Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, it’s about that time of the year again. With the NHL’s trade deadline, just under three weeks away, the air is so think, you can slice through it with a knife.
Armchair GM’s and fantasy freaks have woken from hibernation, and now we’ll be hearing full-time rumors from now ’til the 28th. And as a wiser man than myself once said: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
As the Boston Bruins placed center Marc Savard on season-ending (including the palyoffs) long-term injured-reserve just 24-hours ago, the questions on whom they’ll replace No. 91 with remains to be seen — and rumored.
Surely, if the Bruins are to make a legitimate run at this year’s Cup, then outside assistance — and not the AHL — will be a necessity. We all love the potentials and futures of standouts Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron. But as the season winds down and the playoff battle begins, the small minutes of ice time that they’ll most likely bring to games when it counts just won’t cut it; the B’s are going to need some NHL-ready vets that have been in the post-season, and Stanley Cup Finals.
With Savard’s $4.007 million off the books, Peter Chiarelli and the rest of the Bruins’ brass have some wiggle room to acquire such players. Capgeek.com has the Bruins salary cap breakdown.
And let’s not forget, the Bruins still have Toronto’s first-round pick (which could be a top-5), as well as the Minnesota Wild’s second-round pick (via Chuck Kobasew trade at the beginning of last season) in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Tack that on with some impending restricted free-agents (Mark Stuart, Blake Wheeler) as well as a boat-load of prospects in the pipeline, and the Bruins certainly hold the chips to make such moves.
Hall of Fame writer from the Boston Globe, Kevin Paul DuPont wrote about acquiring Brad Richards from the Dallas Stars earlier today. While trading for a stud like Richards would be nice, the price tag (over $7-million) for the impending unrestricted free-agent is just way too high…aside from the fact that Dallas remains in third place in the West…and trading for the big fish rarely gets you a Cup. (see: Kovalchuk-to-NJ 2010; Hossa-to-Pittsburgh 2008; Smyth-to-NYI 2007; Tkachuk-to-Atlanta 2007; Nolan-to-Toronto 2003 etc…)
Although the Western Conference is as jammed as I-93 on a late Friday afternoon, one team the Bruins should be eyeing to do business with once again is the Wild, for the three-time Stanley Cup winner and impending unrestricted free-agent (UFA), John Madden.
4. Nashville, 65
5. Phoenix, 63
6. San Jose, 62
7. Anaheim, 62
8. Calgary, 61
9. Los Angeles, 60
10. Minnesota, 59
11. Chicago, 59
12. Colorado, 56
13. Columbus, 55
14. St. Louis, 54
A veteran of nearly 900 NHL games, Madden, who won two Cups in New Jersey and one last year with Chicago, is one tough hombre that would help bring a tremendous amount of experience to this Bruins team. The 37-year-old has 7-8-15 totals while averaging nearly 15 minutes of ice time per game with the Wild, has won 54.6-percent of his face-offs thus far, and logs the most shorthanded time on ice (2:19 per game) than any Minnesota forward.
With the Vancouver Canucks, now winners of six-straight, running away with it in the West (79 points), and Division, the Wild are all but out of it in the Northwest. The Calgary Flames have just leap-frogged them for second in the Division, by winning their seventh game in their last eight.
I asked the good guys Nathan Eide and Bryan Reynolds, who run this great Wild blog, at HockeyWilderness.com for their thoughts on the possibility of the Wild being sellers at the deadline. From Eide:
“If it were up to me? Sell. 2012-13 should be the goal, and they should still stockpile prospects and picks. However, I don’t pay the bills, and a third season out of the playoffs might be more than Craig Leipold and Chuck Fletcher can handle. Even a first round exit brings with it plenty of cash, and it’s hard to turn that down. When it comes down to it, if they’re close, they will sell off a UFA or two, and get a pick or two, and will be looking for a RFA in return as well. But that’s only if they’re out of contention.
From fellow Hockey Wilderness writer Bryan Reynolds:
“A surprise signing in the offseason, Wild fans were excited to see Madden come on board. He has been solid, and mostly what is expected of him. HIs game is not what it used to be, but he still has 7 goals, and has been excellent on the PK. Brought in for only a contract, Madden may be at the end of his swan song. There could be some value for him, but it would be an insult to him to trade him for a late round pick. Now, if the Bruins or Flyers were to call, maybe Fletcher does Madden the honor of giving him the choice, much like he did with Owen Nolan last year. A contender calls with the right offer, Madden could be packing up. No reason for a guy like him to grind out a season and not have a chance for a Cup.
Value: 4th round pick, 3rd in the right situation.
Prediction: Not traded.”
Although I think Madden’s value would bring Minnesota a bit more than a fourth-round pick, I do agree that the reality of Madden being moved by Feb. 28 is more of fable than reality.
However, as previously mentioned, the Bruins do have a whole lot of pieces to be moved. And if they are in fact serious about making it deep into the playoffs, then a veteran center like Madden could be just what the doctor ordered.