Yes ladies and gentleman, the NHL trade deadline is less than two weeks away. NHLNumbers,  CapGeek, Kuklas Korner, and Spectors are all buying extra bandwidth, other sports outlets are using these days to set their advertising prices on hockey pages for the year, and many players have probably carefully drown their phones to avoid texts, tweets and calls about rumors circling them.  But lost in the shuffle is how much of what is said, hinted at and is speculation at best and pure self serving lies at worst.

The Lecavalier to Montreal rumors swirled in the bowl for years, and refused their rightful deserts of a good flush despite all the statements by Lecavalier and the various suits at the Tampa Bay Lightning. Less persistent, but of equally odoriferous were the Malkin to the Kings rumors. More recently Ilya Kovalchuk was linked to the Kings, the Islanders, his former team the Atlanta Thrashers, half the KHL and Santa Clause over the summer, as we all know the New Jersey Devils were his destination.

For at least the last three years Thomas Kaberle has been “linked” to the Boston Bruins. Aside from being the “puck moving defenseman” that every team wants. Admittedly he’s been linked to other team, but not nearly as frequently. The radio silence some parties involved have asked for has been as easy to find as back to back sell outs for the Blue Jackets. At one point it was Phil Kessel for Kaberle, at draft picks, prospects and roster picks have rotated through the other half of the equation (and sources tell me that The Bruins refusal to include  a hockey puck autographed by Bourque and Orr for Burkes mantle was the drop dead point on one trade deal) and all of these deals have been close very close, or done deal.

I love speculation on potential trades as much as the next fan. I just prefer to get all my fantasy bound in a book and clearly labeled as such.  The rumor mongering surrounding the Kaberle deal and the Boston Bruins is coming from the same sources it always does. I’m not saying they are 100% wrong, or even that it’s malicious, but don’t forget they are all paid to generate traffic on their websites and viewers on their shows. I’ll listen on other deals, but for now I’d rather find out what it’s like to live in a city of werewolves in my own personal flesh, or maybe encounter an invisible dragon in a patch of dark woods than read one more headline about how the Kaberle deal is done until it is done and announced on the Maple Leafs website and wherever he lands.

While I don’t particularly see Moulson as a likely Bruins acquisition there are several reasons he might be a good fit. Chief among them are that he’s a natural left wing. Currently the only one of those we have is Milan Lucic. Michael Ryder, Mark Recchi, Blake Wheeler, Nathan Horton, and Shawn Thornton are all most comfortable on the right. Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin have played all three positions at one point or another. Patrice Bergeron was drafted at right wing where David Krejci has also played on the right.

Other markers in Moulson’s favor as a Bruin are his having reasonable size at six one and two ten. He’s a former 30 goal man, and at 26 he’d slide smoothly into the age bracket of the Bruins core.

Based on what the Islanders need most one a solid defenseman, and a good second center. Realistically this could mean Krejci or Boychuck going back. Moulson and Boychuck are both UFA’s this summer, Krejci still had one more year and is still an RFA at the end of his deal. Aside from the salary a straight Boychuck for Moulson deal is a potential plus for both teams.

A more interesting deal might involve two forwards such as Wheeler and or Krejci and or Paille for Moulson. This would clear more cap space and allow one of the hard working prospects in Providence back on the scene with time on the clock before the deadline for any further tweaking.

Matt Hunwick, we hardly knew you, and now you’re an Avalanche.

Matt,

Good luck, I always liked your heart. Even on the nights when your head was elsewhere you laid your body on the line.  You had your spleen removed while you were here, you nearly had your eye gouged out by Mike Komisarek, and you had a memorable fight with some nameless git on the Carolina Hurricanes.  While some of us found you maddeningly inconsistent, we all love your shot, adore your skating and hell, you gave grown men a chance to call you “Hunny” with your breakouts and sick puck handling. I think you’re solid at defense, but maybe the Avalanche will convert you back to a winger. I think with your speed and shot you might succeed their beyond what you can do as defenseman. I doubt this trade was highly personal, it’s just a matter of salary movement and you got the ticket west. We both know others will be leaving the hub of hockey. But who knows, Glen Murray returned, you might too. I doubt the guy you were traded for, a former BU Terrier, Colby Cohen, will see the roster anytime before the All Star game at the earliest, Kampfer and Bartowski are probably arguing right now over which of them will end up in your locker. Both deserve a shot, and you still get to go play for an upcoming team. As a veteran of three different playoff series you may find yourself a leader on your new team.

Much success (except against the Bruins),

Puck Sage

Peter Chiarelli has stated he wants to be proactive in addressing the pending cap crunch. For the purposes of this article trades have to make sense to all parties concerned. This means that if a player has a no trade clause, the place they might be shipped to has to be a strong playoff team, the cap numbers have to make sense and worse from the armchair GM’s position, the bodies have to line up right.

First trade, and probably the least likely situation.*

To Boston:

Conditional 3rd Round pick, 2011.

