Pre-Draft Trade Talk
As one of the NHL’s most active weekends, the Entry Draft often rivals the trade deadline in terms of transactions.
Of course, the trade deadline generally involves more high profile players, though this year could be the exception.
With just over one day until the draft, let’s take a look at some of the chatter surrounding trades.
Will Burke Make A Move?
For months, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has repeated that his goal is to move up from the seven spot in the draft to select highly-touted forward John Tavares, who projects to be selected in the top two. No deal is imminent, but Burke isn’t worried.
“Teams haven’t said they won’t move the pick,” Burke said, according to TheStar.com. “Most of them have said they don’t like my price. We’ll see how it goes, we’ll keep banging away at it.”
The teams he most likely is targeting are the New York Islanders, who hold the first pick, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have the second pick.
Another possibility is the fourth overall pick, currently owned by the Atlanta Thrashers.
Thrashers general manager Don Waddell told the Globe and Mail, according to CBC, that he has had discussions with Burke regarding the fourth pick, though he admits discussions haven’t gone far.
Burke also is shopping for more grit and toughness, stating that he has no problem moving veterans to achieve a longterm plan.
Bouwmeester Set To Move
Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is all but traded. Darren Dreger of TSN.ca has reported that, “Five teams remain in the mix with the asking price just to talk to Bouwmeester, according to source, believed to be a third round draft pick. “
Among the teams believed to be interested are the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers, who reportedly are offering forward Joffrey Lupul.
Clowe Could Be In Play
The San Jose Sharks are reportedly shopping forward Ryan Clowe, per TSN.ca. Dreger indicated the asking price is steep, leading several interested teams to back away.
- Anaheim Chris Pronger’s name has hit the rumor mill of late, but he likely won’t be moved this weekend, especially without a decision from Scott Nidermayer regarding his playing future.
- Atlanta The Thrashers aren’t expected to trade superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk, despite entering the final year of his contract. They’re also seeking a top-line winger, either via trade or free agency, to bolster the offense.
- Boston Phil Kessel isn’t likely to be traded this weekend, though contract negotiations with the Boston Bruins may ultimately result in a trade due to salary cap issues.
- Buffalo Don’t expect much action from the characteristically-quite Sabres, who likely will look to build from the draft and free agency rather than trades.
- Calgary As noted above, the Flames are reportedly in the running for Bouwmeester, and there has been talk of a Dion Phaneuf for Dany Heatley swap, though no discussions appear to have gone beyond the early stages.
- Carolina The Hurricanes, who just locked-in head coach Paul Maurice, will focus on retaining their free agents rather than building through trades.
- Chicago There has been little talk surrounding Blakhawk trades, but don’t be surprised if goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin finds a new team by the end of the day Saturday. With Cristobal Huet signed long-term, Khabibulin is an expensive luxury the Blackhawks can’t afford.
- Colorado All is quiet in Denver as the team hopes to use a success draft to add to its prospect pool.
- Columbus The Blue Jackets reportedly may be interested in moving up a few slots from their 16th position.
- Dallas The big news for the Stars is an uncharacteristically high draft pick (eighth overall) and the possibility of signing Swedish free agent goalie prospect Jonas Gustavsson.
- Detroit With little cap space to spare, the Red Wings’ focus will be on retaining Marian Hossa, not making trades.
- Edmonton The Oilers have plans to make a bit of a jump from the 10th overall pick, though there is little word of how high general manager Steve Tambellini is interested in climbing and what he might be willing to offer.
- Florida As mentioned above, the Panthers’ primary goal is to move Bouwmeester, who will not be returning to the team for next season. This could mark the fourth consecutive year the team has made a splash during draft weekend.
- Los Angeles Dany Heatley’s name keeps getting associated with the Kings, who could be in the market for a top-flight winger. Word is that they have offered a package which includes, but is not limited to, Alexander Frolov and the team’s fifth overall draft pick, making them the team with the inside track for Heatley.
