With one week to go until the March 5 NHL trade deadline, our TSN Hockey Insiders discuss some of the names that have been making waves with some insight on their situations and chances of being dealt.
There are certain names that our Hockey Insiders have been talking about for months, Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson. But the most intriguing names as we head towards TradeCentre are the most recent ones - Martin St. Louis and Ryan Kesler. Let's start with the latter. What are the real chances that Kesler gets dealt by the Canucks?
Bob McKenzie: Well it's by no means guaranteed but it is a possibility. The buzz on Kesler is increasing by the day. Now, we should get the disclaimers out of the way. The Vancouver Canucks are not aggressively shopping and trying to trade Ryan Kesler, but I do believe that they're aggressively listening. Keep in mind though that Kesler has got a no-move, no-trade clause, so he's not going anywhere he doesn't want to go. Keep in mind also that he's technically injured right now, he's got a finger injury that might be broken, we're only guessing. The Canucks say he's day-to-day so hopefully that won't come into play. But the question then becomes what would the Canucks have to get back in order to consider trading Kesler? It would obviously be a lot. What they're going to be looking for is to pick up a young centre between the ages of 20-25 who can grow into the role that Kesler is in right now. Somebody that gives you a fighting chance at a reload if not necessarily a rebuild.
So for example, would Kesler be prepared to go back to Ohio - he played at Ohio State University - for the Columbus Blue Jackets? And if he was prepared to do that, would the Blue Jackets give up a young centre like Ryan Johansen? Would the New York Rangers give up Derek Stepan, or someone along those lines? Again, someone who is between 20 and 25 who the Canucks can put in their lineup. If they can find the absolute right fit, and they would have to take some money back on Kesler because in order to make these trades, there's a lot of teams that are capped out and would have a tough time taking his salary - although when you look at his contract it's an awesome contract for that guy. So yeah, it's being considered.
Darren Dreger: Well, there's no shortage of interest in Kesler. When he's healthy and competing with the edge that his reputation has been built on, what not to like about him? But when you talk to general managers who might be nibbling at the edges and might have interest in a player like Kesler, there is some concern. When he's healthy, he does have a history of health issues and he's not as intense and productive as he's been in recent years, so he's not entirely without risk.
Martin St. Louis...when he refuses to deny that he has asked for a trade, saying there have been conversations, he's essentially saying "I've asked for trade". Could this happen?
Dreger: It absolutely could happen between now and March 5, and it could also drag into the off-season. What we know is that the Tampa Bay Lightning did reach out to the New York Rangers prior to the Olympics to gauge interest in the possibility of trading such a dynamic and an impactful player within their organization. Now, it wasn't a fit at that point, and it's going to be a complicated process to make it fit again now between now and March 5. That's because Steve Yzerman isn't going to give St. Louis away. This is going to be a difficult negotiation and the Rangers, as much as they love St. Louis and what he might bring to their team, he's also 38 years of age and that's going to be difficult to give prime assets for.
McKenzie: For sure. I would kind of be shocked if St. Louis got traded by the deadline, and if he really does wants out of Tampa Bay - and the indication seems to be that he does - then it's much more likely to be resolved in the off-season then right now, but I guess you never say never. The thing if I were Yzerman I would look at is, St. Louis, if he was unhappy before, he's playing really well. And the Lightning are a good team and I don't know how you get immediate true value for St. Louis right now that doesn't interrupt the Tampa Bay's progress toward making the playoffs and being a contender in the East.
Andrei Markov has gone from injury-prone defenceman to a mini-iron man. He hasn't missed a game now in two seasons, and that presents a contract quandary to Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin. How much of a risk is he in terms of giving him term when he's 35 years old with a bunch of knee surgeries behind him?
McKenzie: Well I guess the question is what is the term? I mean, let's make one thing perfectly clear - the Canadiens like Markov and want to re-sign him. It's been reported on Montreal radio that the Canadiens have offered one year at $6 million, which is a raise of salary, but only one year on the extension because he's 35 and over. My understanding is the Canadiens are not absolutely locked into "we're only offering you a one-year deal, that's it, take it or leave it". But there is some flexibility on the part of the Canadiens to do a one-year, or maybe a two-year deal. Keep in mind, because you're an over-35 player, you can use games played bonuses and you can really jack up the salary based on those bonuses that you can't do with other contracts.
That said, the question is how flexible is Markov? The word I'm getting is that he may be looking for as much as a four-year deal, which seems really long for a guy of his age and injury history. Now is he flexible? Maybe it means four years, maybe it means three. So there is an issue with term. The issue then becomes, do they trade him before the deadline? I would be surprised, unless they got an offer that absolutely blew them away, but I think their goal is to try to get it signed, and I think this is a negotiation.