The NHL Trade Deadline is March 9th 2006. This is the last day that NHL teams can trade or acquire players before the playoffs and their run at the Stanley Cup. This is the first deadline under the new salary cap which should have implications on what teams do or do not do.
As usual, there are a lot of big names and good hockey players that are ‘up for grabs’. Strong teams looking to strengthen their weaker areas before taking a run at the cup will be active as well as weak teams with no playoff hopes looking to unload players and improve their team for the future.
Which strong teams are on the market and what do they need?
The Ottawa Senators – The Senators have been a cup favorite since the first game of the year. They have an extremely strong team but they have been rumored to be interested in another large forward up front. The best large forward on the market is probably Olli Jokinen of the Florida Panthers whose contract is up. Jokinen has never played a playoff game in his career and will probably have no issues going to a team like Ottawa. Jokinen is a hot commodity and any team would be interested in him. Whoever can give Mike Keenan what he wants will snag Olli. If it happens to be the Sens, look out.
The Senators are also interested in a reliable backup to Dominik Hasek. Hasek’s injured again and should he not be able to play in the playoffs the Senators aren’t confident going with the Mike Tyson admiring, hair bleaching Ray Emery.
The Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins are two teams with surplus goaltenders. What happend to wonderboy rookie of the year Andrew Raycroft? The Bruins seem happy with Tim Thomas and Hanna Toivonen and 3’s a crowd. The Sabres are a surpise contender and at the beginning of the year Martin Biron was being shopped around more than anyone else in the league. Then Biron went on to backstop the Sabres into a potential division winner. It may be Mika Noronen‘s turn to be put in the deli window. "1/2 off Finnish Goaltenders!"
If they do go, will Buffalo or Boston trade goalies within their own division? Doubtful.
The miserable Leafs might fit the selling role better than the buyer’s. Of course Leafs management and fans are so detached from reality they still think they’re going to make the playoffs and win the cup so who knows what they’ll actually do. If John Ferguson somehow reaches a moment of clarity he might realize that some teams may be interested in Eddie the Flightless Bird Belfour and get rid of him while he can.
The Vancouver Canucks are another team that’s potentially looking for goaltending but more likely they’ll boost their roster with a strong defenseman. This is where The Habs come into the picture. After Jose Theodore’s busted ankle effictively eliminated any interest, Sheldon Souray might be the only player being sought after by other teams. It’s a tough one to call but the Canadiens aren’t going to give him up cheap if at all. Everyone likes to think Mike Ribeiro is going to go but who really wants him and what are they offering? The Capitals want a set up man for Alexander Ovechkin and Brendan Witt wants out of Washington badly. If the Caps are dumb enough for that swap then Gainey should jump all over it.
The Phoenix Coyotes are unlikely to make the big dance and Denis Gauthier and Derek Morris are two D-men teams may be interested in. Curtis Joseph is also nearing the end of his career and might help a team deeper into the post season. Hmmm, Cujo in an Ottawa jersey? Back on the Oilers?
To the dismay of the Montreal fans, it doesn’t seem likely to be any blockbuster moves on the horizon for the Habs. BUT, remember that Bob Gainey is a sneaky bast*rd and he’s surprised us before.