So, it appears that Martin Erat would like nothing more than to celebrate Thanksgiving by telling his family how grateful he is to no longer be a member of the Washington Capitals.
This comes in the same calendar year in which he and/or the Nashville Predators decided to “just be friends,” leading to the still-fascinating swap that sent first-round (and seemingly unfinished product) Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Erat. While Erat’s inadequacies have been at an almost tragicomic level, it’s not like Forsberg is lighting up the league just yet, either.
(Granted, the window’s open possibly a decade longer for Forsberg …)
Anyway, it seems like it would be an entertainment disaster to devote an entire column to Erat, but I thought I’d take that as a launching-off point to throw out one of possibly two Thanksgiving-themed columns by asking: who would be thankful to be traded, preferably during the holiday season?
Actually, it may be more precise to describe this as, “Which players would fantasy owners like to see chasing greener pastures?” Either way, you get the gist. Let’s get rolling after this quick commercial break.
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HILLER AND MILLER
Jonas Hiller - No sense trotting out a game summary for Tuesday’s Stars - Ducks game, as this theme ties in nicely for a guy who might just need to leave Anaheim. And there aren’t a whole lot of nutritious nuggets to be found from that game, anyway.
As far as I’m concerned, the Ducks might as well have gotten megaphone and said, “Later, Hiller” when they handed Frederik Andersen a contract extension. Are the Ducks - a medium budget team, at best - really going to carry three fairly expensive netminders next season, especially since Hiller’s contract is going to expire?
Viktor Fasth’s month-long injury delays the Hiller trade, and the goalie market could be pretty dry. But, honestly, the Ducks, Hiller and Hiller owners might be better off if this separation happens sooner, rather than later.
He can bounce back with this opportunity - I think he’s a pretty talented goalie - yet playing for a new team might expedite that process.
Ryan Miller -While Hiller is putting up disappointing numbers on a quality team, Miller (rhyme!) is generating nice individual stats on an awful squad.
Surprisingly, his save percentage (.919) is better than it's been since 2009-10 (the last Olympic year, a mention required by hockey writer bylaws). It's a testament to Mr. Looks Like Jared Leto But Not As Much as Henrik Zetterberg has managed a .915 or .916 mark each season, even amid serious turmoil behind an often-mediocre defense.
Craig Smith - OK, I’m not saying he should be traded, but consider this also a list of players who maybe deserve more ice time or better opportunities.
According to the increasingly nifty stats site Extra Skater, Smith is 12th in the NHL with a 2.73 points per 60 minute average at even strength. In simpler terms, Smith has 15 points in 24 games, including eight points in 11 games. That prior stat (and his flashy skillset) makes one imagine better things in the latter category if he were to receive more reps.
My general feeling is that the Predators loaded up on redundant players this summer, making for logjams. (For the record: I expected David Legwand to be the squeezed-out Predators forward I would be the guy I was discussing here.) Should Smith log more than 14:46 TOI per game? Probably, but I'd wager he probably does the kind of risky, creative things that heighten Barry Trotz's blood pressure, so ...
... Maybe his owners should want a trade, after all?
(Quick extra take: Smith is putting up intriguing numbers even shackled in Trotz’s system, so he’s worth monitoring, if not adding outright.)
Evander Kane - TSN’s Insider Trading segment trotted out a lot of seemingly airy rumors (or at least ones that seemed like they were in rough draft-form), but the most intriguing one is that teams are talking to the Winnipeg Jets about Kane’s availability.
That’s not to say that I really believe that the Jets are shopping Kane. At least now. Still, with all that’s happened in 2013, I couldn’t help but start a “When will the Jets blow it with Evander Kane?” countdown in my mind sometime a couple months ago.
The pattern seems to be there. He’s a budding star who suffers the occasional dry spell (like a reasonably squashed 11-game goalless streak). Kane is willing to put some actual personality on display in Twitter and over other outlets, which occasionally goes awry. You know, like a 22-year-old on social media. The team seems to be stuck in the middling muck. It all adds up to make an infeasible trade scenario seem at least possible.
Kane is bound to bounce back from his short-term issues. He’s averaging 4.33 shots per game, a slight bump up from his career-high of 3.96 last season. And it’s not like Winnipeg is failing to furnish him with competent teammates, even if they’re a rung or two below the star-level.
Still, imagine Kane on a better team. Or at least on one that gets a little more media attention, so we can enjoy watching him barrel through the offensive zone and generally be captivating on larger stages. He already has a 30-goal campaign to his name, but I expect him to bud into a borderline star as he matures … in Winnipeg or not.
The question is, will Winnipeg blow it and stupidly trade him or will they be patient and keep him around? While I’m not overly impressed with Jets management, I don’t think they’re that out of touch.
MIKE AND MIKE
Michael Del Zotto/John-Michael Liles - Hey, two guys in need of a change of scenery with the name “Michael” in their names!
I’m not interested in assessing the likelihood of either player being traded, but there’s no denying that both of them need to leave their respective franchises. Let’s say this, though: both have shown the ability to generate solid point totals.
Del Zotto only has four points in 19 games this season, but he's been productive before - even if some believe he's leaky in his own end. (Teehee.) He's averaged .46 points per game twice and .53 once, translating to a 37 and 41-point season already. In the right situation, he could be worth having on a fantasy roster.
Michael-Liles might not seem like a sexy choice, but he's been impressively steady; it's almost too perfect that he has a .5 point per game average, basically the goal for a mid-level fantasy defensive scorer. He has three 40+ point seasons and four more 30+ point campaigns.
Both blueliners could really give their teams a boost ... when they're not giving them fits.
INJURIES (full list)
Zach Parise’s out two-to-three weeks, give or take, with a bruised foot. Not great news, but could be worse, too … Matt Duchene (oblique) could be back as soon as Friday. Either way, it sounds like he could be back within a week or so … Tim Gleason is set to miss about a week with a lower-body injury … Jared Boll (foot) was placed on the IR … Tanner Glass could miss about a month with a broken hand. Fellow Penguin Paul Martin’s having lower-body problems again … Kevin Westgarth has been suspended for two games … Tomas Kopecky (hand) was placed on the IR.