There's a tradin' a comin'...
Aaah the leaves are changing, the weather is nippy, and the GMs are panicking....My time of year has arrived! I know that no matter how much I give you my "expert" hockey analysis, rumors are what you come to me for. It is hard in October to find anything of substance. As we have seen, trades don't happen until teams can evaluate. I remember doing a podcast with Darren Dreger (or as I call him "The Connected One") this time last year and we were talking about how December was usually the beginning of trade season. This year I will take my ski vacation starting on February 30th, or as we call it in the Eklund household “The Day After.” Because it signifies the day after the trade deadline. Hey, by the way, I could use some advice. I want to take my four •year-old this year. We always go skiing in Steamboat, Colorada, but I keep hearing about Whistler. If anyone out there is a Skier and knows of cool places to stay near either or knows which mountain would be better for her to learn on, email me at eklund(at)hockeybuzz.com. If anyone has a place near one of these mountains to donate to the cause I am sure I could swap you some pretty cool hockey stuff. And I could send you a Eklund Bobblehead Doll. (just a black head on bobbling on top of a guy in a suit holding a laptop.)
But I regress, or should I say digress (probably a bit of both..it is Saturday, and that means I am going on NO SLEEP!)
What I am writing about is that this year trade rumors look to be starting up early. The simple explanation is that there a few teams, six obvious ones, that believe they are much better than they are playing. These teams have spent and not gotten cake. And their fans need cake.
Calgary: There is a window of this year and next for the Flames. Sutter’s constant reluctance to pull the trigger on a center for Iginla is why the window is stuck. Craig Conroy is out there. And MANY in the organization want him. From what I am told, Sutter does not feel that Conroy is the answer. Allison is another story, but a very complex story. Allison is waiting to see on a few teams right now. Calgary is talking major deals with both Philly and Tampa according to my sources.
Philly: You can say all you want about Hatcher and Rathje defensively, but the fact is the Flyers have ZERO transition game in a new NHL where that is all that matters. My two cents on the Forsberg tirade: Best thing that happened so far this year for one simple reason: EMOTION. The thing about these Flyers is they haven’t gotten pissed off enough at anything. There is no common enemy. Let it be the media as far as I am concerned. It worked for Esche during the run in 03-04. The Fact that Forsberg was angry and showed anger, even if it was at a referee is something. I will go out on a limb and call this the turning point in Philly. Forsberg’s tirade will be known as the moment the players started to own up to their responsibilities and feel ownership in the team. Fortunately for the Flyers, they are in a weak division so far. Right now they are only 7 points out of a playoff spot. Although Pittsburgh has two games in hand and Malkin is a machine. As I said after seeing his first game, Malkin may be a more complete and dominant player than either AO or Crosby.
Boston: This is a team that unfortunately is stuck at a midway point. They went out and got Chara and Savard, but what always baffled me was that these are two guys you get if you are close to put you over the top. Chara has played very well, and they still are already 15 points behind Buffalo in one month’s time. I will be going to Boston this week for a game and to shoot a segment that NESN is doing on me. I look forward to it.
Ottawa: I think the Sens are one team that will be absolutely fine. However the pressure is mounting after a slow start. The Sens are traditionally not a team to trade very often, but word is that they may have a big deal in the works involving two other teams, one being Los Angeles. I have yet to be able to find out the other team, although were I to guess it may be Tampa.
Columbus: I am told that a major assessment could be coming to the BJs by Thanksgiving. This is another team that has too much talent and has had a fanbase that has been too supportive for too long for this. After this summer I swore not to type Anson Carter’s name ever again, but Anson is on the fourth line right now. The Zherdev situation really brought on the Carter signing. I am told that Anson may be shopped around, and that Philly is a team to look for.
NY Rangers: Apparent dressing room turmoil here. Shanahan has the room now, as the guy simply doesn’t accept losing. Shanny will forever be the guy to me who saved hockey during the lockout because he was a great “go-between” and a diplomat. Players you talk to say that other players either love him or hate him. He is not a patient guy, and when Jagr wasn’t getting the team going in the room Shanny stepped in. Jags, who never really wanted the “C”, isn’t thrilled with Shanny. Or so the story goes…
So what are some of the potential deals in discussion?
Montreal and the NY Rangers have expressed interest in Martin St. Louis. Montreal has also inquired along with the Avalanche about LeCavalier.
Sources tell me that the if things don't turn around this weekend the Flames and Flyers may hook up in a major deal. And I mean MAJOR. This is a major league rumor and is fun to speculate on. Both these teams are living parallel lives right now. Neither can score, but both have too much talent. The trade rumor I have heard speculated on (from now 3 separate sources) is Gagne, Umberger and Claude Giroux for Iginla, Tim Ramholt and Dustin Boyd. Can you see it now? “Boyd’s of Philadelphia.” (inside joke for Philly folks)
The Rangers really want Seabrook out of Chicago. Rumors were rampant this week that Yawney’s days were numbered and that either Denis Savard or Rick Dudley could take over as interim guys. (as an aside, the interim term means limbo for fans of teams. Just go with a guy and fire him if you need to. It is only hockey!) As Yawney said when asked if he was afraid he could be the next victim, “That’s what you sign up for.” Bottom line here is that it is hard to imagine the Hawks pulling the trigger for another month. There really is no reason, until you get Havlat back in two weeks and see how he plays to get crazy. Especially if there is a coaching change, which my sources are mixed on. I will say this, for a guy who was supposed to be on death row, Yawney looked and acted very relaxed after both the morning skate and the game.
Maybe it is me, but I have been in a ton of losing locker rooms lately and I really hand to players for answering the same lame question. Usually there is an uncomfortable silence and someone asks,“How does this loss make you feel?” It is then asked over and over again. (“How do you feel NOW…no NOW…How about NOW?”
Imagine if you had a bad day at work, a guy shoved a microphone in your face and asked you why you screwed up. And then they put your answer on the news and they talked about it for several days on the radio. I guess it would be easier if you were making 2.5 Million per, but you get my drift.
Negative vibes sell. Negative is an emotion that everyone can relate to. When was the last time you went on a rant about how great your job your life, and your health is? I once met a musician who said, “ I rarely write songs when I am happy. When I am happy, I go out. When I am sad I commiserate.”
The part that makes me proudest about what we have done here at Hockeybuzz is that we do great business without going for the easy, “Why do the Blanks suck?” posts. I am glad you get people talking without simply throwing out negative vibes. I will be on XM today and tomorrow for my normal show at noon ET with Jamie and Peter.