Rumor mill: NHL trade deadline
As the Feb. 28 trade deadline approaches, we look at some players who are rumored to be on the move and separate fantasy from reality. Compiled by Mike Casey with thanks to:
ALEX GOLIGOSKI, Penguins
Trade: On Feb. 21, Pittsburgh trades D Alex Goligoski to Dallas for LW James Neal and D Matt Niskanen.
Quick summary: Pittsburgh was hurting for forwards and they got a very good one in James Neal. But they had to give up Goligoski, a good young offensive defenseman, to get him.
Analysis: A good trade season just keeps getting better. No one expected Dallas to part with Neal, who at 23 has already scored 20 goals (including 21 already this year). Naturally they demanded an equally promising young player in return, and that's what they got in Goligoski. We like this trade better for Pittsburgh than we do for the Stars. Dallas was desperate for a shake-up after plummeting in the Western Conference standings recently, but that was no reason to give up one of your best young talents. Goligoski has played well lately and should definitely help the Stars blueline. But in the long-term, Neal seems more likely to be a legitimate star player.
NIK ANTROPOV, Thrashers
Contract: UFA in 2013 with $4.06 million cap hit
Atlanta is in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt (five points back as of Feb. 23), but they wouldn't mind unloading Antropov's hefty contract, especially considering he's signed for two more years and has just 10 goals and 28 points this season. Antropov played well for the Thrashers last year, but has been unpredictable this year. He's played a bit better lately after an awful start.
Pittsburgh is one possible suitor, because of their need to add a talented center and ample cap space due to the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin injuries. Montreal has been in the market for a center, so that's another possible destination.
ZACH BOGOSIAN, Thrashers
Contract: RFA this summer, $3.375 million cap hit
We're not looking at a big market for Bogosian, and that has nothing to do with his salary or his performance. This issue is that Bogosian, a former No. 3 overall pick, is still considered a cornerstone of Atlanta's defense. He's only 20 and because of that, Thrashers GM Rick Dudley has already indicated he expects to retain him. Why wouldn't he? The Thrashers can still control his rights for several more years.
But Bogosian reportedly had problems with coach Craig Ramsay earlier this year, and if Atlanta can back a legitimate NHL talent for him, they would certainly listen. Among the few teams who may be willing to give up key roster players for Bogosian are the Oilers, who could offer Ales Hemsky or Dustin Penner.
BLAKE WHEELER, Bruins
Trade: On Feb. 18, the Bruins traded RW Blake Wheeler and D Mark Stuart to Atlanta for C Rich Peverley and D Boris Valabik.
Quick summary: Boston clears cap space to facilitate their trade for Tomas Kaberle. Atlanta gets a pair of players who they hope can help them now and in the future, without giving up a ton of talent in return.
Analysis: For Boston, eliminating Wheeler's $2.2 million cap hit and Stuart's $1.675 million enabled them to trade for Tomas Kaberle. They also get Peverley, who should provide more reliable offense than Wheeler did. Wheeler was just two years removed from a 21-goal rookie season, but hasn't yet blossomed like Boston hoped. The Thrashers can afford to wait a little longer for Wheeler to come around, and they hope that giving him additional playing time will help his development. Stuart is a decent top-six defenseman, while Valabik has struggled to stick in the NHL.
TIM CONNOLLY, Sabres
Contract: UFA this summer, $4.5 million cap hit
Coming off his best season, 29-year-old Tim Connolly has struggled this year, fueling rumors that the Sabres have put him on the trade block. Buffalo is five points out of a playoff spot, which means they likely would want a solid NHL player in return for Connolly, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Washington is one team that has been repeatedly linked to Connolly. He has terrific playmaking talent, but isn't a natural goal-scorer and has been injury-prone throughout his career. Add to that his inconsistent play and any team that pursues him is looking at a high-risk, high-reward acquisition.
