Staal-ing the Stammer

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Have you read Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts from December 9? Here is his eighth thought about the lack of trades two months into the season:

Screenshot 2015-12-10 13.24.36

What gridlock is preventing teams from dealing players? Simply because of the salary cap. While the Winnipeg Jets have a healthy cap space of $11.5M, seven teams are pressed to the ceiling of under one million dollars, including the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. Teams do not have the luxury of trading a player because the acquiring team simply does not have the space. Here are two possible trades that could be explored in wake of adapting to the limited cap space.

Montreal Canadiens & Carolina Hurricanes 

Eric Staal is a valuable center to have for a playoff run. The 31 year-old center who has spent his career with the Carolina Hurricanes will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2015-16 season. The expectation is that the $9.5M center will be on the move by the 2016 trade deadline, and Montreal might be the best fit for him.

The Montreal Canadiens have good depth on center. Trading to improve the team’s face-off percentage would boost Montreal’s time of possession, thus creating more opportunities in the offensive zone. The Canadiens have a face-off percentage of 51.9 in the offensive zone, 49.8 in the neutral zone, and 47.0 in the defensive zone. Winning games means winning the important defensive face-offs. Acquiring Eric Staal from the Carolina Hurricanes would therefore be the solution. Staal has a face-off percentage of 58.9, exceeding Montreal’s centers (except Brian Flynn with 56.9%) by at least six percentage points.

Who would the Montreal Canadiens give up for Eric Staal? The Hurricanes need a young defenceman that shoots left behind Noah Hanifin. The unused Jarred Tinordi could be the defenceman moving south. Might the Canadiens give up Desharnais, Tinordi, a prospect and a third/fourth round draft pick in exchange for Eric Staal? The Hurricanes would therefore have to retain a significant chunk of Staal’s salary for the remainder of the season.

Nashville Predators & Tampa Bay Lightning

The idea of Steven Stamkos not re-signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning is becoming more and more likely as July 1, 2016 approaches day-by-day. If Stamkos decides that he does not want to sign with the Lightning, Tampa is expected to trade him, ensuring that they do not lose him without any value in return.

Trading Steven Stamkos to the Nashville Predators might not be the most ideal, but Nashville is one of the stronger Western Conference teams that could look to acquiring a top center. Nashville has Calle Jarnkrok playing alongside James Neal and Filip Forsberg in wake of Mike Fisher’s injury. Behind Fisher/Jarnkrok is Mike Ribeiro, Colton Sissons, and Paul Gaustad. If the Nashville Predators want to win this year, acquiring Steven Stamkos COULD be a solution that David Poile might want to explore.

Again, what can the Nashville Predators give up for Stamkos? Do they want to give up prospects and a first round draft pick who is not committed to signing after the playoff run? A possible proposal is Stamkos for Mike Fisher, Jack Dougherty, and a first & second round pick. Even that would not be nearly enough for an elite center in his prime.

Is it the best time to acquire a pending free agent now or at the trade deadline?

The big question about moving Steven Stamkos and Eric Staal should not be if they will be traded, but when. Someone had suggested to me that trading Steven Stamkos to the Washington Capitals would be ideal. Washington will not think of acquiring Stamkos solely because of their offensive surplus and cap situation. The Caps should be fine without Stamkos, their first two lines are Ovechkin-Backstrom-Oshie, Johansson-Kuznetzov-Williams. Have you seen how great Evgeny Kuznetzov is?

Stats from faceoffs.net and Hockeydb.com

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