The Sellers is a weekly column presented by NHLHotStove that will discuss all the rumblings and situations surrounding the teams that will most likely miss the playoffs.
Heading up to the March 3rd trade deadline, keep an eye out here for the bottom eight to ten teams in the league that will be known as “sellers”.
We have come to that time of year in the glorious 2009-10 National Hockey League season where general managers have some serious decisions to make.
In taking a look around the NHL there are currently two teams who could be in absolute sell mode. The one team we will touch on today is the Carolina Hurricanes who sit dead last in the Eastern Conference and are 16 points out of a playoff position.
In researching the roster, a few names automatically stand out. Ray Whitney, Joe Corvo, Matt Cullen, Rod Brind’Amour and Scott Walker to name a few.
Keep in mind GM Jim Rutherford came on 99.9 The Fan recently stating 50 percent of this roster will change next season”. This percentage would be a complete turn around from the on-ice product of this season. Rutherford’s words were recently analyzed by Bob Harwood Waeghe of Canes Country, in which they named players who could move before this trade deadline.
For a team looking for a playoff push any of the aforementioned would make quite the acquisition. However, when you listen to Rutherford’s words, there will be more names involved.
Stephane Yelle, Niclas Wallin and Aaron Ward could also make to be beneficial names for experience and role players that are needed to solidify a clubs playoff appearance. Walker, Whitney and Wallin have no-trade clauses and would need to approve any move the Hurricanes try to make. Wallin already exercised his right to veto a trade last summer.
Let’s break down the value of the players and what a team could potentially acquire.
Ray Whitney: LW – UFA – 37 As an unrestricted free agent at seasons end, and coming at a discount with a pro-rated salary from his $3.550 cap hit could make for that playmaker on the left side a lot of top lines around the league would benefit from. Whitney has 27 points in 39 games played this season.
Scott Walker: RW – 1 year- 35 At only 35 years old and with one year remaining on his contract, the affordable and experienced winger could slide into a team’s top six. Currently injured, Walker only has 5 points in 32 games. Although his scoring is down in Carolina this year, his playoff and veteran experience would be a welcome addition to many clubs around the league.
Joe Corvo: D – UFA – 32 Known for his power play abilities on the blue line, Corvo makes for a good puck moving d-man. Corvo has 12 points in 27 games played but is also currently injured.
Matt Cullen: C – UFA – 32 Cullen plays the power play point for Carolina, and is a very responsible two way forward. He can win crucial faceoffs in both the offensive and defensive zones. A cap hit of $2.875 might seem high now, but remember, as March comes closer that number changes significantly. If the New York Rangers were able to acquire Andrew Hutchinson, Joe Barnes and a 3rd round pick in 2008, a similar return for Carolina this year is not far off.
I would not expect to see Jussi Jokinen, Eric Cole, Joni Pitkanen and obviously Cam Ward as well as the youth core of the team moved.
In conclusion, you can look for the teams sitting in the top nine or ten positions in each conference to give a boost to their lineups. Some teams will use it as an opportunity to gain experience to head not only into the playoffs but make a run for the cup.
The only teams that would be left out of this equation would be the cap strapped teams like the Philadelphia Flyers or Chicago Blackhawks who should shy away from making a substantial moves for some of the bigger available names. Even Ray Whitney with a pro rated salary would still be too expensive to acquire in monetary value.
Remember, in a seven game series anything is possible.
NHLHS Senior Writer