Sunday, February 28, 2010

Deadline Preview

Congratulations to Team Canada. Though the U.S. had a better goaltender in both match-ups, the Canadians were the better team in both games. That being said, what a final game! Great saves, great goals, last second heroics and a game winner from someone who could have been the goat if the US would have won.

While the entire nation of Canada drinks itself into a Molson-fueled slumber I figure it’s to get back into NHL-mode, and that means trading deadline talk! The Bolts have three days (till 3:00pm Wednesday) to find the final pieces to solve the playoff race puzzle.

So what are the pieces that the Lightning need? Like everyone else fighting for a spot they would like a puck moving defenseman. They would also like a top six forward that jells on Vincent’s line. The Lightning do have a problem with acquiring either resource. And it’s not money.

Simply put Tampa Bay doesn’t have much in the cupboard when it comes to offering prospects. Outside of goaltending there isn’t much that they can offer a rebuilding organization when it comes to A+ prospects. Carter Ashton and Dana Tyrell are probably the two best offensive prospects and I wouldn’t consider them NHL-ready at this point.

Possible dance partners for the next couple of days could be Edmonton, Florida and Columbus. Toronto is looking to continue their overhaul, but the big name, Tomas Kaberle, is going to be pursued by a lot of teams that have a better chance of competing for the Stanley Cup, and have more to offer the Leafs. He also holds the keys to any deal by having a no trade clause and I doubt he would choose the Lightning as his best shot at winning a cup.

Carolina has been pegged as another team that should be busy over the next week, but do the Bolts have a use for an aging Ray Whitney? Although another go-round with Jussi Jokinen would be intriguing. Joni Pitkanen is currently a -14, but he also has 15 power play assists. Could the Bolts put a package together that would be enticing enough for the Hurricanes to deal within the division?

Before the madness begins, lets check out a couple of factors with the Lightning.

Who is untouchable? If a GM calls about Steven Stamkos or Victor Hedman then Brian Lawton should hang up the phone. If teams call about any other name on the roster he should at least listen to what they have to say.

Who would they like to move? Without a doubt they are listening to any and all offers on Andrej Meszaros. Draft picks, fringe prospects, bags of pucks, extra hamburgers, cases of beer – anything should be on the table. He hasn’t lived up to his contract and it would probably be best for him to move on.

Who do other teams want the most? You think Vincent would be high on this list, but the successful teams won’t want to handicap themselves with his contract. I vote Marty St Louis as the number one player on the board. He’s a proven scorer who seems to integrate himself on any line and he’s affordable (one more year at $4 million, $5.25 cap hit).

What are the odds that the Lightning pull of a major deal? I would say 1-in-10. I don’t see the factors aligning right now for them to put together a blockbuster deal. They will be more active in the off-season.

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