The 2011 NHL trade deadline of February 28th is rapidly approaching. As teams slide further and further away from a playoffs’ spot, and as the competition gets tighter and the pressure gets stronger to either qualify for a playoffs’ spot or to improve in the standings, so will the need to trade.
Here are those who, in my opinion, will form the Top 12 pending UFA’s likely to be traded by the deadline, sorted by cap hit remaining as of February 28th.
1- J-S Giguere (TOR): $ 1,322,581
Giguere still is a very capable goaltender and he has won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim. His salary is a huge hurdle however, and the Leafs will have to accept taking some salary back in order to make it happen.
2- Bryan McCabe (FLO): $ 1,267,473
McCabe is an interesting case. He seems to have found his niche in Florida and I’ll admit not having any idea if the Panthers want him back or not. With his offensive abilities and his experience, he is however a prime candidate for a cup contender needing help at the blue line and/or on the PP.
3- Tomas Vokoun (FLO): $ 1,256,452
The Panthers are apparently testing the water with Vokoun to find out if he’s willing to re-sign. If they have any incline that he’ll follow in the footsteps of Luongo, Jokinen, Bouwmeester and Horton wanting out of Florida, the Panthers should not have any problems finding a taker for a playoffs’ run. But like the Leafs, they’ll likely have to take on some salary in return.
4- Alex Kovalev (OTT): $ 1,102,151
The Enigmatic Artist was on his last miles in a Senators’ uniform immediately after signing his contract when he stated wanting to finish his career in Montreal. He has shown that when he feels like it, he can still play and he could be a good depth move for a contender.
5- Jason Arnott (NJD): $ 991,935
Perhaps one of the most underrated potential addition to a contender here. He has size, he still has decent hands, and he can play center or wing.
6- Tim Connolly (BUF): $ 991,935
That’s an interesting situation here. He loves Buffalo but he can’t seem to stay healthy. What are the Sabres’ intentions with him? I don’t know. He does remain a very talented player who could add depth to a contender.
7- Tomas Kaberle (TOR): $ 936,828
Brian Burke has been trying to trade him on many occasions in the last couple of years but he either was expecting too much or the teams were short-changing the Leafs’ GM. He should be able to find a taker at this point. Some Leafs’ fans seem to think that he could re-sign in TO but I doubt it. Who would want to stay somewhere where your GM is constantly trying to get you to lift your NTC?
8- Cory Stillman (FLO): $ 778,853
Stillman is still the man! They guy can still play hockey and he has tons of experience. Look for him to go to a contender for yet, another run at the Cup.
9- Chris Phillips (OTT): $ 771,505
The Sens are in a tough position with Phillips and his NTC. Why is it that they always seem to be in a position of weakness when they trade one of their big names?
10- Craig Rivet (BUF): $ 771,505
They gave this guy the captaincy when he arrived but he has since quickly fallen in the doghouse. One thing is for sure, the Sabres won’t get a return like the Habs got when they traded him to the Sharks (Gorges and Pacioretty)!
11- Jim Vandermeer (EDM): $ 506,989
He would be a good depth move, the kind of move that the Detroit Red Wings have accustomed us to see them make at the deadline.
12- Jarkko Ruutu (OTT): $ 286,559
Agitator, in your face, can drop the gloves, a playoffs-type player who would fit in well for a contender… and cheap too!
There will be other moves I’m sure, but those are some that are likely to be on the list of a few GM’s out there in the next 28 days or so…