This week in the NHL feels like we are in the pre-lockout era. Three trades in two days? Shocking! Three trades in two days including some big-name players? Even more shocking! Shocking, but delightful for fans who have become quite bored with the lack of activity, or even the lack of rumors, that has become commonplace in the NHL over the past few years. In this day and age, when teams are so close together in the standings, it takes a lot of guts to make a big splash and put your neck on the line. For that, you have to give full credit to Darryl Sutter and Brian Burke.
So, will the past few days of deals result in an opening of the floodgates in the National Hockey League trading period? When you take into account that the Olympic break is coming up next week and that there are only a couple days until the trade deadline after the Olympics, trades should begin to filter through relatively quickly.
Timo Seppa has done a great job on this site talking about players who are likely to be moved (here and here). Additionally, Robert Vollman has done an excellent job (here and here) breaking down the deals that have just taken place.
Rumors are obviously just rumors, but one of the aspects of trades that always seem to pique my interest is that they generally include teams, or players that are not expected to be moved.
Let’s be honest; what percent of people actually thought Dion Phaneuf was going to be traded? Moreover, what percent of people thought Dion Phaneuf would be traded to a current also-ran like the Maple Leafs? That is the beauty of trades—they catch people by surprise. So, projecting such moves is the epitome of an inexact science. That said, speculating—to an extent—is an enjoyable activity that channels the inner creativity of hockey fans around the web.
So now let’s have our fun; here are four more players who may be on the move come deadline day:
1. Maxim Afinogenov
Many people criticize the job Don Waddell has done in Atlanta but you cannot criticize the veteran hockey executive for his signing of Maxim Afinogenov. Not many executives thought Afinogenov was worth either the time or money, and the speedy Russian only garnered attention from a few teams, which was reflected in the one-year contract he signed for only $800,000.
What a contract that has turned out to be, as Afinogenov has 17 goals and 27 assists in only 55 games this season. For a cheap offseason signing, that is pretty good isn’t it?
Let’s look closer at his numbers: Afinogenov has produced 2.38 points per 60 minutes at even strength (third on the Thrashers), 4.15 points per 60 minutes on the power play (third on the Thrashers) and a .598 CORSI relative to quality of competition (fourth on the Thrashers); all of that for $800,000 per season.
However, with Ilya Kovalchuk seemingly on the way out of town, Afinogenov will probably be looking for a new home this offseason and a lot more money. Don Waddell would probably do well to cash in on his signing and turn him into draft picks or prospects moving forward. He may not want to, but the situation with Kovalchuk may dictate yet another rebuilding project in Atlanta for Waddell.
2. Paul Kariya
Let’s be real, Paul Kariya is not close to the dominant player he once was—but he is certainly still useful. His usefulness is emphasized by the fact that he is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
The British Columbia native makes $6.0 million this season, so that will restrict some teams from making a bid for his services, but with few games remaining in the season, that contract will not be as restrictive for interested teams.
While he may be 34 years old, and may be having a down year—24 points in 49 games—Kariya is still capable of helping a contending team.
Looking at his stats so far this season shows us both the positives and negatives to Kariya's game. His points per 60 even strength minutes sits at a poor 1.32 (ninth on the Blues), his points per 60 power play minutes sits at 4.67 (fourth on the Blues) and his CORSI to quality of competition sits at .848 (sixth on the Blues).
Kariya is no longer playing a front line role in the NHL and has averaged just over 17:00 minutes per game this season but the concerning part has to be his low even strength offensive production—especially considering he has played most at even strength alongside David Backes and T.J. Oshie.
Taking all of the above into consideration, Kariya still has some good hockey left in the tank and can certainly help a contending team move forward in its pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup. Sometimes our memories are too short; just last year Paul Kariya was the Blues’ best offensive producer at five-on-five play.
3. Fredrik Modin
Fredrik Modin is 35 years old and has not played over 70 games in a season since 2006-07. His injury history clearly tempers the temptation to acquire the talented Swedish winger’s services.
What makes Modin appealing is his game when he is healthy—he has long been one of Ken Hitchcock’s favorites for his play along the boards—and the fact that he is a pending unrestricted free agent come this summer. Moreover, Modin’s cap hit this season is only $3.25 million. I know, I know, you must be thinking that $3.25 million is a lot to pay for a player who cannot even suit up for a half season. While that is true, a team acquiring Modin will only look at the remaining money on his contract and will only need him to remain healthy for about 25-40 games (depending on playoff success).
When he has been healthy this season, Modin has actually played alongside the Blue Jackets’ better checking forwards like Samuel Pahlsson, Jason Chimera/Chris Clark and Jared Boll. That is partially due to both the Jackets’ influx of young talent and that Modin has not been healthy enough to get into any kind of groove this season.
Modin’s numbers this season are, not surprisingly, pretty awful. He only has 5 points in 21 games and is playing just under 15:00 minutes per game. His points per 60 minutes of even strength ice time is a terrible 0.51 (sample size has to be taken into consideration here), his points per 60 minutes of power play ice time is 4.30 (sample size warning again) and his CORSI relative to quality of competition is 0.267 (15th on the Blue Jackets).
What all of the above means is that Fredrik Modin won’t cost a team much at the trade deadline. If a middle to low level draft pick will allow your team to acquire Modin, he has demonstrated the ability to play well as a second line/third line winger who can provide some offense with a big shot and a good ability for using his big frame to create space for himself.
4. Dwayne Roloson
Dwayne Roloson has been one of the reasons that the Islanders are in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference—but so has the fact that the Eastern Conference is just awful.
The fact that he has been fairly productive is actually the main reason why the Islanders should consider dealing the veteran netminder. Roloson has a .910 save percentage, which is certainly decent and ranks 22nd in the NHL; however his GVT of 2.9 is unimpressive. However, the most important numbers for the Islanders brass may be that the 39 year old netminder still has another year on his deal which will pay him $3.0 million ($2.5 million cap hit) next season. Now with Rick DiPietro back in the fold, the Islanders are paying far too much money to their three netminders. The problem with DiPietro and Martin Biron is that there is little, if any, market for either one of them.
In Roloson, the Islanders may have a marketable commodity. Of course, the big issue could be whether any teams have a need in between the pipes; but Dallas has not been happy with Marty Turco, the Senators may want a more proven netminder down the stretch and the Flyers may opt to look for a veteran instead of Ray Emery. That is not to say any of the above teams will be interested, but at least the Islanders should look to shop Roloson to see if there is a market.
Let’s be honest, what does a rebuilding team need with a 39 year old netminder who is playing well enough to start about 55-60 games in a NHL season?
Richard Pollock is Editor for the hockey website Illegal Curve.