We're rolling now and have a little over two weeks until the Olympic Break. When the boys get back from Vancouver or wherever else they're spending their time, there are a mere three days before the trade deadline. We all know that the team was pressed up against the cap going into the season. Then, because of injuries and the subsequent callups, we paid out even more against our cap. Each time guys like Zach Smith or Mike Brodeur or Martin St. Pierre are in the big city, we pay them NHL money and they go against the cap.
So we have around $600K, according to Garrioch. Add to that the fact that we don't really want to move a roster player right now, agree? Sure, we'd love to move Cheechoo, but that just isn't going to happen. The way the rest of the guys are playing, we've got that thing called 'chemistry' that I'm sure the brain trust doesn't want to touch. But what about cheap players that might have an impact and are on cheap salaries?
Here are 5 players that are under $1M, so would only cost 1/3 of their salary by the time we'd acquire them in those days leading up to March 4th. Would you take any of these dudes?
Maxim Afinogenov, $800K, 53GP, 17g, 26a, 43pts, minus-8
I'm aware that the Thrashers are currently sitting in a playoff position, but let's be real about this team's postseason chances. Along with the impending trade of Kovalchuk, they'll likely succumb to their own inefficiencies and fall back outside the top eight. Afino fell out of favour in Buffalo and is now one of the best contracts out there, putting up 43 points for less than a million bucks. The one concern I'd have is how he'll perform 'when it matters'. He was never a threat against us in the playoff games against the Sabres and his success this year might just be a result of playing in a non-hockey market with rock bottom expectations both of him and his team.
Mike Pinball Comrie, $1.25M, 17GP, 5g, 3a, 8pts, minus-4
Okay, bias is at play here because I love the pinball and refuse to accept that he just isn't good anymore. The kid just missed 31 games from mono and is on an awful team. Perhaps I just expect us to go and get him for a disgruntled AHLer because it's our move of the spring. I'd have no problem taking on Comrie but would certainly curb my expectations this time around. Seriously, though, Comrie isn't coming back.
Dominic Moore, $1.1M, 42GP, 8g, 9a, 17pts, minus-3
Not a very glamorous pickup, but he was a solid player with the Leafs and is nice for depth. He won't win you a game, but he's a hard worker, gets in the corners, and can put in some timely goals. My concern here is if he'd just become another Chris Kelly type player and toil away on the 4th line. He isn't around to make an impact, is he? This is like getting Oleg Saprykin, but without the glorious game winning goal in Game 1 of the third round.
Vinny Prospal, $1.1M, 47GP, 9g, 28a, 37pts, plus-3
Again, this would require a collapse of the Rags in the next few weeks because they're sitting in 8th place right now. The other aspect of this is that Slats has never really been a seller. The unrest in Manhattan might dictate that the Rags need to be buyers just to squeak in, even if they know they won't contend. If I'm wrong (and it happens all the time, as Anshu points out) and the Rags fold up until next year, then Vinny would be a prize pickup. Knows Ottawa, has been around through the postseason, and is playing well this year.
Wild Card: Nigel Dawes, $800K through 2010-11, 51GP, 10g, 15a, 25pts, plus-3
Okay, different angle here. The Flames are in disarray and will likely have to make significant changes through the form of Phaneuf and more. What a bunch of underachievers, eh? Anyway, Dawes is a speedy kid that is signed for another year after this one, but is on his third team in three years. I'm going to claim ignorance on how the organization in Cowtown feels about Dawes because maybe they love his style and want him around. If he's another commodity there, then he'd be a young kid that could jump in, pot a few goals with players like Regin, Shannon, and Foligno, and he's around for another year. Any thoughts on this one?
Honourable mentions: Stephane Yelle (useless this year), Cogliano, Greg Campbell, Sykora (re-entry waivers?), Satan, Superstar Richard Park, and any Leaf, outside of Stajan and Hagman and Blake, who were all shipped out this morning...
This all depends on how Murray feels about moving a roster player. If he'll move a player, then this opens up more options because he can take back more salary. If he's looking at just moving a pick and/or Josh Hennessy, then we're really stuck with players like the five listed above. Sorry, folks, no trade deadline splash, unless we bury Cheechoo's salary somewhere.