ROBYN REGEHR, Flames
Contract: UFA in 2013, $4.02 million cap hit
The Flames' struggles during the first half bred all kinds of rumors about GM Jay Feaster breaking up his core, including hard-hitting defenseman Regehr. But Calgary have played much better lately, pulling them into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Feaster certainly won't throw away a chance at a playoff berth by trading one of his best defensemen now.
JONI PITKANEN, Hurricanes
Contract: UFA this summer, $4 million cap hit
Carolina's in the unique position of possibly being forced to trade one of its most important players, even though they are currently eighth in the Eastern Conference. Pitkanen, 27, led the NHL ice time last year and is in the top ten this year. He is a key element to the Hurricanes' power play and among their top four penalty killers. But he's also a free agent this summer, and if he's not interested in re-signing with Carolina, 'Canes GM Jim Rutherford may move him to what is sure to be a large number of interested teams.
CRAIG ANDERSON, Avalanche
Trade: On Feb. 18, the Avalanche traded Anderson to Ottawa for G Brian Elliott.
Quick summary: A swap of two struggling goalies. Ottawa gets a veteran who they hope will add some stability and Colorado gets a younger player who they think has a bright future.
Analysis: This is a bit of a head-scratcher for Ottawa. Anderson was terrific last year, his first full season as a starter. But he never found a groove this season and played himself out of the starting job in Colorado. Bryan Murray may feel he Anderson is a good tutor for young goalie Robin Lehner. But Elliott, 25, has a brighter future. He had a save percentage under .900 this year, but that's certainly excuseable considering he's playing on one of the worst teams in the league. Hard to see how Ottawa improved by making this deal.
JOHN-MICHAEL LILES, Avalanche
Contract: UFA in 2012, $4.2 million cap hit
Someone had to drop out of the scramble for playoff position in the West, and the Avs became that team. Now everyone's looking at Colorado as sellers.
Liles got off to a great start, but went through a prolonged slump recently that mirrored the Avs' drop out of the playoff race. He's 30 and signed through next year. His emergence on the trade market boosts a weak crop of puck-moving defensemen on the block. The Rangers will likely check into his availability, although there are questions about whether they're willing to commit to someone with a big salary beyond this year. Carolina is another team that may be interested.
STEVE MASON, Blue Jackets
Contract: RFA in 2013, $2.9 million cap hit
It's not often a 22-year-old goalie with a Calder Trophy on his resume hits the trade market, but that appears to be the case with Mason. The 2008-09 rookie of the year has a GAA over 3.00 the past two seasons. He's now in a time-share with Mathieu Garon, having lost his grip on the starting job. That has some teams asking Columbus if he's available. Most reports so far indicate that while the Blue Jackets aren't actively shopping him, they're listening to offers.
BRAD RICHARDS, Stars
Contract: UFA this summer, $7.8 million cap hit
How things have changed. An early-season favorite to be moved, Richards was all but taken off the market as Dallas shot to the top of the Western Conference standings by the All-Star break. But the Stars have fallen recently, dropping from third all the way into eighth in the West.
Richards is one of the league's premiere playmakers, and Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk would want a huge return for his No. 1 center. Earlier in the season, he had been linked to the Rangers. With Pittsburgh missing its two star centers (and their salaries), the Penguins could make a play for him, although it's hard to see how Pittsburgh would re-sign him, making him a very costly rental. Washington and Los Angeles could also be in play, although Richards recently suffered a concussion which could scuttle any deals.
ALES HEMSKY, Oilers
Contract: UFA in 2012, $4.1 million cap hit
Hemsky is an interesting case: He's struggled with injuries and inconsistency, but isn't over the hill. He's 27, and almost a point-per-game player when he's in the lineup. His $4.1 million cap hit for this season and next make him an affordable option for most teams. The Oilers may want to hang on to their most exciting veteran for one more year and see if they can entice him to stay beyond 2012.
