Twenty-twenty-twenty-four hours to go-oh-oh, I wanna be a-traded.
Nothin' to do no clause to stay ho-ome, I wanna be a-traded.
Just get me to the airport, send me to the East
Hurry hurry hurry, I want my playoff feast
I can't control my future, I can't control my team
As the rumor feeding frenzy intensifies at the NHL trade deadline, it's helpful to remind ourselves: All of these league "sources" are participating in barroom speculation, passing on what little tea leaves they know couched in the veneer of their own opinions. (Oh, but it's us bloggers who are guilty? Right.)
You'll notice even our beloved Chris Botta, in his first deadline go-around as a connected guy free to publicly share his thoughts, has a bevy of sources who have conflicted one another (Guerin to Philly? Not to NJ? Washington? Boston?). Things change. Reporters receive direct denials that may have an expiration date of 30 minutes. While outright B.S. eventually comes back to you haunt you in a "Malkin to LA" sort of way, a little source misdirection is to be expected and goes a long way for a GM hoping to bid up the price of his assets.
With that in mind, what should GM Garth Snow be doing right now, as the countdown nears 24? Simply, keep gauging the top price he can get for his most desirable assets, and double-checking whether he has a competing seller out there. Take it from one GM -- or hey, take it from six -- who have been there: The market price fluctuates through the final day.
[Updated with McAmmond, the newbie who slipped my mind.] So let's see what he has left on the scrap heap (Exhibits follow after the jump/poll):
Exhibit A: The Veteran Power Forward
Is there another Bill Guerin on the market? It doesn't look like it, unless the Oilers give up on Erik Cole or the Blues give up and deal the more desirable Keith Tkachuk.
|2008 - Bill Guerin||61||16||20||36||-15||63||5||0||3||1||181||8.8|
|2008 - Keith Tkachuk||60||18||18||36||-9||41||11||0||3||0||140||12.9|
|2008 - Erik Cole||62||15||10||25||-5||63||5||0||1||1||142||10.6|
Although We The People demand news -- now! -- the hockey side of the Guerin delay doesn't yet worry me. Even within Guerin's limited choice of Eastern teams, there are more buyers than sellers, so Snow should get his price. But if Tkachuk and Cole both hit the market, you better believe those prices will be leveraged against Snow.
Likelihood of movement: 90%
Exhibit B: The Injured Center and PP Specialist
Is Doug Weight worth dealing if you have any interest at all in extending him on the Island? What price can be expected for a 38-year-old center who may be healthy again in the final week(s) of the regular season? If you're a GM looking to add center or PP depth, you have to be a) certain you're making the playoffs and b) committed to clearance shopping to gamble on Weight's MCL.
|2008 - Doug Weight||44||9||26||35||-12||27||5||0||0||1||79||11.4|
It's hard to find a comparable for that kind of uncertainty, which is why I suspect the "package Weight with Guerin" theory has gained some footing. Throw Weight in, make their sum price greater what they'd bring back in standalone trades.
A funny thing you see when you peruse the reports and fan opinions about whether teams should acquire one of these vets: The impressions range widely in some mix of what they once were, what they've been recently, and what they might be on a better team than the Islanders.
Likelihood of movement: 50%
Exhibit C: The Comrie Flip
|2008 - Dean McAmmond||49||5||4||9||4||22||0||1||2||0||48||10.4|
In just a over a week since arriving in a swap of expiring contracts with the Campoli/Comrie deal, Dean McAmmond has played like a man possessed and already grabbed an "A" when injuries and forced sit-downs (suspension, pending trade, the usual) left the club letter-short. He still has that speed. He still has hands that randomly surprise you. What he doesn't have is consistent stats you'd expect with those occasional hands and that speed.
That said, he seems to sense this may be his last hurrah, and you know he'd hungrily accept whatever task a playoff team assigns him. In his short Islanders tenure, he's looked like a guy just happy to be playing hockey. If Snow can flip him for a mid-round pick, he should do it yesterday.
Likelihood of movement: 40%
Exhibit D: The Poor Man's Sillinger
Alright, so I knew Mike Sillinger, I worked with Mike Sillinger: Andy Hilbert, sir, is no Mike Sillinger. But Hilbert loosely fits Sillinger's deadline profile: A dependable defensive forward with some scor-- ... well, decent hands that this season has finally equated to some scoring touch. Except for that whole 35% faceoff percentage thing (128 attempts) and the fact he mostly plays wing.
|2008 - Andy Hilbert||51||10||12||22||2||16||1||1||0||0||116||8.6|
It may be that Hilbert is ideally suited to a place like Long Island and a system like Scott Gordon's. But if a team wants another body, maybe this UFA fetches a pick. Some may remember his late-season run on Sindey Crosby's wing in 2006 (after being plucked off waivers from Chicago) and dream accordingly.
Likelihood of movement: 30%
Exhibit E: The Value Bargain Contracts
Some would like to sell injury-prone Radek Martinek -- he's missed half this season's games -- and never have to hear "Martinek, 4-6 weeks" again. He's a dependable defenseman at a bargain rate ($1.4M next, $1.9M in 2010-11) -- if, and it's a big IF, healthy. Likewise, some wonder if the bargain price of veteran power forward and possible future captain Trent Hunter ($2M per through 2013) might draw interest. Or defensive forward and locker room glue Richard Park ($800k next year).
|2008 - Radek Martinek||32||2||2||4||-11||20||0||0||0||0||30||6.7|
|2008 - Trent Hunter||54||14||17||31||-9||35||5||0||2||0||151||9.3|
|2008 - Richard Park||57||10||14||24||-9||28||4||2||1||0||108||9.3|
But who is in a position to pay for these bargain contracts, and why would they do it unless they were swapping serious assets to clear cap room? It's true, if a contender needed to get creative to fit in, say, a Pronger, they might swap their overpriced power forward/D-man plus extra to bring back the cheaper Hunter or Martinek. Not likely, though, (or is it?) unless they haven't seen Martinek's records. This is a case of these players being worth more to the Islanders than to any team capable of paying the price to take them away.
Stranger things have happened, I suppose, but it would have to be one charming pig of a deal for me to picture it in lipstick.
Likelihood of movement: 20%
Exhibit F: "Zis exhibit is closed!" [Simpsons audio link, auto show episode]
The much-mulled case of Brendan Witt, under contract for two more years at $3 million per. As Botta has already mentioned, Snow's asking price for Witt is apparently too high for anyone to take him seriously. Which is sort of what I hoped Snow would do, since Witt is not an expiring asset who must be dealt now. Make someone pay silly money for him (you might argue anyone who wants Witt this year is inherently silly), or else wait for open bidding during the summer.
Likelihood of movement: 10%
Exhibit G: The Goalies
|2008 - Yann Danis||19||1113||7||9||2||1||44||2.37||607||563||.928||2|
|2008 - Joey MacDonald||42||2418||12||24||5||6||133||3.30||1332||1199||.900||0|
Frankly, I don't think the Islanders can afford to part with a goalie from here on out unless they want to torture their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. But if a team desperate for goaltending depth wanted to make an offer for the hot, lottery-spoiling Yann Danis, I suppose Snow would have to listen. But he needs either Danis or November's Third Star Joey MacDonald -- if not both -- back in the fold next year in case Rick DiPietro, you know ...
Likelihood of movement: 10%