Monday, January 16, 2006

If it ain't broke...

photo: nhl.com
Bravo Zulu to Eric Staal
Offensive Player of the Week, 3 Stars, a fat lip, and a busted toofus!

red and black hockey: "There was some talk on the post-game radio show (post Preds game) about trying to obtain a veteran blueliner via trade. I don't know who we'd give up in a trade, but one name they threw out there was Paul Mara. I would like that quite a bit. We'll see."

If it ain't broke...
Right now the 'Canes are winning despite the losses of Glen Wesley and AWard, and what looks like a shorter-term loss of Mike Commodore. Not only are the boys winning, they have beaten two of the top teams in the west (Detroit and Nashville) over the past two weeks. So, why mess with success? If JR goes out and cuts a deal for a blueliner now, who sits when the three mentioned above return? I think as long as the 'Canes keep winning, you won't see the front office tinker with success.

Dreaming on...
That being said, we're about to enter a very interesting time of the season. The bottom feeders are gonna start shedding salary and cleaning house. Teams with playoff ambitions will also start to look for help. Atlanta needs help on the blueline. The Thrash score in bunches but they rank in the bottom third in goals allowed. New Jersey is just the opposite. The Devils would love to add a legit scoring threat to their lines to compliment the recently returned Patrick Elias. Florida and Tampa are both looking to make significant roster moves in the hope of breathing some life into their seasons. The Islanders and Canadians are in the process of crawling out the the wreckage of their season to date, and the Blackhawks and Pens are looking to start over-after they lose some hefty salaries. The Blues would probably be willing to make changes anywhere (unless they are consciously waiting until the ownership situation is settled).

The way I look at it, JR might make a trade/acquisition to shore up the 'Canes blueline under some combination of conditions:

1. Instant impact

2. It doesn't screw with team chemistry

3. Maybe it keeps a difference maker off a rival squad

4. It offers a chance to invest in the future

5. Rent-a-player time for the playoff run

So where are the deals?
Phoenix
David mentioned Paul Mara in his posting. He's on a one-year contract and is still owed around half of his $1.7 mil . The Coyotes also have strong young blueline talent in Keith Ballard, Zbynek Michalek, and Matt Jones. What the Coyotes need is some right-now scoring. The 'Canes don't really offer the kind of instant scoring the 'Yotes are looking for, unless they could be convinced that Mike Zigomanis is their guy. My idea of a few weeks ago of offering Erik Cole as part of a deal looks really stupie upon reflection. Mara is more of a PP quarterback than a crease clearer, so while we might get a solid blueliner in a deal, the 'Canes wouldn't fill their possible need for a physical blueliner. Mara might however be a nice investment in the future-ditto one of the young guys mentioned above.

Chicago
You are starting to hear Jassen Cullimore's name being bantered. He is still owed half of his $1.9 mil per year salary and he has a multi-year contract. He does have Stanley Cup experience, but his play this year has been less than stellar. Adrian Aucoin is also out there with his hefty salary and brittle bones/joints, but don't think for one minute JR would bring in that kind of salary. The Blackhawks have solid young blueliners in Brent Seabrook, Anton Babchuck, Duncan Keith, and prospect Cam Barker, but any of these guys acquired in a trade are more investment than instant impact. JR successfully pawned Radim Vrbata off to the Blackhawks, so I doubt he'll try and fool them again.

Montreal
Mike Komisarek's name keeps coming up as well. He's young and wickedly aggressive, but prone to mistakes. We already have Mikey C playing that role. Komisarek might also have some off-ice baggage to worry about. Speaking of off-ice issues, Sheldon Souray could probably be had. He is a great blueliner, but prone to injury and family distractions.

St. Louis
Eric Weinrich might be a steal. His yearly salary is under $2mil, so he passes the JR cheap test. He's said to be a great clubhouse guy. He's steady if unspectacular-a consistent + player until this season. On the downside, he's 39, so there might not be much left in the tank. The Blues need help everywhere. Their two top goalie prospects are only "C" rated by hockeysfuture.com , and their organizational ranking by these same folks is 29th out of 30. The 'Canes might be able to move Nastiuk or Peters in a deal. Throw in Zigomanis as a possible scoring addition/playmaker, and we might get Weinrich and a prospect in the deal.

Other blueliners who might be had:
Brent Sopel - Solid player, great attitude, $2.2 mil salary hurts. Islanders might not want to lose one of their few character guys.
Ruslan Salei - Fearless and physical, a good teammate, and an under $2mil/year player. Brian Burke is a wheeler dealer and unafraid to take a risk with team chemistry.
Chris Therien - This guy attracts a lot of venom. Most have heard by now of the website dedicated to slagging the guy, but if the Flyers waive him, he would definitely come cheap.

2 comments:

JP said...

Don't forget that Brenda Witt might take his purse and high heels and leave D.C.

CasonBlog said...

JP-I don't think the Caps would let Witt go to a Southeast rival. If he goes anywhere, Toronto will probably gobble him up in their spring rent-a-player rush.