The All Star draft came and went, and there was no real drama. Real drama would have had the Sedins sitting as the last two picks, thus forcing Zdeno Chara to pick one of them, and leaving the other last. That would have been great TV, and quite intriguing, moreso to see what Chara’s facial expressions would be.
I’m surprised how many people rack their brain trying to make the AS game "better." It is a great way to waste time, I guess, but the harsh reality is you can’t make the game more exciting or competitive, nor does it need to be. The AS game is for the players, sponsors and young kids. Kids love to see all the best players in the league together. They love to watch them in the skills competition and when they watch the actual AS game, they don’t expect it to be intense.
They want to see toe-drags, behind-the-back-passes, lots of goals and they love to see Malkin and Stamkos on the same line, or even Eberle and Seguin.
The AS game isn’t for diehard fans in their 20s and 30s, and once those people realize it they will stop expecting the game to be "exciting." It is a relaxing game, nothing more.
With the Oilers out of the playoff race again, the trade rumours have been flying. Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner, Nikolai Khabibulin and Andy Sutton have been the main names tossed around, but I’ve seen some regarding Ryan Smyth, Ryan Jones and even Ryan Whitney.
Hemksy has the most value and is the best bet to be moved. The Oilers have 12 games prior to the deadline, eight of them at home, for Hemsky to showcase his talents. If he scores 10 points before February 27th, I have no doubt the Oilers will get a first rounder in return, in fact, unless he gets hurt I think he’ll garner a first rounder, or a former first round prospect.
If the Oilers can find a taker on Khabibulin they will jump at it. Then they can look at bringing in another young goalie with some NHL experience to challenge Dubnyk.
I don’t see Whitney going anywhere.
Smyth is the interesting one. He wanted to come back to Edmonton because he and his wife love the city and want to raise their children here. Would he accept a trade, and be away from his kids for 2-3 months while chasing the Cup? He loves being with his kids, and that would be a massive sacrifice, but if he can pot a few goals before the deadline I think a few teams will come calling.
I could see Andy Sutton getting some attention, but the return is likely a 3rd rounder, maybe a 2nd. I’d rather take a prospect, because they would be a year or two closer to maybe playing, but we’ll see. Sutton told me he’d love to stay here. He doesn’t want to move again, and if it came down to re-signing him or Cam Barker, I’d take Sutton. The Oilers have to qualify Barker at $2 million to keep his rights, and that is too rich for me.
If Gagner gets moved, I think it is maybe 20% chance, then he could go to a team trying to rebuild, and not necessarily to a Cup contender. If you move Gagner, then you are saying Horcoff is your 2nd line centre next year, and I’m not sure that is a great plan.
Jones has struggled since Christmas, but I wouldn’t trade him. He has a good salary, and if he is a 15-17 goal man for you on your 3rd line you are happy.
AFTER THE BREAK
When the Oilers return to action v. the Avalanche on Tuesday I hope they don’t have Magnus Paajarvi in the lineup. I have nothing personal against the sophomore, but he still needs to work on developing his game in OKC. Keep him down there, don’t recall him after the AS break. He wasn’t generating any offence, and he needs to rediscover his offensive spark. Unless Anton Lander is going to play top-nine minutes, I’d send him to OKC as well, but I suspect that is unlikey.
I’d also play Deven Dubnyk in 22 of the remaining 33 games. Up until his back-to-back solid efforts v. the Sharks and Canucks, he’d been unable to string together consecutive solid performances. He’ll need to play like that for four or five straight down the stretch, for the Oilers to believe he can be a reliable starter next year.
With word coming out yesterday that Jeff Carter is indeed on the trading block, I’m most intrigued to see what Scott Howson does before February 27th. He gave up Voracek, Couturier and a 3rd rounder to get Carter last June, so he’d have to get at least two top-ten picks in return to break even.
A few other teams should be very interesting to follow: The Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals and the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings have loads of cap space, the Flames still think they can get in while the Capitals need some more scoring.
The Preds are in a tough situation. Ryan Suter wants to see if they’ll add a few pieces before the deadline, and if they do, he’s more likely to stay. However, it is a huge risk for the Preds to deal Ryan Ellis, because what if they deal him, but then lose Suter to free agency. Ellis won’t replace him at EV, but he’d be a perfect fit to slide in on their PP. David Poile is in a tough situation, does he deal Ellis to get a bonafide offensive threat, with the hopes Suter re-signs, or is he better off to keep Ellis and hope Suter re-signs.
HELPING OUT THIS WEEKEND
The Edmonton Hawks Athletic Club is having a food drive this weekend, so if you want to help out the food bank here’s the skinny.
"Be a Part of Something Important by Giving to those less fortunate! Donations are delivered to the Fire Hall and a tour and pictures are available for the teams.
Sunday, January 29th, 2012. 12pm until 5pm
Central Gathering Point: ATHLONE COMMUNITY HALL 13010 – 129 street
If you have any questions, please contact Melanie Makowecki (firstname.lastname@example.org) OR Melanie Perri (email@example.com)"
It is nice to see young athletes helping out others.
Have a great weekend.