To Los Angeles:

Marco Sturm

If Marco Sturm scores more than 20 goals, or is resigned by the Kings or they win the Stanley Cup with him having played 3 or more playoff games the pick would become a 2nd round pick.

Why:

Boston, moves a loyal soldier who will probably not be resigned to a good situation.

Los Angeles, depth at left wing, secondary leadership, and someone who can step in to the penalty kill as needed.

Sturm, gets his feet wet with another organization and moves to a very good young team with stars on the rise.

To Boston:

Jeff Petry, 2nd round pick in 2012, 3rd round pick in 2011

To Edmonton:

Blake Wheeler, Daniel Paille,  Matt Dalton

Why:

Boston: $3.2 Million in salary moved, and allows more grooming of late cuts like Arniel, Sauve (when he is healthy again), Colborne and others. Moves Paille before he becomes a distraction sitting on the bench as he has thus far. Two easiest guys to move on the roster that you have a shot at getting back something of similar value.

Edmonton: Size, speed, playoff experience and above all two high end penalty killers that might drag their pretty pathetic penalty kill into the realm of respectable. Both guys work hard, Wheeler has 30 goals written all over him, and might be the center that Hall needs.  Dalton is also as strong or stronger a prospect as any goaltender the Oilers have currently.

To Boston:

Ryan Suter, 1st round pick, 2nd round pick

To Nashville:

Matt Hunwick, Andrew Ference, Joe Colborne, Blake Wheeler

Why:

Boston gets an elite defenseman coming back and drops a net $2.4million

Nashville gets two first round pick forwards who are versatile enough to play all forward positions, and gives them the potential to move into the top half of the NHL’s goal for column for the first time in years.

To Boston:

Chris Stewart, 2 2nd round picks, 1 3rd

To Colorado:

Blake Wheeler, Daniel Paille, Michael Ryder, Matt Dalton

Why:

Boston: About six million dollars off the books, and a solid young winger.

Colorado: They’re depth at goaltending almost doesn’t exist, their penalty kill could hardly be made worse by losing an extra man each penalty.

To Boston:

Keith Yandle, Brandon Gormley, 2nd round pick

To Pheonix

David Krejci, Blake Wheeler, Adam Courchaine, Andrew Ference, Jamie Arniel

Why:

Boston get’s two top four quality defensemen, loses some salary, clears up some of the log jam at center.

Phoenix gets a player who would easily be their number one center, a forward the organization was keen on enough to use a first round pick on, and gets to shore up their goaltending.

Capgeek, Hockey’s Future, and NHLNumbers used for basic background info.

*Ok so nearly all trades are unlikely in the current NHL. At least there is something in it for each team.

One of the latest rumors of where Marc Savard and Tim Thomas might end up is well Inane. Really. Both guys have no trade clauses, neither wants to leave the hub, and both are nearing the end of their careers. Neither has yet lifted the Cup, nor even played in a Stanley Cup Final series. Both have had to battle for respect, both are top shelf players.

While I think the Islanders are no more than three seasons from being ready for a good playoff run, they have too many weaknesses to be a viable destination for two guys hungry to drink from the Cup that Gretzky, Hasek, Bourque, Orr, Lafluer, Roy, and other giants of the sport have to take a step backwards.

Tavares is hugely talented and no one with the wit to recall that ice is cold can say otherwise. Moulson is a solid offensive threat. Streit is probably the most underrated defenseman in the NHL and they’ve drafted some impressive talent in the last two or three season, which is what happens when you finish in the lottery for years running. Nino Niedderreitter, Kyrill Kabanov, Kirill Petrov,  Travis Hamonic, Brock Nelson, and Calvin de Haan can’t help but improve the team. No doubt the Islanders management will snag a few of the right free agents to fill in the holes.

All that said, the reasons against going to the Islanders for both players are huge.  The Atlantic division may just be the toughest division in the NHL next year. The Penguins, Flyers and Devils are all dangerous, skilled and good at winning games. The Rangers have both King Henrik and Gaborik, with Del Zotto, Girardi and company in between and are all quite effective.

If either one were going to waive their NTC, it would be to go to a team with a lot of potential, and probably closer to their home towns. Thomas being from Michigan, and Savard from the Ottawa area leave the likelihood of the Islanders quite low. On top of that the Islanders had horribly low attendance percentage even without taking into consideration the small, broken down arena and low percentage of seats sold. The Town of Hampstead hasn’t shown itself to be a great friend of the ownerships plans to replace the oldest arena in the NHL either.

Assuming the Boston Bruins really are actively shopping the Ottawa native, there are probably a finite number of teams he’d be willing to go to who might want him in return. It’s a safe bet that the Pens, Wings, and Flyers aren’t holding open any spots on their dance card for him. The Oilers, Panthers, Stars, Lightning are all out for a number of reasons. It’s highly doubtful the Bruins would be willing to trade him within the division unless they could get more goal scoring help on wing, or possibly more leadership.

