When it comes to the NHL trade deadline, most of the players that are in trade discussions are those whose contracts expire at the end of this season, rental players. Team management wants to see what kind of assets they can get for these expiring contracts by sending them to teams that are looking to fill holes in order to make a run at The Cup.
In the world of a salary cap NHL, teams are now looking to jettison dead weight in the form of players they perceive to be overpaid based on their present value and performance.
This goes beyond the players who are unrestricted free agents come July 1st. Teams also look to move players at positions where they perceive themselves to be exceptionally deep regardless of their contract length.
Here’s a look at some players that are under contract at least through the 2012-13 season that could have a new address by the February 27th trade deadline.
Jeff Carter – C/W – Columbus Blue Jackets
The Jeff Carter experiment in Columbus looks like it’s coming to an abrupt end as the Jackets are actively looking for potential suitors for the former 11th overall pick from London, Ontario.
In an attempt to provide Rick Nash with the top center that he’s never had, the Jackets swung the deal bringing over the former 40-goal scorer along with his inflated 11-year, $58 million dollar contract.
Columbus parted with a former first round pick of their own in that trade, Jakub Voracek, as well as a future first and third round draft picks, so the price for Carter will likely be steep.
He’s had a series of injury problems this season; a broken foot and a separated shoulder have limited him to 36 games, where he’s tallied only 12 goals and nine assists despite playing in almost 20 minutes per contest.
It’s unclear who will be able to afford this contract as well as who will be interested in a player who has been underachieving thus far this season. A reunion with former teammate Mike Richards in Los Angeles might be on the horizon, since the Kings are in dire need of scoring.
The Kings are up against the cap, so if that deal were to go down there would have to be players moving out. Jack Johnson has been the topic of trade conversation lately and also has a large multi-year contract.
Derek Roy – C – Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres made a big splash in last year’s free agent market signing Christian Ehrhoff to a 10-year, $40 million dollar contract and Ville Leino to a 6-year, $27 million dollar contract, which pushed Buffalo dangerously close to the cap. Right now according to Capgeek.com they are over the cap by a little more than a million dollars.
That, combined with the Sabres’ miniscule chances at making the playoffs, and they are most certainly going to cut some fat off their roster.
Aside from UFA’s Paul Gaustad and Brad Boyes, one could conceivably expect Derek Roy to be packing his bags in the next two weeks. Roy has been struggling this season and isn’t living up to his $4 million dollar price tag.
He has 27 points (11G, 16A) and is a minus-10 despite averaging nearly 19 minutes of ice time per game, and he has only one more year remaining on his current deal.
Roy has been a nearly point-per-game player over the past four seasons and could flourish in a new location. He’s been a solid power-play contributor throughout his career (excluding this season) and could be a good fit for a team looking to add some offense down the stretch.
I would be very surprised to see Roy in a Sabres uniform at the beginning of next season. His most likely destination would be Nashville, who are thin up front and have a huge chunk of cap space to work with.
Marek Zidlicky – D – Minnesota Wild
The relationship between Marek Zidlicky and the Wild coaching staff is getting more and more tense everyday. It appears the veteran defenceman will be used for trade bait as Minnesota makes a push for the playoffs, trailing Phoenix by five points with a game in hand.
Zidlicky was a healthy scratch a few weeks ago and it appears he’s worn out his welcome with Wild management. However, Zidlicky does have a no-trade clause in his contract, limiting the Wild’s options.
Sources report that he will be willing to waive his no trade clause to go to the New Jersey Devils and could find himself wearing red and white in the not-so-distant future. Zidlicky has yet to score this season, but would be a good fit for a team looking for a puck-moving defenceman to anchor their first PP unit.
Zidlicky has historically given opponents a lot of problems when a man-down scoring 42 of his 60 career goals on the power-play including 10 PP goals in 05-06 and 08-09. Over half of his career assists have also come with the man-advantage.
The Devils may not be the only team interested in Zidlicky’s services, as he could be a valuable addition through the 2012-13 season, where he is scheduled to make $4 million.
Another playoff teams that could use a boost to their power-play are the St. Louis Blues, who sit 26th in the league in that category. Its just a matter of where the Czech defenceman is willing to go and how much the Wild can get in return, however Zidlicky appears to be a lock to be moved at or before the deadline.
Jonathan Bernier – G – Los Angeles Kings
With the emergence of Jonathan Quick as a consistent number one goalie, Jonathan Bernier has become one of the most expendable and valuable assets in the Kings organization.
Bernier, a first round draft pick in 2006, is only 23-years-old, has a manageable salary of $1.25 million per year, and is set to be a restricted free agent after next season. So in effect he would be under the control of the club who makes the deal for him, further sweetening the potential trade.
Los Angeles sits last in the league in scoring and needs change that if they want to make a deep run this season. Despite their inability to light the lamp they sit 7th in the West, and are only three points behind San Jose for the division lead.
A top-6 forward would be of tremendous help to the club and Bernier might have to be the price they pay for that type of player.