There have been some big moves already before the deadline -- maybe the most we've seen this early since the NHL lockout -- and certainly, more to come. It seems the most intriguing targets for most teams are the players that will be UFAs at season's end. And, this off-season boasts some of the biggest names around the league, however, some of them will most likely re-sign with their respective teams (Nicklas Lidstrom, Andrei Markov). But, let's take a look at the guys that could be on the move at this year's deadline: Brad Richards (DAL), Ed Jovanovski (PHO), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (TOR), Bryan McCabe (FLA) and Tomas Vokoun (FLA) just to name a few.
Let's start off in Dallas with Brad Richards. Richards will arguably be the most sought after free agent this summer. A lot of things factor into whether or not the GM Joe Nieuwendyk will be able to move Richards before the deadline, the biggest being his no trade clause. Similar to GM Brian Burke's situation with Tomas Kaberle in Toronto, he had trouble moving the defenseman because of his no trade clause. Richards controls his destiny in this scenario and it's going to take an okay from his camp, before Nieuwendyk can explore the options.
Richards has a great track record, winning the Conn Smythe trophy during the Tampa Bay Lightning's 2004 improbable Stanley Cup run. That season he compiled 79 points (26 goals, 53 assists) in 82 games that season and during that playoff run he had 26 points in 23 games (12 goals, 14 assists). The following season (after the lockout) he tallied 91 points (23 goals, 68 assists) in 82 games. He has two 90+ point seasons and three 70+ point seasons in his 11 NHL seasons...and once again, he's on pace for another 90+ point season this year. He's won a gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, on one of the more productive lines for Canada alongside then teammates Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. All this being said, at his current age of 30, and with a cap hit of $7.8 million this season, any team that wants to add the center to their team will undoubtedly want to ship out some cap space in return to the Stars. Something Nieuwendyk may not be willing to take on.
It's been speculated that Brian Burke has been hot after the services of Richards, but the asking price could be too big. The Leafs currently have two 1st-round draft picks in 2011 and surely one of those would have to be sent the other way to Dallas along with two prospects, or a prospect and a roster player that could step into the Stars' lineup right away.
The Leafs may have to depart with recent 1st-round pick, Nazem Kadri, a centerman that could be thrown into the fold in Dallas. Another thought could be that Burke acquired prospect Joe Colborne from the Boston Bruins in the Tomas Kaberle deal, to use as trade bait to land a big market player like Richards. Several defenseman could be thrown in the deal, including Keith Aulie, Carl Gunnarsson and Brett Lebda. It's unlikely that Burke will move Dion Phaneuf -- although he hasn't played great in Toronto since being there -- but if he could ship Mike Komisarek and his $4.5 million cap hit to Dallas, it would sure up some space for Richards' big contract.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere is currently injured, and it's unclear if we will see him at any point again this season. So, with that being said, at the age of 33 and a cap hit of $6 million, Giguere may be nearly impossible to move (unless to a Stanley Cup contender) and maybe putting him on the injured reserve list it would free up some much needed cap space for Richards.
Enough about the Leafs moves, let's talk about Tomas Vokoun's situation with the Florida Panthers. He may re-sign with the Panthers, and GM Dale Tallon may opt to do a sign-and-trade deal with another time. I think most GM's would like this scenario because they will be assured that Vokoun will be with their franchise for the future. However, he may be a rental for a contender before the deadline, at the age of 34 and a cap hit of $5.7 million, he may be hard to dump on a contender without a cap hit in return. The Detroit Red Wings were rumoured to inquiring about Vokoun, but if that were to happen, they would probably move Jimmy Howard out of Hockeytown along with a top 6 forward, either Valterri Filppula or Jiri Hudler. The Red Wings have plenty of young prospects developing in the AHL that could be used as trade bait as well. But, based on GM Ken Holland's track record, he won't make a big shuffle in Detroit -- and, Howard is the best young goalie that the Red Wings have seen for years.
Florida may also move former Leafs defenseman Bryan McCabe who primarily has been brought up in trade talks with the New York Rangers. McCabe has a cap hit of $5.75 million, and the asking price may only be a couple of draft picks, most likely not a 1st-rounder. The Rangers may also be looking to acquire Sergei Gonchar from the Ottawa Senators who has another year left on his contract at around the same price as McCabe.
Ed Jovanovski could move at the deadline as well, but again at 34 with a cap hit of $6.5 million it might be impossible for the Coyotes to move him. The Coyotes also don't have any cap issues like some other teams and are playing really well at the moment leading the Pacific division in the West and would claim the 3rd seed in the playoffs at the moment.
There's a few trade deadline thoughts to think about.