Puck Daddy - NHL

Reality is the Grinch that stole Hockey Rumors Christmas. While visions of Scott Niedermayer wearing a New Jersey Devils uniform dance through our heads, it turns out he isn't going anywhere at the deadline. Boo.

While Jason Spezza would look wicked dishing pucks to Rick Nash on the Columbus Blue Jackets, GM Bryan Murray of the Ottawa Senators said that no one's called about Spezza and that he's not on the block. Double-boo.

Ah, but do not fret. There are dozens of other players, from the stars to the grunts, whose futures are unpredictable as the NHL Trade Deadline arrives. Leahy and I have taken a gander at 30 such players, breaking down their contract status, where they could be headed, why they might be traded and why they may end up staying put.

Read it now, before reality ruins everything ...

Defensemen

Niclas Havelid, D, Atlanta Thrashers

Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Boston, Philadelphia, Vancouver.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Nicklas Lidstrom (very, very poor).
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: It's the Thrashers were talking about. The word is "paroled."
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Don Waddell can't find a trade bad enough for his liking.

Chris Pronger, D, Anaheim Ducks

Contract Status: UFA after 2009-10 season.
Teams He Could Help: Pretty much everyone but Edmonton.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Chris Pronger.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: The Ducks are looking at a major roster overhaul; Pronger makes good coin ($6.250 cap hit) and can bring an immediate and impactful return.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: The general thought is that the Ryan Whitney deal makes it less likely Pronger will be traded. If the Ducks do move him, they could get a better package back in the summer. Depending on where the Mrs. wants to live, of course.

Dan Hamhuis, D, Nashville Predators

Contract Status: UFA after 2009-10 season.
Teams He Could Help: Philadelphia, Toronto, Boston.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Scott Niedermayer.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: If the Predators want to make to the playoffs, they need more scoring up front. Dealing a defenseman is dealing from a position of strength, and Hamhuis is 26 with a $2 million cap hit next season. He's got value.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: He's had a strong season after a shaky start, and he's third on the Preds in TOI (22:27). Oh, and he's 26 with a $2 million cap hit next season.

Tomas Kaberle, D, Toronto Maple Leafs

Contract Status: UFA after the 2010-11 season.
Teams He Could Help: Montreal, Philadelphia, Boston, Canucks, Rangers
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Scott Niedermayer
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: The most frustrating no-trade clause this side of Michael Nylander, Kaberle gave GM Brian Burke a list of 10 Eastern Conference teams to which he'd accept a trade. Which is great news ...
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: ... if it weren't for the fact that Burke is asking for "a minimum of a first-round pick, a guy that can play on our team right now and a top prospect." That said, the Bruins might be willing to make such a "monster" offer, despite Burke's denials.

Rostislav Klesla, D, Columbus Blue Jackets

Contract Status: UFA after the 2009-10 season.
Teams He Could Help: Buffalo.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Pavel Kubina.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: He's a tradable commodity for the Jackets without sacrificing what offense they have up front. He's someone that, in the right package, could return a No. 1 center.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: What's his value in an injury-plagued season, and as a player that's never actually played to his potential yet?

Filip Kuba, D, Ottawa Senators

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Montreal, Philadelphia, Columbus.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Tomas Kaberle.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Because he's having a career year in his UFA season, the Senators are sellers and he could be a serious upgrade for a team looking for a boost on special teams. Plus, he's willing to go.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: There's still a chance that Kuba signs with the Sens before the deadline ... and that Sens are delusional enough to believe that they're still in the playoff picture.

Jay Bouwmeester, D, Florida Panthers

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Ottawa, Philadelphia, Chicago, Vancouver.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Rob Blake.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Florida general manager Jacques Martin could get a nice package for J-Bo, helping the Panthers in their playoff push instead of allowing him to walk for nothing on July 1.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: The Panthers are the midst of the playoff race and haven't been to the postseason since the 1999-00 season. The franchise desperately needs to show progress.

Jordan Leopold, D, Colorado Avalanche

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Boston, Columbus.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Mattias Ohlund.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Unlike other defensemen available from the Avalanche (Brett Clark, Ruslan Salei), Leopold is in the last year of his contract. Overall, his pluses outweigh the minuses.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Uh, can you think of a reason why he won't be?

• Ruslan Salei, D, Colorado Avalanche

Contract Status: Signed through 2009-10 season
Teams He Could Help: Montreal, Boston, Minnesota.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Adam Foote.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Teams wants depth on the blue-line heading into the playoffs and could overpay.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: General manager Francois Giguere is in the middle of remaking the Avalanche and may want to keep the veteran defenseman around through the final year of his deal.