One report said GM Steve Tambellini was looking for a good prospect plus a first-round pick for Hemsky; if those are his demands, it's hard to see a trade happening soon. Another report said Tambellini hasn't met with Hemsky to discuss an extension, which might mean he's trying to work out a trade. The latest rumors have Hemsky headed to Atlanta, possibly for young defenseman Zach Bogosian, or to Los Angeles or Pittsburgh. We'll see.
DUSTIN PENNER, Oilers
Contract: UFA in 2012, $4.25 million cap hit
Penner's future depends on whether Steve Tambellini feels he can re-sign him next summer. He's played well on a bad team the last couple of years, and if there's a chance he can be retained, that's the kind of guy Tambellini wants around. His scoring (32 goals last year and 20 so far this year) takes the pressure off young forwards Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson.
Are the Oilers to commit to a long-term deal for Penner after getting burned on the signings of Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Souray? Does Penner prefer to move to a contender? With more than a year left on Penner's contract, both sides have plenty of time to decide. At this point, we think he'll stay put at the deadline.
SHELDON SOURAY, Oilers
Contract: UFA in 2012, $5.4 million cap hit
Not long ago, Souray was one of the league's most dangerous power play d-men. But injuries have cut him down and he's squabbled with Oilers manangement, who banished him to the AHL this season.
There was some debate recently about whether the Oilers had found a taker for Souray when he was placed on re-entry waivers. But no one put in a claim, which would have allowed someone to pick up Souray for only half his salary over the next year and a half. At this point, it looks like Souray's NHL career is done.
DAVID BOOTH, Panthers
Contract: Signed through 2015, $4.25 million cap hit
The Panthers are looking more and more like they're headed for a major overhaul as they tread water in the East. Booth is a solid 25-30 goal scorer who is only 26. Problem is that anyone trading for him would have to be willing to commit to his $4.25 million cap hit for the next four seasons. And he has a limited no-trade clause. That hasn't prevented the Kings from being mentioned as a suitor, and why not? L.A. has been linked to virtually every NHL winger with first-line talent.
MICHAEL FROLIK, Panthers
Trade: On Feb. 9, Florida traded LW Michael Frolik and G Alexander Salak to Chicago for RW Jack Skille, RW Hugh Jessiman and C David Pacan.
Quick summary: It looks like a desperate move by the defending champs, who add a talented but enigmatic forward and give up Skille, who they had been grooming for years.
Analysis: Frolik, 23, is a talented player who will feel some pressure to improve on a mediocre season after back-to-back 21-goal seasons to open his career. Can Frolik help the struggling Blackhawks save their playoff hopes? He has just eight goals this season and no points in his first six games with the 'Hawks. They may regret giving up Skille, the seventh overall pick in 2005. They had been bringing him along slowly, but apparently decided the 22-year-old was expendable if it meant adding a top-six forward and a good goaltending prospect (Salak, 24, is playing well in the Swedish Elite League). Neither Pacan nor Jessiman, a former Rangers first-round pick, are likely to be big factors for Florida.
CORY STILLMAN, Panthers
Contract: UFA this summer, $3.53 million cap hit
Don't be surprised to see Stillman on the move on deadline day. He's 37 and a free agent at the end of this season, and likely not a part of the Panthers' long-term plans. Multiple reports have linked him to Pittsburgh. He's had a solid career as playmaker, but would not be a high-impact acquisition for any team.
TOMAS VOKOUN, Panthers
Contract: UFA this summer, $5.7 million cap hit
As the days go by, the Panthers look more and more like sellers and the latest reports on Vokoun open the door a little wider for a trade. Vokoun apparently hasn't received any new offers from Dale Tallon recently. The Czech goalie is one of the team's most valuable assets, and if the pending UFA can't be signed long-term, Tallon may consider shopping him rather than risk losing him for nothing in free agency. Vokoun has a no-movement clause, which gives him the right to refuse any deal, but it's hard to say whether he'd waive that if offered a chance to play for a contender.
