The countdown is on.
The NHL draft is four weeks from today.
The draft itself lacks drama. Marquee pick Nail Yakupov is at the top of a solid but somewhat charisma-free bunch. The Leafs pick fifth and would likely be tickled to come home with six-foot-two North American centreman Alex Galchenyuk.
No, it’s the horse trading that will pack them in and the Maple Leafs should be prime players in a weekend where the draft could well turn out to be the bridesmaid to some seismic trading
Maybe you’ve heard. The Canucks have to find a home for goalie Roberto Luongo and the ten years left on his deal. He is 33. The math is daunting. The Canucks will likely have to take on significant money to rid themselves of Luongo’s contract. It’s a buyer’s market but with Corey Schenider now vested as the team’s netminder, the Canucks won’t find too many interested parties if they find any at all. The Leafs, you may also have heard, need a goalie but the superb play of Ben Scrivens in the AHL playoffs could auger against hogtying the team to Luongo’s contract.
When Tim Thomas ditched Barack Obama for Rush Limbaugh on Jan 24, who knew he was stamping out the Bruins chances of a repeat? Boston fell in the first round to Washington. Before making his bizarre public manifesto, Thomas was 21-9-1-5. He fell to 14-10-1-0 the rest of the way: not bad but no longer great. Lucky for him you can’t find any Democrats in Boston. With Tuukka Rask now ready the Bruins will study whether to ditch Thomas whose no-trade clause dissolves July 1. He might buy the Leafs a year in goal but Thomas might not want to come North: the place is thick with socialists.
The Rick Nash story churns along. The Marlies performance in the Calder Cup playoffs gives their prospects a new luster and the possible ascendancy of Scrivens, Nazem Kadri and Jerry D’Amigo will certainly have spin-off effects should the club pursue Nash.
If the Pittsburgh Penguins decide they won’t be able to sign Jordan Staal, Evgeny Malkin and Sidney Crosby, Stall, one of the NHL’s best two-way forwards could come free. The Ducks may reach a similar conclusion with Ryan Getzlaf. Both teams need help on the blue line and the Leafs are deepest on defence.
The Flyers need help on defence as well and the intriguing, if injury-besotted James vanRiemsdyk may well be available for in exchange for help on the back end.
The Rangers are said to have been the top contender for Nash and seem a big-time player short of championship timber. The Sharks need to blow up the Joe Thornton-led team, a club that didn’t get a goal from Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe in their five-game first-round loss to St. Louis.
The Blues needs for help at forward were exposed in their second-round sweep by the LA Kings. They have an asset in goalie Jaroslav Halak but an aging group of forwards. Jason Arnott is 37. Jamie Langenbrunner is 36. Andy MacDonald is 34. The Blues most productive regular season goalscorer was 28-year-old David Backes, a 24-goal scorer. Help is not immediately on the way via the prospect pool so the Blues may well need to move the trusty Halak.
Not all these scenarios will play out, maybe just one or two. Still, it should be worth the wait.