Derek Morris, D, Phoenix Coyotes

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Boston.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Dion Phaneuf
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Uh, once your GM goes on the record saying you'll be traded, then it's a pretty safe bet.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: If Phoenix Coyotes general manager Don Maloney is fired within the next 24 hours and replaced by Derek Morris's uncle or best friend.

• Pavel Kubina, D, Toronto Maple Leafs

Contract Status: UFA after the 2009-10 season.
Teams He Could Help: Columbus, Boston.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Rob Blake.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: It's the lesser of two evils: Waive a no-trade clause and potentially choose the team you'll be playing for until the end of your contract, or wait until the summer when there's a window for Burke to trade him to any location he damn well pleases.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Burke isn't asking him to waive the NTC, and Kubina hasn't seemed enthusiastic to do so.

Center

Keith Tkachuk, C/LW, St. Louis Blues

Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent after this season.
Teams He Could Help: New York Rangers, Boston, Chicago.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Joe Thornton.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: The Blues are still in the playoff race, but surely Tkachuk would like to get one more chance at a Stanley Cup before his career is out.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Another veteran with a no-trade clause, Tkachuk seems to willing to waive it if the right deal is in place.

Olli Jokinen, C, Phoenix Coyotes

Contract Status: UFA after the 2009-10 season.
Teams He Could Help: Montreal, Chicago, Columbus.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Pavel Datsyuk, minus the defense.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Because we all know the Coyotes are on the brink of financial ruin, according to Canadian media that would like to see them in Hamilton. And because Phoenix has, unfortunately, fallen out of the playoff picture in the West.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Because Jokinen remains a building block for success rather than an obstacle to it; which means that Phoenix will want one hell of a return for him. It all rests on the level of desperation from interested parties.

Jeff Halpern, C, Tampa Bay

Contract Status: Signed through 2009-10 season.
Teams He Could Help: Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Buffalo, Florida.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Rod Brind'Amour.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: General Manager Brian Lawton might part with Halpern if he's blown away by an offer; something that typically happens every year at the deadline.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Liked by head coach Rick Tocchet and has an attractive $2-million salary for next season.

Matt Stajan, C, Toronto Maple Leafs

Contract Status: Signed through 2009-10 season.
Teams He Could Help: Dallas, Pittsburgh.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Henrik Sedin.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Brian Burke's remodeling of the Maple Leafs may not have Stajan in the plans.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Having a career season and has a very attractive $1.75 million cap number.

Nik Antropov, C/RW, Toronto Maple Leafs

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Pittsburgh, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Anze Kopitar, but he plays smaller.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Unless Brian Burke saying he needs a change of scenery was in reference to the wallpaper in Nik's bedroom, he's going to be traded.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: The off chance that a delusion Burke actually holds out for a No. 1 pick for this rental.

Tim Connolly, C, Buffalo Sabres

Contract Status: UFA this summer.
Teams He Could Help: Columbus.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Whatever player could be considered a "big dink."
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: If it appears the two sides are at a contract impasse, and the price coming back is right, then the Sabres would probably deal one of the most talented but ultimately brittle players on their roster. 
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: The Sabres are in a playoff race, and Connolly -- if he can stay healthy -- makes a big difference in that race. Put it this way: They'd love to hang on to Timmy more than they would Max. No contest, that one. 

• Michael Nylander, C, Washington Capitals

Contract Status: UFA after the 2010-11 season.
Teams He Could Help: Chicago, Columbus.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Marc Savard.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Because he's fluctuated between a spare part and an offensive fill-in for the Capitals; if he fancies himself a No. 1 center, it won't be in Washington.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Because he's not exactly been eager to waive the no-trade clause that's crippled the Capitals' trade options this season (a clause that, in hindsight, was one of GM George McPhee's few recent blunders).

Forwards

Ryan Smyth, LW, Colorado Avalanche

Contract Status: UFA after the 2011-12 season.
Teams He Could Help: Montreal, Vancouver, Los Angeles ... Edmonton?
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Jarome Iginla.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: The Avalanche are looking to retool, and Smyth's $6.25 million cap hit for the next three seasons is an anchor for a rebuilding team. Then again, Smyth's also an asset: One of the few Avs that can bring back a big return via trade, especially from franchises nord of da border yearning for the instant gratification that would accompany the "Captain Canada" to his homeland.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Smyth's got a no-trade clause, and Colorado's got a hell of an asking price for the guy.