STEPHEN WEISS, Panthers
Contract: UFA in 2013, $3.1 million cap hit
Weiss is a good playmaker and a solid faceoff man. He's been most prominently mentioned in trade rumors with Montreal, but the dimunitive center would make a good second-liner on several playoff teams. Despite the rumors, Weiss has said he'd like to remain in Miami as the team tries to rebuild -- although he has also said that being on a bad Panthers team year after year is difficult.
It's hard to read what he or the team may do. He has two years left on his deal after this season and a no-trade clause that gives him the right to veto any move. His cap hit is reasonable, and if Dale Tallon can work out a deal and Weiss is happy, we wouldn't be surprised to see him land elsewhere.
DENNIS WIDEMAN, Panthers
Contract: UFA in 2012, $3.94 million cap hit
Wideman has put up decent numbers on a low-scoring Panthers team and is only 27 years old. He's not a defensive whiz by anyone's standards, but he could be a good option for the Rangers, who are looking to boost their power play. Because of his young age and his performance this season (33 points in 59 games as of Feb. 23), Wideman would cost a team more than a player like Filip Kuba. His contract is only slightly more expensive and, like Kuba, he's signed through 2012. Our guess is that he would cost at least a second-round pick or a very good prospect.
JASON ARNOTT, Devils
Contract: UFA this summer, $4.5 million cap hit
Count us as non-believers in the recent Devils playoff push. Despite an incredible hot streak, they are still nine points out of eighth place with 22 games left. So while some people may be thinking that New Jersey is going to hold onto all its assets, we still wouldn't be surprised to see Arnott get traded.
According to reports, there may be a few teams -- Montreal, Nashville and Pittsburgh among them -- willing to take on his $4.5 million cap hit to boost their scoring. The problem is Arnott, 36, has a no-movement clause and may be sick of moving around. We think it'd be in GM Lou Lamoriello's long-term interests to get something for Arnott if he can, because we don't see the playoffs in their future.
ZACH PARISE, Devils
Contract: RFA this summer, $3.125 million cap hit
Lou Lamoriello claims he's under no financial restrictions, despite reports that some of the Devils' minority owners were looking to sell. Still, the Devils still might need to sell off their franchise player -- yes, even though he's only 26 and even though the Devils can match any offer sheet he signs with another club. The Devils are close to the cap ceiling, which doesn't leave them much wiggle room to sign Parise to a multi-million dollar, long-term contract. They risk losing him to another team that signs him to a large offer sheet this summer which the Devils can't or won't match.
Parise is due to return from a knee injury in late March, so he would make him a nice addition for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. He's making only $3.125 million this season. He's a four-time 30-goal scorer. And he could force a trade this summer if he's unhappy with what the Devils offer him then. All these factors make him appealing to trade and appealing to acquire. But there are many variables -- frankly, too many to make us think he'll actually get moved.
ZENON KONOPKA, Islanders
Contract: UFA this summer, $600,000 cap hit
The fourth-liner could be in demand by contending teams looking for depth and toughness. He leads the NHL in penalty minutes and has 19 fights. More importantly, he's one of the best face-off men in the league. He's in the top six statistically, and only four centers have won more shorthanded faceoffs. He's already been linked to the Canucks in at least one report.
With a bargain cap hit and a contract that expires this summer, his value is high for a player of his caliber. If Isles GM Garth Snow is inclined to a move him, Konopka should fetch a nice return. A mid-round pick is not out of the question.
RADEK MARTINEK, Islanders
Contract: UFA this summer, $1.5 million cap hit
Martinek would be a good addition to the depth of any playoff team's defense. He doesn't add a lot of the offense, but he can play 20-plus minutes and rarely gets beat on defense. He would come at a reasonable cost. The only reason why Garth Snow wouldn't move him is because he wouldn't want to force his younger defensemen to have to play too many minutes in Martinek's absence. One report suggested Snow was looking for a second-round pick for Martinek. We'll see if anyone bites.
