With the NHL roster freeze lifting at 11:59 on the East Coast, teams have just two and a half days before the trade deadline and there could be a flurry of action between then and 3 p.m. on Wednesday. We’ve already seen a number of trades happen before the freeze began on February 12th, as Atlanta traded both Ilya Kovalchuk and Kari Lehtonen, and there’s bound to be some early-Monday morning action as general managers from around the league start acting on the deals they’ve been working on the past two weeks.
So now it becomes a question as to which team will start off the action, as it looks as though there could be some fireworks almost immediately after the freeze is lifted.
Figuring out which teams will be the first to make a move is a bit tricky and completely unknown, but it’s not as tough to determine which team’s we’ll certainly see become active at the deadline. Toronto, Montreal, Florida and Edmonton are all expected to make major moves because of both either salary cap issues or a completely demoralizing season thus far. It’s both for the Maple Leafs really, although it’s doubtfyl we’ll see a firesale of any sort coming from Brian Burke.
One team to look out for in the wee hours of the morning could be the Carolina Hurricanes, who Jeff Marek is expecting to be the first to deal:
first trade to get announced later tonight/this morn? prediction: Aaron
Ward (CAROLINA) to OTTAWA.
There have been a slew of rumors surrounding which defenseman Ottawa will target, as word spread the past few weeks that the Senators were targeting Stephane Robidas of the Dallas Stars. Despite the fact that Joe Nieuwendyk just traded his top defensive prospect for a goaltender who hasn’t played in the NHL in nearly a year, it’s doubtful that the Stars will even consider trading Robidas. So it seems as if Ward is the target and with two weeks worth of chatter and whispering going around about which GM is talking to who, there’s most likely some good truth to this rumor.
The other possibility might be the Florida Panthers, who sit in 12th place in the East but are technically not out of the playoff picture. There’s been word that GM Randy Sexton has been busy this past week, yet he maintains there will be no Panthers fire sale. He says it himself:
That said, Sexton told me, “make no mistake — there will be no fire
Of course, everyone knows that Sexton is in the midst of rebuilding the Panthers and usually the first big step is what is commonly referred to as a ‘fire sale’. The fact that Sexton is working hard to get back players, prospects and draft picks at the deadline certainly speaks to the rebuilding effort he’s employing, but it’s tough to see a team like Florida getting that kind of value without trading away a number of it’s current assets.
Like in a fire sale.
Roster freeze lifts at 11:59 p.m. tonight, less than an hour away. Then it’s 63 hours until to the 3 p.m. deadline. Should be a wild ride.