping list. 

For the most part very little is likely to happen around the NHL before the Olympic break because there are so many teams still in the payoff hunt. If the Hawks do make an acquisition soon it will likely be for a player not slated to attend the Olympics. 

Even though all the general mangers will have a lot of time to negotiate over the Olympic break, there my not be more deadline trades than last season. If the standings stay as congested through February teams will be reluctant to turn sellers. 

Certain franchises are in desperate need to keep ticket sales strong throughout the remainder of the season. If they appear to throw in the towel there will be more empty seats. It is a tricky call for many clubs. Teams like the Islanders, Thrashers and the Blues may stay on the cusp of the playoff picture and will choose to be buyers rather than sellers. 

If not for the Olympics factor, the Hawks may choose to trade sooner than later. 

The reason being supply and demand….there could be less sellers and teams which will be buyers will have to pay up. 

So if the Blackhawks make a deal before mid February, the likely trade partners will be those out of playoff picture. Today that short list includes Toronto, Carolina and possibly Edmonton. The Oilers are a Western Conference foe but the Hawks might trade with them as well. 

The short list of available UFA defensemen would include… 

Carolina….Joe Corvo (on IR since early December), Aaron Ward, Niclas Wallin (who has a no trade clause). 

Oilers….Jason Strudwick 

Toronto…Garnet Exelby 

Tomas Kaberle trade rumors have come and gone repeatedly.

As one hockey lifer who worked for Brian Burke told me awhile back…Burkie holds true to his word. 

That sentiment rang true when he dealt Ilya Bryzgalov to the Coyotes for almost nothing. Burke promised he would find a place for him to play as a starter if things didn’t work out in Anaheim. Burke got little in return but kept his promise to Bryzgalof. 

Kaberle is Burke’s last big trading chip to use in acquiring early round draft picks.

The Hawks have never had a real interest in Kaberle, from what I have heard. 

Kaberle has a no trade clause and Burke has repeatedly stated he won’t ask him to waive it. Unless Kaberle has the inclination to leave Toronto before March he will stay put. Most likely he isn’t leaving.

Kaberle has a better shot from the point than Brain Campbell and that is his only advantage. Although Kaberle is skillful he plays the game softer than any Hawk defenseman. 

That type of player isn’t needed in Chicago. 

In my opinion, the player most likely to come to the Blackhawks from my list above is Exelby. But not because of hearing any whispers. Exelby would fill a need and is available. 

The list of expendable Chicago players is really not very long. 

In my view the most likely being Cam Barker, Tomas Kopecky and to a lesser degree Brent Sopel. The player with the most trade value is Barker and his playing time has lessened. 

Barker could still be suffering from the effects of an injury as he hasn’t been used very often since his return. Against the Hurricanes, he barely saw ten minutes of ice time. 

Maybe Barker is still hurt….Or possibly he is being phased out. 

If Dave Bolland is healthy it may make more sense to deal Kopecky and just add to the defense. The only member of the fourth line Joel Quenneville would probably be ok with trading is Kopecky. 

Ben Eager fills a need with his size and speed. 

In some ways Colin Fraser is one of the most overlooked players on the club, but probably not to the head coach. He has made himself a much better player because he can now win faceoffs. 

Fraser has been used as a substitute for Patrick Kane in key moments. 

When Toews’ line is on for a big faceoff in the defensive zone Fraser can sub in. If Toews gets tossed from the faceoff, Frasor can then take the draw. He is also one of the better penalty killers on the team. 

That leads some to point a finger at Andrew Ladd as the one to be scratched or shipped out when Bolland returns. 

I say no… 

Ladd is a Stanley Cup winner that can play effectively on lines two through four. He has been playing good, physical hockey. 

It may surprise some, but Ladd was one of  the top goal scorers on the last road trip. If Quenneville has a say, Ladd will probably be staying in Chicago for the next few months, if not longer. 

The list of potential trade partners for Chicago at the current time isn’t long. There could be some chance the Rangers or Canadiens could also be looking to shake things up. But really there are not many teams in sell mode today. 

Although Bowman doesn’t have many from his current roster he would be willing to give up, he does have some younger players.  He could trade someone like Jack Skille or maybe a couple of others in the system if the right deal presented itself. 

For those Blackhawks fans anxiously awaiting a blockbuster deal….chillax. 

The time to work into trade frenzy mode will be after the Stanley Cup finals and before the NHL draft. 

That will be a much more interesting time to discuss trade scenarios.  

Al’s Shots 

For the record my Blackhawk trade forecasting has run the gamut from very good to bad. 

A few years ago I wrote the Hawks would most likely find another home for Adrian Aucoin, Jassen Cullimore and Tony Salmelainen. 

Back then most thought there was little chance Dale Tallon could unload the trio. 

I never had the destination whispered to me, only that the Hawks were trying very hard to move them that summer.

That turned out to be correct. 

I was also tipped….That if Kyle Beach was available when the Hawks selected they would draft him. 

I wrote that just before the draft and it turned out to be correct. 

In connecting the dots over the years….speculating…. 

I have had Cam Barker traded a few times….all wrong. 

Last season at the trade deadline my thinking was the Hawks would grab Steve Montador and Dominic Moore. 

I had heard the Hawks were in on the Montador sweepstakes but it never happened and he went to Boston. 

