As I said on the podcast this morning, is there any team (save for the Ottawa Senators) that screams “trade deadline seller” more than the Florida Panthers right now? Years of finishing around 20th overall – not good enough to make the playoffs, yet not bad enough to receive a high lottery pick – have come back to bite the Cats. On Thursday, veteran forward Cory Stillman was shipped back to the Carolina Hurricanes; and on Saturday, veteran Bryan McCabe was the next to be shipped out, as he was traded to the New York Rangers for forward Tim Kennedy and a third-round pick. The question in Florida is who is next? Fellow blueliner Dennis Wideman definitely has to be in play. Same goes for David Booth, who seems to be over his concussion issues. Tomas Vokoun, a UFA in the offseason, definitely could be had for the right price, and the Panthers would be wise to see what they could receive for him given how the Jay Bouwmeester situation played out a couple seasons ago. Stephen Weiss would also have to be a strong candidate, although word is that he would prefer to stay in Florida.
For what it’s worth, McCabe may not make Broadway a permanent stay since he’s a UFA in the offseason, but he provides the Blueshirts with the power-play QB that they have desperately needed for the last few years (because we all know Wade Redden didn’t pan out.) McCabe’s value should improve now that he is playing for a better offensive team and a better power play. Surprisingly, only seven of his 22 points have come with the man advantage, so that rate should improve with his new club. The player most directly affected by McCabe’s arrival would be Michael Del Zotto, who will likely be shipped back to Connecticut of the AHL.
Back in Florida, the most direct beneficiary to McCabe’s departure would have to be young Dmitry Kulikov. The second-year blueliner has 19 points (5g-14a) in 51 games, although only three of those points are in the power-play category. Kulikov’s value will shoot through the roof if Wideman is also traded, as rumored, and his icetime would well exceed the 18 minutes per game he has averaged this season. If Wideman stays in town, then Wideman’s value should remain the same – awful plus/minus (-26) and continued offense (33 points in 60 games). Surprisingly, Wideman leads NHL defensemen with eight power-play goals, so Kulikov’s fantasy value is actually more correlated to a potential Wideman trade than it is with the McCabe trade, considering that Wideman has been the far superior power-play option.
By acquiring McCabe, it will be interesting to see if the Rangers go all in and make a play for the highly sought-after Brad Richards. My guess is that they are more likely to do so in the offseason, when they have 1) more cap flexibility to wiggle in a player of Richards’ salary demands, and 2) not have to worry about trading key parts for a player saddled with the unknown timeline of a concussion. I think the Kings are more of a serious player given their massive cap space, although the Stars may be reluctant to trade him to a division rival. But I’m just guessing here like everyone else, knowing that anything can happen over the next couple days. All in all, I will be spending as much of my Monday as possible watching the TSN and/or Sportsnet trade deadline specials, something I wish my friends from the US could watch as well.
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