Thursday, February 21, 2008

Playing the Trading Game

I don't know how much you're caught up in the whole trade deadline buzz, but you'll be expecting the Sherpa to be knee deep in the whole thing, just for the sake of the people who stop by and read. I've been doing a little bit more digging around, so I thought I might put some new names up and maybe offer a little bit of my own suggestion. Who doesn't like to play General Manager on their own time?

The name that continues to be batted around seems to be Michael Ryder (Box 14), more for a guy who would go the other way to improve the Canadiens situation. Ryder has been having a bit of an off year when it comes to his offensive output. He's only managed 22 points (11G, 11A) in 51 games this year, where he has come in with 30 goal seasons in the past. His pool value has certainly gone down this year, but a change of scenery could be good for him as well. His possible destinations have been quoted as being Atlanta (for Marian Hossa (Dale C.)) or Calgary (for Alex Tanguay (John B.)).

A rumour floating around is that Jay McKee (non-pool) could be on the move out of St. Louis and into a winning climate. McKee has been better known for his large contract to exclusively block shots, but moreso for his inability to stay in the line-up for extended periods of time. McKee has managed 49 games this season and has 8 points (2G, 6A) for St. Louis. His rumoured destination has been listed as Pittsburgh, who has enough cap room for his $4 million per season contract, which still has two more years on it. He would certainly be the guy to anchor the team defensively, which is something that would improve the overall play of the team.

On the brink of unrestricted free agency, Mike Peca (non-pool) has peaked some interest in the rumour mill. The Senators have been eyeing Peca for quite some time, as the story goes in the mill, and could put up some valuable packages Columbus' way in the next little while to try and land him for more defensive depth in front of their shaky goaltending. The Blue Jackets only stand 5 points away from a playoff spot, which is still very much in the mix and they have plenty of cap room this season to be buyers instead of sellers. It will be interesting to see how a team like Ottawa would value Peca to make them sway one way rather than the other. The Blue Jackets have a few assets that they could move to be younger and have their potential grow for next season, so the Peca-watch could be justified.

As for the Maple Leafs, mired in the basement of the Eastern Conference, there is plenty to be said about what the team needs and doesn't need at the trade deadline, but it all seems so silly, especially since the identity of the going forward General Manager hasn't been put forth into the arena. Cliff Fletcher will be responsible for some tinkering before the trade deadline, but to me, the only tinkering he should be doing is opening up more opportunity for change, so the new and permanent GM has a new lump of play-doh to shape.

Making a move for a top level draft pick this summer should be key. I do believe I have mentioned this previously in a blog post before. I still stand by this idea and it should be in the team's best interest to move for those picks. If other teams are sending offers to Cliff Fletcher's office for players other than Mats Sundin (John P.), they should also be carefully considered. Obviously, the team isn't winning with the make-up it has now, so if a lower-rung team wants to acquire Bryan McCabe (Benson) for prospects and picks, the team has an increased chance to win the lottery for a higher draft pick in June. If I had the hat on, I would call up Los Angeles and see what it would take to wrangle their pick away from them.

Probably the funniest thing I've read about the Maple Leafs situation over the past couple weeks was Darcy Tucker (Box 15) is untradeable. It's not the way you would think either. I had read that a GM in the league wouldn't give his last draft pick for the aging winger and frankly, I wouldn't blame him. With a $3 million cap hit for the next three seasons working against him, it's no wonder that the GM's would try and stay away. That's an expensive player who won't score 20 goals this season. The term "buyout" comes to mind... there could still be a bit of a cap hit to worry about, but the team doesn't seem to benefit with him in the line-up at full price. But that's saying that a team can't offer a bag of pucks for Tucker.

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