All Star Break: Decision Time

The All Star break is over, players raced around the rink, took slapshots and even shot pucks from the rafters of the arena. The (awful) tournament style games are done and teams are returning to the ice, with the NHL schedule starting on Monday. Making things worse, some teams like the Montreal Canadiens are coming out of their bye week, as fans and media members are chomping at the bit to see them back… either to cheer them on or to have new material to complain about.

The way things are shaping up, few teams are guaranteed a playoffs’ spot but many are in a position where they will soon have to make a decision if they’re going for it or if they start selling assets. As the deadline approaches, more teams will be joining the nine or so teams with little playoffs’ hopes, being either too far and/or having too many teams to pass in order to make it. Let’s have a look at roughly where teams find themselves at as the home stretch is upon us.

TEAMGPPTS
BUYERS
4971
5170
4968
5067
CONTENTION
4963
4862
4962
5162
4961
5061
5060
4858
4958
4957
4957
5057
5157
5257
5154
5154
5052
4751
SELLERS
4951
5051
4850
5046
4843
4842
4841
5041
5128

It goes without saying that there could be some surprises since as long as there’s a mathematical chance, anything can happen. This is basically “playing the odds” based on previous years. The nine teams considered as sellers all have pending unrestricted free agents (UFA) amongst them and those are often the most likely to be wearing a new uniform by trade deadline.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most prominent pending UFA’s on the nine team catalogued as sellers in the table up above. I’ve sorted them by position to make it easier to find how the supply sits today at each position. As we know, supply and demand dictates the market and right now, there are more buyers than sellers. It will change the closer we get to the deadline of February 24th.

TEAMNAMEPOSITIONCAP HIT ($)
Michael FrolikLW4,300,000
Conor ShearyLW3,000,000
Jimmy VeseyLW2,275,000
Zemgus GirgensonsLW1,600,000
Patrick MarleauLW700,000
Melker KarlssonLW2,000,000
Chris KreiderLW4,625,000
Nicolas DeslauriersLW950,000
Mikkel BoedkerLW4,000,000
Vladislav NamestnikovLW3,250,000
Trevor LewisLW2,000,000
Kyle CliffordLW1,600,000
Nate ThompsonC1,000,000
Matthew PecaC1,300,000
Joe ThorntonC2,000,000
Jean-Gabriel PageauC3,100,000
Ilya KovalchukRW700,000
Dale WeiseRW2,350,000
Jesper FastRW1,850,000
Wayne SimmondsRW5,000,000
Tyler ToffoliRW4,600,000
Zach BogosianD5,142,857
Marco ScandellaD4,000,000
Brenden DillonD3,270,000
Michael Del ZottoD750,000
Ron HainseyD3,500,000
Mark BorowieckiD1,200,000
Andy GreeneD5,000,000
Sami VatanenD4,875,000
Derek ForbortD2,525,000
Mike GreenD5,375,000
Jonathan EricssonD4,250,000
Trevor DaleyD3,166,666
Alex BiegaD825,000
Keith KinkaidG1,750,000
Aaron DellG1,900,000
Craig AndersonG4,750,000
Louis DomingueG1,150,000
Jimmy HowardG4,000,000
Marco Scandella, Nate Thompson and Ilya Kovalchuk could all find a new place to call home by Trade Deadline.

Looking at this breakdown, the centre position market is very thin, and teams are always looking for centres. This should drive the asking price up and perhaps even force teams wanting to buy into making more “hockey trades” than “rental trades”. There usually is a good demand for defensemen but even this early, the market seems saturated with a wide range of blue liners. There are some decent names in net for teams searching for an insurance policy in the event of an injury to a masked man.

Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin was taking advantage of the bye week to meet with his team of pro scouts and Assistant GMs in order to come up with a game plan for trade deadline. They are well positioned with Ilya Kovalchuk being so cheap, and with Nate Thompson as a centre with a good faceoffs’ percentage. Marco Scandella is a good defenseman but the return might not be what we had hoped for due to sheer numbers of players available at that position. As for Dale Weise, the Habs will likely have to eat half his salary in order to make teams interested. He has been playing some good hockey since being called up. Expect the unexpected, we are always told. While playoffs’ hockey seems unlikely this season, this should be an exciting time of year regardless. Go Habs Go!

"I Want to Stay With the Habs. I'm No Quitter."

Habs’ fans will be happy to read that. This quote is from none other than their favourite team’s captain, Shea Weber. In an interview with a few Montreal journalists, Weber opened up on a few topics and provided quotes that came from the heart. Weber is not the kind of person to sugarcoat things. Moreso, he’s not the type to seek attention through the media, preferring letting his play on the ice speak for itself.

Robert Laflamme, writer for LNH.com (French NHL.com), wrote a nice piece today after Weber met with the media at the All Star media venu in St. Louis. And Weber didn’t shy away from calling it the way he sees it, something those who don’t like him or Bergevin won’t particularly like.

“I want to stay with the #Habs. I’m no quitter. I never quit halfway through. You start something, you want to finish it. The goal is to win the Stanley Cup in Montreal.”
~ Shea Weber

Weber said that he was well aware of team General Manager Marc Bergevin‘s recent comments about him and Carey Price, when he told the media that the two BC natives are not available for trades and that they are key parts in the organisation.

“It means a lot to me, and to Carey too I’m sure, that he thinks that we can be key players for the #Habs’ future. My goal is to help the team make the playoffs and once there, everything is possible and any team can win the Cup.”
~ Shea Weber

The one nicknamed Man Mountain by former Leafs’ coach Mike Babcock says that he likes the way the team is progressing through youth.

“Everyone sees the key roles our young guys have to fill, mostly due to injuries. They’re playing roles they would otherwise wouldn’t have to do. But seeing them play that way, we can only look at the future with optimism.”
~ Shea Weber

He says appreciating the fact that there is a lot of pressure playing in Montreal, particularly when the team is struggling the way it is, and trade rumours are guaranteed to be omnipresent around the team up until Trade Deadline on February 24th, as several teammates could change addresses by then.

“The truth is that everything that counts for us is internal. The fans’ passion is formidable and stimulating. For us, everything that matters is what’s happening on the inside. My 22 teammates and the injured players are all that count for me, as well as everyone on the team’s staff. We want to have success and provide a better spectacle for the fans. The outside noise won’t prevent us to try to accomplish what we’re trying to do as a group.”
~ Shea Weber

Say what you will about Weber, he is one of the best players at his position, he’s a proven leader not only in the NHL, but at the international level and at 34, he’s showing no signs of slowing down, as one of the most utilised players in the league, constantly facing the opposition’s top lines. The Habs are lucky to have him in their formation, and his influence will pay huge dividends in helping the young guys grow into their own, as he’s done many times in Nashville before the trade. Go Habs Go!