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Rolling Rock - A Unique State of Beer

LCS Hockey

  "The New Boys Are Coming In On The 4:15 Bus!"
by John Alsedek, Calgary Correspondent

First, about the title...it's actually a line from that quintessential hockey film, 'Slap Shot,' and was made in reference to the acquisition of the Hansen Brothers. I had considered using a line of Paul Newman's - "Why, every piece of garbage that comes on the market, you just gotta buy it!"- until I realized that: a) it's pretty much impossible to not take a comment like that the wrong way; and b) LCS is a family web site, albeit in a 'The Hills Have Eyes' sort of way. I take the time to mention this only because Ripple isn't getting any cheaper, and LCS pays by the word...oh. Crap. Never mind.

Anyway, we're less than two weeks away from that annual rite of spring, the NHL trading deadline (March 23rd, for all you anal retentive date-stickler sorts out there). Most years, one or two major deals might go down, but mostly the deadline is just a chance for teams to dump salaries and swap minor-leaguers. Not this year, though - Colorado GM Pierre Lacroix has guaranteed that. He's a long way from being the genius that he thinks he is, but give Lacroix credit for making things a heap more interesting going into the playoffs. With the Avs having dealt for fiery winger Theo Fleury (about which you can read more on LCS's wizard Flames page, written by that hockey genius and shameless self-promoter John Alsedek), they've effectively challenged the rest of the potential Cup challengers to put up or shut up.

With that in mind, here's more than a half-dozen (seven, to be exact) trade-deadline deals that might happen, as well as the likely results thereof. Now, bear one thing in mind as you read: I don't have access to any more info than the rest of you. I just have the basics - print reports, NHL 2Nite, spy satellites, bugs in executive washrooms, ninja infiltrators, the usual. Okay, now you can go on.

1) RW Theo Fleury & LW Chris Dingman to Colorado for LW Rene Corbet, D Wade Belak, and future considerations

Yeah, I know - this one already happened. However, it's worth mentioning anyway, just because of what it represents. When Pierre Lacroix dealt Rene Corbet, a top prospect, and a second-rounder to the Flames for what will likely be a short-term rental on Fleury, he sent a message in big bold letters - LIKE THESE - to the rest of the NHL: this is COLORADO'S year!

Of course, if he doesn't fill his club's biggest need - another defenseman (besides Sandis Ozolinsh) who can actually do something with the puck besides dump it into the offensive zone, it WILL be Colorado's year...to find a new GM. Los Angeles blueliners Steve Duchesne and Garry Galley ain't gonna get any more available; he could probably squeeze Vladimir Malakhov outta the Habs for the right price. Can an amped-up Avs squad win the Cup? Sure, but only if Patrick Roy plays a heckuva lot better than he did last year.

2) LW Wendel Clark to Dallas for LW Brendan Morrow & a 2000 2nd-round pick

Colorado thrusts, Dallas parries. A recent spate of injuries has exposed potential areas of weakness in the Stars lineup, specifically on defense and left wing. As a result, Bob Gainey picked up warhorse Doug Lidster - who played for the Canadian National Team earlier this season - to add some depth on the blue line. And as for the port side...Gainey is doubtless looking for someone who fits the Stars mold: tough, skilled, hard-working, injury-prone...did someone say Wendel Clark (I mean, you know, besides me)? If they don't get Clark, look for Dallas to make a big push for Broadway Adam Graves.

Now, you'd think that sort of addition, combined with an already potent offense and arguably the best two-way defensive corps in the league would equal Stanley Cup. I'm not so sure, though, and the reason can be summed up in two words: Ed Belfour. If he plays at his bellyflopping, slashing best, the Stars make it past the Avs to the Finals. If he plays at his bellyflopping, slashing worst, they're out in the second round.

3) D Ulf Samuelsson to Detroit for future considerations

The Wings thought they'd filled their need for a top-four blueliner over the summer when they signed Uwe Krupp. Unfortunately, as long a reach as the 6'6" Krupp has, it's not quite long enough to reach from the IR. So Detroit is still looking for a mobile, two-way defenseman - but then, who isn't? They'll doubtless be ringing Rangers GM Neil Smith about Mathieu Schneider, but, with the Rangers still in the hunt for a playoff berth, they're gonna have to settle for the dastardly Swede.

It's a good deal for both teams; Samuelsson's not gonna be playing for a while (concussion), but Detroit won't care as long as he's ready for the playoffs. Just what the tried-and-true future considerations consists of will show who's the slicker manager - Detroit will probably want to unload Aaron Ward and a draft pick, while the Rangers will want prospect Jesse Wallin. The Wings would be well-advised to hold onto Wallin: to the disappointment of octopus-mongers in the Motor City, the Wings are going out in the second round no matter what.

Alexei Zhamnov
Alexei Zhamnov
by Meredith Martini

4) C Alexei Zhamnov to Toronto for a players/futures combination

Every hockey pundit and his dog (or cat) have Dougie Gilmour and Chris Chelios being traded by the Hawks for futures. I don't. Chicago already has plenty of kids - now they just need to do something besides underachieve. Besides, someone has to bring the younguns along. However, one guy who has definitely worn out his welcome (besides owner Bill Wirtz and GM Bob Murray) is Alexei Zhamnov, nicknamed 'Archie' for his red hair, freckles, and salary of about two hundred g's per goal. Toronto's Mike Smith was with the Winnipeg Jets organization when they drafted Zhamnov, and is nonetheless interested in acquiring him. In all fairness to Zhamnov, he's a tremendously skilled player who often looked ill at ease in Chicago's dump-and-chase system; the Leafs' run-and-gun offense should be much more to his liking.

