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The Trade Deadline

It’s that time of the season where everyone not tied to a ridiculous salary (Drury, Gomez, Redden, Rozsival, Lundqvist) is mentioned in some sort of trade rumor. This is also the time of the season where we know who the definite sellers are (Islanders, Senators, Panthers, Thrashers, Blues) and who, barring a huge winning streak, the sellers will be (Lightning, Leafs, Predators, Kings).

If you’re dreaming of Kovalchuk or Bouwmeester in Ranger blue, then keep dreaming. The price tag on those two will be enormous. For Kovalchuk, think Staal, Anisimov, Del Zotto and a 1st rounder as a start. For Bouwmeester, think Staal, Anisimov and a 1st rounder to start. Kovalchuk is more expensive right now because he’s under contract for next year too. You also have to think about whatever throw-ins are needed to get the cap situation to work (Kalinin, Mara, Prucha, any one of Dawes / Callahan / Korpikoski). Big trades rarely happen in the NHL anymore, and a trade for either of these guys leaves the future in doubt. Once you get past those prospects, it’s a bunch of 3rd liners (minus Grachev) or 3rd pairing defensemen.

The Rangers have two glaring needs: a top six wing, and a bruiser defenseman (or a PP QB). The most obvious person to fill the first void would be Bill Guerin, but I highly doubt the Islanders would trade in-division, and I doubt Sather wants to give a draft pick + young player to a division rival.

One name that jumps out at me is Filip Kuba. He would be a rental player, as he’s a UFA after the season. The problem is that he would cost Dawes and a 4th rounder, plus whatever has to be thrown in to make the cap situation work. I don’t trust Sather with free agents, but he has been able to pull off some sparkling trades (Tyutin for Zherdev? Really?).

Another name that jumps out at me is Keith Tkachuk. He’s 2nd in scoring on a Blues team sans Kariya, and he’s a big physical body that they will need. He will crash the net and get the rebound goals that most of this current roster is scared, or too small, to do. His cost will be similar to Guerin’s cost (think Dawes + 3rd rounder, and then various salary cap players thrown in). JD will not be giving us a discount, so don’t even bother thinking it.

As for bruiser defensemen, how about Denis Gauthier? He’s 6’2 220, and is currently 13th in the league in hits with 120. he doesn’t take that many penalties (39 PIMS, with 1 fighting major, so 17 minor penalties all year). His one drawback is that he’s a -9 (this would actually tie him with Rozsival and Kalinin for worst +/- amongst defensemen), but he’s -9 on a team that called Jason Labarbera its starter for half the season. So he may actually be an upgrade there.

I think a move like Gauthier, who won’t cost more than a draft pick and whoever is thrown in to make the salary cap work (Gauthier made $2.1 million this year), is more likely than a move for Kuba/Tkachuk.

I love this time of year. I’ll post valid rumors (ie: comes from a legitimate source, not just someone behind a screen making trades in NHL 09) as I hear them.

Update 10:30am: I forgot to mention the Chris Pronger rumors. He would fill two holes, PP QB and bruiser defensemen (even if he does get schooled every now and then). He would cost the same as Bouwmeester, and is under contract for one more year ($6.25 million cap hit). A trade for Pronger isn’t happening unless Redden or Rozsival get thrown in. So basically, it’s extremely unlikely.

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