Five Storylines Worth Watching
Considering the shorter season, every team still has a mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs. But, some teams have accepted that post-season hockey isn't in their cards and have begun to plan for next season. We've already seen trades such as Jarome Iginla's move to Pittsburgh, Robyn Regehr leaving Buffalo for Los Angeles and former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron being sent to division rivals Carolina.
Are there more trades to be had over the next 24 hours? Well, since we love hockey and to speculate things, here are five trade scenarios we think could happen.
Ryan Miller – Is it time for a rebuild in Buffalo? Can Enroth be "the guy" going forward?
Earlier this season, the Buffalo Sabres dismissed long-time coach Lindy Ruff in the hopes that a new coach would jumpstart a return to form and more importantly, help push the team towards the post-season. With the the team sitting bottom of the Northeast Division and 13th overall in the Eastern Conference, reaching the playoffs seems unlikely.
There are number of teams that could use Ryan Miller's experience. Additionally, considering he only has one year, 6.25 million remaining on his current contract, it is another reason a few teams would love to acquire his services. The only real stumbling block will be what Buffalo will want in return, which would include a number of highly-rated prospects and/or draft picks. Knowing what the former Vezina Trophy winner is capable of, there has to be an organization willing to negotiate.
Jaromir Jagr – Lock him up or ship him out?
At 41 years old, the Czech can still play the game with the same intensity of those 10-15 years his junior. With 14 goals and 26 points this season for the Dallas Stars, Jagr has been a bright spot on a team struggling to stay in the playoff race.
Rumors were flying that the Stars were attempting to sign Jagr, who is an Unrestricted Free-Agent at the end of the season, to a 2-year contract extension. If it looks like negotiations aren’t progressing and with the risk of missing the playoffs apparent, the Stars are looking for a deal that will help them bolster their team in the future.
(Update: Jaromir Jagr is now a member of the Boston Bruins as the Stars shipped him east for two prospects and a draft pick. Source)
Roberto Luongo – Is there a market for him?
At moments this season, Roberto Luongo has looked like the sure-shot number one goalie in Vancouver. As of late, it appears that the Canucks have once again chosen to ride Corey Schneider to the Playoffs. With a hefty price tag attached to his name and a contract that is probably too long for most teams to handle, is Luongo tradeable? Are the Canucks overvaluing him? Luongo to the Toronto Maple Leafs is a rumor that refuses to die, but does it really have legs and are the Leafs willing to modify a formula that has worked thus far?
Miika Kiprusoff – If he’s traded, will he report?
Let’s face it, Kiprusoff’s numbers this year are far from his normal output – his .873 SV% is far below his career average of .912. At 36 years of age and having missed 13 games this season due to an MCL injury, Kiprusoff may be a risk, but one that teams out there that are willing to gamble on.
The biggest storyline out there may not be whether Kipper can bounce back if he’s on a contending team, it’s whether he’ll report if traded. News surfaced last week that Kiprusoff would refuse to report if traded due to family reasons, namely his newborn son. As it stands, his agent has asked to be consulted prior to any deals.
(Update: Looks like Miika Kiprusoff is staying in Calgary. The team announced he's off the market and will retire from the NHL at the end of the season. Source)
Do the Sabres move Vanek or Pominville?
Are the Sabres in full-blown rebuild mode? Maybe not, but this week Jason Pominville, who has a modified no-trade clause, was asked to provide a list of eight teams that he can’t be traded to. It will be interesting to see just how far away from being a contender the Sabres think they are and if they are willing to move some top-end talent to build for the future.
If Buffalo decides to keep Pominville, it could open the door for teams to approach the club in acquiring the services of winger Thomas Vanek. Vanek has eased off since his explosive start in January and February but there are a number of teams that would love to have his offensive capabilities in the playoffs. Considering Buffalo traded away defenseman Robyn Regehr on Monday night, we shouldn't be surprised if other players start leaving Western New York.
(Update: The Minnesota Wild are serious about being a contender as they traded Matt Hackett and Johan Larsson to Buffalo for Jason Pominville. Source)
Other Interesting UFA Rental Candidates
- Mike Ribiero – Washington Capitals
- Patrik Elias – New Jersey Devils
- Derek Roy – Dallas Stars (Update: is now a member of the Vancouver Canucks. Source)
- Milan Hejduk – Colorado Avalanche
What do you think? Are we off our rockers or do we make some valid points? Be sure to sound off in the comments below and let's see how crazy or tame the Trade Deadline ends up being.