In the Crease: Pominville on the block?
The trade deadline is just over a day away, and there have already been some noteworthy moves made. Still, the fact that each conference is so tightly packed makes it difficult to discern which team is a buyer and which is a seller.
Let's take a look at some names I think will be switching addresses come April 3rd.
Ryane Clowe: It seems like it's only a matter of time before the 30 year old is moved, as he's been linked to a number of teams and was a healthy scratch Monday night to protect himself from injury. The Sharks are said to want a first-rounder and a young player in return. The problem is he has yet to score and has 11 assists on the year, so I have my doubts they'll get that. Clowe does have 65 shots, though, and a shooting percentage of 11 for his career, so he's been running into some bad luck. In a normal season, he is a 20-goal, 50-point producer and a guy with a mean streak who isn't afraid to drop the gloves. Fit: Rangers – The Blueshirts have underperformed, but they won't shake up the entire team. The Rangers are missing the skilled toughness of Brandon Prust, and I think Clowe would fill that hole admirably. He's also someone who has had power play success, an area the Rangers have struggled with this season. They really lack a consistent net-front presence, which Clowe can be.
NOTE: Clowe was traded to the Rangers late Tuesday afternoon
Mikka Kiprusoff: The Flames are in sell mode, as they've already parted ways with Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester. All that would prevent the netminder from aiding the rebuild effort is him refusing to leave. Kiprusoff hasn't had the best of years with a 3.52 goals-against average and .873 save percentage, but he also plays on a bad team. He's an experienced goaltender who would provide a stabilizing presence for a playoff run. Fit: Maple Leafs - Toronto has already spoken with Calgary about a deal and has recently received permission to talk to the netminder. James Reimer has been great this year, but Kiprusoff would continue to push him. He could also start if needed. He’s someone who would probably fare better on a good team since he'd be in the thick of a playoff run. Plus, if the Leafs believe in Reimer, Kiprusoff, who has a year left on his deal, would be a cheaper option than Roberto Luongo.
Jason Pominville: The Sabres are the East version of the Flames, except they've disappointed even more, with a number of big names not living up to their contracts. General manager Darcy Regier has already said that anyone is available. Defensemen Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold have already been dealt, but I think there's a bigger name that gets moved. Pominville, the Sabres’ captain, has been asked to provide his no-trade list, which is the first step. Even though he has another year at $5.3 million left and has underperformed with 10 goals and 23 assists, he's coming off a 30-goal season and is a leader. Interest is likely sky-high. Fit: Bruins - Boston has already shown it's willing to wheel and deal. The Bruins want another top-six winger and Pominville not only injects another scorer into their lineup, but also a guy who is responsible defensively and can play on the penalty kill.
Ryan Whitney: Edmonton is in the playoff picture, but the fact Whitney has an expiring $4 million contract and hasn't played very well this season -- three goals, seven assists, and he's been a healthy scratch several times -- means he's not coming back next year. Whitney is a puck-moving defenseman who has experience running a power play and logging heavy minutes. Despite the down year, teams can never have enough blueliners come the postseason and Whitney might benefit from a fresh start. The veteran also figures to be motivated as the season winds down because he’ll be playing for a new contract. Fit: Red Wings – Even though he seems like a shell of his former self, the 30 year old is a solid addition for a team like Detroit which is in the playoff race and could use some more skill on the back end. The Wings also have the 10th worst power play in the league. Adding Whitney might not be that costly, either.
Mike Ribeiro: The Capitals are tough to figure out because they're on the fringe of the playoff picture, but Ribeiro (in his last year of his contract) has already declined a three-year, $14 million extension. The 33 year old has been superb this season, with 11 goals and 24 points, and would easily be the best center on the market. He’s creative and has great vision on the ice. If the Caps make him available, Ribeiro is enough of a difference-maker to command a nice haul even if he's a rental. Fit: Ducks - Anaheim lacks a second-line center and Ribeiro would immediately fill that spot while improving everyone else around him. The Ducks are already a great team, but Ribeiro deepens the lineup, which makes it that much harder to match up against in the playoffs.