Wed Jan 27 09:59am EST
Tuesday night saw the revelation of TSN columnist "Darren Dreger's Top 10 Players Who Are Expected To Be Traded On, Or Before, The March 3rd NHL Trade Deadline, Depending Of Course On Their Team's Playoff Chances And Financial Well-Being." Or D.D.T-10.P.W.A.E.T.B.T.O.O.B.T.M-3.NHL.T.D.D.O.C.O.T.T.P.C.A.F.W-B. for short. Yeah, that'll trend well on Twitter ...
It's the Advent to our annual Hockey Christmas, which this season falls just three days after closing ceremonies for the Vancouver Winter Games. And according to Dreger, there could be an Olympian who'll need to pack his medal for a new NHL home in early March.
There's just something wonderfully Mel Kiper-esque about this list, in the sense that it invites rampant speculation from all corners of the League and was delivered by a gentleman with an impeccable coif. Join us, won't you, as we tick down the list and add a few more names to the hopper.
1. Ilya Kovalchuk(notes), Atlanta Thrashers
2. Ray Whitney(notes), Carolina Hurricanes
3. Peter Mueller(notes), Phoenix Coyotes
4. Matt Stajan(notes), Toronto Maple Leafs
5. Alexei Ponikarovsky(notes), Toronto Maple Leafs
6. Matt Cullen(notes), Carolina Hurricanes
7. Lubomir Visnovsky(notes), Edmonton Oilers
8. Sheldon Souray(notes), Edmonton Oilers
9. Ethan Moreau(notes), Edmonton Oilers
10. Marty Turco(notes), Dallas Stars
Of the 10, there are
five six unrestricted free agents: Kovalchuk, Whitney, Stajan, Ponikarovsky, Cullen and Turco. We're got a Thrasher, two Leafs, three Oilers, three two Canes, a Coyote and a Star. (Ed. Note: Math fail!) So, in essence, the top-three draft lottery plus Atlanta and Dallas and Phoenix.
Mueller still might fall into the "huh?" category until you read sites like Five For Howling calling his play "not just been disappointing, but disastrous."
We said everything we'll say about Kovalchuk Tuesday, although it's worth noting that Ken Campbell reports the Atlanta Thrashers and Los Angeles Kings are in the player-specification stages of trade talks and The Falconer is doubting a re-signing to the point where he's spelling out a multi-part post-Kovalchuk plan.
As for the others on Dreger's list, a few interesting names:
2. Ray Whitney
Carolina's leading scorer is one of a number of prominent Hurricanes on the block. The 37-year old forward will draw interest based on his scoring touch and the fact he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
He also has a reported no-movement clause, which could make dealing him a little sticky. But the Wizard's been in this game since 1992, can put the puck in the net, be a leader on the ice and immediately help a team up front. Dreger has him at No. 2, which we're not sure is an indication of value or likelihood to move. If it's the former, it's spot-on. Whitney should be coveted by the right contending team that needs that type of winger. Not to pull a name out of our collective asses here or anything, but wouldn't he look great as a Ryan Smyth(notes) avatar for the Colorado Avalanche on the left side?
7. Lubomir Visnovsky and 8. Sheldon Souray
Dreger writes of Lubo:
The 33-year-old Oilers' defenceman has scored four of his nine goals on the power play. After earning $7 million this season, Visnovsky's contract drops each of the remaining three years, which may attract suitors.
Dreger's spot-on about that contract devaluation for Visnovsky, and his no-trade clause has already expired. But we're still talking about a defenseman here with a $5.6 million annual cap hit that could scare off some suitors. You can't ignore 15 power-play points; if the Oilers are willing to dump this contract for peanuts, some teams will listen.
As for Souray:
The Oilers are aware of the veteran defenceman's willingness to consider any trade to a team included on his list. Even though Souray has yet to score a power play goal this season after scoring 12 last year, he is still regarded as an offensive threat.
Predicting that list has become a cottage industry, and Jim Matheson too his turn Wednesday in the Edmonton Journal: The Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals and New York Rangers. It's a good breakdown of the Souray derby, making a strong case for the Devils; but the Oilers are on the pipe if they think Jamie Benn(notes) is arriving from Dallas. Speaking of which ...
10. Marty Turco
Dreger breaks it down thusly:
The future of Turco and a number of other Stars' players will be determined in the coming weeks. Dallas is looking for a clean start and may start by moving Turco to a team looking for depth in goal in the playoffs.
The only question here: Can the Stars make the playoff this season, and can they do so sans Turco and plus another veteran goalie to pair with Alex Auld(notes)? The answer ultimately could be "no," but we feel they can contend without Turco. And he'd bring value from a team that could use some veteran stability in goal behind a strong blue line and talent up front. Unfortunately, that team plays in a city that eats goalies up like cheesesteaks and their beat writer doesn't think the Philadelphia Flyers will even be looking for a goalie.
There could be others added to this list if it were expanded: Raffi Torres(notes), Columbus Blue Jackets; Paul Kariya(notes), St. Louis Blues; and Marty Biron, New York Islanders. Dion Phaneuf(notes) and/or Robyn Regehr(notes), Calgary Flames have been bandied about, but Matchsticks and Gasoline has its doubts.
As Dreger said, the standings on March 1 are going to determine who's buying and who's selling, and we've got a ways to go before that. Consider that the Blue Jackets will need a 23-5 run to make the playoffs, according to Mirtle. If that's the case, the personnel changes could go well beyond Torres.
We get asked every week in our live chat (which is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST today) about which teams will be the most active. The Kings will be one of them, because Dean Lombardi already started adding pieces last summer. The Capitals will be another, with their cap space positioning. The Penguins, one assumes, will continue their trend of adding something significant for the stretch run. Then you have teams like the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, who clearly need a jolt.
Ah, Hockey Christmas. Will you give us Raffi Torres trades, or the kinds of deals that make championships happen?