With the trade deadline only weeks away, general managers around the NHL find themselves with unique agendas. Will they try to grab another scorer, another defenseman, or a backup goalie? Perhaps an experienced veteran or locker room presence for the playoffs? Or maybe they are so far out of contention that they just plan on stockpiling draft picks while clearing up some cap space?
When a player switches teams it can have a positive or negative impact on his overall fantasy performance, usually depending on the role they are required to take on with their new team. Often times it is players that will become unrestricted free agents the following summer that have the greatest likelihood of being moved. Based on their current team’s position, the following ten 2009 UFAs are likely to swap jerseys by the trade deadline at 3:00pm on March 4th:
1. Jay Bouwmeester – Though making a playoff push, the Florida Panthers may deal their top dog to ensure that they get something in return for him. Potential Buyers: Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens
2. Nik Antropov – The Toronto Maple Leafs’ GM Brian Burke has essentially guaranteed that the big centre is headed out of town. Potential Buyers: Columbus Blue Jackets, Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Mathieu Schneider – Given a legitimate supporting cast and some decent ice-time, the wily vet can still put up points, and will be acquired by a team looking for a powerplay boost. Potential Buyers: New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings
4. Bill Guerin – He went to the San Jose Sharks before the deadline in ‘07 and played fairly well. If the New York Islanders can get him to waive his no-trade, he’ll be on the move again. Potential Buyers: San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins
5. Mark Recchi – Notorious for being a deadline pickup the last few seasons, the future hall-of-famer can fill the void of a veteran, locker room presence on a young team. Potential Buyers: San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars
6. Dominic Moore – Though I feel like Brian Burke will make him an offer to come back this summer, his inspiring play has surely caught the eye of some teams looking for a grinder with some offensive touch. Potential Buyers: Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens
7. Keith Tkachuk – The aging power forward was traded at the ‘07 deadline to the Atlanta Thrashers and performed well. Potential Buyers: Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins
8. Mike Comrie – A touch of scoring with some grit, the New York Islanders centre could be a second line option for a team looking for some offensive help. Potential Buyers: Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks
9. Marian Gaborik – Talent-wise, no player likely to be traded this season can match him. Unfortunately, no one can match his proneness for injury either. Potential Buyers: New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins
10. Filip Kuba – Though stubborn GM Bryan Murray probably thinks they’re still very much in it, Kuba will ultimately be dealt to one of many teams looking for a top 4 defenseman. Potential Buyers: Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals
Of course, there are many players who could become trade material if their teams fall out of contention between now and the deadline. With only 4 or 5 teams currently out of the playoff race, more sellers will emerge in the coming weeks as gaps in the standings widen. There are also a number of non-UFAs that have been swirling in trade rumors as of late, including Jason Blake, Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, Vaclav Prospal, Milan Hejduk, Ryan Whitney, and Alex Frolov. Only three weeks to go; let the fireworks begin!