The NHL’s trade deadline is just under a week away. Even after years of disappointment as I watch analyst after analyst scrounge for something, anything, hell even an AHLer for AHLer trade, to comment on you had better believe I’ll be up bright and early for this year's deadline coverage.
In this article, I’ll even offer some of my opinions and speculation on the deadline. As of right now the playoff picture is about as clear as it will get, pre-deadline. There is very little in the way of a grey area for teams to hide in at this point. Your team is a seller, or they’re a buyer. Worst case scenario, there a journalistic bore and stand pat with their current roster. Whatever the case, something or preferably things are bound to happen.
Today’s preview is of the potentially moving franchise variety. As the franchise gets closer and closer to leaving the desert, it’s veterans get closer and closer to leaving the franchise period. What Dave Tippett and Don Maloney have done with this team, and all the uncertainty that’s surrounded it for so many years, to this point is nothing short of amazing. As quality players leave nearly annually for more money elsewhere, and their ownership situation becomes less and less stable this team just finds a way to win. It’s starting to look like this magical run is coming to an end though.
The departure of Ryan Whitney, injuries and endless distractions seem to have finally caught up with this team. They are currently sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference, but they remain only 3 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. It’s going to be hard to get those extra three points though. It’s not that I can’t see them overcoming the four teams ahead of them, it’s just that I can’t see them forcing the Sharks out of their spot. Could happen, just not very likely. Whatever the case, the ‘Yotes are always an interesting team to watch at the deadline. They just always find a way to make the best bang for buck type moves league wide year after year. By that same token, their place in the standings and league ownership could force them into being sellers this time around. It’s always hard to predict what’s desert bound or on the way out but I’ll try my best.
Shane Doan: If you find this pick puzzling, I can’t really blame you. He did just sign a four year extension with desert dogs before the lockout ended, and yes, it does carry a no-movement clause. Thing is, he did that in good faith that the Coyotes would stay in Phoenix, which is becoming less and less likely by the day, so maybe he’ll be a little giving on this one. If he is available, and willing to be moved, expect the Canucks who were hot on his tail this summer to be all over the possibility of adding him to their lineup.
Steve Sullivan: Whether the Coyotes are a playoff team or not, I’ll be very surprised if he’s still a part of them after the deadline. He’s on a one year deal worth $2.6M and would be the perfect rental player for a team that needs veteran scoring depth. At the rate Pittsburgh’s trading, wouldn’t surprise me if he wound up back with the Penguins.
Boyd Gordon: Gordon is just the kind of deadline add teams like the Canucks, Blackhawks and maybe even the Rangers will be trying hard to get. Gordon is a versatile forward who can play well either as a winger or center, and is a UFA at the end of this season. Would play well enough on any team’s third line but is much better suited for the fourth.
Keith Yandle: For as long as it’s been rumoured that Yandle might be available the Penguins, Flyers and Bruins have been in hot pursuit. Not sure the Flyers are in buyer mode right now, but I could see the Bruins making a serious effort to land Yandle. Yandle isn’t your typical deadline pickup though, and the price for him will probably be higher than most teams are comfortable paying. He also has 3 more years with a cap hit of $5.25M remaining on his contract. He’s probably worth that money and then some, but it will make it more difficult for teams to add him to their roster.
Derek Morris: Much like Yandle, Morris isn’t necessarily a rental player. Morris has another season at $2.75M remaining on his contract, and a limited no trade clause. This well traveled defensemen could have a new home by the end of the deadline though, if he’s willing to go there and the ‘Yotes are going full on firesale.
Raffi Torres: The Matt Cooke of this years newer, cleaner, less threatening style of play makes him a much easier add for teams in need of a tough third liner. His UFA status at the end of the year makes him all the more appealing should he revert to his older, meaner ways.
Mike Smith: It’s a full on rebuild if this guy’s sent out of town. All bets are off. That being said, this move might be an unavoidable one whether they are or are not rebuilding. Smith and the Coyotes are apparently miles apart on contract talks, and he is set to become a UFA at season’s end. Smith’s status will be interesting to watch as the deadline looms nearer.
You can follow J.D. Burke for more hockey commentary, stats, tweets, etc. @WeveGotTwins and find his blog at We've Got Twins