The deadline is only 8 days away and the rumors are swirling like crazy. Especially regarding the Leafs. The Leafs are getting more air time than ever in Canada right now, which is hard to believe considering East Coast TV always leads with the Leafs regardless of their standing in the league. But this blog isn't complaining about the centre of the universe, I just want to break it down a little.
As far as Mats Sundin goes. Right now, I feel he is the strongest "available" name at the deadline; including Forsberg and Jokinen. He's having a career year, is an outstanding captain and leads by example on and off the ice. What more could you want in a playoff run than an elite first-line centre? I want him to come to my Flames. I think it could help us in the playoffs (although playoff teams don't get beat down by the Kings like we did... my prediction of us missing the playoffs this year is making me nervous lately). If the Flames were to land Sundin, it would likely cost Tanguay/Huselius (if I were Toronto I would rather have Tanguay), Dustin Boyd (although again, if I were Toronto, I would ask for Mark Giordano), and a first round pick. I would do this deal. I think the Flames need to trade Boyd while his "prospect" status is still high. Having said that, I think another team will likely offer more than this, like Vancouver, for example.
Now, as far as Sundin not waiving his NTC. I don't buy it for a second. But he's playing it very smart. If he comes outright and says he's going to waive the NTC, it takes his value down a notch. Refusing to give up allows the Leafs to get the best return for Sundin, then promptly bring him back in the off-season. And if the NBA's Dallas/NJ trade taught us anything (Jerry Stackhouse), it's that you don't announce your intentions to return to your old team. Without a doubt, Sundin is traded, and returns to the Leafs in the off-season for a playoff chase next season. And as long as Cliff Fletcher doesn't pull a Kevin Lowe and not acquire any actual roster players, the Leafs would be capable of doing just that.
Tomas Kaberle. Why is his name even involved in rumors? He's locked up long-term to an absolute bargain of a deal at about 4.25 mil per. He's only 29 years old. If he continues to develop there's no doubt he can be a top 10 defenseman in the league. Why on earth would he be traded, unless you're getting Joe Thornton in return. Maybe JFJ would have cleaned house and gotten rid of him, but Fletcher won't make that mistake.
Darcy Tucker. I've been a huge supporter of Darcy Tucker and would love to see him in a Flames uniform. But if you're the Leafs, he's another guy that I might want to hang on to. He's not that old, and he's a heart and soul kind of guy. His injury status may prompt Fletch to get rid of him as he costs about 10-15 man games per season. Although it as nice to see Maurice finally use the cross-crease power-play move with Sundin and Tucker the other night. The last couple season's that move get Tucker 15-20 goals.
Raycroft. If someone is interested in him. You move him, without question. Get a 3rd line grinder and get the hell out of there.
If I'm a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs I would be confident already. As your team already made the smartest move of the season, firing JFJ and hiring Fletch. That's great the JFJ goes on TSN and says he would have cleaned house, because he probably would have traded Sundin/Kaberle/McCabe/Kubina for a couple more Jiri Tlusty's and 8 picks and the franchise would be rebuilding for another 5 years. The right man is in charge now, and I'm excited to see how it plays out.
Speaking of JFJ, what is Kevin Lowe going to do with the Oilers? The Oil have to play .800 hockey for the rest of the season to even have a sniff at the playoffs. And there's talk that he may hang onto his most tradeable assets for a playoff run. As much as I bash on Lowe, I have to think he's smart enough to get some roster players for next season. Then again, this is the guy who traded Ryan Smyth for nothing and Pronger to the best team in the West for what now amounts to Ladislav Smid who's clearly 3 years away from being a solid D-man. He heavily overpaid Dwayne Roloson, Ales Hemsky and Fernando Pisani and failed to lock up Pitkanen for more than 1 season; leaving him as a prime candidate to either be traded or "Lowe'd" in the off-season.
So what would I do if I was GM for a day? Trade Roloson. Same thing as the Raycroft situation, except I would consider this a salary dump. You're not going to get more than a 3rd line player for him and the Oilers already have a team that's 90% third liners. So picks would work fine, and Roloson would be a serviceable BACKUP to several teams.
Steve Staios. This one would bug me. He's a touch old for a rebuild, but he's showing no major signs of slowing down. He has quite a bit of value, so I'd shop him, but only make the deal if the price is right... yeah yeah, easier said than done with Klowe behind the reigns.
Jarrett Stoll. Will be a nice 2nd line centre soon. However, you already have a 2nd line centre in Shawn Horcoff. Personally, I would keep Stoll. His PP ability alone is worth the 2 mil per he gets.
I don't really see any other tradeable assets on the current roster. Raffi Torres should have already been traded, but now he's done 'til next season and his value has dropped considerably. On another note, Stortini needs to stop getting playing time. He can't play in the defensive end and for a fighter, he never actually wins any fights. He gets beat up every time. He has no value.
Like the Leafs, the best move the Oilers could make would be to clean house and get rid of the Old Boys Club as its clear Lowe and MacT were better on the ice than they are off it. This is something that I think Katz may make happen in the offseason...
Other than that.. I look forward to see what happens on deadline day and the Leafs and the Oilers are the two teams that I find most intriguing.