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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Traders Send NHL Tumlbing Into the Boards (Chasing Stanley)

This is the first of several posts examining some interesting thoughts and notes regarding 10 of the NHL's 30 teams as they prepare for T-D Day (trade deadline).

A total of 3 posts will be provided broken into the 3 categories of Chasing Stanley, In the Curve and Tee Time to correspond with On Goal Analysis' (OGA) depiction of where the teams stand on their quest to qualify for NHL post-season play.

At OGA, we measure a team's performance to a proprietary Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) at the end of each 10-game segment to see where they fall on the Curve. For more information, please see The Tao of OGA to understand how we can call a team IN or OUT of the playoffs, even as early as November.

The following teams have all been determined by OGA as CHASING STANLEY:

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
  • This team is good enough to win games and go deep into the playoffs as it is with no additions. Having just gotten Daniel Briere back from missing most of the season is like picking up a big player at the trade deadline anyways. Rumors are floating around about a Briere-for-Bouwmeester trade with Florida but I think this team has yet to see what Briere can give going forward...and the benefits reaped if he can stay healthy for the post-season and next year.
  • That being said, Jay Bouwmeester is hot on the Flyer's minds but salary cap is an issue for this team and if they were to acquire Bouwmeester, look for some major changes to the team (netminders, maybe?) as they will have to give up a lot to convince management in FLA to part with their best hopes for a run in the playoffs over the past decade. They are still trying to seats at the arena as, after all, it is a business...
  • The return of Kimmo Timonen from injury may be the shot the doctor ordered to bolster the defense and their offensive prowess (a Briere in form, Richards, Carter, Upshall, Gagne, Hartnell, etc.) is just too good to not rely upon for a big run at the Finals.

MONTREAL CANADIENS
  • It's Vinny Lecavalier's brother...it has to be.
  • With Robert Lang out and the Kostitsyn brothers soaking up the recent media coverage, and Alex(i) Kovalev being sent to his room to think about it, Bob Gainey and team are really having to work through this trade talk this season. On their 100th year and after hosting the All-Star game this season, talks of a centennial celebration lasting to the Stanley Cup Finals are starting to look dire. But Bob is a true professional and operates at a higher plane than many other GMs do. No Canadien is on the 'block' and no Canadien is 'safe'. There are only discussions to be had, chemistry to consider and goals to be achieved. If the puzzle piece fits...
  • Having acquired Mathieu Schneider a couple of weeks ago, defense was tightened up. Now what to do about that missing Lang? With so many of the Canadiens staff having been a part of successful Dallas Stars seasons (Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, Kirk Muller, Doug Jarvis) one might think there's a bit of Texas in Montreal. (I am sure that statement is completely abhorrent to most in Quebec and I would be reminded that all were Canadiens before they had worked in Dallas)....but I can't help but wonder if they aren't looking south again at Dallas' prized, Jere Lehtinen as the solution to what's missing up front. The 3-time Selke winner is in his last year of contract with Dallas but the Stars are expecting to have him re-up on the cheap (as he previously did) to stay with the organization...and of course, remind the player's union that player value depends on more than a dollar sign.
  • Perhaps Olli Jokinen would be a good pursuit for Montreal to fill the void up front and have immediate impact.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
  • The case in Pittsburgh is simple because it is not. They have fired the coach this year after a fantastic start and then a free-fall. They have missed Crosby for more games due to injury this year than they would have expected. They have the NHL's leading point-getter in Evgeni Malkin who is simply a machine. They have thoughts all over the place about how to climb back up, far enough northwards, in the standings to ensure another chance to repeat as Eastern Conference Finalists. To wit, it's easy because anything they do at the trade deadline is going to fee like a playoff push only and everything else will need to be sorted out in the off-season.
  • Miroslav Satan was put on waivers this morning, reflecting the season-long disappointment in his play. It has been rumored the Pens have also discussed reacquiring Jarkko Ruutu. Rumors have also been floated about Jordan Staal being moved and frankly, just shouldn't be entertained as he is a fantastic third line center.
  • Pittsburgh already acquired LW Chris Kunitz from Anaheim in trading away D-Man Ryan Whitney last week so what the team pulls out of the sleeves for the deadline will be a matter of 'what helps us out now' because they really don't want to repeat the follies of the East and go from playing in the Stanley Cup Finals last season and not qualifying this year. OGA is still confident this team will be in post-season play.


SAN JOSE SHARKS
  • Seriously, does this team really need to add anything for a good run at the playoffs? The fans have been expecting this team to take it all the past couple seasons and have been sorely let down. I could understand if the organization is tempted to tweak and adjust here or there for the long haul, but what is that saying folks use about something not broken? I say don't mess with chemistry - whether you want to 'fix' it or not, it's there. BUT...
  • It appears the Sharks had two scouts at last night's Colorado at New York Islanders game. The speculation is the under-performing Jonathan Cheechoo may be on the block in a deal to bring Ryan Smyth to San Jose. But Smyth is scheduled to make over $16M in the next three seasons which is big chunk of change for any team to take on considering cap limits and the turning economy (and what it may mean to NHL revenue when it comes time for ticket-holders to re-up for the 2009/10 season). Smyth is also well-quoted as saying he loves it in Colorado and would prefer to stay. Obviously, it is speculation and EVERY team is always on the lookout for the 'what-ifs'. That's why scouts get employed...
  • UPDATE: At 1:50 PM today, David Pollak posted on his SJS Blog, Working the Corners, he spoke with GM Doug Wilson and..."No matter what may be circulating out there, Jonathan Cheechoo isn’t going anywhere. 'That player is not in play.' " So, it begs the question, which player(s) are in play...?

CALGARY FLAMES
  • There's not much going on in Calgary...except for winning. It appears the organization will take a pass this year on any big moves as the team they have is performing well and the expect the call-ups from the AHL to suffice while playing through injuries to Rene Bourque, Daymond Langkow and now Todd Bertuzzi.
  • The Flames did however grab Calgary native, D-Man, Lawrence Nycholat off waivers from the Canucks this morning to bolster the D.


1 comment:

Big Tex said...

Excellent post, FP - way to capture the 'essence of Gainey'!