Bill Guerin, RW, New York Islanders

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Capitals, Canadiens, Rangers. Anyone that needs a gritty veteran forward but doesn't mind that he's in full decline.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Cam Neely.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Because he's waived his no-trade clause and the Islanders have been close to a deal with a "mystery team" since Sunday. So basically, he could be gone by the time you read this.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Pretty much the only way he's staying with the Islanders is if all suitors back out and/or he replaces Garth Snow as the team's new general manager.

Chris Neil, RW, Ottawa Senators

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Detroit.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Matthew Barnaby.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: His contract asking price has appeared too rich for the Senators' liking, and his abilities as a gritty forward could actually bring back a decent return from the right team.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: There's always the chance he'll re-sign with Ottawa, or that the other 29 locker rooms don't want anything to do with him.

Gary Roberts, W, Tampa Bay Lightning

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Detroit, Calgary, Pittsburgh.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Chuck Norris.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: On a limited basis, Roberts can be an impact player for a winning team. He's great in the locker room, a nice element of toughness in the lineup and a complete character guy. Oh, and the Lightning may not make the playoffs this season.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Lightning Strikes said it best: "The 42-year-old Cup winner has proved he can still affect a game with his tenacity and toughness. If it is his final season, Tampa Bay would not want to lose him for nothing." If the price is too high, WWGRD?

Erik Cole, F, Edmonton Oilers

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Boston.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Brenden Morrow.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: He's a pending UFA that will command good coin above the $4 million annually he's already making. Cole plays at 110 percent effort, which is either a good thing (he's a tenacious player) or a bad thing (sometimes, he gets hurt ... badly).
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Cole's been playing good hockey for an Edmonton team desperate to make the postseason.

Marian Gaborik, F, Minnesota Wild

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Los Angeles, Pittsburgh ... yeah, Minnesota, too.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Marian Hossa.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Gabby passed a physical just in time for the trade deadline, which is a message to teams that while he isn't ready to play now, he will be ready for the postseason. Will anyone take the bait?
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Bottom line is that the Wild want him back, they might need him to clinch a playoff spot and his value right now is slightly lower than Sirius/XM stock.

Martin St. Louis, RW, Tampa Bay Lighting

Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12
Teams He Could Help: Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Dallas.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Zach Parise
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: He's a cheap $4 million for the remaining two years of his deal and because the Lightning haven't been in the news enough this season.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: St. Louis has a no-trade close and has rumored to already have nixed a deal to Pittsburgh.

• Milan Hejduk, RW, Colorado Avalanche

Contract Status: Signed through 2009-10 season.
Teams He Could Help: Pittsburgh, Vancouver.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Jarome Iginla.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: The Avalanche are cutting salary and getting Hejduk's $4 million off their payroll would help in their rebuilding process in return for draft picks and prospects.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Has a no-trade clause.

Mark Recchi, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Columbus, Carolina.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Brian Gionta, though taller and slightly older.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Recchi has seen a bit of a resurgence since arriving in Tampa Bay and could help a team looking for veteran experience from a guy with two Stanley Cup rings.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: How many times do you see a team deal for a 41-year old?

Ian Laperriere, RW, Colorado Avalanche

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Florida, Vancouver.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: David Backes.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: A good rental player who can sure up a team's depth heading into the playoffs.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Has expressed his desire to stay in Colorado and has been in contract talks.

Goalies

Kari Lehtonen, G, Atlanta Thrashers

Contract Status: RFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Philadelphia.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Henrik Lundqvist.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Because the Thrashers are going to have to start the Ondrej Pavelec Era at some point, and with the lack of "quality" goalies at this deadline, Kari might be the belle of the ball ...
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: ... or he'll be seen as an oft-injured keeper that's not an upgrade over what's already on a team's roster and an RFA headache waiting to happen.

Manny Fernandez, G, Boston Bruins

Contract Status: UFA after this season.
Teams He Could Help: Philadelphia, Colorado, St. Louis, Toronto.
So Basically, He's a Poor Man's: Nikolai Khabibulin.
Here's Why He'll Be Traded At the Deadline: Could walk after the season and has played well this season splitting time with Tim Thomas. If Tuukka Rask is ready for the full-time back-up job, then what Boston could get in return might help their depth heading into the playoffs.
Here's Why He Won't Be Traded At the Deadline: Even with the development of Rask, general manager Peter Chiarelli would be more comfortable with two experienced goaltenders heading into the playoffs.

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