With the NHL trade deadline just a few days away major media outlets, blogs, and internet chat rooms are abuzz with the latest hockey trade rumors, and which players are going to be packing their bags by the time the trade deadline has come and gone.
As is always the case with the period leading up to the trade deadline there are plenty of rumors to sort through. Some of these rumors have no basis, and their source might be something as innocent as a blogger making a wish list for his favorite team. Other hockey trade rumors have some more meat to them, garnering the attention of major sports media outlets like TSN and Sporstnet.
Here at Hockey Hermit's NHL Hockey Blog I admit to catching NHL trade deadline fever, and I've been following these rumors with interest, waiting to see how the balance of power will shift in the NHL once the dust finally settles. Here are a few of the big name players that have caught my eye, and look to potentially be on the move in the next few days.
Jay Bouwmeester - No other position has been as coveted over the past few years as the elusive puck-moving defenseman. In this day and age when teams are so well coached, and are so adept at playing neutral-zone-clogging defensive systems, a puck-moving defenseman who can break the trap by making that first tape to tape pass to a streaking forward is worth his weight in gold. Of those rare breed of d-man said to be available right now, Bouwmeester is far and away the class of the group, and at just 25 years of age it is likely he has yet to reach his full potential.
The Florida Panthers find themselves in a real conundrum with Bouwmeester. Ideally, they would love to hang on to this talented d-man, and make him the cornerstone of their franchise, much like Niklas Lidstrom has been in Detroit. However, reports out of Florida suggest that Bouwmeester, set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, has no interest in resigning with Florida and wants to test the market this off-season. With this being the case logic would dictate that Florida try and deal Bouwmeester and get something for him before he walks away for nothing come July 1st. However, with Florida currently embroiled in a tight playoff race trading their best player away would likely doom their chances of actually making the post-season.
If those complications weren't enough, consider the situation from the point of view of a team trying to acquire Bouwmeester. They aren't going to be willing to give up very much if Bouwmeester isn't willing to sign a deal upon his acquisition. If Bouwmeester isn't willing to do that then Florida isn't likely to get much in return for what will be a short-term rental. Suitors will be limited to those elite teams that have a legitimate shot at a Stanley Cup.
It will be interesting to see how it all pans out. Reports suggest that the Panthers still haven't given up on signing this potential Norris trophy winning defenseman, but they are swiftly running out of time. A conundrum indeed...
Chris Pronger - Though he is probably on the back side of his mountain of a career, this mean, nasty defenseman with a wicked slapper from the point would make any team dreaming of hoisting a Stanley Cup that much more serious of a candidate. Pronger recently won a cup with the Anaheim Ducks, and prior to that helped the Oilers make it to game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals before finally bowing out to the Carolina Hurricanes. Pronger can play big minutes against the best players from opposing teams, and is more than capable of contributing offensively, particularly on the powerplay.
With these characteristics it is no wonder that there is no shortage of suitors for Pronger's services leading up to the NHL trade deadline. The St. Louis Blues have recently been linked to reports claiming they are trying to acquire Pronger. They are still in the hunt for a playoff spot and no doubt the addition of Pronger would help them make a good push in the last month of the season. Pronger has already had one tour of duty in St. Louis, where he spent the bulk of his career to date. His wife is from St. Louis so getting her blessing would probably not be the issue it was when he signed with Edmonton. However, St. Louis is clearly not a cup contender, with or without Pronger. They would have to give up a pretty significant package to get him, which could stunt the growth of this young up and coming team. Pronger is set to become a UFA following the 2009-10 NHL season. St. Louis would be wise to wait it out, then lure him back to finish out his playing days there.
One rumor that has been generating a lot of smoke lately has been the possibility of Pronger going to the Boston Bruins. The Bruins have been the Beast of the East this season, and they look poised to take a serious run at the Stanley Cup come this spring. Adding Pronger would make them that much more difficult to contend with. Can you imagine an opposing forward trying to get anywhere near the net with Pronger and Chara out there? Good luck! Add in the always underrated Dennis Wideman, and you'd have a big three that would be the envy of any team in the league. Other clubs in the East will be watching this potential deal closely. If Boston can land Pronger teams like Washington and New Jersey will have to take steps to keep up, and Pronger to Boston would be the first of the dominoes in an Eastern Conference arms race.
These are just a couple of the biggest names rumored to be on the move, but also keep your eye out for Tomas Kaberle to part ways with Toronto and Olli Jokinen to move from Phoenix. The NHL trade deadline is almost as exciting for the fans as the Stanley Cup playoffs themselves. Settle in with a beer, and prepare to wear the buttons off your remote as you surf between TSN, Sportsnet, and The Score for all the latest breaking news.