Tuesday, February 26 (recap)
After all the silence leading up to Deadline Day, things certainly moved today. Teams combined for 25 trades today -- the same number as were made at last year's Deadline Day -- involving 45 players and several other draft choices. All in all, it turned out to be one of the most active Deadline Day's in NHL history, contrasting the lead-in days, which were among the slowest in recent history.
The Predators made two trades at the deadline, acquiring forwards Brandon Bochenski and Jan Hlavac. David Poile indicated that the team's play over the last few months factored into his decisions at the deadline. "At this point of the season, particularly the past two months, we've really been pleased with the way our team has played. We're really happy with everybody's contribution and where they are playing in our lineup. So our goal at the trade deadline for the most part was just to replace Gelinas and Ortmeyer. We think we've done that. These two players now give us the depth we were missing due to the injuries."
Poile on Bochenski - "He has really good hands. He's a guy that can play higher up in the lineup if we need somebody to skate with the top two lines, somebody that can bring us some offense."
Poile on Hlavac - "He's played in the league for a fair bit of time before coming back this year. He's hard working. Very competitive player; one that can be fairly versatile and one that can play in a lot of situations based on what the coaches want to use him for. I think a really good replacement for a Marty Gelinas."
For more on Bochenski and Hlavac you can read the full press release here
.Tuesday, February 26 (2:30 pm)
The Predators appear to be on the verge of making a trade or two at the final deadline gun. It sounded like the Predators were eying a few depth players. The league has to clear all deals before they're finalized and with all the action at the deadline there might be some delay before we know for sure. The pace among the hockey operations staff definitely picked up as the deadline drew closer. We should have more information soon.Tuesday, February 26 (11:00 am)
The pace has definitely picked up. After days of inactivity, things are finally starting to resemble the traditional trade deadline we've come to expect in the NHL. Outlets are reporting another two "name" players have been traded with Buffalo All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell going to San Jose and Tampa Bay star center Brad Richards going to Dallas (pending Richards waiving his no-trade clause). Both moves effect the Preds as Nashville heads to Buffalo for a game tomorrow night and then shuttles off to Dallas for a game on Saturday night. It will be interesting to see how the Sabres respond without Campbell. And may be more interesting to see how Richards fits in with Dallas.Tuesday, February 26 (10:30 am)
Finally a couple of trades made this deadline. Looks like the action may be starting to heat up. Last night the Philadelphia Flyers added Vaclav Prospal from Tampa Bay. Media outlets are reporting this morning that the New Jersey Devils acquired veteran defenseman Bryce Salvador from St. Louis in exchange for Cam Janssen and the Florida Panthers added tough-guy Wade Belak from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Monday, February 25 (3:45 pm)
Mainstream media outlets are reporting the Colorado Avalanche have made the first big splash of the trade deadline, signing Peter Forsberg. TSN is reporting Forsberg signed a one-year deal to cover the remainder of the season.
David Poile has compared the trade deadline to dominoes, once one falls the rest react in kind. Maybe this is the move that starts the frenzy we're used to seeing at the deadline?Monday, February 25
This year's perfect storm of competitive balance, no-trade clauses, long-term contracts, and injuries continues to make this one of the quietest trade deadlines the NHL has seen in decades.
Last week was supposed to help separate the pack, but that didn't happen. In the West there are still four teams within six points of eighth place, with only Edmonton likely falling out of the race. In the East, no one really fell out of the race as six teams still sit within seven points of eighth place, including two tied just one point out of the playoff seed.
All that competitive balance makes it a more difficult decision for a team to rule itself out of the playoff race. Even last season things weren't this close. In 2006-07 there were nine teams battling it out for playoff positioning in the West, with the No. 10 team, St. Louis, finishing the season 15 points out of eighth place. In the East, 11 teams were in the hunt with the bottom three teams finishing at least 16 points out of eighth place and 12th place Florida needing a 6-2-3 finish just to climb within six point of the playoffs.
While players still have time to change their mind, we've already read the reports of how no-trade clauses have stripped this market from some potentially valuable players. Mats Sundin has reportedly told the Leafs he doesn't want to waive his no trade clause. Fellow Leafs Pavel Kubina, Bryan McCabe, and Darcy Tucker have expressed similar sentiments, though McCabe has at least left the door open for reconsideration. Depending on the sources you trust, Brad Richards may or may not have been asked to consider his no-trade clause. Rob Blake has veto power in LA.
Without all those no-trade clauses, the trade market would be look a lot differently. And we discussed in yesterday's blog entry how injuries have robbed the market of several other name players.
Long-term contracts have also conspired against this year's market. With GMs still trying to work out the best routes to build a team in a salary cap world, fewer teams seem willing to take on players already locked up for several years, opting instead for the flexibility of expiring contracts.
