With the NHL trade deadline less than three weeks away, the rumor mill has fired up production, and its workers are getting plenty of overtime. Many of the names being bandied about have been in the air since the end of last season, but now it’s go time, and many of said players will be moved. But are the moves necessarily the best for player's current teams? Let’s look at some of these skaters who are possibly going to be moving, and their potential new homes.
Kevin Shattenkirk (D, St. Louis Blues): Shattenkirk is in the final season of a four-year contract with an average annual value of $4.25 million, and he can become an unrestricted free agent July 1st. The Blues have a pretty solid defensive corps right now, and dealing Shattenkirk can be done, sadly. The N.Y. Rangers keep coming up as trade partners. In addition, The Blues should really try to move Alexander Steen ($5.8 million) and Paul Stastny ($7million) although their contracts are not up, and losing the young defensemen is simply just a cost issue. Shattenkirk, however, will draw plenty of interest and I cannot see the Blues letting him walk away for nothing; expect the defenseman to have a new address come early March, but in my opinion, a team can never have enough talented defensemen, and the Blues should really try to keep Shattenkirk.
Ben Bishop (G, Tampa Bay Lightning): Another cost issue here, and I cannot see any way possible that the Lightning can keep Bishop beyond this season: The team could barely afford Nikita Kucherov, this year and that was a three-year bridge deal. Tampa also has pending RFA’s: Tyler Johnson, Johnathan Drouin, and Ondrej Palat to sign along with Bishop’s pending UFA contract. Dallas, Winnipeg and Philadelphia could all use a new goalie to help them into the playoffs this year, and the Jets and Stars have plenty of cap room, while Winnipeg has prospects to send back to Tampa.
Thomas Vanek (LW, Detroit Red Wings): Vanek has proven 29 other teams wrong, and he can still produce and be a team leader. The left wing has stated that he would like to stay in Detroit, and how much his family likes the city and Detroit area. Sadly, my Wings playoff streak will end this season, and we will be able to get something for him, as Vanek only signed a one year $2.6 million deal. Chicago could most certainly use a player of Vanek’s ilk to play alongside Johnathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Montreal could try Vanek out again for a post season run as well.
Marc-Andre Fleury (G, Pittsburgh Penguins): If Pittsburgh can convince Flower to waive his no-trade clause, he will be moved, otherwise Fleury is out there for the waiver draft, and would most certainly be scooped up. As I mentioned with Bishop, Fleury could certainly help a team in need of quality goaltending, and seeing him in Winnipeg would be sweet. I’m not completely sold on Dallas and their defense, but the Jets are young, hungry and could have Marc-Andre for an extra year while the boys mature. Still Dallas could certainly use Fleury, and he is way better than their current two headed tandem. Ottawa and Toronto would be viable landing spots as well, but the Leafs seem content, and will not give up their very bright future for a short playoff run.
Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog (C and LW, Colorado Avalanche): My question here: are the players and picks Colorado would get in return better than these two? My answer is a big, fat "no." Duchene is the elder of the two at 26-years old, and is just moving into his prime years, while the team as a whole is putrid, it’s fixable. Trading any of the big three--Nathan MacKinnon is the third--is not worth ther set-back in the rebuild of the Avalanche. Some questionable player signings are one reason Colorado will blow this year, and the long term injury bug has bitten as well. Colorado is a young teamnwith some solid pieces in place up front, and drafting or signing free-agent defensemen and a legit goaltender could change the dreary outcome in the"Mile High City" (which now takes on two meanings).
Finally why doesn’t Colorado make a trade for Kevin Shattenkirk? The defenseman would be a perfect fit for a team that is dying for a top four defender. With the fragileness of Semyon Varlamov in the net, Bishop wouldn’t be a bad grab either, but Shattenkirk would be sweet, and the thought of him in the Rockies gets sweeter the more I think of it. Colorado can be buyers at the trade deadline, and they’re getting a lottery pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft too. That suggests I feel that dumping these core players would be a huge mistake by GM Joe Sakic, and there is zero need for it: Time is what is needed most in Colorado, along with me as Assistant GM.
Be sure to check out the Platinum Package if you really want to win Fantasy Baseball, and you can always hit me up @PolkaPat