This year out all others years has the biggest question mark in terms of trades and values of players. With the Olympic break starting at the end of this week there are many teams considering this almost as good a time to move their players than the actual deadline.
The reason is that if they move players going to the games in the Sochi then the team won't have to be on the hook for paying that person for the games. There are a couple other things to consider. When the players get back to Sochi, there really isn't much time before the OFFICIAL trade deadline and thus aquiring players now might allow you to get them at a better deal, especially if you are hoping to acquire them anyways. For example picking up Ryan Miller now might be cheaper because Buffalo won't have to pay him while he is in Sochi and after the Olympics, the rumor is that the Sabres are looking for 3 decent players in return for him. That is steep for a goalie coming off a season like he had last year and leading his team to an almost guaranteed last place finish this year. The last reason to trade before the games is that most likely there will be character players not going to the Olympics to play. This will allow these guys to relocate, settle in, get to know the coach, practice, train and start way more ahead that players just thrown overnight into a new coaching system.
Regardless of what trade deadline, there are some questions as to who will be available, what type of player has the most value and what value does each individual player have. If we use last year as an example, defense men with offensive ability have value (Wade Redden was trade able) and defense men with experience also have value (Regher was worth 2 x 2nd round picks). There is some talk about the need for centers, top 6 players and goalies.
It is important to note that the cap will be raising next year so teams will have money to spend. Despite Eklunds rumors of the popular teams being the only ones close to signing players, lets take a look at an obvious team with needs. Colorado currently sits in 5. They have a well balanced and strong offensive core with a goalie that is playing really well. They also have a back up that, when needed can fill in nicely. What they don't have is 5 dmen. Colorado is one of the teams with the most cap room before the the cap raises. They have young players all over their roster. A player that will probably be nominated for Rookie of the year and a player that won that award two years ago. I think it is fair to say that they could part with their draft picks for the right dmen. Montreal, Tampa, Pitts, Ana.. could all use veteran depth if they are serious about a run. I think dmen this year will fetch a huge price at the deadline. I think we will again be surprised at who garners good return.
As for goalies. This one is tougher. Some teams could use one. Take SJ for example, No real back up, Niemi has the most wins in the league and the worst GAA. Would they be interested in Miller or Hiller? Niemi still has value. Is Luongo still on the market if there was a trade for a goalie like Hiller or Halak? What is St. Louis doing with both their goalies becoming UFA's. Are they looking to trade or resign? Is Toronto bluffing and they part with Reimer for a team that might give him a chance as a 1A or 1B. Do the Oilers act now for a big name goalie or is Scrivens the next Kipper? Lots of teams looking to upgrade and lots of question marks as to who is really on the market.
As for forwards, there is no limit to who is trade able. I think this will be less remarkable than we think. Some teams might part with huge salaries to teams that max out their cap each year. Teams like NYR who was talking about a culture change could take on an over priced player. I do expect Philly to do something. I think we all know Calgary, Edmonton and Buffalo will be in selling off people. Hopefully the Oilers learned that they need a new coach and GM and Calgary learned that they need some offense and a goalie. As for Buffalo, they choose their path and they are on pace for it.
I would like to think the bottom teams would sell their useless veteran d and the odd forward for picks and teams that have tons of young guys like Edmonton would trade them after the playoffs to teams nearing the cap for a number 1 goalie and defense man. Even parting with Edmonton's own early first round pick if it is anyone other than Ekblad. They don't need another 6'0 speedy forward with hands as stupid as saying that sounds. Not as much as they need some D, a Veteran forward in the top 6 (preferably second line center) and a top goalie.
However no one can really predict the value of anyone this year and with MacT and Burke leading Alberta's teams. The off season should show one team bulk up and one team stock up on number 6 dmen and 4th line players. Both ignoring real needs.