Hope everyone is enjoyed their weekend out there. Maybe you got to enjoy some of the NHL All-Star weekend, or probably you were tuned in for some of the awful weekend television, or maybe even working. Either way, The Buzz Between The Boards is here to update you and give you some insight on the latest trade buzz around the NHL. In the past I covered some of the top teams that I thought will be “buyers” as we head towards the trade deadline, and this week I wanted to follow up by bringing you some of teams I foresee being the sellers this season. Only four weeks until the deadline, so here we go:
Calgary Flames: With the team being turned over with new management, the Flames are not just one of the few teams in the West not fully in playoff contention, but the direction of the franchise is up in the air. Do they try to reload on the fly and keep their stars like Jarome Iginla and Kiprusoff in net, along with a couple big name defenders? Or should they trade one of their aging players for something for the future being that they have one of the weakest farm systems in the NHL? The Flames have won back-to-back games and they might not want to rule themselves out completely. But the Iginla rumors keep swirling, and if they decide to try for a future then a couple of decent or under-performing players could be moved.
Ottawa Senators: Another Canadian team that will probably be looking to be sellers. The Senators have said they are about to start a rebuild and they could use it. Outside of a promising future on the back-end with a few top d-men prospects and Karlsson, the Senators are a team that is in the middle of the pack talent wise but has had little to no direction and leadership in the last few years. Veteran forwards Mike Fisher, Daniel Alfredsson, and Alexei Kovalev are all being rumored about now and I think two of those guys could easily end up somewhere new. And although I do not really see it happening, Gonchar could be done in Ottawa after just signing there in the off-season. Just about any player could be moved.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Yet another team from up north of the border, but there is a good reason to believe this team could be one of the teams involved in a lot of talks. The Leafs and GM Brian Burke were of course focused on last deadline and during the summer because of the Tomas Kaberle. Well the Leafs did not trade him after a long media and franchise circus, but it left the Leafs in a situation. The Leafs now have eight D-men and a couple more either capable or young guys in the system. It is no secret Burke likes some of the guys he has, but it is also no secret he wants offense. He traded in the summer for Versteeg, and was shopping Kaberle in hopes of gaining more to go with him, Kessel, Kulemin, and a couple young guys. If the Leafs make a move, I think anyone could be moved if Burke gets after the player he wants. And Kaberle could again be a targeted player by some of contending teams in both conferences. Someone just remind him Brad Richards is not being moved in the next month.
Los Angeles Kings: This one could be surprising to you. While I anticipate the Kings being buyers if they come back from the break and find themselves in the tight race out west, the Kings have struggled some this season with consistency and timely scoring. Right now they are only one point out of 8th, but 14 of the 15 teams in the west are in a spot now or are within 5 points of 8th. If the Kings can not gain ground or even worse struggle after the All-Star break, then as well as looking for players they could be shopping a couple too. Ponikarovsky and Wayne Simmonds are both guys I keep hearing that could be moved.
Florida Panthers: The Panthers constantly seem like a franchise that every couple years ends up trading one or two of their few good players, and consistently end up looking like a “rebuilding” team. It could happen again this year. Goalie Tomas Vokoun has been one of the few top quality players for the Panthers the last couple seasons, but the 34 year-old veteran is set to be a free agent this summer. While he and the team have talked about an extension, the Panthers are not going to be contenders soon and he is not a young netminder. If he can carry that bad of a team to being 10th right now in goals-against, he could really help a contender looking for a goalie upgrade or star level man in the pipes. Also Stephen Weiss has a source of some rumors. The former first rounder could be a solid 2nd line/2nd powerplay unit center for a team like LA, Phoenix or a team like Toronto looking to add for the long term. But if the Panthers do move him it won’t be cheap.