Moore supposedly was almost signed and delivered to the Hawks but the trade fell through at the last minute…so the story goes. 

It’s fun to speculate. 

Just remember there is a difference between having a legitimate source and trade speculation. 

In the Phaneuf trade I didn’t read any speculation he was going to the Leafs. 

No rumors or speculation that the Leafs and Flames would dance. 

Giguere to the Leafs was discussed but never a front burner issue until right before the trade went down. There were many reasons to speculate that trade would happen. 

blackhawkswin@comcast.net

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  1. shruew says:

    “Why would any general manager take the chance now of acquiring a player who could get injured during the Olympics? ”
    Plus the cap impact.  Given that the Hawks have threaded the line with the cap and sending down players to AHL between NHL games to save cap space, it wouldnt surprise me that the 2 weeks cap impact for no playing time isn’t a decent factor.
    Kaberle plays softer than Soupy?  Not sure I 100% agree with that.
    I certainly do see the Hawks looking to upgrade their #7 over Hendry.  I just hope they don’t do so at the net expense of skill the perceived lack of toughness.
    If you bring in a skilled guy like Kaberle you have to move Soupy because who else do you pair them with?  Kaberle and Sopel?
     
    Some interesting moves so far, will be fun to see what else happens as a result.
     
     

  2. Al Cimaglia says:

    Yep, on the the cap impact for a lot of teams….although not sure that would be so for the Hawks acquiring a $1 mill player.

    I haven’t hesitated to admit…I don’t know the exact cap space available now.

    Kaberle/Campbell my sujective take…I have never seen Kaberle throw a hard body check… although I don’t watch him as often as Campbell. Others that do don’t hesitate to remark he is a no check player.

    Campbell isn’t going anywhere.

    Your point about defensive pairings is interesting  as the same scenario happens with others.

    In my view the Hawks won’t acquire anyone better than Campbell and Hammer.

    The player could be  a top four dman somewhere else but probably wouldn’t be here.

    Except for a big hitter like Niedermayer no one will play more often than Campbell and Hammer.

    Actually Nieds is having an off year…heprobably wouldn’t  either.

    Why would Bowman want to screw with the top four???

  3. Pone says:

    Only D-men that would get moved on the Hawks is either Barker or Sopel.  Soups contract is just too large for any seller to want to take on..
    I could see Kopecky getting moved (which I would hate,) but I also wouldnt rule out Buff, Versteeg, or Bolland getting moved either.  All are still young, and their contracts technically fit where they stand right now in the league.
    The only move I wanna see is a package of one or 2 of those guys mentioned above and some draft picks for a rental of Ilya.  If that cant happen, leave the team be, clearly “we” have the squad that can win it all this year.

  4. Dave Morris says:

    Al, certainly the Burke-Sutter moves have sent a major ripple through the trade rumor-infested hockey blogosphere.

    As we have discussed previously, Stan Bowman has said repeatedly he may very well do nothing…the Hawks have depth, they are leading the Division by a wide margin, and are on track for their best season since the early 70′s.

    The Hawks have drafted well, developed their talent, and made their blockbuster moves when they signed Campbell and Hossa.

    Some insurance on D, or another scoring forward are on Bowman’s radar…and as he has said in his recent Chicago Sun-Times interview, on the radar of many other GMs.

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may be the formula for success this year.

    But who knows…

  5. PenguinsMarch says:

    Al:
     
    You wrote that it is, “interesting the Flames would trade big Dion for many players not signed beyond this season…”
     
    Do you think Darryl Sutter is preparing possible salary cap space to make a big criticism-quieting splash in the summer?  Kovalchuk?  Or is that way too far-fetched despite all the contracts that could theoretically come off the books just from the forward corps (Stajan, Mayers, Conroy, Lundmark, Bourque and the possibly departing Jokinen).

  6. vito says:

    daily herald reports the hawks might be interested in jay mckee how much do the hawks have to give up? not much i think and the hawks should wait til’ the summer to trade any of our d men you can never have enough of them campbell is expensive but he is an important part of this team and does’nt get hurt sure he has some flaws so do most players and as far as barker i think as soon as the trade deadline is done and he’s still a hawk he ‘ll play better he’s got size,can hit and a good shot. just add mckee and we’ll be ok

  7. Al Cimaglia says:

    Vito,

    I  have a good feeling they would add to the defense without subtracting a someone.

    So when they are doen there will be eight NHL dmen here intead of seven.

  8. Al Cimaglia says:

    Last week someone on the NHL network compared McKee to Volchenkov similar styles….McKee was a well sought after free agent and was a bust in St. Louis…the Blues bought him out.

    But he is a big boy that can play with an edge….Now I don’t have a good opinion on him. A contender usually likes to hang onto dmen down the stretch???

  9. Dave Morris says:

    According to CapGeek.com’s Daily Tracker, Stan Bowman currently has enough cap space to add a contract with an annual value of just under $3 million.
    This gives Bowman a good range of options, without having to shed salary.
    Boynton has been waived by Anaheim, so he joins a list of value priced d-men that includes McKee (or Skoula depending who you believe), Exelby, Aaron Ward and Nik Wallin.
    In the next two weeks, as backmarkers (Columbus, Edmonton, Toronto, Carolina) slide and if/when bubble teams falter, there may be more choices available. 

    Bowman’s strategy appears to be, to wait this out, and move only when the right opportunity presents itself.