So here's a quick question: 24 hours before the draft, rumours are making their usual rounds and speculation over what players may get moved where is high. But let's take it from the other side: who among the first ten selectors do you think is most vulnerable to a trade for their draft position?
Clearly, all the bottom-ranked teams need help as soon as possible, otherwise they wouldn't have seats so close to the stage this year. But what that help will take the form of is a matter of debate. It's a deep draft this year, by all accounts, so the grip teams have on their first selections may not be as firm as in other years. Especially if NHL-calibre players are being offered...
The Islanders' Charles Wang is pitching hard for a new arena (among other things) with the Lighthouse Project, and has long complained about losing money on this team. A brand name would help there, especially one as cheap and hyped as Tavares. He's also an owner who involves himself in the team decisions, for better or worse. But if GM Garth Snow can get help at all three positions, that could improve his team now - and nothing improves the bottom line like winning.
Tampa's ownership troubles continue to dominate headlines, especially surrounding the future of Lecavalier: one owner wants him moved, the other to use him as the foundation of their team. Seeing as both owners have to sign off on any trades, this could be the toughest team to deal with, and who knows what theoretical GM Brian Lawton wants. Stil, if they decide to keep Lecavalier, then Hedman would be a strong anchor for their defense.
The Avalanche are the worst team this year without a meddling owner (lessons, anyone?), but still aren't sure where it all went wrong: hanging their hopes on an aging list of stars is a prime suspect, and (when combined with a startling number of injuries) the fans there may not be happy with what they see as a "quick fix". Still, the third draft pick is a position that is seen as the last "can't miss" position, and could bring a huge return, especially if a goalie is involved.
Atlanta has youth, and lots of it: with the developing prospects they have back on defense, and (with luck) a healthy Lehtonen, and one of the best pure goal scorers in the league, it may only be a year or two before this team makes some regular playoff appearances. Two problems: the very patient fans are leaving in droves, and their goal scorer, who happens to be a free agent next year, wants to see progress NOW! With the difficulty attracting free agents to Atlanta looming large, a trade is one way to bring in NHL ready players.
The feeling around the Kings is that they need a veteran, scoring forward before they need another young player. There is a lot of interest in Lecavalier and Heatly, and they have the youth teams want and the money to handle those huge contracts. Plus, seventh isn't that far away from second (especially if Long Island takes Hedman), nor is it a huge fall to tenth: past the top three, opinions are widely scattered over who goes next. If they can pick up a 40 goal man right now...
The rest of the teams have their reasons for persuing a trade, in one direction or the other; but mostly I'm asking about ones who will trade their first choice away. Dallas is losing money, and the owner there wants cuts made; Phoenix wants to make a splash and bring fans back with some news thats actually positive for a change; Toronto's always under pressure to whip fans into dervish-like frenzy; Ottawa's implosion proves a change of dressing-room character is needed badly; the Oilers youth not developing as hoped shot their chances down this year, so maybe some more stable veterans would calm the high/low emotions that hit last year.
So who's got the guts to make a move? Who's desperate enough to go for now and let the future take care of itself? Who's got reasons? Leave them below.
I'm limiting it to the top third of the first round because that's the hardest place to justify trading out of to your fans without a clear return. Courage or recklessness , they are most visible here.