February 24, 2007

Last Chance Saloon

With the Significant Other in Seattle for a bondage workshop, it’s left to me to sit around in my underwear watching sports all weekend.

So the only real difference is the underwear.

Most teams have a single game left before the trade deadline to decide to buy or sell. Who's likely to do what? My guesses:

In the East:


Got It: Three players doing all the scoring – again.
Need It: A bit of balance would be nice. Points from the blue line would help, too.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Buy if they can. It looks like newly acquired centre Belanger is getting the huge chance to line up with the big guns, but he’s more a temporary replacement for Rucchin.
Second Season: They’ve slipped in recent games, and panic could set in, losing them their place.
Upcoming: Unafraid to trade within their division, obviously, but they’ve got to find someone willing to trade them a scoring centre. They’ve got a fingernail grip on their first playoff spot ever, and DON’T want to lose it.


Got It: A saviour in Brandon Bochenski? They’re 7-2 since they got him, and he’s contributed 11 points, so…
Need It: A goalie to back up (or take over for) Thomas.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Tough call – their recent streak has them thinking playoffs. Most likely they’re done dealing, unless they can rent a goalie. They’ll be adding another forward when Kobasew comes back from injury.
Second Season: Unlikely, with too many teams in the way, but their recent trades are a good setup for the future.
Upcoming: Mara has been a bust here, but had good numbers with Phoenix last season. He’d be a good fit for a team that needs a point man, and Boston needs a couple months help in goal.


Got It: The top record in the league, and for good reason.
Need It: A coach who doesn’t complain every time a player of his gets hit. Ruff’s a good coach, but he’s got to figure out what a clean hit is.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Unlikely to change much, but the recent brawl against Ottawa may have the team thinking of another enforcer.
Second Season: Cruising.
Upcoming: Unlikely to make much of a move, except perhaps to add some size.


Got It: Two rock-solid scoring lines… When Cole and Stillman return from injury.
Need It: Cole and Stillman to return from injury.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. They needed size, so they got 6’5” Vasicek back, forgetting that he doesn’t actually use that size very much. So they also picked up Anson Carter, hoping his tendency for tough goals will be a better fit here than in Columbus. It will.
Second Season: A tight fit. Unless these moves work better than expected, they could easily lose their 8th place position.
Upcoming: It’s going to come down to getting injured forwards back, and just hanging on until then.


Got It: A dedicated captain and some great trade bait.
Need It: A trading partner and the will to rebuild.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. The players say they want to stay, but that’s not the best option for the team.
Second Season: Not this year.
Upcoming: Trades. Lots of them, if the Panthers know what’s good for them. There are younger goalies than Belfour available (if someone wants to take his baggage), and veteran forwards are always in demand this time of year (Gelinas, Roberts, Stumpel, Gratton…)


Got It: Perhaps the best “young player” coach in the league in Nolan.
Need It: An arena not falling around their ears. An appearance in the playoffs would help, too.
Buy, Sell or Rent: All of the above. DiPietro wants to play every game remaining; Dunham is NOT going to like that, as he’s good enough to start for many teams.
Second Season: Making a push for the final spot even as we speak.
Upcoming: This is now a hard working, versatile team. It’s unlikely that a major shift will happen, but if Dunham gets moved, they’d like another finisher up front.


Got It: A tiring goalie in Henrik Lundqvist.
Need It: A reliable backup, and where’d the team unity so evident last year go?
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. They have the most mentally fragile captain in the league, so they don’t want to admit it, but…
Second Season: Only five points out, but nothing in their recent play show that they can close that gap.
Upcoming: They should be trading for the future, with some fine young forward on the team now and depth at other positions in the system. But the pressure is there to keep Jagr happy, and to use the aging Shanahan while he’s there. They should trade unrestricted free agent Shanahan, but whether they have the courage to is another matter.