MARIAN GABORIK, Rangers
Contract: Signed through 2014, $7.5 million cap hit
The latest reports suggested that while Glen Sather wasn't actively shopping Gaborik, they were listening to offers, with Los Angeles among the most likely teams to be interested. But with Gaborik out of the lineup with concussion-like symptoms, who knows when he'll be back and what his trade value might be? And who knows if anyone is willing to make the huge commitment in terms of salary and years to pick up Gaborik's contract?
We've said all along that Gaborik would not be traded, and though the landscape has changed somewhat, we're sticking with that statement. Gaborik will be a Ranger at the end of the season.
NIKOLAI ZHERDEV, Flyers
Contract: UFA this summer, $2.0 million
The acquisition Kris Versteeg pushed Zherdev to the fringe of Philly's lineup. The former Ranger has only played well in spurts this year, but his raw talent is sure to attract attention if he is on the market, as has been reported. He would be a decent low-risk, medium-reward pickup for some of the smaller-market teams looking to boost their playoff chances. We're looking in your direction, Atlanta, Buffalo, Columbus and Nashville. At this point, though, it doesn't look like anyone is rushing to acquire the Russian. The Flyers put him on waivers, which means he's available to any team that wants to claim him for nothing.
MIKE FISHER, Senators
Trade: On Feb. 10, Ottawa traded C Mike Fisher to Nashville for a 2011 first-round pick and a conditional 2012 pick.
Quick summary: Fisher will get some home-cookin' now, as he is married to country star Carrie Underwood. The rebuilding Senators get back a valuable first-round pick, plus a third-round pick if Nashville wins a playoff round, or a second-rounder if the Predators win two playoff series.
Analysis: Fisher, 30, is a hard-nosed player and a character guy with good scoring touch. He also brings good postseason experience to the Preds, who are fighting for a playoff spot. He should provide a boost to their offense, but they sure gave up a lot for him. Ottawa should be satisfied that they got a first-rounder (and possibly another high pick) for Fisher -- and that they managed to unload his contract, which runs until 2013.
ALEX KOVALEV, Senators
Trade: On Feb. 24, the Senators traded RW Alex Kovalev to Pittsburgh for a conditional draft pick.
Quick summary: The hockey world groans as Penguins GM Ray Shero acquires Kovalev, then breathes a sigh of relief when it realizes Pittsburgh gave up very little to get him.
Analysis: We laid it out pretty clearly in our previous analysis and in the quick summary. Kovalev is past his prime, old and making too much money. That didn't stop Pittsburgh from bringing him back to the scene of his most productive years, thankfully at a cheap cost. Pittsburgh only loses a seventh-round pick in the deal, or a sixth-rounder if they make the second round of the playoffs and Kovalev plays in more than half of Pittburgh's first-round games. As for Ottawa, they were probably to get anything for the over-the-hill, overpriced Russian.
FILIP KUBA, Senators
Contract: UFA in 2012, $3.7 million cap hit
You wouldn't think there'd be a market for a 34-year-old power-play defenseman with a year left on his contract and only six points this season. But this is trade-deadline time, when no rumor is too wild to ignored.
One report suggested the Rangers were looking at the hard-shooting Kuba, who had his best season (15 goals) playing for John Tortorella in Tampa Bay in 2006-07. Our opinion is that the Rangers would be doing Ottawa a favor by giving up anything of value for Kuba, who is minus-26 this year.
CHRIS PHILLIPS, Senators
Contract: UFA this summer, $3.5 million cap hit
Phillips has been a key part of the Senators' blueline since joining the team in 1997. But that era is drawing to a close as the hulking defenseman's contract runs out in July and the Senators are pondering a major overhaul.
Now 32, Phillips' best years may be behind him. He has a league-worst minus-27 rating and he just four assists in 57 games as of Feb. 16. He seems like a logical choice to be moved, as many teams (including the Bruins, Canadiens and Sharks) may be looking for a battle-tested vet at a decent price. Phillips, who has a no-trade clause, will have to decide how attached he is to his roots in Ottawa, where he's spent his entire career.
