The Wild's Niklas Backstrom is fourth in GAA and SP this season. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
My colleague Adam Proteau made a very good point last week regarding the trade deadline – any deal you’d like to see your team make would probably be seen as franchise poison by the fans of the team you would be trading with. It’s a valid argument. After all, with the exception of a few misanthropic fan bases, most followers put more value on their own players than is realistic.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t swing some blockbusters here. The trade deadline under the salary cap is changing. Cap space is important, draft picks are gold and the smart GMs will realize that trading away mistakes can be just as important as who is coming back. With that in mind, here’s a couple scenarios I think would be beneficial for all parties involved and are the type of deals smart GMs will be making in this new era.
The Bouwmeester Situation
Easily the name most fraught with complications, Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is a minute-munching monster with an expiring contract and offensive upside. J-Bo has only played in the post-season once, including junior. His lone playoff appearance was during the lockout with the American League’s Chicago Wolves and he didn’t score a single point.
But his Cats are sitting sixth in the East right now and the teams behind them are largely flagging. If Florida doesn’t want to lose Bouwmeester as an unrestricted free agent this summer for no return, but still wants to make the playoffs (which is very necessary considering the team’s fragile fan base at this point), the only solution is to trade for value, not picks and prospects.
So here it is: J-Bo to Philadelphia for Daniel Briere. It’s win-win, I tells ya. Florida is ranked 17th in the NHL in goals-for and Briere gives them a No. 1 center (Nathan Horton has never scored more than 62 points in a season – that’s not No. 1 center production). On the defensive side, the Panthers will naturally have to reconcile the Nick Boynton situation, but assuming they do, the uptick in offense will counterbalance the loss on defense (and hey, that’s a pretty good return for a UFA).
For Philly fans, the math is simple: Briere’s contract is a millstone around the franchise’s neck ($6.5 million for the next six seasons after this campaign) and the team seemed to do fine when he was on the shelf with injuries. Most teams would kill for the depth the Flyers have at center and I think the Black and Orange will do just fine with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter down the middle, don’t you?
Briere’s contract does include a no-trade clause, but that hasn’t stopped teams from moving players in similar situations in the past.
In exchange, the Flyers pick up a No. 1 defenseman in Bouwmeester, which effectively primes them for a run at the Stanley Cup, assuming Martin Biron has some leftover playoff magic from last season.
The Backstrom Ultimatum
How’s this for awkward? Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom is finally getting his due and now his contract is up. The goaltender will surely be one of the hottest commodities on the market this summer and right now the Wild is outside the playoff picture. Much like Florida and J-Bo, will Minnesota risk losing Backstrom for nothing?
How about this: Backstrom to Detroit for Johan Franzen and Jiri Hudler. Make it a sign-and-trade for Minnesota, as Franzen and Hudler both need to be re-upped as well. Detroit gets a No. 1 goalie who is not struggling (sorry, Ozzy) and that’s basically all the Wings would need for a shot at back-to-back Cups this summer. Minnesota gets two adrenaline shots of offense, who also happen to already play in a smart, responsible system.
The Wings are another team crushed up against the cap – they’d have to jettison the contract of Chris Osgood either in a separate deal or down to the AHL to make this move work - and this deal helps them ensure the future services of the yet-unsigned Marian Hossa.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday, and his features, The Hot List and Prep Watch appears Tuesdays and Thursdays.
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