Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Trade talk time

Well, the Olympics are over (I'm O.K. with Sweden winning the gold, but I would have preferred Finland because of my Flyer in goal, Antero "Frank" Niittymaki.).
Now, it's time for a shortened "silly season" -- the NHL trade deadline is a little more than a week away.
But it's gonna be different this year, thanks to two factors.
The salary cap. Teams can't just go on a buying spree, because they still have the cap to think about. That really is going to limit the number of big-name moves.
The small seller's market. There are only a handful of teams that are clearly out of the Stanley Cup playoff picture right now. There are enough teams on the bubble who may be buyers, not sellers, to make it a very tight market.
Still, the rumour mill will churn, as it always does here in Philly, where Trader Bob Clarke hasn't met a deal he wouldn't talk about (but not on the record).
But we will.
With Keith Primeau's announcement Tuesday that he won't be back, the Flyers are in the market for another quality forward, preferably a centreman with some size.
Some names are already being bandied about...
Mark Recchi. Yeah, he's not a centreman, but he's a still a consistent scoring threat, which the Flyers could use for 2nd line purposes. He still likes Philly; he's played for coach Ken Hitchcock; his cap numbers probably will work; and Clarke is noted for bringing ex-Flyers back to town. Chances: A real possibility.
Keith Tkachuk. The big Blues forward carries too big a price tag ($7 million-plus, according to He may go somewhere, but it won't be Philly. Chances: Fuhgeddaboutit.
Olli Jokinen. The Florida centreman is having a career year and looked quite good as a two-way player in the Olympics (something he wasn't noted for in the NHL). His cap numbers (about $2.5 million, according to are in the ballpark. This is a tough call. Florida may still be in the hunt for a playoff spot. That works against moving him. Jokinen is in the final year of his contract and already has turned down a four-year, $16 million deal from the Panthers. That works in favor of moving him. Do the Flyers have enough to offer to land him? That's a question mark, writ larger by Kim Johnsson's current concussion situation. If Johnsson were healthy and ready, I'd pack him up with rookie centre R.J. Umberger (which would pain me to do, but...) and make the offer, with a draft choice thrown in, putting the ball in the Panthers' court. Chances: Not that good, but...
Joe Nieuwendyk. Jokinen's teammate is about 6,500 years old, it seems. And he's had some health problems the last few seasons. But he's still one of the best faceoff men in hockey, he has a history with Hitchcock (a Cup in Dallas), he can still score some, his cap numbers would work, and he wouldn't come quite as expensively as Jokinen would. Chances: Fair to middling.
Mike Ricci. Phoenix may look to get younger, which makes the feisty veteran centreman a possibility. He's an ex-Flyer (though a long-ago one -- he was involved in the original Eric Lindros deal), his cap number is under $2 million, and he's still solid defensively. Chances: Fair to middling.
Well, by next Friday we'll know.