JARKKO RUUTU, Senators
Trade: On Feb. 17, Ottawa traded Ruutu to Anaheim for a sixth-round draft pick in 2011.
Quick summary: One of the NHL's most obnoxious pests leaves the Eastern Conference. Local fans rejoice.
Analysis: It's a relatively minor move, unless you're in the Sharks' division and have to face this guy multiple times through the end of this year. Ruutu has earned his reputation as one of the NHL's hated players and agitators. If the Ducks make the playoffs, that has some value. It's a good trade for Ottawa, which sheds a small amount of salary and gets a draft pick for a soon-to-be free agent.
ERIC BREWER, Blues
Trade: On Feb. 18, St. Louis traded D Eric Brewer to Tampa Bay for D Brock Beukeboom and a third-round pick.
Quick summary: Tampa Bay bulks up its leaky defense as they prepare for the playoffs. The Blues signal they're ready to shake up their team and sell off experience for youth.
Analysis: One of the biggest question marks for the high-scoring Bolts had been their defense, comprised of middling veterans and still-developing Victor Hedman. The 31-year-old Brewer, a former Islanders first-round pick, should stabilize their back line. After much speculation in the past few weeks, Blues GM Doug Armstrong finally decided to break up a key part of his defensive corps, which never quite panned out the way most experts expected. In return he adds a third-round pick and Brock Beukeboom, a hard-shooting defenseman who was a former third-round pick himself. Interesting that the trade brings Beukeboom -- son of former Ranger Jeff Beukeboom -- to a team run by longtime Rangers analyst John Davidson.
ERIK JOHNSON, Blues
Trade: On Feb. 19, St. Louis traded D Erik Johnson, C Jay McClement and a first-round pick to Colorado for D Kevin Shattenkirk, RW Chris Stewart and a first-round pick
Quick summary: The biggest surprise of the trade season so far. Lots of talent moving in both directions, with the jewels of the trade being Erik Johnson going to Colorado and power forward Chris Stewart going to St. Louis.
Analysis: Wow. Johnson's names kept coming up in trade rumors, but we never thought he'd actually be moved. He was thought to the cornerstone of a young Blues defense that didn't deliver on its promise this year. He's a former No. 1 overall pick and he's only 22 years old. He has a bright future, and Colorado is probably thrilled to get him. On the other hand, the Blues are probably thrilled to be getting Stewart, who is emerging as one of the league's best young power forwards. Only 23 himself, he scored 28 goals last year and has 16 this year despite missing time due to injury. Three of his 16 goals have come in his first three games in St. Louis. Don't overlook the importance of Shattenkirk, a 2009 first-round pick, being included in this deal. He's 22, has good offensive upside and should help the Blues make up for the loss of Johnson on their blueline.
FRANCOIS BEAUCHEMIN, Maple Leafs
Trade: On Feb. 9, Toronto traded D Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim for RW Joffrey Lupul, D Jake Gardiner and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2013.
Quick summary: Beauchemin goes back to Anaheim, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2007. The Leafs get Lupul, a second-line scoring winger and defense prospect Jake Gardiner.
Analysis: Beauchemin gives the Ducks, who are battling 10 teams separated by seven points for five playoff spots, better depth on defense. He's a battled tested, well-respected veteran who can play 25 minutes a night. His acquisition gave Anaheim GM Bob Murray the flexibility to trade fellow defenseman Paul Mara for a fifth-round pick on Feb. 17. Lupul is a second-line winger with back problems signed for two more years at $4.25 million. Not sure what the attraction was for Toronto GM Brian Burke there. On the other hand, Gardiner, the 17th overall pick in the 2008 draft, is a well-regarded puck-moving blueliner. From Burke's perspective, the deal allows him to add a quality prospect while still while still retaining the ability to say he hasn't given up on this season.
