TORONTO — Some (mostly) Western Conference deadline thoughts, with two days to go before the big swap meet:
The Vancouver Canucks dearly need help at centre, but after sending Zack Kassian down to the farm, they’re also short on size and grit.
If the Canucks could get their hands on San Jose winger Ryane Clowe, we’re thinking his scoring woes could be solved the way struggling Canucks wingers’ hands have been softened for years. It’s the Anson Carter effect — play him with the Sedins for a couple of weeks, and Clowe’s touch would quickly return.
We get that Clowe (0 goals in 28 games) is a pending unrestricted free agent and could end up playing for anyone next season, but it would still be a surprise to see San Jose GM Doug Wilson deal him to a possible first-round opponent in Vancouver, let alone a Canucks club that will be in the Sharks’ division next season.
Dealing Michal Handzus for a fourth rounder to Chicago however, reeks of a general managers selling off assets — or chopping payroll.
That’s what makes Detroit interesting as a trade partner for Western Conference teams. The Red Wings are heading East next season, so any trade they make with, say, a Calgary, is really like trading with the other conference.
Same with Columbus, who have three first-round draft picks in the 2013 draft (Rangers’ for Rick Nash, Kings’ for Jeff Carter, and their own).
Entering play Monday the Blue Jackets were in eighth place out West. They’d trade one of those draft picks for an asset that could help them get into the dance.
Trading Turku Broda
One of the toughest deals at this deadline is 36-year-old goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.
He all but sewered his trade value when Kiprusoff told Flames GM Jay Feaster that he won’t report if traded, after his wife gave birth very recently in Calgary. Plus, he’s got that final year at $1.5 of salary left (cap hit: $5.83 million) — so teams can’t even offer Kiprusoff a contract extension until this summer.
Word is Feaster has been trying to repair the market for his ageing goalie who, like Jarome Iginla, the Flames should have moved two seasons ago.
Instead, Calgary kept those two assets, didn’t make the playoffs in either season, and now is reaping far less in return.
That decision alone, made by ownership, will slow down the rebuild in Calgary by at least a year, maybe two.
Still, Kiprusoff could still fetch a decent (but not high-end) prospect, plus a second-round pick, conditional upon the team signing him to an extension this summer. Remember, Calgary’s second-round pick at the June draft belongs to Montreal in the Mike Cammalleri deal. That really hurts as the rebuild begins in Calgary, as it will be a top 35 pick in a deep draft.
Kiprusoff being in the trade market has to really impinge on the Roberto Luongo market, considering their contracts and relative ability in the short term.
To Whit: Trade Ryan?
Sources in Edmonton say the Oilers are leaning towards keeping Ryan Whitney, with the team suddenly right in the playoff hunt. They just signed defenceman Ladislav Smid — four years, $14 million — yet have made no entreaties to Whitney’s camp.
But in a town that has had it up to here with trades that ship out pieces of today for some magic beans that might grow into something tomorrow, the Oilers are reticent to peddle Whitney for draft picks.
It’s a tough call for GM Steve Tambellini, when you consider that slow-footed defenceman Douglas Murray reaped two second-round picks for the San Jose Sharks recently. Could Whitney be worth a rough equivalent to Boston?
We’d be tempted to take the picks, but the backlash from Oilers fans would be stern. Tambellini should track the suitors for Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester. Whoever loses that sweepstakes could well settle on Whitney — and perhaps swing a bigger deal that could bring a roster player that Edmonton could use.
Colorado Clean Out
With lots of different rebuilds afoot, one that has fallen flat is in Colorado. That team doesn’t compete hard enough most nights, and head coach Joe Sacco will almost certainly pay the price this summer. So, too, could GM Greg Sherman, who is the NHL’s ghost GM — very few media members get a call returned by this guy.
From where we sit though, the problem with the Avalanche lies above in president Pierre Lacroix. He took over as Avs’ general manager from their last year in Quebec City through the Stanley Cup years in Denver. But since he abdicated the chair the Avs have made the playoffs twice in seven years, including this season’s miss.
It’s always seemed like Lacroix GMs part-time from above, a situation that seldom works. That organization needs an overhaul. There’s a nice roster base to work with in Denver, but this roster needs a fresh set of eyes and more guts on deadline day.
Leafs Should Stand Pat
Here’s hoping Toronto doesn’t bite on Kiprusoff, or any ageing players who require draft picks and prospects in return.
If Nazem Kadri isn’t enough evidence to hang on to your picks, then Boston’s Dougie Hamilton should be, drafted with Toronto’s No. 9 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.
Show me a team that has failed to make the playoffs for any length of time, and I’ll show you one that lost its way on the drafting and development front.
Toronto’s got a playoff spot pretty much secured. The reward for that is the ability not to sell off future assets. Instead, GM Dave Nonis should draft smart and let farm team coach Dallas Eakins keep the pipeline of players flowing up from the minors.