With the trade deadline getting even closer, the market has gone into a frenzy. Just in the last week we have seen enough big trades for some years. It was like GMs saw a couple of their competitors making moves and everyone started firing their proverbial bullets. So far we have seen a few of the big names moved, including Tomas Kaberle and winger Kris Versteeg finding new homes with cup contenders , the Colorado Avalanche making two big and unexpected moves, and Nashville nabbing Mike Fisher from the “blow it up” Senators. With the deals already being done up in the double digits and there still being plenty of time left before the deadline on Feb. 28th, the question now turns to what will happen next. We have already seen moves, but what players could be moved this week? Well here are some of the top players being talked about right now:
Brad Richards: Even though Kaberle was up near the top for most talked about player this season, Richards still is an almost unanimous choice for the top player that could be moved. The whole issue comes down to if he will be moved though. The Dallas Stars and GM Nieuwendyk have said constantly that they do not want to move their best player and offensive stud. But most of us know that the Stars are for sale and right now the lenders are running the finances. Most agree that having a superstar and an MVP candidate type would make the team more attractive to buyers. And Richards current contract pays him a pretty nice dollar amount, enough that he may not really be looking for raise as much as that last big, long-term deal. He and Joe have both said they both want to keep him in Dallas. But the other option is there. The Stars and Richards have not seemingly got close to a contract, and with the Stars recent free fall due to injuries and some masked issues starting to glare through, Dallas might have to consider moving him. It is the old situation of watch him walk away if things don’t work out, or moving him now and getting a few pieces or filling their need for defense. What happens this week with the Stars, either catching themselves and starting to play like a playoff team again or if they keep falling down the standings, may decide what happens to the all-star. But today the Stars traded winger James Neal and hated youngster Niskanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins. So the Stars may now have made their move. As a Stars fan I am unsure of it, but it does likely mean that the possibility of moving Richards is now slimmed down. If he does go, look for the New York Rangers or the Leafs to be the two teams most interested.
Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky: The two veteran wingers are both targets of many rumors right now. The Oilers have their youth movement and rebuild in full swing, and have plenty of young forwards. So having two wingers in their late 20s that are making over $4 million per season makes at least one of them expendable since this team will not be competing for at least a couple more years. Both guys are drawing interest from teams looking to add offense and both Penner and Hemsky have one more year under contract after this, making them appealing to teams looking to compete for the next couple years. The L.A. Kings, Penguins, Canadiens (if they can make cap room) and Flyers are teams that could be interested. But Philly got Versteeg, so you can scratch them out on this one.
Tomas Vokoun: Despite having a NTC, the Panthers may ask him to waive it. The aging goalie still is a good #1 guy, and is in the last year of his contract at the age of 34. Of course the Panthers are not a team competing for right now and probably will not resign him. So he now looks like the best goalie that could be on the market, especially after the Avs traded Anderson this last week. Vokoun could be the target of teams like the Flyers or Capitals possibly, but he is not cheap. Either in cap or probably for what Florida wants. So while if a team is looking for a goalie to try and make a run this year they could go after Vokoun, but I think he could end staying close to the beaches.
Zach Bogosian: The young blueliner is not someone you would expect to be traded most years. Former top 5 draft pick from a year that has already started producing amazing talent, only 20 years old, and already a top 2-3 defenseman on probably any team. He has offensive talent and looks like a great young blueliner that will be great in both ends. Think of him as a future top pairing player for many years to come and probably all-star more then a couple times. So why would the Atlanta Thrashers want to trade a very promising young defenseman? Well they really do not want to move him, but their are multiple rumors and sources saying that they are considering moving him if a team puts down the right offer. Bogosian is apparently not mixing well with some of the coaching staff but nothing serious is going on. Atlanta is holding to that they are not shopping him. Word is that any player can be had for the right deal and they have no real untouchables. But I do not see him going anywhere unless a team really blows them out of the water with an offer.
So there you go, some of the most talked about guys right now as we draw closer to the deadline. Look for more stuff on the deadline right here this week from the Too Many Men bloggers, and more stuff from TBBTB later this week!