Friday, January 27, 2012

Rumor Chasing during the All Star Break

I would like to be first to point out that Daniel Alfredsson is going to be a stud in Ottawa's front office some day.  He played his cards to their full advantage and assembled, in my opinion, a far superior All Star team.  When you get the past two Art Ross winners in the 9th and 13th rounds respectably, and, take Alex Edler with the last defenseman pick you are a smart cookie.  Ok, obviously Chara wasn't going to take them, so he was able to load up on other talent too while Lupul and Z were forced to take the dregs of the Leafs, Habs and Bruins organization.  Giroux and Stamkos.  The Twins.  This team is built for All Star success.  Might get swept by the Sens in a seven game playoff, but they should avhieve their goal.

If you haven't been living under a rock for the past three months you are well aware of Anaheim GM Terry Murray's SELL SELL SELL comments during this disappointing season.  Don't look now.  The Ducks are on fire, beating some quality teams, and losing only once in regulation in the New Year.  The Ducks are only 12 points out of a playoff spot, with a couple games in hand on the competition: Dallas, Calgary, Phoenix, Colorado and Minnesota, and when you look at that group you can't help but like the Ducks chances.  Murray achieved his goal, lighting a fire under this group, and he brought in the right guy to help, Bruce Boudreau, he had a similiar turn around when we was brought in mid-season by the Caps.

I don't think the Ducks can afford to melt down for a year or two.  They have a solid fan base and they deserve a win-at-all-costs attitude, especially with the recent righting of the Ducks ship.  I don't think anyone is for sale anymore.  Maybe Visnovsky and Hiller.  Visnovksy is easily replaced by Cam Fowler, and Hiller's spotiness, if you could find a taker, isn't really a risk to replace, but the core and the veterans need to be retained, and complimented as the Ducks move from fire-sale to big-time buyers.  If you've been reading Perry to the Canucks, consider this: Where does he fit in?

We've seen AV critique Ryan Kesler for not using his teammates enough already, so, why bring in a premiere goal scorer to play on his wing?  You certainly couldn't use Kesler as part of a package to bring Perry in.  Sure, we've got CoHo waiting in the wings, but this is a team built on depth scoring.  If they're going to add another top six forward, it's going to have to come at the expense of Mason Raymond, Chris Tanev and some draft picks.  The Canucks don't have the depth forwards to sustain losing CoHo to add a Cory Perry to the top-six.  The Nux need to be a team that has three scoring lines, and without that we don't have the supporting cast to convert mid-season to a Top Six/Bottom Six team.  There isn't a team in the league with a third line centre near the offensive capability of Cody Hodgson, and that's only achieved in this small window of time in which he's restricted.

That said, there are also big rumors linking the Preds, Wings, Buds and Blue Jackets to Raymond, who could easily be moved.  Any of those teams has an upgrade over Raymond to flip to us.  The Preds have jumped in to the waiver-market to acquire Brendan Yip from the Avs, this makes any number of their underachieving young forwards available, so, would they give up Jordin Tootoo who is set to become an unrestricted free agent next year?  He would be the physical edge that many feel this team desperately needs.  Patric Hornqvist is a net pressence that will be highly valuable come playoff time, and though he has a pretty high cap number for what he is, the Nux should be able to make it work.

How 'bout the Wings?  They've been rumored to be in on Alex Semin.  He would be the perfect Mo-Town reclamation projects, but are the Caps willing to let him go now that they're in a playoff dog-fight, and if they are, at what price?  Raymond would be a great fit with Helm, Abdelkader and that young fast depth forward corps, or, either of them could be headed west as a physical upgrade on Raymond in Vancouver.  Val Filpula is having a career year, and looks to be part of future plans in Detroit, but Jiri Hudler is a UFA next year, and would be a nice fit on the Nux new HHH-Line: Hansen-Hodgson-Hudler.  Dan Cleary is underachieving, but to take his cap hit off their hands the Wings might send a prospect or pick with him as part of a bigger deal.

To me, the Leafs don't make much sense.  What does Mason Raymond bring that any of their young forward group doesn't already offer.  But it sounds more and more like Mikail Grabovski is going to be available, and he is a UFA at the end of this season.  Given his history in Vancouver it's doubtful he'd end up here, but, Nik Kulemin, who is restricted at the end of this season, has only a 2.2 million cap number and has been a shadow of last year's 30-goal self.  His skill set is undeniable, and he may find chemistry with the Nux young stars. Clarke MacArthur has one more year left at 3.25 million and has underachieved, but a change of scenery could do him good.

The Blue Jackets are probably the least likely of those mentioned to make a move.  Raymond is a restricted free agent after this season, so the Jackets foreseeably would have no trouble resigning him, but his value is less to a team not in the playoff hunt.  The Canucks have been rumored to be interested in disgruntled Jackets' forward Derrick Brassard for a long while now, and he could be a great fit with CoHo and Hansen. Of course veteran Vinny Prospal would be an excellent addition.  One team not mentioned that I could see being on on MayRay is the Dallas Stars, still very much in the playoff hunt and who have been long-rumored to be shopping veteran powerforward Brenden Morrow.  Radek Dvorak and Adam Burrish are both UFAs next year, and could fit in with the Nux bottom 6.

It seems that change is immenent in Vancouver, but are the Canucks willing to gamble on creating a second first line, or will they just look for a better fit on the third line than Mason Raymond?  Time will tell.

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