After Murray got the ball rolling last week with the Cullen acquisition, it is widely expected that the team will look at picking up a defenceman to round out the roster for the stretch run. We needed a bit more scoring so we waived Cheechoo and replaced him with Cullen. Our goaltending is what it is - Elliott will ride it out until he falters or Pascal somehow takes his job back.
With the departure of Picard, the injury to Campoli (Karlsson will be back after the break), and the inability of Lee to keep his job, we could use another body back there to make sure we maintain our depth. I have been reading the comments elsewhere that we should get higher end guys like Kubina, Ballard, Robidas, Burns, etc. Guys, let's give our heads a shake. Whoever we acquire is a pure rental and we aren't going to give up more than a 2nd round pick (and maybe Lee, if someone will take him). Ballard and Robidas are signed to long-term extensions and are key pieces of their team's blueline. Burns is too young and valuable for Minnesota to give up on, as well. Kubina is a guy that would be nice, but I just don't think he could be had for just a second round pick and I don't think we want to throw in a decent prospect to even it up.
I think we're looking more at a bottom end defenceman that is an impending UFA, out of the race, and won't cost an arm and a leg to acquire for the remainder of the season. Three options are right here:
1. Dennis Seidenberg, Florida Panthers.
Nothing spectacular, 22 points in 61 games and a minus-1 on a bad team. He isn't huge and isn't an overwhelming presence, but he does his job. He's someone that you could drop into the 5-6 pairing and not miss a beat. Florida has said they are cleaning house and there really is no reason to think Seidenberg isn't going to be available. Moore netted them a second rounder from the Habs and so I think Seidenberg couldn't cost more than that. This is just a simple depth move. I'm aware that Eklund mentioned it on his blog today and he's usually out to lunch with Sens rumours, but this one is at least worth noting.
2. Andy Sutton, New York Islanders
This is simply a big dude. He has had some injury problems over his career and he has basically zero playoff experience, but he's huge. If we are worried about being pushed around in the playoff run, then this is the guy. That being said, we're already icing Phillips, Volchenkov, and Carkner as defensive players out there, so this might be overkill and hurt us in puck movement. He's a good ole Kingston boy that has been stuck in the Isles system for a while and maybe they are ready to part with him, plus we know Murray has worked with Garth in deadline deals. I'm just not sure Sutton is exactly what we'd need, but he is NHL caliber and can hit a dude into the 10th row, if we need it.
3. Milan Jurcina, Columbus Blue Jackets
If you are looking for points, keep looking elsewhere. Jurcina, like Sutton, is a huge guy that can hit hard and clear bodies. The catch here is that the Jackets just acquired him a few months ago from the Caps when he and Chris Clark were traded for Jason Chimera. Jurcina is basically a cheaper, younger version of Sutton. The Jackets are out of the playoffs and again, we've worked with them before in trades. Jurcina should be available as he isn't really a part of the long-term plans in Columbus. If we don't mind parting with that second rounder, Jurcina would be a cheap guy to pick up and fill a hole in a tougher series where maybe Campoli doesn't have the strength.
I guess it really depends on what type of defenceman we need, right? I've named off some defensive guys because they always seem to cost a bit less as far as trade returns. One other name that will get me laughed off the Internet is Mathieu Schneider out of Vancouver, who is currently coming back from injury in the minors. He's 40 years old, but he's a warrior that has seen it all and could be a nice 7th defenceman that we could plug in to run the second powerplay unit. There's no role for him in Vancouver and could either be had on re-entry waivers or via trade. Again, we're looking for a low end guy that can play 5-6 minutes in case someone gets hurt. Depth move.
We have two weeks to think about it while we watch our boys go for Gold in Vancouver. After that, Murray has less than a week to pull the trigger. If the two games over the weekend are any indication, we probably need to get something done that helps us from having to drop Lee back in there during the playoffs.