With the NHL’s 2013 trade deadline only two sleeps away, things are really starting to pick up. New names are finding their way to the market, deals are reportedly happening as you read this and believe it or not we’re still all talking about Roberto Luongo. If you ask me this whole Christmas thing is totally overrated. Just try telling me that if your team is a contender this isn’t the most wonderful time of the year. Yeah, I’m talking to you especially Pittsburgh Penguins fans...
For every new name on the market, there is a new team working it’s way either in or out of the buyer and seller distinction. It’s like the old saying goes “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in...to playoff contention” or something like that. There are so many moving parts at work here, and it becomes all the more difficult to keep track of them in a shortened 48-game season that’s moving a mile a minute. Doesn’t mean I can’t try though - and don’t think I won’t enjoy every minute of it. You can get in on the action too, with my series of deadline previews.
Like this preview of the injury riddled Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks despite losing a third of their top 6 forwards have found some way to keep winning games, and are neck and neck with the Wild for the lead in the Northwest Division. That says nothing of the never ending distraction that has been their goaltending situation. Or the uncertainty surrounding head coach Alain Vigneault’s job. What I’m trying to say is, the Canucks haven’t exactly been working under ideal circumstances.
With the Canucks right up there around the top of the Western Conference, expect them to be buyers. And sellers. Sellers to buy maybe? They’ve a few select pieces that they either want to get rid of really badly, or could be persuaded to, but only in hockey trades. I think. Certainty just doesn’t seem to jive with this team. Don’t look into that seller label too much. Just trying to say they have a few movable pieces. Lets look at those pieces and what they might be looking to get in return for them.
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Roberto Luongo/Cory Schneider: How could I not start with the goaltenders? For about the last three years now there’s been rumours that one of the two will be moved at the deadline, but this time I think it’s for real. I think the difficulty of moving Luongo’s contract and the glut of goaltenders that will be available in the offseason have upped the level of urgency among Canucks management to get a deal done. I’ve also heard that the Canucks will likely receive some amazing offers for Schneider. Will be interesting to see what they do with this position.
Mason Raymond: Raymond was apparently removed from the morning skate before the Canucks matchup with the Sharks on Monday. That in combination with the fact that he’s a UFA at the end of this season has the twitterverse afire. Raymond is having a great bounceback campaign, and is going to get a big raise in the offseason. Not sure the Canucks can afford it.
Tyler Bozak/Mikhail Grabovski: If Luongo is sent to Toronto, one of these two has to be part of the return package. The Canucks are desperate at center, the Leafs don’t sound entirely sold on Reimer. It could work out perfectly for both sides. Especially if Grabovski and the final 4+ years of his contract with a cap hit of $5.5M is sent to Vancouver. Both sides get rid of a “bad” contract.
Ryane Clowe: While Mason Raymond was skipping the morning skate for Monday's game with the Sharks, Ryane Clowe was the last player to leave the Sharks dressing room for theirs. Could something be in the works? Wouldn’t surprise me. The Canucks have been trying to bulk up on the wing for the last two years, and Clowe would help them do just that. Could play anywhere but center on their second or third line.
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Derek Roy: The Canucks are desperate for another center, and it looks like the Stars - who are falling out of playoff contention - can’t get an extension done with Roy. The price for Roy will be high, and it does raise the question of where Kesler fits in when he returns, but he’d be a great band aid of sorts. They can’t complain about having too many centers after struggling through a season with too few.
You can follow J.D. Burke for more hockey commentary, stats, tweets, etc. @WeveGotTwins and find his blog at We've Got Twins