But don't get too depressed at the lack of action thus far. There's still some names reportedly in play. Atlanta seems intent on moving Marian Hossa and Buffalo sounds likely to move Brian Campbell. Whether Brad Richards and Dan Boyle are a part of it or not, Tampa Bay will likely have some sort of purge. And Toronto may still be able to find a deal to appease McCabe. Or there could be those old-fashioned win-win trades where two teams get together and trade from depth at one position to patch a void at another?
With just one more night's worth of games before the deadline, we just have to wait and see how many moves are finalized in the remaining hours before Tuesday's 2 pm (CT) deadline.
Sunday, February 24 (10:30 pm)
The Associated Press
, as well as several other media outlets, is reporting that Toronto's Mats Sundin has turned down the Leafs request to waive his no-trade clause.
From the AP: "I cannot leave my teammates and join another NHL club at this time," Sundin added. "I have never believed in the concept of a rental player. It is my belief that winning the Stanley Cup is the greatest thing you can achieve in hockey but for me, in order to appreciate it you have to have been part of the entire journey and that means October through June. I hope everyone will understand and respect my decision."
Sundin's decision further reduces the talent believed to be available on this year's trade market.Sunday, February 24
Injuries are a part of hockey; the physical nature of the game and the grind of the 82 game schedule pretty much mandate that. Every team has to deal with it; guys on all 30 teams are injured, whether the players are actually missing games or just playing through the bumps and bruises.
Injuries are playing a role in the off-ice dealings as well, helping to greatly reduce the trade market at this year's deadline.
Just look at the news from yesterday. Out on Long Island, news was released that Mike Sillinger, who has been a part of six late season trades in his 17 year NHL career, will undergo season ending hip surgery. Then last night Sergei Fedorov, the subject of several trade rumors over the last few weeks, left the Blue Jackets game early with a leg injury, reported to be a charley horse. Fedorov isn't expected to miss much time, if any, but just the added ding may scare away potential trade suitors.
Similarly, Ladislav Nagy of the Kings, who would have drawn interest from several teams, has missed the last month with a neck injury. While Nagy is expected back this season, he's played in just 38 games this season, which has greatly reduced his mentions in trade rumors. Chicago's Yanic Perreault, another veteran who likely would have drawn substantial interest around the league, has missed the last six games with a wrist injury and is not likely to return until a few days after the trade deadline.
Those injuries have just served to take a relatively thin trade market and make it even smaller.
On the other side of the equation, teams gearing up for a playoff run may need to replace key parts lost to injuries. Here in Nashville, injuries to Martin Gelinas in Thursday night's game and Jed Ortmeyer in last night's game, have given David Poile another issue to weigh heading into Tuesday's deadline.
Detroit, though solidly in the playoffs, might be re-evaluating its needs after a rash of injuries along the blueline have the Red Wings playing without Nik Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski. Lidstrom's knee injury suffered earlier this week is likely to keep him out until the final games of the regular season, while Rafalski's groin injury is expected to sideline him until later this week. With Nik Kronwall still out (expected back soon) and Chris Chelios day-to-day with a leg injury, the Red Wings may suddenly be in the market for a depth defenseman to guard against the lingering effects of those ailments.
The Vancouver Canucks lost defenseman Lukas Krajicek for the season due to a shoulder injury suffered earlier this week, while out East Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour suffered a season ending knee injury on Feb. 14.
Perhaps one of the more interesting announcements, in terms of its effect on the trade deadline, came out of Philadelphia where the Flyers announced that Simon Gagne's concussion troubles will sideline the star winger for the rest of the season. As a result, the cap-strapped Flyers now have the option to request Long Term Injury status for Gagne and gain the cap wiggle-room that comes with it. And that cap room could come in handy after last night's injury to the team's leading scorer, Mike Richards, who is expected to miss a few weeks of action.
The end result; more teams potentially look for help and fewer players available to potentially fill the needs.
Saturday, February 23
The Eastern Conference appears to hold the key to the Trade Deadline.
Toronto, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, and Atlanta all hold high profile players rumored to be on the trade block. Once – or if? – one of those players moves the rest of the action should follow like dominoes.
In the Western Conference, LA's Rob Blake and Columbus' Sergei Fedorov are the only "star names" rumored to potentially move. Blake and Fedorov are both 38 years old. And Blake, who has a no-trade clause, has indicated a preference to stay in LA, seriously limiting his involvement in the rumor mill. While in Columbus the Blue Jackets are still just five points out of eighth place, close enough that they may not be sellers at the deadline.
All this brings us back to the East. Toronto interim GM Cliff Fletcher has expressed an interest in re-modeling his roster. Tampa Bay pending free agents Dan Boyle and Vaclav Prospal have been frequent names in rumors. Within the last few days, Lightning star center Brad Richards has made an appearance in just about every trade rumor column across the league. Buffalo, which lost star forwards Daniel Briere and Chris Drury through free agency last summer, is rumored to be weighing its options with All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell, another potential unrestricted free agent this summer. And Atlanta GM Don Waddell has openly admitted that if he doesn't feel he can re-sign star winger Marian Hossa, a pending unrestricted free agent, that he would at least listen to offers at the deadline.
