Monday, February 1, 2010

What Would You Do?

As everybody is pretty well aware at this point (and if you weren't before, I'm sure the Leafs woke you up to it yesterday) this season has 2 trade deadlines. The first one will be February 12 before the Olympic roster freeze. The second comes March 3, just three days after that Olympic freeze lifts.

Don Waddell and Rick Dudley are looking at a landscape that looks like this:

Pending UFA's:

Pending RFA's:

We all know about Kovy. Afinogenov is playing for 800k this year and will make somewhere between 3 and 5 million somewhere next year. Kozlov has a no movement clause and already has multiple Stanley Cup rings, so he won't have a burning desire to waive it to go in search of another.

The team has played better on defense over the past little while, but the blueline corps has stopped contributing offensively, which was the engine that kept posting W's early in the season. The Kovalchuk situation could throw everything into a total flux. Also, with the situation the Thrashers are in, the six games between now and March 3 could determine whether Atlanta is a buyer or seller on that day.

Assuming that the team gets more than two or three points out of those six games, I would expect DW/Dudley to be in buying mode. However, to make room for purchases, there are some rental players on that pending UFA list above that I'm sure they wouldn't mind shipping off if they could bring back a good return.

Expect DW to ask Slava Kozlov to waive his NMC so that he can send him off as a rental player to a team in a more secure playoff position. However, I would wager that Slava tells him to shove it. Slava has his Stanley Cup rings and won't see any burning need to play somewhere else for a few months before calling it a career.

Armstrong is probably going to be the first one to go. He carries a lot of positives with him, but doesn't fit into John Anderson's system that well. He's a pending UFA and a lot of folks around the league are very high on him. I'd wave him under Pittsburgh's nose to see what they'd give to have him back with his buddy Sidney.

Expect DW to hang on to Pavel Kubina unless a really good deal comes along. His solid presence on the blue line has been a huge part of keeping this team in the playoff race this year. If they want to stay in that race through March, they need Kubina to stay where he is.

Brian Little broke 30 goals last year in his first full year in the NHL but will be lucky to get half that this season. Regardless, he's got a very bright future and will make a significant raise this offseason. There is always a chance that DW anticipates him being too expensive to re-sign and trades him preemptively, but I think it's pretty unlikely. He'll stick around.

The only moves I really see Waddell making before March 3 would be 1) shipping off Colby Armstrong in exchange for a prospect or draft pick and, 2) trading a goalie for someone to fill in Army's roster spot (maybe package a draft pick or defenseman in there and make it a significant upgrade from Army).

The other pieces are too important to this year's playoff push. Then again, if the Thrashers go 1-4-1 before March 3, then you might see Kovy, Kubina, Afinogenov, and a goalie hit the road in exchange for draft picks and prospects.

1 comment:

Mutton Sourdough said...

I know I'm pretty late with this, but I just read this one and I gotta say, well said, sir! Very well thought-out. I sorta disagree with whom could be moved even if the Thrashers are in a position to buy, but that could be debated till the cows come home, and I pretty much agree with everything else you say.