Who will the Hawks get in return? Maybe wild card '98 draftee Nikolai Antropov and a player like Alyn McCauley or Todd Warriner - two guys waving red flags for entirely different reasons. With an honest to goodness second-line center and Cujo's usual acrobatics in goal, look for Toronto to make some real noise in the East - as in second-round noise.

Mark Recchi
Mark Recchi
by Meredith Martini

5) RW Mark Recchi to New Jersey for LW Brian Rolston & D Brad Bombardir

As I said earlier, all that loose talk about Gilmour being traded to an Eastern team is gonna come to naught. The prime candidate is supposedly New Jersey, but it's just not the sort of deal that Devils GM Lou Lamoriello likes to make. Besides whatever bad blood there may be between 'Killer' and Lamoriello, it's just not Lou's style. He prefers the low-cost (well, lower-cost) short-term rentals - like the deal he made to get Gilmour in the first place.

Anyway, the last thing the Devils need is another center: they've already got eight natural centers on their roster. No, what they really need is a goal-scoring right winger who also knows his way around his own end, and who's an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Enter Mark Recchi. The Habs have a number of needs - depth at center, tough wingers, stay-at-home d-men - and, as usual, the Devils have enough talent in the minors to stock a second NHL team. If it isn't Rolston and Bombardir who get dealt, it'll be guys like them. Will Recchi be enough to get the Devils back to the Finals? No, but at least they won't go out in the first round like they would without him.

6) C Stu Barnes & D Bobby Dollas to Florida for D Jaroslav Spacek, a 2000 first-round pick and futures

I just can't figure the Florida Panthers. Just look at their collection of forwards. They've got the three S's: speed, skill, and, uh, grit. Only one problem: beyond Pavel Bure, nobody on the roster shows all three on a regular basis. Given the Russian Rocket's ongoing knee problems, the Cats desperately need another player of that ilk - particularly if they plan on actually making the playoffs this year. Fortunately for Miami's hockey faithful, ownership has shown a willingness to spend spend spend, and there's a guy available who fits the bill...a guy they already know. Need a hint? Playing in a STU-pefying situation in Pittsburgh, he has been STU-pendous, and Florida GM was STU-pid for trading him in the first place.

Yep, I'm talking Stu Barnes. He's become something of a spare part in Steeltown - more because of his salary and the arrival of Alexei Kovalev than any drop in his performance - and could be had for the right price. Florida also needs help on defense; they're likely to get a guy like Dollas or Wilkinson as a throw-in, but they could also end up with Kevin Hatcher if they're really willing to pay through the nose. If the Panthers make the playoffs (a big IF) and Bure stays healthy (another big IF), Stu and the boys could go all the way back to the Conference Finals and be a regular whirligig of fun to watch on the way.

7) D Boris Mironov to Philadelphia for F Dainius Zubrus, G Jean-Marc Pelletier, and other stuff

To say that the Flyers have underachieved recently is like saying that Rembrandt van Rijn painted pictures, or that Anheuser-Busch brews beer; it's an accurate statement, but one which gives you no sense of scale. Having lost to such league powerhouses as Tampa Bay and Los Angeles, Philly hasn't even looked like they should be in the playoffs, let alone winning Lord Stanley's Cup. Nevertheless, I'm picking the Flyers to wake up from their malaise and win that big hunk o' silver, because I think Bob Clarke is gonna say "To hell with the future!" and make moves for this year. They'll go after - and maybe acquire - former Flyer Mark Recchi, which would be a big help. However, their big move is going to be to get what every team seems to need - a tough, mobile defender who can play both ends well.

The one guy available who really fits the bill is Edmonton's Boris Mironov, who turned a lot of heads and crunched a lot of bodies in last year's playoff series versus the Avs. He's still playing well, but is up for a new contract over the summer and is likely to be asking for $4 million per - a little rich for the Oilers' blood, particularly as their blue line is already loaded with younger, cheaper prospects.

Both New Jersey and Florida have expressed interest in obtaining him, but the Flyers are the only ones who have the commodity Edmonton needs most - a hot goalie prospect who's just about NHL-ready. 'Slats' has also been interested in 20-year-old Zubrus for the past two years, and could always use a draft pick or two (as long as he promises not to use them on any guy named Jason). Heck, he might even take back slow-but-steady (emphasis on the slow) defenseman Luke Richardson if Philly eats half his contract. Sound like overpaying? Well, yeah...but hey, it's a seller's market.

Yeah, but it'll be worth it if the Flyers can manage to win another Cup before the fans get into lynch-mob mode - and, given the temperament of Philly's fans, that won't be long.

But wait! There's more! Yep, we at LCS just give and give and give till it hurts. So here's a bonus for both of you loyal readers (thanks Mom and Dad)...

8) C Andrew Cassels to Buffalo for W Matthew Barnaby and future considerations

Andrew Cassels
Andrew Cassels
by Meredith Martini

News flash: the Sabres need scoring. Darcy Regier may still think he's gonna get Doug Gilmour by offering Motormouth Matthew Barnaby, but he'll eventually wise up and go after a reasonably-priced substitute: soon-to-be UFA Andrew Cassels.

Cassels, as you may recall, was Geoff Sanderson's favorite center back when he was Geoff Sanderson. Given that the Coyotes and Rangers have also inquired about the Flames pivot, the price may go up from what the Sabres want to pay (Barnaby, Derek Plante) to something the Flames might actually want (Vaclav Varada, Erik Rasmussen). Most likely, they'll meet somewhere in between - Barnaby and a high draft pick, plus another pick if Cassels signs with the Sabres over the summer. If he can get Sanderson scoring like he did for Dickey the Whale, it'll be worth it. Otherwise, it's the Sabres out by Game Six of the second round.

LCS Hockey

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