LCS Hockey: Born Again
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June 26, 2019
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Teams to Watch

Lou Lamoriello

Lou Lamoriello got a jump on the trade deadline, acquiring Niclas Havelid from the Atlanata Thrashers for 24-year-old Finnish defender Anssi Salmela. Great trade for Lamoriello. He hasnít been this happy since Meathead moved out.

Havelid, about to turn 36, has long been one of the most underrated defenders in hockey. While not much of a physical presence, heís a swell skater and puck-mover, and he can handle 20+ minutes a night. He was also part of Anaheimís Cup run in 2003.

Again, nice deal for New Jersey. Havelid will take some pressure off Paul Martin and Johnny Oduya. And, shockingly, Don Waddell didnít get fleeced. The Atlanta GM flipped the aging blueliner for Salmela, who is basically Havelid 11 years ago. Salmelaís style should be a perfect fit in Atlanta. And I just mean heís a skilled guy who will have more freedom to create offense. I wasnít calling him a loser or anything.

Getting Havelid is one of those sneaky little moves that could pay big dividends come playoff time. Here are five other teams Iíll be keeping an eye on leading up to the trade deadline...

1. Pittsburgh Penguins: Sure, Iím a Pens fan, but I find their current dilemma fascinating. Will Ray Shero give up on Jordan Staal and trade him for a goal-scoring winger? Or will he keep Staal and merely add some low-priced veterans to bolster the team for another possible playoff run?

If Shero doesnít make a big splash, the Birds could easily miss the postseason, bringing shame to the Steel City. But if he trades Staal, he could be surrendering a potential beast and creating salary cap hell for years to come by taking on another big ticket superstar.

I think Shero will keep Staal. Heíll probably add one or two gritty wingers, but nothing too sensational. Unless, of course, he can figure a way to pry Marian Gaborik from the Wild without giving up Staal. But it doesnít sound like Gabby is too worried about getting back on the ice, saying he may not return until the end of the month. Wow, he must hate Minnesota. Apparently itís not enough to wreck the Wildís season, now he wants to ruin his own trade value. What a guy.

But hereís the bottom line. Sidney Crosby needs to score some goals. Forget all this nonsense about finding Sid a winger. Sid needs to find some sack (and hopefully a curved blade) and shoot the damn puck.

2. Florida Panthers: This is why you donít wait until the trade deadline to move unrestricted franchise defensemen. The Panthers never thought theyíd be competing for a playoff spot, and now that they are, itís kind of hard to ship Jay Bouwmeester out of town. Jacques Demers is a prisoner of his own success.

Listen, Bouwmeester isnít going to re-sign. Vancouver, Toronto, and Philadelphia will all go at him hard this summer. Even if Bouwmeester doesnít get traded, the Cats arenít guaranteed to make the playoffs. And I got news for you, Jacques, if you make the postseason, youíre not getting out of the first round. The goal is to win a Stanley Cup, not play four extra games.

Demers canít afford to lose his best player for nothing. He has to move Bouwmeester. But whoís going to give fair market value without a contract in place? I have a feeling Demers wonít trade him, the Cats will miss the playoffs anyway, and Bouwmeester signs with the Leafs over the summer. Now thatís a Rat Trick.

3. Minnesota Wild: I mentioned Gaborik earlier, but heís not Minnesotaís only headache. Niklas Backstrom is also set to become an unrestricted free agent. Geez, the Wild should really consider hiring a GM to handle this sort of stuff.

Backstrom, 31, would be the premier netminder available. Although, personally, I think Kari Lehtonen is a change of address away from being a Vezina winner. Put Brodeur down in Atlanta and see how good he looks. But I digress.

Detroit could use a goaltender, but the Wings just won the Stanley Cup with Chris fín Osgood in net. Thatís like robbing Fort Knox with a squirt gun. Why start using bullets now?

The Flyers have needed goaltending since, well, forever. Unfortunately, their capís tighter than Ken Hitchcockís thong. Good luck losing that image.

Washington is a goaltender away from Cup contention. But doesnít Jose Theodoreís hair look nice?

The Wild have Josh Harding in place to take over the No. 1 gig if Backstrom gets dealt. Then again, Harding is set to become a restricted free agent. Seriously, how did Minnesota stay in business this long without a GM? Itís shocking.

(UPDATE: The Wild re-signed Backstrom this afternoon, giving him $24 million over six years. And it looks like the Pens waived Miro Satan. So that means a deal must be in the works, and Shero had to clear cap space. Could it be Gaborik?)

4. Anaheim Ducks: It could be the end of an era in Anaheim. Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer arenít long for the Pond. The Water Fowl apparently promised Niedermayer they wouldnít trade him. I donít get it either. They should have told Niedermayer theyíd think about not trading him, wait four or five months, and then trade him.

Pronger, however, is on the block, and the Bruins are one of many teams in hot pursuit. Pronger has one year left at $6.25 million. It seems kind of crazy that theyíd trade him, especially since Ryan Whitney is the only other defender of importance signed for next season. And how exactly will the Bruins work Pronger under the cap in 2009-10 when Tim Thomas, Phil Kessel, and David Krejci all need contracts?

5. Toronto Maple Leafs: Brian Burke always makes it fun. I want to see how he goes about trying to resurrect this moribund franchise. He says heíll only trade Tomas Kaberle for a player, a top prospect, and a No. 1 pick. Good luck with that.

And I love how people think Nik Atropov is going to be a hot commodity. Yeah, like anyoneís ever said, ďAw, we could have won the Cup. If only we had Nik Antropov.Ē

Put a bag of donuts in a Maple Leaf sweater and Canadians will think itís worth a first-round pick at the deadline. And if you put a bag of donuts in a Maple Leaf sweater and then pay it $5 million a year, itís Pavel Kubina.

LCS Hockey: Born Again
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