- Minnesota The biggest news surrounding the Wild is whether newly-hired general manager Chuck Fletcher will be able to retain impending free agent Marian Gaborik. There remains a sense of optimism amongst team officials, which limits the likelihood of a trade involving the oft-injured, yet extremely talented forward.
- Montreal Defenseman Mike Komisarek and forward Saku Koivu are slated to become free agents and it is entirely possible both will be on new teams for the start of the 2009-10 season, but it seems unlikely either will be traded this weekend.
- Nashville The Predators are working diligently to re-sign veteran forward Mike Sullivan, though they haven’t ruled out trading him if the right package is offered. General manager David Poile also has 12 draft picks on his hands, meaning the possibility of a few trades for the often-overlooked Predators is high.
- New Jersey In typical Lou Lamoriello fashion, the Devils’ general manager is keeping closed-lipped on his team’s plan. Forward Brian Gionta is slated to become a free agent and hasn’t yet been contacted by Lamoriello, making him a possibility to be dealt, though it seems more likely the team will enter and exit draft weekend with little fanfare aside from draft picks.
- NY Islanders General manager Garth Snow is keeping mum on his intentions, but he isn’t expected to trade his first overall pick.
- NY Rangers Rumors have swirled that Wade Redden could be traded this weekend, though it could be difficult for general manager Glen Sather to find takers for the declining and overpriced veteran. It is possible, however, that Sather could make a strong push for Heatley, who has listed the Rangers as one of his destinations of choice.
- Ottawa The big news for the Senators is the impending trade of Heatley. As noted above, there is no shortage of interest, but questions surround whether teams will be willing to give up enough assets to make general Brian Murray happy. Possibile destinations include Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, NY Rangers, San Jose, St. Louis, and Vancouver.
- Philadelphia In typical Flyer fashion, general manager Paul Holmgen is looking to shake up his roster once again. While salary cap constraints remain a significant problem, reports have the Flyers as the team to beat in the Boumeester sweepstakes, with Lupul being the primary trade bait. Holmgren also will be looking to deal center Daniel Briere and his overpriced contract.
- Phoenix Word is that the Coyotes have held talks with the Flyers regarding Briere, though nothing substantial has resulted in the initial discussions. With the uncertainty of the franchise’s future (and who currently is in charge), it would seem unlikely the Coyotes make any high profile trades.
- Pittsburgh With internal players to sign — namely forwards Bill Guerin and Ruslan Fedotenko and defenseman Rob Scuderi — Penguins general manager Ray Shero will focus on drafting, not trading this weekend. It is possible, however, Shero could look to free up some cap space by making a player-for-pick or player-for-prospect trade. The most commonly referenced players are Pascal Dupuis and Mark Eaton, though there has been little to confirm these rumors.
- San Jose In addition to Clowe, the Sharks may entertain offers for centers Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, though it is unlikely either will be dealt. It also seems unlikely the Sharks will have the means or will to make a strong push for Heatley.
- St. Louis Very little has been mentioned of the Blues, though they are rumored to have inquired about Heatley. Indications are that they will focus on the draft this weekend.
- Tampa Bay Depending on how you look at it, the Lightning could be looking to unload contracts or add to their talent pool. Vinny Lecavalier’s no-trade clause kicks in July 1, and it is possible he could be shopped. If he is made available, look for the Canadiens to make a strong pitch.
- Toronto Look for Burke to be as active as anyone this weekend. His goal is to turn the Maple Leafs into a physical team just as he did with the Ducks during his tenure in Anaheim.
- Vancouver While the focus in Vancouver has been on the Sedin twins and Roberto Loungo, don’t expect the Canucks to actively shop any of them. In fact, don’t expect them to be big players in any trades this weekend.
- Washington The Capitals may make a play for impending free agent defensemen Bouwmeester and Komisarek, but don’t expect them to offer up anything of value. Consequently, this could be a draft-only weekend for general manager George McPhee.