Sizing up NHL's 'Most Wanted' heading into deadline
The Trade Deadline is just days away. There have already been a few intriguing moves, but some of the biggest names that have been reported to be available are still out there. Here's a look at NHL.com's NHL's "Most Wanted" list in the final weekend leading up the Monday afternoon deadline.
6-foot-4, 219 pounds
2011-12: 20 goals, 42 points in 60 games
Career: 279 goals, 530 points in 652 games
Nash is a legitimate star, one of the top 10-15 players in the League when he is on top of his game. He is one of the top power forwards in the NHL and has six 30-goal seasons despite rarely playing with a bona fide No. 1 center during his time in Columbus.
He was one of the top players on the gold-medal winning Canadian Olympic team in 2010, and has delivered for his country in the World Championship as well. Nash can be a dominant force at the offensive end, and before this season has been a quality penalty killer for the Blue Jackets as well.
Nash has six more years on his contract at $7.8 million per season -- that's the fifth-highest cap hit in the League. He has played four career NHL playoff games in eight seasons. He has scored only 65 goals in the two previous seasons combined and is on pace for just 27 this campaign.
6-foot, 204 pounds
2011-12: 14 goals, 31 points in 61 games
Career: 155 goals, 336 points in 574 games
Brown scored at least 24 goals in each of the four previous seasons, but everyone's production is down in Los Angeles this season. He's not the biggest guy, but is one of the League's top volume hitters -- he has at least 285 in each of the past four seasons and is at 215 to this point with about a quarter of the campaign remaining.
Brown is a sound two-way player and has also been durable despite his propensity for physical play. In his seventh full season, he has missed a total of nine games since becoming a regular in the Kings' lineup. He's averaging more than 20 minutes of ice time per contest and plays in all situations -- Brown is a primary weapon on the power play and a secondary option on the penalty kill.
Brown has been considered one of the top young, physical forwards in the League and has been Los Angeles' captain for three-plus seasons. He also only makes $3.175 million per season and has two years left on a very team-friendly contract.
That all sounds like it should be in the "wanted for" section, right? So why are the Kings, who are desperate to make progress after spending the past few seasons as a "team of the future," willing to trade him, as reports suggested Thursday before being tamped down a day later? It is certainly a red flag. Brown has been so-so for the Kings in the postseason, but it is a pretty small sample size (12 games). He also went scoreless at the 2010 Olympics for the United States, but does have 24 points in his past 23 games at the World Championship.
6-foot, 185 pounds
2011-12: 5 goals, 26 points in 46 games
Career: 119 goals, 421 points in 536 career games
Hemsky is a super-skilled playmaker, a shifty forward who can comfortably fit in a contending team's top-six forwards. He has three seasons with at least 66 points and four 40-assist campaigns.
He had 17 points in 24 games during Edmonton's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2005-06. Hemsky has been responsible in his own end and typically played against tough competition for the Oilers -- he's faced the second-toughest competition among the team's forwards this year, according to Behind the Net's quality of competition ratings, and is in the top six in each of the past four seasons where he's played more than 30 games.
Injuries, injuries, injuries -- Hemsky has missed more than 100 games in the past three seasons. He had 66 points in only 69 games in the two previous campaigns. While he was nearly a point-per-game player from 2007-08 to 2010-11 (203 points in 215 games), he has slumped in 2011-12 and his 46-point pace is his worst since before the work stoppage.
5-foot-11, 190 pounds
2011-12: 0 goals, 13 points in 40 games
Career: 60 goals, 297 points in 547 games
Zidlicky can skate, move the puck and helps generate the offense from the back end. He was a late bloomer, not leaving Europe until the 2003-04 campaign, but he's reached 30 assists in six of his first eight NHL seasons. He has 160 career power-play points, including four seasons of 20 or more.
His production slipped after joining the Wild. It was originally rationalized by the team's defense-first philosophy, but he's having the worst season of his NHL career. Zidlicky also complained to the media after being a healthy scratch, and has one more year left on his contract at $4 million. He's never been known for his work in the defensive zone, and he has 14 career playoff games on his resume.
6-foot-5, 226 pounds
2011-12: 0 goals, 8 points in 61 games
Career: 28 goals, 112 points in 580 games
Allen is a steady, stay-at-home defenseman with size and experience. He's also soon to be an unrestricted free agent. Every year at this time there are about 14 teams looking for that exact type of player. Hal Gill, Pavel Kubina and Nicklas Grossman have already been moved, so Allen is possibly the best guy who fits the description on a team that is not definitely still trying to make the playoffs.
He has done exactly what a defensive defenseman is supposed to do this season for the Hurricanes. Allen has played against the second-toughest competition among Carolina's defensemen, according to Behind the Net's quality of competition ratings (behind Tim Gleason, who would be in this spot had he not signed a four-year contract extension), and has been on the ice for the second-fewest goals per 60 minutes at even strength (behind Jaroslav Spacek, who might also be available).
Allen has played more than 500 NHL games, but has only seven playoff games on his resume, and they were all as a fill-in during the course of three seasons with the Canucks from 2001-04. He's also not going to offer anything at the offensive end.
The main issue with Allen might be GM Jim Rutherford's asking price. The Hurricanes aren't actually out of it in the East, and while he has traded Alexei Ponikarovsky, he signed Gleason and Tuomo Ruutu and hasn't committed to dealing Allen or Spacek yet. A rival GM might need to pay a heavy price to extract Allen.
6-foot-1, 197 pounds
2011-12: 9-9-3, 2.59 goals-against average, .919 save percentage
Career: 37-48-0-5, 2.64 goals-against average, .916 save percentage
Harding has been one of the League's top backup goaltenders for the past five seasons or so, minus the one he missed with a knee injury. His place on the list has a lot to do with circumstance -- Minnesota has a young, capable goaltender to replace him in Matt Hackett, he's a pending UFA, and the Wild could use him as a trade chip to land something to help them make the playoffs.
There is also now a demand for his -- or another goaltender's -- services. Toronto, Ottawa and, possibly, Chicago could all be looking for a goaltender this weekend.
Harding has never been a No. 1 goaltender at the NHL level. The most starts he has had in a season is 29, and he has a total of 20 minutes of postseason experience.
A few years ago, Harding might have been thought of in the same class as other starters-in-waiting like Jonathan Bernier, Cory Schneider and Tuukka Rask, but not as much anymore. He also missed all of last season because of a major knee injury.