February 21, 2011
As we wind toward the AFHL Trade Deadline on March 3rd, teams are usually sorted into two neat categories…
Buyers: Contenders looking to shore up for the stretch run.
Sellers: Teams looking to shed veterans to get younger – and presumably better – for the future.
Why, you might ask, does everybody wait until the final minute to get their deals done, even when they’re solving needs that in many cases have been evident for months? Couldn’t they have done this stuff back in December?
In a lot of cases, it’s all about the art of the deal. Nobody wants to show their cards too soon, especially regarding offers for big game players such as Jarome Iginla or Jason Spezza. That only gives another team an opportunity to put together a better hand, while knowing exactly what they have to beat. It’s a little like playing blackjack with the dealer hitting first.
So despite the best intentions to get deals done earlier, a lot of teams won’t come with their best offer until just a few hours before the deadline. That way, the other side can’t shop it around to see if it can do better. That, for instance, is why a team like the Washington Power have yet to make their best offer for Jarome Iginla even though a player of his caliber is clearly the missing link in their quest for the AFHL Stanley Cup.
Nonetheless, these machinations are constrained by next Thursday’s March 3rd deadline, which is why everybody will be getting down to brass tacks very shortly. This year presents a potential bonanza, as several big names have been put into play recently. With that in mind, here’s a look at the ten players most likely to have a new team by the close of business next Thursday:
JAROME IGINLA and/or MARTIN ST. LOUIS (HOLLYWOOD STARS):
Obviously the two names most prominent on the tips of most GMs’ tongues, as the Hollywood Stars are rumored to be preparing for a major rebuild. The Washington Power and St. John’s Red Wings reportedly are in play for one of Iginla or St. Louis, and it’s doubtful those aren’t the only calls GM Mike Basset will receive about his superstar forwards.
SHANE DOAN (OSHAWA CITY LEAFS):
Rumor has it that the power forward has asked for a trade and Oshawa City plans to accommodate him, but this won’t be a fire sale. Oshawa City might be able to get just as much value in the off-season and GM Earl McNeill wants to make sure he gets a young star in return. That makes St. John’s the most logical trading partner – the Wings can offer a rising stud like Jordan Eberle and/or a 2012 1st round draft pick in exchange for Doan.
However, the more interesting possibility is if the Fort Drum Killers could get involved. This would be doable for GM Steve Stryska because they still have their 2011 first round draft pick and blue chip prospect Beau Bennett developing on their farm. The Killers could also look to other players on the block but a guy like Doan would give the Killers a completely different offensive dimension.
JASON SPEZZA (GOLDSBORO REBELS):
His tenure in Goldsboro seems to be coming to an end, and one has to think the Rebels wants to trade their underachieving star forward. The Rebels are going to miss the playoffs this year so GM Rich Mauch would be silly not to pursue something to get value for him now. The talented sniper could be a missing piece to some team’s championship aspirations. He’s also been mentioned in conjunction with the North Bay Warriors, although GM Mauch will be looking to obtain some young talent and high draft picks in exchange for Spezza and North Bay has already traded most of that away.
PATRIK ELIAS (MANHATTAN SUPERMEN):
Elias, who can play both LW and C, is quietly putting up points on a consistent basis, but it hasn’t done the Supermen any good. At age 34, Elias is still getting the job done, and a number of contending teams are in search of help on left wing. The most likely destination may be London, where health struggles on the left side of offense may force GM Blake Wilson to pull the trigger on a deal. Elias’ play on both the PP and PK would be a perfect antidote to all the attention Ryan Getzlaf and Rick Nash command.
RAY WHITNEY, MILAN HEJDUK, and/or MARK RECCHI (LOS BANOS WOLVES):
Wolves GM Andrew Fiorentino recently made an announcement about being a seller at the deadline, which came as somewhat of a shock after trading away his prospects and draft picks to acquire the veterans. Obviously, this isn’t very conducive to team morale, but Los Banos needs to tread carefully. It could wind up being a brilliant plan if Fiorentino can get more promising youth that most conteding teams will be ready to offer their best at the deadline. Somehow, Fiorentino needs to parlay at least two of the veterans into a talented young winger who can play alongside franchise cornerstone Steven Stamkos. The most likely to go is certainly Mark Recchi, who may retire at the end of this season.
BRIAN GIONTA (BOSTON GIANTS):
The subject of rumors since Boston GM Mike Phelan began his rebuild a few weeks ago, the sticking point here is that Gionta is more affordable than the other RWs such as Iginla, St. Louis, and Doan. Nobody expects him to be an offensive catalyst, but it’s not clear which teams are desperate enough for a right winger to make a winning offer.
SERGEI GONCHAR (BUFFALO PHANTOMS):
His deteriorating relationship with GM Daryn Beckman, not to mention his own request for a trade, has Gonchar’s name on the tip of many tongues around the league. He is a powerplay quarterback and can put up points on any given night, but the Phantoms want value in return and his sub-par season has put off some suitors.
Check back again next Monday as we will have complete coverage of the 2011 AFHL Trade Deadline throughout the entire week.