As the late February NHL trading deadline approaches rumors have began to surface in every corner of the hockey world. From buyers to sellers and rentals, a plethora of deals always seem to be made this time of year. This year, as a few top-tier players are slated to become Unrestricted free agents at year’s end, we could see far more interesting action than ever before. Today I’ll take a look at five deals that I believe will be struck between now and 3 P.M. on the 27th. In each of these swaps, the goal was to address the needs of both franchises. Please note that I have taken the salary cap and no-movement clauses into consideration in all of these proposed trades. A special shout-out goes to CapGeek for providing all the salary information for me.
5.) —–> To Chicago: Hal Gill, Travis Moen, 5th Round Pick
—–> To Montreal: Kyle Beach, Brandon Saad, 2nd Round Pick
– Seemingly going nowhere this season it may be time for the Habs and GM Pierre Gauthier to start thinking about unloading some pieces in an attempt to build for the future. Both Gill and Moen are set to become unrestricted free agents this summer and could provide a Cup-hunting Blackhawks team with some added depth and grit for a playoff run this spring. Neither Moen nor Gill give you much in the way of flash or skill, but both are very durable players who have a Stanley Cup on their resume. For Montreal, both Beach and Saad fit the mold of what the Habs need the most: big, strong power forwards who can put the puck in the net. While neither will give Montreal much in the way of immediate assistance, they both have the potential to become cogs in the Canadiens’ lineup for years to come.
4.) —–> To Boston: Tuomo Ruutu, Bryan Allen
—–> To Carolina: Jordan Caron, Matt Bartkowski, 2nd Round Pick
– For a team that has simply run roughshod on the Eastern Conference since the start of November there really aren’t many glaring holes on a roster full of Stanley Cup winners. However, like we saw last February, GM Peter Chiarelli isn’t afraid to tinker with his team in order to add the necessary depth to make another run at Lord Stanley. This trade makes perfect sense for a Boston team that still relies on an inexperienced Steven Kampfer as it’s seventh defenseman. The hard-nosed Bryan Allen isn’t known much for his offense (0G/7A in 51 games this season) but can provide a solid defensive presence in his end of the ice, as well as log some valuable time on the penalty kill. Like Allen, the 28-year-old Ruutu will be a free agent on July 1. The Finland native seems to have been cut from the same mold as Boston winger Rich Peverley in the way that he can be trusted in any situation. Ruutu has posted fifteen goals and added eleven assists in 51 games this season while being shuffled up and down the Carolina lineup.
3.) —–> To Philadelphia: Ryan Suter, 3rd Round Pick
—–> To Nashville: James Van Riemsdyk, Brayden Schenn, Andrej Meszaros, Jody Shelley, 1st Round Pick
– Now, I’d put this trade as the least likely to happen, at least not until this summer. A deal like this makes perfect sense for a Flyers team that will be without captain Chris Pronger for the remainder of the season. Ryan Suter is perhaps the most underrated defenseman in the entire NHL. Often overshadowed by Shea Weber, Suter has quietly stacked together one all-star season after another and is slated to finally cash in this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The question still remains as to if the cash-strapped Predators can re-sign Suter to a long term deal to keep him in Nashville. However, if GM David Poile comes to the realization that he will not be resigning with the Preds, he would be better served to deal him now than let him walk for nothing this July. The package I’ve presented seems like quite a hefty price for one player but keep in mind, true number one defensemen simply do not grow on trees. While I really can’t see this one happening before the deadline, if Suter is adamant about not re-upping in Nashville, I can’t see any better scenario for the Predators’ franchise both now and into the future.
2.) —–> To Toronto: Jeff Carter, 3rd Round Pick
—–> To Columbus: Luke Schenn, Nikolai Kulemin, 2nd Round Pick
– There’s no question that Jeff Carter’s brief stay in Ohio’s capital is coming to an early end. Reportedly frustrated by the entire situation, the former Flyers star has put up only seventeen points (10G/7A) in 30 games this season while playing for the league-worst Columbus Blue Jackets. While many teams would be skeptical of accepting any player with ten years left on his contract, the Leafs have been on a league-wide search for a true number one center since Brian Burke took the helm in November of 2008. It’s my belief that if Carter is surrounded by a talented team (like he was in Philadelphia) he will once again be able to return to his elite form. While many could think of this as an overpayment for Carter, I would argue that while Schenn still looks like a future all-star, he seems to be the odd man out on a Leafs’ blueline already manned by Dion Phaneuf, Mike Komisarek and John-Michael Liles — all of whom are signed to lucrative contracts. Kulemin is a young player with loads of skill and potential who seems to be struggling under the hockey-crazed pressure cooker that is Toronto. Perhaps a change of scenery would do him a world of good. In Toronto, Maple Leafs’ fans may be foaming at the mouth with the thoughts of putting an elite pivot in between all-star wingers Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.
1.) —–> To Minnesota: Zach Parise
—–> To New Jersey: Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin, 2nd Round Pick
– This trade simply makes too much sense. With Parise still unsigned and the Devils’ ownership situation still uncertain, it’s easy to suggest that New Jersey will be unable to retain Parise at year’s end. Recent speculation has suggested that the 5’11″ Minneapolis would like nothing better than to return to his home state to continue his career, making him a perfect fit for the Wild. However, a former 40-goal scorer with extensive leadership qualities simply does not come cheap. With this package the Devils pick up a solid return for a guy who will likely be gone for nothing on July 1. Devin Setoguchi is a solid young winger who can play top-six minutes and provide some pop playing across from Ilya Kovalchuk. In Coyle and Brodin New Jersey receives two former first round selections who look to be sure bet NHL contributors in the near future. Parise should provide the right type of boost for a Wild team trying to work themselves off of the playoff fringe.
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