Thursday, February 19, 2009

Possible Pool Players in Deadline Talk

Now that we're only a small number of days away from the NHL trade deadline, I began to wonder if there are going to be any players key to the Draft race that could be moved here at the deadline. With first to fifth separated by only 16 points, there could be some sort of movement that may sway the balance a little. I figure, you have to be as curious as I am, right?

Starting at the top of the table, John B. currently sits with a 12-point lead and he appears to have only one player whose name has surfaced a number of times through the trade rumour circuit this season. Vaclav Prospal has had his name attached to a few playoff-possible teams, including Columbus, for deals that could happen in the next couple weeks. He has been underachieving a bit this year in Tampa, but who hasn't? He certainly could be the tonic that a young fledgling team could appreciate down the stretch. It doesn't seem terribly likely that he would swing the difference after a trade though for the last six weeks of the season.

Jeremy, only sitting 12 points out of first, has a couple of names on his team that have been batted around trade rumours, but they have been fairly weak at best. Martin St. Louis in Tampa and Pavel Kubina in Toronto have both been inserted as possible movers among the rumour mill. St. Louis, the more likely of the two, would be a good addition to any Cup contending team, while Kubina is somewhat coveted by Brian Burke. If the Lightning are truly going to be sellers for a rebuild, St. Louis does have some marketability at a decent cap hit of $5.25 million over the next couple years. I would imagine the return on that trade would be fairly good as well.

In third place, 13 points out, Peter sits with a few names that are worthy of trade talk as well. Brian Gionta, Alex Ponikarovsky and Scott Niedermayer have all surfaced with links to other NHL teams. Gionta has a chance of moving out West for a top level defenseman, while Ponikarovsky could be a victim of the fire sale in Toronto and Niedermayer has surfaced as a decent rental player to a playoff bound Eastern team. Would it even be fair to speculate that there could be an inter-pool team trade, seeing Gionta go for Niedermayer? How strange would that be? These three players do have some value in the Draft and if they can move to healthier spots on another NHL roster, they could make a big difference down the stretch for Peter.

Likely the most marketable asset on Clayton's team is Mattias Ohlund of the Canucks. Ohlund has been a part of a number of Canucks rumours in order for the team to upgrade their forwards. Ohlund hasn't been at his offensive best in the Canucks line-up, but does bring a lot of defensive experience, which a lot of teams should find useful. His name has surfaced in year's previous, but has yet to move. If there was any better time to move him for a top quality forward, now could be it. Saying that, a defenseman move won't be enough to swing the momentum in Clayton's favour, as he still stands 16 points out of first place and three from the money.

Finally, in fifth place, tied with Clayton in fourth, is Marcus. Marcus has two marketable players on his side, a forward and a defenseman, that may be able to help his team out if they were to be moved. The first being Nikolai Antropov, who is in the middle of a media storm in Toronto, as the pundits speculate on whether or not he'll be moved at all. He certainly isn't one of my favourite players, but apparently he is marketable and the right fit could prove to be rather productive... but I doubt it. Also on his marketable list, Ed Jovanovski of the Coyotes. Jovanovski is an appealing rental player on the backend, if a team is willing to mortgage a good piece of their future to get him. Jovanovski does come at a steeper price of $6.5 million against the cap for two more seasons, which may be in Phoenix's best interest to remove from their books.

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