Sometimes relationships just sour. In hockey, in business, in real life…it happens. In most cases it’s tough to admit to yourself when you’ve reached that point. Sometimes you find yourself existing within a constant struggle, passing off the trials and tribulations as one-offs because of a particular situation, when the reality is that things would get a whole lot easier if you just cut ties and moved on. Sometimes the situation isn’t working because it’s unfixable.
We see this in pro sports all the time – Misused or Miserable Player A gets dealt somewhere new, gets some new linemates, a different colored sweater and a few more minutes, and poof: Mikhail Grabovski suddenly has exactly double his point total in the same amount of games just one year later. And (for some reason) the Leafs don’t seem to miss him either.
So, with the talk of a “double trade deadline” this year, we can expect to see some players get some new homes. Here’s 10 guys who need the fresh start most.
Salary sitch: $6.25 this year, pending UFA
Stat line: 36 games, .926 save percentage
Miller is an easy one. The poor guy was stellar for the Sabres during the years they were relevant, and had a couple fairly good playoffs runs (05-06, 06-07). Since then he’s seen a couple first round exits, the organization blow the team up with grenades, and more black rubber than a Goodyear factory. He’s 33, is having a tremendous year, and doesn’t deserve to spend his remaining years as a quality tender as part of a rebuild. He’s too competitive.
Salary sitch: $4.5 per this season and next.
Stat line: 45 games, ZERO goals, TWENTY assists
Also an easy pick given that he actually requested a trade from the Capitals earlier in the season. He put together a career as a pretty effective point-producer in Nashville, and now finds himself getting third line minutes in Washington. Head coach Adam Oates doesn’t love him. Remarkably, he’s played 45 games without scoring a goal (20 assists is the most ever by a forward with no goals, if he were to pack it in today – thanks to Japers Rink for that). He came to the team at a high cost, so expectations were the same. Dude just needs to pretend Washington never happened, like Jeff Carter with the Blue Jackets.
Salary sitch: $750k this year, pending UFA
Stat line: .935 save percentage in 13 starts
The Coyotes back-up goalie is only ever going to get back-up minutes and back-up pay given that the team just chucked a duffle bag full of money at Mike Smith. Meanwhile, Smith is sporting a .908 save percentage, and Greiss is at .935 in 13 appearances. He only turned 28 a couple days ago. Dude shouldn’t resign himself to mop-up duty.
Salary sitch: $4.25 this year and next
Stat line: 5 and 7 for 12 in 39 games
The personified camo that is David Booth is not exactly beloved by his new coach John Tortorella. This is a guy who has a 30 goal season and two 20-plus goalers under his belt (and was on pace for another). In Vancouver he has five in half a season (despite being near two shots a game), and he’s only averaged 13 minutes of ice, when he isn’t healthy-scratched. He needs to go somewhere like Detroit (hey look, that’s where he’s from!), where he can ride an ATV around and shoot stuff and fly that US flag that he likely has tattooed somewhere, I’m guessing his shoulder blade.
Salary sitch: $1.8m this year, pending RFA
Stat line: .911 save percentage in 24 starts
The Maple Leafs now-back-up is a 25-year-old saint with a career .914 save percentage (while playing behind the Leafs D), and for some reason people think he sucks. Seriously, it’s remarkable how small the difference between Bernier and him actually is, and how large people believe the gap to be. He needs to go somewhere he’d be appreciated. Like, say, the New York Islanders. He could resist all the big-city temptations after the move to Brooklyn too, it’d be perfect.
Salary sitch: $5.25 per through 2017-18.
Stat line: 15 goals, 14 assists in 42 games.
This is a 22-year-old 30 goal scorer who tweets pictures of himself using cash stacks as a phone in Vegas, and he plays in Winnipeg, where the media talks s*** about him. I bet he resents the hell out of that relocation from Atlanta. He’s worth a small fortune in a trade, but man, does he ever belong on this list. He needs to live in Manhattan Beach and play for the Kings. Lord knows they need the scoring right now.
Salary sitch: Hahahahah.
(…okay fine, he makes $2.875, pending RFA)
Stat line: 8 and 28 for 36 points in 53 games.
Subban is going to draw attention anywhere – he’s a big personality with a big shot who hits hard and just plays…big. The magnifying glass of Montreal has made him into a caricature of who he really is, and something about the whole situation just seems toxic. He’s a 24-year-old Norris Trophy winner who could probably use some good coaching, less attention, and just a fresh start. His contract’s up and the man is OWED. Like, 10-million-per-owed. We’ll see if Montreal agrees with me or not.
Salary sitch: $5.2 per through 2015-16
Stat line: 12 goals, 28 assists for 40 points in 55 games.
Third in the league in scoring by a defenseman (yes, I know he’s been playing forward lately – he has points in one of his last six games though), and the guy gets articles – like, plural – written about him about how he’s bringing the team down and needs to be run out of town. 40 points from the backend. Eff off. So anyway, give the people what they want. 29 other teams would be happy to have him, and the whole Winnipeg part of his career doesn’t seem like it’s been much fun.
Salary sitch: Entry level deal, $925k this year and next.
Stat line: 10 and 10 for 20 in 51 games.
Oh, calm down. I’m not saying the Oilers should trade him – I’m saying there’s no doubt that he’d benefit from being on a new team. They’ve got this kid tumbling around the emotional dryer in Edmonton – he’s a healthy scratch, he’s on PP1, he’s crap, he’s awesome…he doesn’t know which way is up. He definitely needs some good coaching, and while I believe Dallas Eakins is capable of providing it, I think his skills are probably being shaped, instead of nurtured so they can grow. They’re shearing off his square edges so they can jam him into a round hole, like a good ‘ol North American player. I have no doubt that some team out there would provide him a square hole so he could just bomb around and fire one-T’s on the powerplay and thrive.
Salary sitch: Entry level, $875k, pending RFA
Stat line: 5 and 12 for 17 in 53 games
Y’know those years where babies have like, a crazy ability to absorb information and language and all that? The formative years, as they say? Jake Gardiner has like, one or two “formative years” left as a developing NHL d-man, and the Leafs are filling his head with shit he doesn’t need, like Latin. (Take THAT, Latin.) He’s another guy who’s been healthy scratched because he won’t dump the puck in and he won’t stop rushing and he refuses to kill a sabre-toothed Tiger with his bare hands or whatever it is Randy Carlyle wants him to do. Some team could take the talented guy, take the governor off the golf cart and let him fly. He’s a beautiful skater with great offensive sense. He needs to be somewhere that lets him use the tools he has.