J.S. GIGUERE, Maple Leafs
Contract: UFA this summer, $6 million cap hit
There are several reasons why Giguere, the Stanley Cup Finals MVP from 2003, won't be dealt. First, he's struggled this year -- his save percentage is under .900 as of Feb. 23. Second, he's got a bad groin that has prevented him from playing in back-to-back games and limited him to just 25 starts this season. Third, there is that nasty $6 million cap hit. Fourth and finally, there just aren't as many Cup contenders desperate for goaltending as there have been in the past. As much as the Leafs might love to move him, Giguere stays put.
TOMAS KABERLE, Maple Leafs
Trade: On Feb. 18, Toronto traded D Tomas Kaberle to Boston for a 2011 first-round pick, a conditional 2012 second-round pick and C Joe Colborne.
Quick summary: At long last, Kaberle is on the move. The Bruins get a very good power play defenseman while Toronto gets a decent package of picks and a prospect in return.
Analysis: After years of rumors, the long-awaited Tomas Kaberle trade finally came down, with the Czech defenseman waiving his no-trade clause to go to division-rival Boston. The move gives the Bruins a great complement to Zdeno Chara on the power play, although he is due to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and could sign elsewhere if he wants. Toronto gets a first-round pick (but not their own pick, which they had previously traded to Boston in the Phil Kessel deal), another pick, which apparently hinges on whether Kaberle re-signs with Boston or if the Bruins make the Stanley Cup finals, and Joe Colborne, a highly-touted prospect described as the "prototype" Brian Burke player. Colborne, a former No. 16 overall pick, has a big body and lots of talent, but has been described as a "project." Toronto can afford to wait on him.
KRIS VERSTEEG, Maple Leafs
Trade: On Feb. 14, Toronto traded RW Kris Versteeg to Philadelphia for first-round and third-round picks in 2011.
Quick summary: The rich get richer. An already-deep Flyers team adds the young, talented Versteeg to its arsenal. The Leafs can no longer claim they're not having a firesale after giving up Versteeg for a pair of picks in next year's draft.
Analysis: Unless we're missing something here, this is a steal for Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. Versteeg didn't set the world on fire (like many Leafs fans expected him to) with a bad Toronto team but he brings real talent to a Flyers team that is already loaded. He already has two 20-goal seasons and a Stanley Cup ring on his resume. Better still, he's only 24, reasonably priced ($3.08 million cap hit) and signed through next season. Brian Burke has made some puzzling moves since taking over as Toronto's GM in 2008, and this is another one. Versteeg seemed more like part of the solution in Toronto than part of the problem. Perhaps Burke was trying to atone for losing top lottery picks in 2010 and 2011 in the trade for Phil Kessel two summers ago.
MIKAEL SAMUELSSON, Canucks
Contract: UFA in 2012, $2.5 million cap hit
Coming off a career year, Samuelsson has 17 goals in 60 games this season -- more in line with his career average than last year's sudden spike to 30 goals at age 33. His $2.5 million hit this year and next wouldn't be a deterrent to a trade. Vancouver GM Mike Gillis recently said he's satisfied with his secondary scoring, but with several of his top defensemen currently injured, would he consider dealing Samuelsson to bolster his blueline?
ALEXANDER SEMIN, Capitals
Contract: UFA in 2012, $6.0 million/$6.7 million cap hit
Most trade rumors involving Semin died off when the Caps signed him to a one-year, $6.7 milion extension last month. But with the Caps struggling to distinguish themselves in the East, the rumors are resurfacing.
Semin is one of the league's most dangerous scorers. But he hasn't risen to the level of NHL superstar because he's been prone to prolonged slumps like the one he's in now: He has just three goals since Nov. 28, all in the same game. That does include a month missed due to injury, but a player of Semin's caliber should not have that much trouble scoring. A team like the Kings would love to get their hands on him. Would L.A. be willing to part with highly-regarded young defenseman Jack Johnson, along with draft picks and possibly another player to go all-in for the Stanley Cup this year?