Saturday, February 8, 2014

No Major NHL Trades and Roster Freeze In Place; What's Next?

So, in the end, it wasn't much of an artificial trade deadline, as far as the volume and impact of the NHL trades which were made prior to the roster freeze going into place at 3 p.m. ET.  The NHL will be taking a break from play after this weekend, as some of their elite players head over to Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

But no huge trades occured prior to the roster freeze.  Ryan Miller is still a Buffalo Sabre.  So is Matt Moulson.  Sam Gagner is still wearing blue and orange, as is Thomas Vanek (although for a separate team).  And Ray Whitney is still on the Dallas Stars.

This could all very well change once the roster freeze is lifted on February 23 at 11:59 p.m. ET.  There will be just about ten days for trades to happen before the NHL trade deadline at 3 p.m. ET on March 5.  It would be far from surprising if there was a flurry of trade activity in that ten day time span.

Here are more details on some of the names mentioned as being in play for major trades once that roster freeze is lifted:
  • Ryan Miller - Although new Buffalo Sabres' GM Tim Murray has indicated that it is more a matter of if, than when, Miller will be traded, he has confirmed that there have been trade talks involving the American goaltender, but Murray hasn't found the right trade deal yet.  The teams who have been speculated to have the most interest in Miller and his services include the St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals and Minnesota Wild.
  • Thomas Vanek - He's already stated that he wants to test free agency.  It has been confirmed that Vanek turned down a substantial offer from the New York Islanders and GM Garth Snow.  It was widely rumored that the offer was for 7 years at $50 million total.  Will Vanek get more than that in the free agent market?  We will see when he tests it in July.  But prior to that timeframe, he is likely to be traded by the Islanders.  They are not a playoff contender at this stage of the season, and with a public statement that Vanek is going to test free agency, there is really no strong reason to keep him on the roster.  One team in particular which needs scoring help, and has been speculated to be very interested in Vanek, is the Los Angeles Kings.  Don't be surprised if Vanek is wearing black and silver before the trade deadline passes, and if the Islanders land a defenseman, prospects or draft picks in return.  
  • Matt Moulson - The Sabres are another team that is not in playoff contention, with upcoming UFA's to be traded.  It just so happens that Moulson was traded once this season, for the aforementioned Thomas Vanek.  And they are both likely to be traded again.  Moulson, who has 15 goals and 18 assists this season between Buffalo and New York, has sparked interest from at least a dozen NHL teams.  The catch here is that Moulson was on the injured reserve prior to the roster freeze, but he is expected to be back on the ice after the Olympic break.  
  • Sam Gagner - The Los Angeles Kings need scoring help.  Sam Gagner can provide that help.  And the Edmonton Oilers probably need to shake things up a bit to get going.  Gagner, who is signed through the 2015-16 season at a $4.8 million cap hit, has 24 points in 47 games for Edmonton this season.  Kyle Clifford has been mentioned as a possible player to be involved in any trade between the Kings and Oilers.  Clifford would give the Oilers some toughness and size, without a huge cap hit.  The deal seems to make sense for both teams.  
  • Dave Bolland - He was a member of the Chicago Blackhawks for several seasons, winning two Stanley Cups with the team that drafted him.  But he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs not long after hoisting the most recent Stanley Cup in 2013.  There has been speculation recently that the Maple Leafs, knowing that Bolland could explore the free agent market in July of this year, might be willing to trade him.  Bolland, like Moulson, is coming back from an injury, which makes the trade possibilities here a little cloudy.  
  • Ryan Callahan - Callahan, a Rochester, NY native, will be representing Team USA in Sochi for two weeks in February.  There was vast speculation that if the New York Rangers and their current captain couldn't come to an agreement on a contract extension before the Olympic roster freeze, that Callahan would be playing in the Olympics while a member of an NHL team other than the Rangers.  But it didn't happen.  That doesn't mean a trade won't happen after the Olympics are over.  Rangers' fans, and I would think Rangers' team management also, want Callahan to remain a blueshirt.  It seems that a sticking point in contract negotiations has been the length of contract that Callahan is seeking.  He reportedly wants seven years with above $6.5 million annually, while the Rangers' management would like to see a shorter-term contract.  This situation, and the potential for a trade, is made even more interesting by the fact that the Rangers are playing well and are squarely in the playoff hunt as the standings currently sit.  

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