So, while the West has dominated the East on the ice this season (Western Conference teams have posted a 69-41-12 record against Eastern Conference teams in 2007-08), the East is likely to dominate the off-ice rumors leading into the trade deadline.
Friday, February 22
Another slow day on trade front as no deals have been made since Philadelphia's two trades at the start of the week. Still, the "chatter" seems to increasing. Various media outlets and other hockey websites have been reporting rumors at a more rapid pace.
In Preds-land, things, like the league in general, are pretty quite. Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton, Chief Amateur Scout Jeff Kealty, North American Amateur Scout Rick Knickle, and pro scouts Nick Beverley and Shawn Dineen arrive in Nashville tomorrow. They'll be staying in town through the deadline. Along with the coaching staff and hockey operations staff normally based out Nashville, they'll form the "brain trust" for David Poile.
In other news, Martin Gelinas had tests run today on his knee, which was injured during the second period of last night's game against Vancouver. The team expects to hear more information back from the doctors tomorrow, but Gelinas is definitely out for this weekend's game. The long-term prognosis may impact the team's direction at the deadline.
Thursday, February 21(Predators President of Hockey Operations & General Manager David Poile added today's blog entry)
The GM meetings just wrapped up yesterday. We discussed several issues around the league. While our primary focus is on other business, there was some time for chatter about the trade deadline. And I spoke with several managers while I was in Naples. Some GMs approached me; I approached a few others.
Collectively as managers at this time of the season, we are all trying to figure out what everyone else is looking to do. For me, I want to make sure I have an accurate read on the market; know what the "cost" is to acquire a player, know what the "value" is for our players to other teams.
Now that the meetings are over, I'll talk back with my scouts and my assistants. We'll compare the information I came away with in Naples to what they've been hearing or seeing out on the road. Sometimes in the process a deal just sort of presents itself. Other times you use the information to zero in on what you want to do. Either way, the more information we have as a staff, the better decisions we'll be able to make in the next few days.
The deadline is a little more interesting this year that in past seasons. There have been fewer trades, so the market is not as defined yet. The trade deadline tends to be like dominoes, once one big trade is made, others tend to follow soon after. For example, by one week out of last year's trade deadline we had already acquired Peter Forsberg. Ladislav Nagy, Craig Conroy, and Sean Avery had all been traded, too. Those deals served as comparisons during conversations leading into deadline day. Those type of trades haven't happened yet this year. Philadelphia made a pair of trades, yesterday and Tuesday, but both involved one player for one pick, so they probably didn't do too much to clarify this year's market value.
Wednesday, February 20
We're now in the final week leading up to the trade deadline. So far things have been quiet across the league, with just one trade made in the past week. On Tuesday (Feb. 19), Philadelphia acquired defenseman Jaroslav Modry from Los Angeles for a 2008 third round pick. Ottawa and Carolina made a deal on Feb. 11, sending Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore to the Senators in exchange for Patrick Eaves and Joe Corvo. Other than that, it's been a pretty quiet month on the trade front.
But expect the rumors to start heating up as the GMs wrap up their three day GM Meetings in Naples, FL today. While very few trades are usually made at the GM Meetings, the chance for face-to-face talks with the 29 other team GMs often lays the groundwork for deals made on deadline day.
The Predators are in an interesting situation as this year's deadline approaches. While most outsiders have been speculating the Preds will look to add scoring punch, David Poile has indicated a desire to improve the franchise's depth both on the active roster and in the AHL.
"I don't feel right now like I want to be in a position to give up a first round pick or a younger player. If anything I'd like to add to that so we can build up some depth in our minor league system and our team here," Poile said around the All-Star Break.
Luckily, the Preds have developed some depth over the course of the season. Both netminders are playing well right now and top prospect Pekka Rinne
's developed into an all-star at the AHL level. Along the blueline, the team has eight NHL caliber defensemen with a couple other prospects developing nicely in the AHL.
Most of the speculation surrounds the team's forwards, but the Preds may have found a quality option in Rich Peverley. A point-per-game producer at the AHL level, Peverley struggled during his first stint with the NHL club early in the season, but looked much more comfortable during his second stint in January through mid-February. Peverley seemed to settle in nicely on a line with David Legwand
and Martin Erat
-- averaging 12:15 of ice time his last 11 NHL games -- before being re-assigned back to the AHL due to roster limits when Jordin Tootoo
came off Injured Reserve this weekend.
Plus, Poile and the coaches need to weigh the effects any move may have on the team's chemistry. After a slow start, the Predators have become one of the more dangerous teams in the league since the turn of the calendar year. Team chemistry, often one of the most under appreciated aspects to a team's success, has been a big reason for the turn around. Are any additions worth shaking the chemistry in the team's locker room?
Right now the Predators don't appear to be any trades on the fast-track, but if history's been any indication, this time of the year things can chance in a hurry.