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Well all know there are some huge names being floated around the league right now and I am going to go on record as to my thoughts on who is in play and where they might end up.
Chris Pronger - Won't be moved until the draft. Teams won't pay the huge ransom and alter the chemistry of their teams. A deal of this magnitude needs more than 5 days to happen.
Jay Bouwmeester - He will be a Flyer. From all reports I have read the Flyers need this guy the most and have a top 6 player to move (Lupul)
Tomas Kaberle - This one will come down to the wire. I know Burke has set the limit high but all those teams that lost out on Jay Bo will turn to Toronto in a desperation move. There are a number of teams in play here but I see Pittsburgh moving Jordan Stahl to get this done.
Olli Jokinen - His time is done in Phoenix. The experiment didn’t work and both sides have agreed to part ways. This guy is a perfect fit for teams like Calgary, Buffalo and Montreal. I see Montreal winning out here. Gainey is not a stupid man and to get this done will be a lot cheaper than getting Vinny. Olli is signed for next season, making it a great fit for both parties.
Vincent Lecavalier – 2 major tire kickers here. Montreal and NY Rangers. As noted above, Gainey is not dumb and will not make a move out of pure emotion. Sather on the other hand has sat by and watched is club self-destruct, clinging to the edge of a playoff spot. He will deal out of emotion. With Tortorella now at the helm in NY, Vinny may very well feel some level of comfort going to Broadway. My prediction is that he stays put but something may happen before his no trade clause kicks in.
Ilya Kovalchuk – Not going anywhere. The newly appointed captain will stay put as Atlanta knows if they move him they may as well just pack up shop as a franchise as they will have nothing left.
Martin St. Louis – Very skilled and compliments his centers well. If Tampa is looking to go in another direction, they should start at by moving Martin. Pittsburgh would be the perfect fit here. Having just added Kunitz to the top 6, adding St. Louis would complete the squad. My prediction is Pittsburgh or bust.
Pavel Kubina – Having already stated he is not going to waive his no trade clause, he has been playing like a stud as of late. I am sure a lot of teams are looking Toronto’s way to get a chance at this rear guard. His fate will be in his own hands. Boston would be a perfect fit for this hard edged blueliner. Like the Kaberle deal it will come down to the wire. He will be moved for a first rounder and a prospect.
Keith Tkachuk – He has been rumored to be going to half the league already. He will be moved, but to where? He is still a top 6 guy who wants to win. Wanting to stay in St. Louis I see Keith going to Chicago. I think it would be a great fit. He brings heart, grit and leadership to a young squad. Oh and he is still within driving distance to the golden arches. (Insert joke here)
Nik Antropov – Bye Bye Toronto. Burke already said he days in Toronto are numbered. Playing better as of late I see Antropov packing his bags for beautiful Vancouver. I can’t believe that the Canucks are dragging their feet on this one. Antropov played extremely well with Sundin last year and would slide right in there and would not displace anyone in the top 6. Now with Demitra having a broken finger, it just makes the most sense.
Bill Guerin – Has just agreed to waive his no trade clause if the ‘right deal’ comes along. Which in my mind means any contender. Veteran experience and a knack of scoring goals he would be a great rental, possibly. That year in San Jose went terribly bad. I don’t see him going to the top 6 contenders as he is a top 6 guy and would change the chemistry of the club traded to. Look for Guerin to go to a smaller market team that he can make an impact on. My guess on that would be Dallas. He has a history there and they need top 6 scoring.
Ryan Smyth – Not going anywhere. Has a no trade clause and they cannot afford to let this veteran go. There will be offers from other teams but in the end he is just too valuable to the Avalanche organization.
Jason Spezza – Not going anywhere, yet. Again, this is one of those deals that takes time to construct. He has a huge contract which limits the number of teams that he can go to. Edmonton, Columbus and LA are the leading candidates here but there is no rush for any of those teams to make a move of this magnitude in 5 days time.
Milan Hejduk – Having one year left on his contract, Hejduk still figures in on the top 6 in Colorado. I do believe that Colorado will be sellers, but they will be unloading the bottom tier players and going forward with a mix of vets and youth. I don’t believe he gets moved, this year.
Scott Gomez – Rumors are swirling that he is on his way out. People are talking Jay Bo, Vinny or basically anything. The trade winds are swirling on Broadway but this is a huge contract to take on. Look for the same teams that want Spezza on this one. I see Columbus pushing hard for a centre for Nash. They are also trying to get themselves into the playoffs for the first time ever. If this happens it will be a domino effect in which Sather makes another huge deal.
Jordan Staal – This one baffles me on a lot of levels. Why would Pittsburgh need all this talent down the middle. Staal is not a point producer, at least not buried on the third line in Pittsburgh. He is a tremendous 2 way forward that may do great things on another team. Freshly signed to a new, reasonable contract, Pittsburgh should take this opportunity to move this guy for a stud winger or D man. As I mentioned previously, Staal for Kaberle folks. Similar contracts and both great players.
Filip Kuba – With the acquisition of Campoli to the Senators line-up, it made Kuba expendable. I believe he will be moved, but to where? A poor-mans Tomas Kaberle, teams such as Dallas and the Rangers would look at this guy as a cheap option. Look for him to go to Dallas as a rental. Great fit as they are missing that puck moving PP QB.
Nikolai Khabibulin – He has been rock solid this year. He has had a great tandem with Huet and they have pushed each other all season. Khabby has a winning history and would look be amazing on certain teams. I am sure Chicago will get offers but I don’t think they will make the deal. If Huet fails in just one game they have a guy that can be rock solid in there for them.