LCS Hockey: Born Again
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June 26, 2019
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Deadline Looms

I feel obligated to write something about the trade deadline, but mindless speculation and rumor mongering is best left to, well, mindless speculators and rumor-mongering douchebags. And those aren't my words; I just read that description right off Eklund's business card.

So, with that in mind, I will do my humble best to discuss some of the more pressing topics regarding the Tuesday 3PM EST deadline.

The NHL Network will simulcast TSN's live coverage of all the trading shenanigans. The fun will get underway at 8AM EST and roll to 6PM EST, giving hockey fans 10 solid hours of zaniness. The usual TSN stooges will be on hand, but Matthew Barnaby will also be providing some analysis, so that's something. Maybe he'll take a swing at Bob McKenzie. We can only hope.

Curly Joe
Mats Sundin has decided not to waive his no-trade clause. The 37-year-old center released the following statement late last night:

"I have carefully considered the team's request that I waive my no-trade clause. I have always believed I would finish my career as a Toronto Maple Leaf, so the actual request was still a very difficult one for me to contemplate.

"I have spoken to and listened to my family and those closest to me about this issue. In the end, there is no right decision in a situation like this one.

"I cannot leave my teammates and join another NHL club at this time. I have never believed in the concept of a rental player. It is my belief that winning the Stanley Cup is the greatest thing you can achieve in hockey, but for me, in order to appreciate it, you have to have been part of the entire journey and that means October through June. I hope everyone will understand and respect my decision."

Good for Mats. The whole rental player thing is wicked lame. Some might rip him for being selfish, but it's not his fault the Leafs organization has been borderline retarded for the last decade.

This isn't the same situation as Wade Redden. If Sundin decides to play next season, he'll certainly do so with the Leafs. Sure, he could spend the next couple months in Detroit and get the Leafs a couple draft picks, but would you go to Detroit if you didn't have to? There's not enough chlorine in the world. He'd have to bathe in tomato juice for months to get rid of the stink.

Now that Sundin is off the market, Toronto will have to explore other options. Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe are both supposed to be on the block, along with the likes of Jason Blake, Darcy Tucker, and Hal Gill. They should really just trade or cut everyone and start over. Make it fun.

As if things weren't bad enough for the Philadelphia Flyers, who are 0-8-2 in their last 10, Mike Richards will miss at least the next three weeks with a torn hamstring. Hard to get happy after that one.

To make matters worse, Simon Gagne is likely done for the season due to lingering concussion woes, Joffrey Lupul will be out a few more weeks with a high ankle sprain, and Derian Hatcher continues to mend an injured knee.

Ideally, the Flyers would sign a healthy Peter Forsberg to replace Richards, but Petey's ankles still may not be strong enough for NHL duty. Tomorrow will tell the tale, because he needs to be on a roster by the trade deadline in order to be eligible for the playoffs.

If Forsberg isn't an option, expect the Flyers to be aggressive on the trade market. And by aggressive I mean stupid.

Columbus, Edmonton, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Montreal, and San Jose are all said to be interested in former Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards. I find that hard to believe.

What's the love affair with Richards? He's a minus-44 over the past two seasons and is locked in at $7.8 million a year for the next four seasons. Did he have to wear a ski mask when he signed that contract? Where's Spider-Man when you need him?

Richards is a good player. He's not a franchise player. Unless Tampa is picking up some of his contract, who would be dumb enough to trade for Richards? I mean, John Ferguson got fired, right?

I reckon the Blue Jackets make the most sense. They're already paying Sergei Fedorov $6 million, so they're used to wasting money. Fedorov is set to become unrestricted after the season, and he may even be on his way back to Detroit in a trade, so that would free up the cash needed to pay Richards, who would be a nice setup man for Rick Nash.

The only sticking point is Richards has the dreaded no-trade clause. While he isn't opposed to being moved, Richards has reportedly given management a list of potential destinations. What are the odds Columbus is on that list? Not so good. I blame Kirk Herbstreit.

Martin Havlat
One of the best rumors has Martin Havlat coming to Pittsburgh to play with Sidney Crosby. In the words of our buddy Dave Dameshek, ooh la la.

Havlat and Kid Crosby would be beautiful together. The 26-year-old Havlat has the speed, skill, and creativity needed to become Sid's main man. Of course, the downside with Havlat is he can never stay healthy. He also makes $6 million a year, but he's only locked in for one more season, meaning if things don't work out, the Pens could let him walk and still have the money needed to pay Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal when their rookie deals run out.

