The NHL may be on hiatus until February 25th, but GMs will have one eye on the March 5th trade deadline, and the other on NHL players competing in Sochi. A trade freeze prevents transactions from taking place until February 23rd, but a few players may find they need to catch a connecting flight when they return from Russia.
Who are the 5 players most in need of a good realtor?
1. Thomas Vanek (NY Islanders/Austria) – Even Captain Obvious has Vanek listed as the #1 trade prospect. You almost feel sorry for the Islanders failed attempt to sign Vanek, except this is a team that repeatedly fails big contract negotiations. After the buyouts of Alexi Yashin and Rick DiPietro, Islander fans surely feel relief that Vanek turned down the latest offer
You can’t fault Islander management for their efforts. They made a serious attempt to improve, but unfortunately this move backfired and left them worse off than had they kept Matt Moulson and their draft picks. With Vanek in the final year of his 7 year contract, it is time to cut losses. Vanek would be a big asset to any Cup contender, and with no lack of suitors, there is hope on the Island that the team can gain something in return for Vanek.
3. Jaromir Jagr (New Jersey/Czech Republic) – The Devils may be on the wrong side of the playoff chase this season, but they deserve kudos for their acquisition of Jagr. If this was the stock market, they played it perfectly — buy low, sell high. $2M was a low-risk gamble that, at its worst, was going to put fans in the Prudential Center’s seats. In return, Jagr became one of the few bright spots on the Devils team (17g, 32a). Cup contenders will be calling to add his services for the remainder of the season, and the Devils should answer the phone and take away something positive from a disappointing season.
2. Jaromir Jagr (New Jersey/Czech Republic) – The Devils may be on the wrong side of the playoff chase this season, but they deserve kudos for their acquisition of Jagr. If this was the stock market, they played it perfectly — buy low, sell high. $2M was a low-risk gamble that, at its worst, was going to put fans in the Prudential Center’s seats. In return, Jagr became one of the few bright spots on the Devils team (17g, 32a). Cup contenders will be calling to add his services for the remainder of the season, and the Devils should answer the phone and take away something positive from a disappointing season.
3. Ryan Miller (Buffalo/USA) – Another pending unrestricted free agent, it appears it is not a matter of ‘if’ Miller is traded, but ‘where’. As Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News reported back in December, Miller made it clear that he wants a Lundqvist-type contract of 7 years and $59.5 million. However with the Sabres firmly in the NHL basement, and Ryan Miller’s “advanced age” of 33, the more prudent move is to move him at the deadline and begin rebuilding.
Sabres management will be hoping Team USA goes far at the Olympic Games and Miller’s value skyrockets. If Jonathan Quick doesn’t spoil the scenario, teams with shaky goalkeeping that are poised for a Stanley Cup run will be watching closely. And with Marty Brodeur possibly competing for the same role it is likely that Buffalo will move quickly. Minnesota, St. Louis, Washington, and Chicago could all be in the market.
4. Marek Zidlicky (New Jersey/Czech Republic) – Devils management gambled that Zidlicky’s poor season during the lock-out shortened year was an anomaly. They were rewarded with more Zidlicky like numbers this season (8g, 21a, +2). However, the $4M defenseman is 37 years old and an UFA at the end of the season.
New Jersey has ridden their aging stars as far as they can go and must now face stark reality that it is time to begin a youth movement. Corey Schneider was a great first step, but with the post-season unlikely, this trade deadline should find New Jersey adding youth. The strong season of Brodeur, Jagr, and Zidlicky, has put them in a good position, and the supply-and-demand for blue-liners has never been so favorable for sellers. The Devils must seriously consider all offers.
5. Paul Stastny (Colorado/USA) – Stastny is also an UFA at the end of the season. The Avs overpaid for his contract 5 years ago and he will be facing the stark reality of a substantial paycut. Stastny’s play has improved under the new Sakic/Roy management system this season, but not enough to justify another $6.6M/year contract. Unless the Avs can convince Stastny to re-sign before the deadline, it is likely he is on the move.
Stastny has the very difficult decision of choosing between a rejuvenated and rising Avalanche team, or hoping for ‘greener’ days in the summer. It’s possible the former University of Denver alum and 8-year Avalanche player would consider a hometown discount, but with large pay raises due to Landeskog and MacKinnon, the discount may be more than he is willing to accept. Rumors were circling earlier in the year that Montreal was interested in Stastny. Perhaps his dad can give him a few Quebecois tips.
** Contract details provided by CapGeek