It's that time of year again. With everyone exchanging gifts, NHL teams are looking to exchange personnel to brighten their New Year. Here are a few rumors circulating the air.
The Anaheim Ducks sit just inside the playoff picture at the moment and with a record just over .500 in the last 10 games they are looking for a spark to create separation between the three teams looking in (just one point behind) and themselves. Currently the Ducks carry eight D: Cam Fowler, Luca Sbisa, Toni Lydman, Paul Mara, Andy Sutton, Sheldon Brookbank, Andreas Lilja and Lubomir Visnovsky. It seems that sometime soon the Ducks may unload one of these D for an asset to help this year. Rookie Cam Fowler and veteran Lubomir Visnovsky, along with free agent acquisition Toni Lydman, are off the table. However, Paul Mara and Andy Sutton look like prime candidates to be moved. Also Luca Sbisa, a first round draft pick and promising defenseman, may see himself involved in a trade as his long-term value is high. Sbisa has yet to hit his stride in the NHL since his rookie stint in Philadelphia but would be an appeasing player to teams building for their future who would be willing to give up a "right now" player. My prediction is that Mara is moved for a winger.
The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the three teams trailing the Ducks by one point. Their standing is the result of the multiple players from last year's Stanley Cup team they had to ship out to get under the salary cap. Furthermore, the injuries to Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane have left Chicago in need of bodies able to make an impact. Although names have not been mentioned, the Hawks are at a position where they should be buyers in the next few weeks. My prediction is that the Blackhawks trade picks and/or prospects for assets now. Missing the playoffs this year would certainly hurt the resurgence in the fan base after last year's win, giving management the incentive to sacrifice future for now.
The Ottawa Senators are one team in the East whose standing does not reflect their ability. Their inability to score goals, despite the talent, is a big reason for this. One idea floating around is that GM Bryan Murray is searching for a hard-nosed top 6 forward to give his finesse players more room on the ice to score goals. But that might not be the end of Murray's shopping list. They could use another bottom pair defenseman to sure-up the blueline for a playoff push. But with limited cap space (about 1.5million to the cap ceiling) the Sens would have to give to get. Talented winger Alex Kovalev, who is at the end of his contract, would be an interesting piece that could be moved. And, of course, there is center Jason Spezza whose rumored unhappiness in Ottawa made him popular summer trade talk. My prediction is that Ottawa only is able to pull a minor move or two because of cap difficulties and they will be forced to sink or swim given their current roster.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="321" caption="Captain Jamie Langenbrunner is speculated to be leaving New Jersey"][/caption]
The Toronto Maple Leafs and GM Brian Burke are never quiet around trade time and I expect nothing less this year. J.S. Giguere has been sidelined with another groin injury and his return is not yet determined. This puts the Leafs in the goalie market as Jonas Gustavsson seems unable to carry the full load. They could make a play for one of the Flyers' goalies (as they currently are carrying three). But more troubling is the Leafs number one center spot. Since the Leafs went out and paid a hefty price for winger Phil Kessel they have yet to give him a true number one center to play with. Adding on, they are still very shallow up front and could use another top 6 player on top of that. According to some sources Brian Burke made inquiries about the availability of James van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers. Though he is off the market, it gives insight into what Burke may be looking for this trade season, a new-age power forward. My prediction is that Burke once again surprises all of us and makes a trade that either jump-starts the Leafs or makes them look foolish. No middle ground with Brian Burke.
The New Jersey Devils will be sellers this year as they are sitting on the league floor. They have waived Brian Rolston, which still counts towards the cap as he is a 35+ contract. It is likely that they look to unload more veteran players from their team as Jamie Langenbrunner is among trade rumors. Colorado has some interest in the American Olympian according to a few sources. Zach Parise is set for a new contract and salary needs to be cleared. Dainius Zubrus is a piece likely to be moved for whatever can be had for him. Also, defensemen Colin White and Bryce Salvador could be moved to playoff teams looking for a 5th or 6th D for the playoffs. If your name isn't Parise, Travis Zajac, Ilya Kovalchuk or Patrik Elias you have a shot at being moved. My prediction is that Zubrus and White most likely will find new homes, if not more players.
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