February 17, 2012

2012 NHL Trade Deadline - Canadian Teams Front and Center

With the NHL Trade Deadline just around the corner all 4 Canadian teams in the Eastern Conference have not given up hope on reaching the playoffs this spring. The Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs are the only 2 currently holding a playoff spot.

The Montreal Canadians are in a tie for 11th in the East, however they are 8 points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the last playoff spot. Pierre Gauthier has already started to move some assets as Hal Gill was traded to the Nashville Predators today. In return the Habs received a 2nd round draft pick and 2 prospects, including a player with close ties to a couple of Montreal Legends. Blake Geoffrion is the son of former Hab Danny and Grandson of Bernie 'Boom Boom' Geoffrion and Great Grandson to the legendary Howie Morenz. Montreal has a decent group of young players led by Carey Price and PK Subban as well as a few reliable veterans under contract for the next few years. Rene Bourque and Thomas Plekanec have 4 years left on their current contracts, Eric Cole has 3 and the injured captain Brian Gionta has 2 seasons left on his deal.

Four veteran players that could be moved to a contending playoff team are forwards Travis Moen and Andrei Kostitsyn as well as defenceman Tomas Kaberle and Chris Campoli. All but Kaberle are unrestricted free agents at the end of the year. It would be a miracle if Pierre Gauthier can find anyone to take Scott Gomez and his enormous salary so look for the previously mention players to be moved for picks and prospects.

The Winnipeg Jets are 4 points behind the Leafs with only the Washington Capitals between the two teams in the standings. The Jets have 7 players that will reach UFA status this summer, 3 of them could be valuable assets in a trade. Chris Mason is a reliable back up goaltender and teams like the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks may have some interest. Randy Jones and Johnny Oduya could be moved to someone needing depth on the blue line. The biggest need for the Jets is a top 6 forward and there is a ton of cap space available to make that happen.

The Toronto Maple Leafs hold the coveted 8 seed. They are 3 points ahead of the Capitals but the Caps have 2 more games remaining than the Leafs. The Maple Leafs are mentioned as contenders in the Rick Nash sweepstakes, however a goal scoring winger is not needed in Toronto as they have Phil Kessel. Nash's teammate, Jeff Carter makes more sense as the biggest need is a first line center. Some of the players that could be offered up in such a trade are 2 UFA's in Jonas Gustavsson and Mikhail Grabovski. Luke Schenn and Clarke MacArthur could also be moved.

Four points ahead of Toronto sit the Ottawa Senators in 7th place. The Senators have more games (60) played than any other team in the conference and are probably the biggest surprise this season. Filip Kuba is about the only player on the Sens roster that could be trade bait. The pending unrestricted free agent is expendable with the emergence of Erik Karlsson and Jared Cowen on the back end. Brian Murray should maintain the status quo and continue with the youth movement. 

- Mike Lord

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