Got It: A surprising amount of goaltending, even with Huet out.
Need It: Depth up front. With two injuries, the scoring vanishes – and everyone holds their breath whenever Koivu gets hit.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent.
Second Season: On the edge again, they need to put some wins together to keep their tenuous hold on a playoff spot.
Upcoming: They’ll try to get a player in exchange for draft picks (unless they can get someone to take Samsonov), but they don’t have a lot of money for a top-line guy.


Got It: Brodeur. A career high tying 11 shutouts so far this season.
Need It: Scoring depth up front, a top four defenseman.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. Still no cap space available for a purchase.
Second Season: Easy. Brodeur still wants to play every game, though.
Upcoming: Lamoriello will do whatever he thinks is needed to improve his team, and is one of the most dangerous GM out there.


Got It: The toughest goalie in the league.
Need It: A much higher salary cap in coming years…
Buy, Sell or Rent: None of the above. They’re healthy, points are coming, and the goaltending is solid.
Second Season: Recovered nicely from a shaky start, picking up 17 wins since the Christmas break. They are only six points up from 9th place, but there’s way too much talent here not to be in the dance.
Upcoming: They’re trying to hang on to talent in the new capped league, so bringing in players is unlikely. As per usual, everything in Ottawa hinges on playoff performance.


Got It: Trouble. Plus a good shot at the #1 draft pick.
Need It: A full-fledged youth movement.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell.
Second Season: Heh. Uh, no. As a hint, they’ve used 40 players so far this season – never a good sign.
Upcoming: Former GM Bobby Clarke is only gone in name; he’s still a highly-regarded advisor for the management. This is a mistake. Clean out his desk, and clear away his team to make way for a new on built around Gagne, Richards, Carter and Upshall.


Got It: The future in their hands.
Need It: To move to Quebec City. Or Manitoba. Either one.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Buy if they can. They want to toughen up, but they don’t want to lose their skill to do it, and they have cap space, too. Laraque is the most obvious target, but they should ask if Shanahan is available, too.
Second Season: Should make it, as they’re the hottest team in the league right now.
Upcoming: With the team’s future in doubt, it’s a tough time to make any long-term plans. But if they can get through a couple rounds of playoffs, the odds of staying in Pittsburgh increase.


Got It: Bored doctors. With youth comes health, I guess.
Need It: Slightly stronger goaltending, and some secondary scoring would be nice.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. Saddling Richards with Craig and Alexeev and calling it a second line hasn’t really worked.
Second Season: They’ve charged up the standings to make the Atlantic division lead a dogfight with faltering Atlanta and an average Carolina.
Upcoming: They know they have one line, and so does everyone else. No one’s been able to stop it, though, so whether they decide to add scoring depth or try three “shut down” lines waits to be seen.


Got It: A bit of scoring from a bunch of people.
Need It: Health. No more major injuries, please.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Wellwood and Tucker should be coming back soon. Whether the team decides that the returnees fill out the front lines or add to the trade bait is debatable.
Second Season: It being Toronto, fans refuse to believe that they won’t make the playoffs; management may disagree. They have two games to decide.
Upcoming: The game against Montreal the day before the trade deadline rules all the thinking right now: they win, the team looks to buy. A loss and several veterans could go, including Tucker, McCabe, O’Neill, Battaglia, Raycroft and even Sundin.


Got It: Signs of improvement.
Need It: A little more time, and a little more talent.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. The scorers are probably untouchable, as is Kolzig (of course), but there are several reasonably priced depth players that could be useful parts for other teams.
Second Season: Uh, no.
Upcoming: The rebuilding process continues. There isn’t a lot coming from the minors for Washington, so draft picks and “not-there-yet” skaters should be welcomed.

Right – now I’ve got to go catch the Sabres-Senators game on CBC. Wonder if Buffalo will trade for Cloutier to play against Emery…? Apparently, Emery liked dropping the gloves so much in junior, he was told to cool it by the Senators management. And THAT’S why none of his team mates went to his aid when Buffalo’s tough guy fought with him: Emery’s was a better fighter than any of the Sens skaters on the ice at the time.


posted by Thursday at 1:03 pm


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