What to watch for at the NHL trade deadline
The NHL trade deadline is April 3 at 3 p.m. Some of the trades that everyone was expecting–such as the departure of longtime Flames’ captain Jarome Iginla — have already happened, but there could be a few surprises left.
The Pittsburgh Penguins could do even more
Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero may be interested in acquiring another defenseman before the deadline since top defensemen Paul Martin and Kris Letang, relied upon in almost every on-ice situation, have injuries. Letang may return at any time, but Martin broke a bone in his hand and is probably done for the regular season. With roster restrictions lifted, Shero could obtain another d-man and still allow Letang and Martin to return at any time.
They may also try to add a depth signing at forward considering the recent injury to Sidney Crosby, whose jaw broke after being hit by a puck in his first shift of the Islanders game Saturday. The Penguins have already added Brenden Morrow, Jarome Iginla and Douglas Murray, giving up only a few prospects and picks in the process, and will have more cap space to play with with so many marquee players on injured reserve.
Roberto Luongo could finally move
After a recent attempted deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs fell through, the Canucks may still try to move Luongo before the deadline. He isn’t playing great, but he isn’t playing poorly either The Canucks are sitting in a playoff spot, but in such a compact season, one losing streak could put that in jeopardy.
Cory Schneider has played more games for the Canucks and has a better record. It seems like they are more than happy to name him their No. 1. With two good goaltending prospects in their system in the form of Eddie Lack and former Merrimack College netminder Joe Cannata (currently with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL), the Canucks don’t need to replace Luongo with this trade, but rather should add a skater or two who can improve their two-way game (their goals for and goals against this season are almost dead even).
If they don’t feel like trusting Cannata with backup duties, however, they could add a rental goaltender as well (Lack is out until at least May after hip surgery). The Leafs are still the main suitor for Luongo’s trade by all popular accounts as they try to provide a package including Tyler Bozak, but any team who wants to add a veteran goaltending presence and has a center to offer up could be in the mix.
The Sabres could explode–literally
Sabres GM Darcy Regier has stated that he’ll do “just about anything” at the deadline, according to The Buffalo News. The Sabres are only three points back of a playoff position, but the team has been sliding for a while rather than improving. Regier already traded defenseman Jordan Leopold to St. Louis for picks and fired longtime Sabres coach Lindy Ruff in late February, replacing him with the Sabres’ AHL affiliate coach Ron Rolston.
It seems more likely that Regier will try to pursue long term solutions, rather than shake up his team solely in pursuit of this year’s playoffs. This is not the “win now” trade mentality that the Penguins pursued. The Sabres are in a state of flux that will change their team forever.
Columbus is open to trades but isn’t giving up any clues
The Columbus Blue Jackets could use a depth move or two to make their playoff push more serious. They stand one point out of the playoffs after making a run throughout the month of March to put themselves in this position. If Columbus does make a move, it will likely be to add without subtracting any key pieces of this motivated team. A center or right winger who is good in his own zone and can score some big goals would not go amiss … someone like impending unrestricted free agent Eric Fehr, currently with Washington, might be a good fit and would likely not demand a high price. However, according to the Columbus Dispatch, GM Jarmo Kekalainen and president of hockey operations John Davidson aren’t stating their intentions just yet. The Columbus trades, if they occur, likely won’t be blockbusters, but they may affect the depth of both the Blue Jackets and their trade partners for years to come.
Many diehard hockey fans schedule a day off from work to watch the trade deadline proceedings. Is it worth it this year to see if Luongo moves, if Ryane Clowe goes to Boston, if the Sabres rip their team apart? It could be a good show.