Word on the street has the Hawks asking for Jordan Staal. If that's the price, I'd pass. People look at his stats and figure he's been a disappointment this season, but the kid's still playing good hockey. And he's 19. Relax. If Staal would become a bit nastier, and that should happen with age, you're looking at the next Keith Primeau, a huge, shut-down center with the ability to score 25-30 a year.

The fear is someone will throw an ungodly offersheet at Staal when he becomes a restricted free agent after next season. Malkin will obviously be Pittsburgh's top priority, so Staal could be vulnerable. But considering the backlash from the Dustin Penner and Tomas Vanek signings, not to mention Edmonton's struggles this season, teams could be reluctant to pay Staal.

Some, including ESPN's John Buccigross, favor trading Staal now before he hits restricted free agency, but I disagree. I'd keep Staal and do everything possible to sign him to an extension next year. He's a good Canadian farm boy. I doubt he'll chase money, especially considering his family really doesn't need to worry about financial security. I think even the dog was drafted last summer.

Besides, the Pens would have to give Havlat at least $6 million to retain him after next season. It will take far less to re-sign Staal. If someone does come in with a ridiculous offer for Staal, take the five No. 1 picks and smile.

Ray Shero should do all he can to land Havlat without losing Staal. Offer Angelo Esposito, Alex Goligoski, and picks. But don't trade Staal.

The Pens are also rumored to be interested in Tuomo Ruutu, the younger brother of Jarkko. I've always been a big fan of Tuomo's. That goal he scored against Canada in the 2004 World Cup finals was sick. It gave my TV scurvy.

Tuomo Ruutu
No doubt, Tuomo would have been a beast had it not been for a series of devastating knee injuries. He put up 23 goals and 44 points in his rookie season of 2003-04, but it's been downhill ever since. He has just six goals and 21 points in 60 games this season, but I'd still make a run at him if he's available.

Tuomo just turned 25. A change of scenery could do wonders, especially when the new scenery is left wing on Kid Crosby's line. Tuomo has the offensive upside to flourish next to Crosby. And he's a Ruutu through and through, so while he isn't as chippy as his big brother, he's a monstrous hitter and can be downright nasty on occasion. He'd be perfect for the Pens.

And how sweet would it be to have two Ruutus on the team? They bring the party with them. It might also help secure Jarkko, who's slated to become unrestricted after the season. The only downside is Tuomo, who made $2.25 million this year, will be restricted, but again, having the brothers together might help the cause.

The other name heard most often in connection with Pittsburgh is Vaclav Prospal. No thank you. Prospal is having a decent season with the Bolts, putting up 29 goals and 57 points, but skating with Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis isn't exactly the toughest gig in show business.

I just don't like Prospal. He only plays hard when he feels like it. And surprise, surprise, he's going to be unrestricted this summer. If you look at the past nine years of his career, he always has one good year followed by one bad year. He's also had severe issues with John Tortorella, and Tortorella is old school. He only goes after guys if they're not competing or putting the team first.

Prospal has spent five of the past six seasons in Tampa. The one he missed was when they won the Cup. I don't think it was a coincidence. He doesn't belong on a team like Pittsburgh.

Marian Hossa
photo by Matthieu Masquelet

Finally accepting they won't be able to re-sign him, the Thrashers have been shopping Marian Hossa the past few days, with Montreal, Ottawa, and San Jose reportedly leading the list of contenders. Hossa back in Ottawa would be something. It would definitely make the Sens the favorite in the East, goaltending be damned.

Speaking of which, the Sens have to go after Dwayne Roloson, right? He would be the perfect fit for them. And there really aren't too many goalies available.

If the Hawks were smart, they'd see what they could get for Nikolai Khabibulin. He only has one year left on his massive contract, and the Hawks won't be serious playoff contenders until after he's long gone.

The only other goaltender rumored to be on the move is Jose Theodore. Again, if the Avs can find someone dumb enough to take Theodore, they should drive him to the airport. But the Avs have already eaten most of his absurdly over-priced contract, so maybe a team like Tampa or Ottawa would be willing to roll the bones.

Minnesota is said to be in hot pursuit of the great Olli Jokinen. It's not secret Mike Keenan loves him too, and the Flyers could even be in the mix. But if the Panthers trade Jokinen, they might as well lock the doors and turn off the lights. I hear the AHL is lovely this time of year.

Brian Campbell, Dan Boyle, Kaberle, and McCabe remain the premier offensive defensemen available, but John-Michael Liles could also be on the move. The Rangers and Sharks are the teams most desperate for puck-moving blueliners.

LCS Hockey: Born Again
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