So let’s look at some places that might want Savard for the long haul.

Atlanta has the lures of familiarity with the city, and great weather. They also have a dynamic young roster without a great deal of depth at center. The team is far more balanced than it was when he left several years ago, and has one of the better defensive corps in the division.  They have the #8 pick as well which if Boston simply wishes to reload and get younger, larger and more aggressive as they’ve stated for years might be a great place to snatch Niederreiter or some other catch. On the negative side, the Thrashers have an ownership group that lacks cohesion, and is (perpetually) rumored to want to sell.  They are probably also a good defensive defenseman away from a playoff appearance.

Calgary has the lure of familiarity, a familiar face in premier power forward Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla. To compliment him there is emerging star Rene Bourque, one of the NHL’s ten best defensemen in Jay Bouwmeester, and top tier tender Miikka Kiprusoff, all hungry to hoist the Cup.  Any trade with the Flames will almost certainly require the Bruins to take back some, and possibly a lot of salary as the Flames are over $53 million with just 18 players signed. There is also the question of how willing the Flames management would be to put the teams future in the hands of two aging stars with high salaries.

Columbus while in the minds of hockey purists (or fat heads) this place is a backwater, their average home head count was only about a hundred below the New Jersey Devils. With Rick Nash, RJ “the Capitals Defense will sink them” Umberger, Nikita Filatov (The Russian Phil Kessel?) and others just looking for a top tier center Savard would have the opportunity not only at a Cup or two, but possibly of having his jersey retired their if he plays out his contract with a cup win or two. Sure it’d be easier to get ones number retired in a newer market than in a place like Montreal or Boston, but a retired jersey is not something most athletes can claim.

Minnesota, a team that seems to have been looking for a good center since they came into the league currently leans heavily on the undervalued services of Mikko Kiovu. The Wild could be in a worse cap position, have a solid goal-tending position, a defense that was hampered by a lack of anyone to do anything with their outlet passes, and sniper Havlat to ride roughshod over defenses on Savard’s wing.

Ottawa, while trading Savard inside the division is probably not on Chiarelli’s top ten list of things to do this off season, if the Senators do indeed trade Spezza, production wise Savard is probably the best available replacement. Coming into last season the two were two or three points apart for the past several seasons, with Savard having spent a great deal more time killing penalties and Spezza having blocked a few more shots in that time. In terms of cap hit, Savard’s is lower and shorter to off set the age difference. Assuming the Senators do part with Spezza, if they don’t bring back a solid defenseman for him, the difference in Cap hits might allow the Senators to retain Volchenkov. For Savard, Ottowa has proven they can play hard against top tier teams, and its his home town. Being on the first team to raise the Cup in your home town isn’t something many men will ever have the chance to do.

While I’m not 100% convinced the Bruins should or will trade Savard, these are currently among the most interesting possibilities.

Did the Boston Bruins were raped and rolled today?

While dumping Dennis Wideman to acquire some offensive finish and size in Horton they were forced to part with far too much. Wideman for Horton is about even in salary, by reputation they are not highly self motivated, and age wise they are not far apart. Selling Wideman down the I95 to a team actively looking to get rid of Horton should not have required much, a third round pick, maybe a second. To take on the additional baggage of an RFA forward who’s yet another in their retinue of small, bottom six players.

On top of this they gave up a highly valuable first round pick. Had this been last years draft, sure send it packing without regrets the 2009 draft class was just that weak. With the possibility of blue-chippers like Etem, Neiderieter, Campbell or other high end talents sliding out of the top 10 there’s little doubt the 15th pick in 2010 will be more valuable in a year or two than any of the men now packing their bags for a new city.

Let’s take a look at some possible why’s to this otherwise inexplicable overpayment:
The Bruins have no intention of signing Campbell, and will either repackage him or let him walk and take the compensation (if any).
Management views Campbell as a replacement for Begin, Paille or another bottom six forward and expect to sign him cheaper than the player he’s replacing.
Campbell is bound for AHL where he will spend the year mentoring younger players.
Management decide that it unlikely they could unload further salary (Ryder, Ference for example) for any meaningful return and would not be able to fit the cap hit of whomever is drafted #15 under the cap and expect their choices at that position not to opt for college or be eligible for the AHL.
Maybe the Bruins brain trust just doesn’t view this draft as being as deep as many in the media do.
Maybe, just maybe the Bruins believe they got two top six forwards back because they know something the rest of us don’t.

Only time will tell, if this was a Raycroft for Rask or a Versteeg for Bochenski trade, but not only does this move deprive the Bruins a high end player one or two years away from playing at a high level in the NHL at most, it robs them of even the threat of an offer sheet next year as well.

While it doesn’t free any cap space, it does reduce blueline clutter, hopefully opening the door for both Stuart and Boychuck to be resigned to multi-year deals.