Final Destination: Scott Niedermayer

12/23/2009
Anaheim Ducks v Philadelphia Flyers

Some players around the League find themselves at a career crossroad.  A crossroad with tough decisions to make regarding ongoing speculation of their final season.  Speculation whether to stay on a sinking ship and finish at the bottom of the sea or leaving one’s comfort zone in an attempt to stay on top.  Certainly no easy decision for any player

While Scott Niedermayer ponders his future in hockey he continues another solid year in his famed career.  The same cannot be said for the Anaheim Ducks, who sit 13th in the Western Conference despite coming off a come from behind victory against the Colorado Avalanche.  The team finds themselves as of this writing a mere five points behind the eighth seed.

The asking price for the captain should be reasonable, as he would strictly be a playoff rental.  However, GM Brian Murray can  acquire a potential piece or pieces to build for a brighter future in sunny Anaheim.

A quick look around the league shows there are a few teams in need of Niedermayer’s services. At 37, he still is one of the best defensemen in the game and a huge piece for a few teams looking for that extra push into serious cup contention.

Lets take a closer look at which teams could trade for Niedermayer in order to bring home Lord Stanley’s Cup.  Even though he already carries four Stanley Cup rings to his credit, every player in this league starts the season with one goal in mind.

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Kovalchuk and Ovechkin Together?

12/23/2009
Russia v Canada - Gold Medal Game

If you listened to the Team 1040 AM stream like I did, you would know new rumors around Ilya Kovalchuk continue to spread like wildfire.

The newest and latest rumors discussed are the Washington Capitals as front runners in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes.  Interestingly enough, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period says as much as Kovalchuk loves Atlanta, there are bigger issues there in hindsight.

Going back to the 1040 AM discussion, Washington as an organization boasts numerous movable assets.  Since the permanent Michael Nylander demotion, a fair amount of open cap space opened up for the club so perhaps they have both the room and assets necessary to acquire the services of Kovalchuk.

Naturally the centerpeice would have to be either Alexander Semin or Nicklas Backstrom along with another player like Eric Fehr.   Kovalchuk should claim a bounty larger than that of former teammate Marian Hossa, so there would need to be work on both sides.

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Avalanche Looking to Move a Defenseman?

12/21/2009
Edmonton Oilers v Colorado Avalanche

With Avs rumors swirling around the internet, beat writer Adrian Dater of The Denver Post puts pretty much every current rumor involving youngsters Matt Duchene or Ryan O’Reilly to shame.

So the answer to the talented twosome leaving Colorado is no.  These rumors are false. No move will be made for Ilya Kovalchuk.  No need to swap veteran underachievers with the Flyers.  Nothing.

Dater, however, does hypothesize as to what till happen once Kyle Cumiskey returns from his foot injury.  Cumiskey, a young defenseman known for his offensive prowess very well could be the odd man out.  However, a 23-year-old d-man with limited NHL experience and a lengthy injury history provides limited value in the current trade market.

That leaves two players likely on the block: Jean-Michael Liles and Ryan Wilson.  The latter an undrafted free agent who at the ripe age of 22 actually is producing at the NHL level.

Turning a free-agent signing into a need would be excellent asset management as long as the team feels the current player they see is his ceiling. His reasonable capt hit of $ 551, 667 through 2011 certainly adds remarkable value should he be shopped.

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What Will Washington Do…

12/19/2009
Anaheim Ducks v New Jersey Devils

…with all that cap room?

With the loan of Michael Nylander to Grand Rapids of the NHL, the Capitals gained financial flexibility which should allow them to acquire some help in areas they deem necessary.  As of this writing, the Caps 24 wins lead the League making the average fan ask: How can they possibly get better?

Corey Masisak of The Washington Times lists five speculative picks that would bolster this team as they prepare for a lengthy playoff campaign.  As the team stands there is little need for improvement but one could make a case for another top defender.

As we know from our history watching the playoffs, depth is key.  The team’s current construction has featured numerous players shifting up and down the teams forward lines as coach Bruce Boudreau dealt with injuries and juggling in order to find the proper mix.  Still Masisak believes the most glaring need is this top defenseman. His solution: Scott Niedermayer.

Niedermayer currently captains the Anaheim Ducks and has lead them, as well as his former team the New Jersey Devils, to the Stanley Cup.  In addition, this may be the last year in the NHL for the 36-year-old.  Although he only has three goals on the season, he would become a powerful weapon on the Washington powerplay, something dreams are made of.  He along with Mike Green would give them two elite puck-moving defensemen which would be incredibly dangerous for this already powerful offense.

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Nylander Clears Waivers, Minor Signing & Trade Rumors

12/10/2009
USA Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Orientation Camp

A few things going around the league.  Nothing huge on the trade front as can be anticipated.  Most rumors or big deals will not materialize until at least February when we have clear cut buyers and sellers.

  • Lance Hornby of The Toronto Sun reports the Leafs self-imposed trade deadline has come and passed.  Earlier in the year, notably before the return of Phil Kessel, Toronto was expected to have a major fire sale.  At this point, I would expect a smaller move along the lines of the Lee Stempniak trade after the period of immunity passes.
  • Former NHL head coach Pat Burns says “Vincent Lecavalier will be traded this season.”  The article by Vincent Destouches of Corus Sports covers the entire story in which Burns mentions the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers as interested parties.  Despite the ties the former coach has to the NHL community this seems like more like speculation than inside information.  The 29-year-old is due a whopping $7,727,273 cap hit through 2020 so any deal will have to involve a number of moving parts.  The former first overall pick projects to score 16 goals and 68 points.
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Today's Waiver Roundup

12/09/2009
Washington Capitals v New York Rangers

The Washington Capitals placed Michael Nylander on waivers for the second time this season.  I posed this question on Twitter earlier today, but Is Nylander really THAT bad?

Most Capitals fans say yes.  Signed for this year and next, his annual cap hit of 4.875 million puts the handcuffs on GM George McPhee.  In fact, teammate and essentially replacement Brendan Morrison is playing at a point-per-game pace while making a meager 1.5 million.  Even if Nylander was claimed on re-entry waivers his cap hit would still be about a million above that.

Would anybody claim him?

Possibly, as the 37-year-old is only two years removed from a 83 point campaign.  However these are two long years on a body that has endured over 16 years pro experience.  Combine that with a recession and a salary cap and Nylander finds himself practicing alone, in Rockville in New York Rangers gear.

Maybe reuniting with Jaromir Jagr in Omsk would make the Swedish native happy.  He seems to have no place on the current NHL rosters.

In other news, Ville Koistinen cleared re-entry waivers.  A bit of a shocker to me, Koistinen is still young and has some success in the NHL.  Couple that with the fact that the claiming team would only have to pay him a measly 600K.  Simply put, he could have some value to a team in desperate need of a defenseman.  With teams like the Blue Jackets and Islanders short on the defensive side I cannot beleive nobody took a chance.

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-Alexander Monaghan
NHLHS Founder
thehotstove@gmail.com