We are officially reaching the home stretch for the trade deadline. The Blackhawks jumped out of the gate seemingly adding more players than the salary cap or what they could possible give up in futures could hold. But they somehow pulled it off and now seem loaded and ready to make another run at the Stanley Cup.
Just for fun here are my wild guesses for destinations for the Canes players who are in the cross hairs of the trade deadline:
The overwhelming favorite right now seems to be the Rangers. With his brother there, the Rangers needing help at forward and the Rangers being a team that must have a ‘win now’ mentality, it makes sense. But rather than being boring and just stating whatever everyone else on Twitter has already said, let me throw in a dark horse – the Minnesota Wild. The Wild has had a run of pretty good regular seasons followed by playoff misses. They too must have a ‘win now’ mentality and also have the challenge of keeping up with the Joneses in the Western Conference. And as noted above, Chicago just went all in. This would be arguably the biggest move possible to call Chicago and put cards on the table.
I put the probability of Eric Staal being traded at 70 percent. There is always a chance that he just chooses to exercise his no-trade clause. As I noted in another post, if Eric Staal wants to stay in Raleigh, there is a chance that Ron Francis uses all of the pressure and finality of this week to negotiate a discounted deal for him to stay a Hurricane.
He has had an incredibly good season which makes him a great addition for a team looking for veteran blue line help. His $3.8 million salary cap hit could be challenging for some teams, and I think he probably slots as a #5 on a good team which probably only garners a mid-round pick. (I think getting a second for him would be really good.) Because of that, if a good bid does not materialize, I could see Francis just keeping him to maintain stability on the blue that still has nearly 20 games that are important for the development of the future there.
If he departs, I say Dallas. The Stars seem like a candidate to chase Hamhuis, but I think Liles could be a good fit if they cannot get him or even for additional depth if they do.
I put the probability of John-Michael Liles being traded at 50 percent.
He is represents good well-rounded forward depth with Cup experience for a modest salary cap hit. That could fit on any number of teams. I liked the prospect of him returning to Chicago where he is a known commodity and should be able to hop right back into after being away for 9 months. But in their recent spree Chicago has already added 3 forwards in Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann. I think Fleischmann is a poor man’s Kris Versteeg in that he has enough offensive skill to be a complementary player who could chip in some offense with the right chemistry. Might Chicago add yet another forward? Who knows, but I just do not see them as willing/capable to be the high bidder on a player who should have some decent demand.
My wild guess our of a dozen possible destinations is 1-Pittsburgh, 2-Anaheim and 3-Minnesota.
I put the probability of Kris Versteeg being traded at 80 percent.
His run of solid and winning play combined with that Conn-Smyth trophy from 10 years ago could generate interest, but I think his cap hit and the fact that there are a couple other options for goalies make moving him complicated.
I do not think he goes anywhere (see % below), but if he does, I say Dallas. They have a ton of money invested in the goalie position but still problems there. No way would they take another contract for that position long-term, but might they be willing to invest about $1.7 million to take their chances with him in the playoffs? Maybe.
So I have Dallas as the most likely destination if Ward departs. St. Louis could also use another goalie, but Reimer seems to be a much better fit because of salary cap issues.
I put the probability of Cam Ward being traded at 15%.
As long as the phone conversations are happening, there is always a chance for non-rental deals too. These are less likely. If I had to place long shot bets in this regard, I think the most obvious would trading Ryan Murphy to add a similar age/caliber forward to try to better balance his prospect pool.
As is always the case, it should be an interesting next couple of days up until the NHL trade deadline at 3pm on Monday.
Who do you think stays and who goes? And for the departing players where is their next stop?