Bottoms Up is a weekly feature on Backhand Shelf that admits that sometimes the underdog doesn’t win: sometimes they just lose and lose and lose some more. In this edition, the losers are going to lose a few players.
We are just over a week away from the NHL trade deadline, which you already know because the hockey media won’t shut up about it. Don’t get me wrong, I like trades and the trade deadline itself can be exciting. What I don’t like is the constant rumour-mongering leading up to the deadline. The vast majority of trade rumours not only never come to fruition, but were also bollocks to begin with.
Eric Duhatschek drove the point home in a recent article, pointing out the massive amount of work that trade rumours create despite their absurdity. Harrison Mooney produced a step-by-step “How To” guide to creating your own trade rumours to show how truly easy it is to fabricate them.
The immediacy of social media has made trade rumours even more infectious, as blogs and media place far too much importance on being the first to report rumours and trades and far less importance on ensuring that those rumours and trades are factual.
With that said, it’s still worth looking at what might happen at the deadline, particularly for the teams wallowing in the league’s basement. While everyone else is wrapped up in Rick Nash and Jeff Carter speculation, I want to look just at the pending unrestricted free agents.
If the team isn’t going to re-sign a particular pending UFA, it’s time to trade them out of town to gain some assets. Meanwhile, teams loading up for a playoff run might look to one of these players as a rental for the remainder of the season. The Canadiens and Lightning got the ball rolling by renting out pending UFAs Hal Gill and Dominic Moore this week. Didn’t see those trades in any of the rumours online…
Here are the pending UFAs for the teams at the bottom of the NHL standings.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Pending UFAs: Forwards Ryan Shannon and Adam Hall, Defencemen Pavel Kubina, Brett Clark, Matt Gilroy, and Bruno Gervais, and Goaltender Dwayne Roloson
Pavel Kubina is the big name here and has even been pulled out of the lineup to avoid an injury before the deadline. Ryan Shannon could be a serviceable depth forward for a playoff team, but won’t command much of anything back in a trade, while teams looking for a veteran depth defenceman might take a look at Brett Clark. Meanwhile, a team looking for goaltending okay I can’t finish this sentence because it’s too ridiculous.
New York Islanders
Pending UFAs: Forwards Brian Rolston, Jay Pandolfo, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, and Tim Wallace, Defencemen Mark Eaton, Steve Staios, Milan Jurcina, Mike Mottau, and Dylan Reese, and Goaltenders Al Montoya and Evgeni Nabokov.
Brian Rolston will attract some attention for the player he once was rather than the player he is now; the same goes for Steve Staios. Jay Pandolfo, Mark Eaton, and Milan Jurcina will undoubtedly attract attention, while the Islanders should focus on re-signing Parenteau, in my opinion. Attracting the most attention will be Evgeni Nabokov, but GM Garth Snow claims that he doesn’t intend to trade him, which, to be frank, is dumb.
Pending UFAs: Forwards Tuomu Ruutu and Defencemen Jaroslav Spacek and Bryan Allen.
The Hurricanes have only three potential rentals remaining, but they’re big enough names that they could get good value in a trade. Ruutu, however, will be out with an injury through the deadline and the Hurricanes seem intent on re-signing him. Jaroslav Spacek was just acquired this season in the Tomas Kaberle deal and could potentially turn into a tidy profit in prospects for the Hurricanes.
Pending UFAs: Forwards Brad Boyes, Jochen Hecht, and Paul Gaustad
Paul Gaustad will be coveted as a physical depth forward by many playoff teams. Brad Boyes has done nothing offensively this season, which may scare off potential renters, while Jochen Hecht is on Injured Reserve with a concussion and won’t be traded.
Pending UFAs: Forwards Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky, Lennart Petrell, and Darcy Hordichuk
I don’t think Ryan Smyth’s tear ducts could handle another departure from Edmonton. Fortunately for him, GM Steve Tambellini has stated he won’t be traded. Ales Hemsky shouldn’t be traded, but is likely gone by the deadline, with plenty of suitors willing to take the previously point-per-game player.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Pending UFAs: Forwards Kristian Huselius, Samuel Pahlsson, and Derek Mackenzie, Defencemen Radek Martinek, Brett Lebda, and Aaron Johnson, and Goaltender Curtis Sanford
Sammy Pahlsson is exactly the type of player targeted by playoff teams at the trade deadline and the Blue Jackets should be able to swing a good deal, particularly with Dominic Moore already off the table. Kristian Huselius has only played 2 games this season due to injury, so his trade value is non-existent. The same is true for Radek Martinek, who has been on the Injured Reserve since October with a concussion. No one wants Brett Lebda.