a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Friday, 17 February 2012

02/17/12 Quite Quiet

The good people over at TSN and SportsNet may be disappointed this February 27th, as the NHL trade deadline could prove to be somewhat uneventful. They'll start their coverage before the sun is up and some of you will be watching, but will anything major happen?

For the Oilers' part, it appears that Ales Hemsky is the only name that is actually on the market, and his value is at an all-time low. If he does get traded, it won't be for the stud defenseman that the Oilers so desperately need. If and when a trade like that comes to pass, it will be in the off season. Right now teams won't want to mess around too much with their chemistry as they gear up for a playoff run, which eliminates plenty of options from Edmonton's sights at the moment. Aside from that, the biggest movable asset that the Oilers have at their disposal is this year's first round pick, and teams won't want to make a major play for it until the draft order is set.

Rick Nash and Jeff Carter are the two biggest names that could move at the deadline, but the amount of cap space that will have to be shifted around will severely limit potential deals. In order to take on Nash's $7.8 million hit a team would have to move a significant amount of roster players, and that's unlikely to be desirable for clubs that are already good enough to be inside the playoff picture. The same goes for Carter, who carries a $5.272 million cap hit, but that two-and-a-half million dollar savings over Nash may make it more possible that he'll be in a new home before the end of this month. There will be major changes in Columbus, but they could be later rather than sooner.

If the Leafs weren't in the thick of the playoff race out East, the rumblings around Luke Schenn would probably be even louder than they are now. Having not made the playoffs since before the lockout, even Old Stony himself, Brian Burke, will be feeling the pressure to get his team in. Unless a deal knocks his socks off there probably won't be major changes in Toronto before the end of the year.

Players that would normally be heavily involved in trade talks like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter happen to be on teams that are comfortably inside the playoff picture, which puts the big ol' kibosh on any movement. In addition to that their current clubs will do whatever they can to re-sign them, and probably believe that they still can. Making the playoffs and potentially going on a run would help New Jersey and Nashville convince two of the game's best to stay put.

If the 9th-place Washington Capitals miss the playoffs they may engage in a major shakeup, but Mike Green probably won't be available. There are a lot of factors at work on the Caps this year, but they won seven straight out of the gate with Green in the lineup and as soon as he got hurt they started to lose. With Green playing this season Washington is 9-1-0.

Earlier in the year it seemed to be almost a certainty that there would be major developments in Anaheim, with Bobby Ryan a popular name in the rumor mill. Lubomir Visnovsky is another player that could have been relocated at the deadline, but the Ducks have put serious doubt in the belief that they were dead. How good have they been lately? Well, they've only gone 14-3-3 in their last 20 games and collected 31 of a possible 40 points. They're not quite in the middle of things yet, but they are doing enough to convince just about anyone that the kind of wholesale changes that were being discussed this year are unnecessary.

Teemu Selanne might have been an attractive rental player for some team at the deadline, and so too would Ryan Smyth, but those two seem intent on staying with their current teams. Both have No-Move Clauses in their contracts, which means they control their own fate anyway.

There are some major trades bubbling under the surface in the NHL, but many of them may be too radical to happen right away. Sure, guys like Ryan O'Marra, Nicklas Grossman, Pavel Kubina and even Ales Hemsky have been or may get moved, but the really earth-shattering stuff is more plausible after the Stanley Cup has been won.

But deadline day is fun, so I hope that I'm wrong.

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