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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Exploring Brian Burke's Christmas Trade Freeze

Is Brian Burke Planning to Trade a Defenceman
when Dion Phaneuf Returns by 14th of December
Brian Burke's Christmas trade freeze is fast approaching.  The official NHL Christmas trade freeze is from 19th of December until 29th of December.  Traditionally, Brian Burke starts his trade freeze ten days earlier.  This makes it 9th of December by my calculation.  However, media reports suggest it can go into effect as late as 14th of December for this season.

Reports indicate a trade is unlikely by this date.  No one expects any chance of a blockbuster deal.  If a trade happens, it will be either a cap relief deal or a manager "selling low" on a high potential player playing poorly while approaching the age of 24.  Most hockey people expect prospects to have their breakout season by age 24.  Diminished play at this time might be cause to salvage whatever value remains with the prospect.

Boston Bruins is the only cap strapped team compelled to move cap salary because of the imminent return of Marco Sturm from LTIR (Long Term Injury Reserve).  It is doubtful New Jersey will address its cap situation until February when faced with the return of Zach Parise from LTIR.

Some teams may move prospects no longer in prominent roles in order to address shortcomings.  Rumours have San Jose wanting a defenceman and willing to part with Devin Setoguchi.  Atlanta manager, Rick Dudley, scouted the past two Toronto games.  Atlanta, overloaded with big young forwards, can use a good young affordable defenceman. Reports have Joffrey Lupul returning today from LTIR to Anaheim Ducks active playing roster.  If so, they need to move a player to comply with the 23 active player limit.  Anaheim's Kyle Chipchura must clear waivers if he is the odd man out for assignment to AHL.

Last night, Carl Gunnarsson lost his waiver exempt status when playing his 60th career NHL game.  Keith Aulie is the only defenceman with waiver exempt status.  Which defenceman will Brian Burke move and how when Dion Phaneuf returns by the expected 14th of December?  Toronto also opened up another spot on its 50 player active roster by recently assigning Mikhail Stefanovich to the KHL.

In my opinion, Brian Burke will target young players with upside to help address shortcomings in size and power play performance.  I doubt he will acquire a player in his 30s or does a pure cap dump deal.  He has enough building blocks to focus on adding to them or simply upgrading.

Blake Wheeler

Position: RW
Shoots: Right
Height: 6-5    Weight: 208 lbs.
Cap Salary: $2.2 mil
Born: August 311986 in Robbinsdale, Minnesota
Drafted by Phoenix in 1st round (5th overall) of 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

SeasonAgeTeamLgGPGAPTS+/-PIMEVPPSHGWSS%TOIATOI
2008-0922Boston BruinsNHL8121244536461632315014.0110913:41
2009-1023Boston BruinsNHL82182038-4531431215911.3129515:47
2010-1124Boston BruinsNHL256410-11460014413.639015:36
Career3 SeasonsNHL188454893311133663635312.7279414:52

This is not a case of Peter Chiarelli selling low.  Blake Wheeler may simply not fit into Boston's cap situation.  He is an RFA at the end of the year.  Agent can argue Wheeler is worth more than $2.2 mil if Boston assigns Michael Ryder or Marco Sturm to the AHL to make cap room for Wheeler.

Not having the breakout year people expect from a 24 year old which is probably due to playing mostly on the third line.  His situation is similar to Clarke MacArthur's situation before joining the Leafs.  It is hard for Boston to justify paying a third line player $2.2 mil when each top six forward receives approximately $4 mil.  

Wheeler played with Phil Kessel at University of Minnesota and Team USA World Juniors.  Expect Peter Chiarelli to ask for a good draft pick for Blake Wheeler.  Chiarelli has shown he prefers to move Marco Sturm to resolve cap problem.  Expect Mark Stuart ($1.675 mil cap salary) moved and replaced by a cap friendly defenceman to close the $3.2 gap if Boston moves Blake Wheeler as cap relief.

Devin Setoguchi
Position: RW
Shoots: Right
Height: 6-0    Weight: 200 lbs.
Cap Salary: $1.8 mil
Born: January 11987 in Taber, Alberta
Drafted by San Jose in 1st round (8th overall) of 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

SeasonAgeTeamLgGPGAPTS+/-PIMEVPPSHGWSS%TOIATOI
2007-0820San Jose SharksNHL441161768830210510.562714:15
2008-0921San Jose SharksNHL81313465162520110324612.6131316:13
2009-1022San Jose SharksNHL702016360191280416512.1107115:18
2010-1123San Jose SharksNHL21257-717110464.329413:60
Career4 SeasonsNHL2166461125156941230956211.4330515:18

San Jose moving Devin Setoguchi will simply be a case of selling low.  Scoring dropped dramatically when  ice team with Joe Thornton reduced because of Dany Heatley acquisition.  He showed tremendous promise at age 20 by scoring 31 goals plus good power play performance.  Scoring percentage from previous years suggest this season simply an off-season.

Rumour has San Jose interested in Francois Beauchemin.  If true, San Jose will have to dip into its bonus cushion to make cap space to acquire Beauchemin for Setoguchi.

Nick Foligno
Position: LW
Shoots: Left
Height: 6-0    Weight: 209 lbs.
Cap Salary: $1.2 mil
Born: October 311987 in Buffalo, New York
Drafted by Ottawa in 1st round (28th overall) of 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Season
Age
Team
Lg
GP
G
A
PTS
+/-
PIM
EV
PP
SH
GW
S
S%
TOI
ATOI
2007-08
19
45
6
3
9
0
20
6
0
0
0
44
13.6
412
9:10
2008-09
20
81
17
15
32
-10
59
10
7
0
2
145
11.7
1108
13:41
2009-10
21
61
9
17
26
6
53
7
2
0
2
83
10.8
873
14:19
2010-11
22
27
1
5
6
-4
12
1
0
0
42
2.4
388
14:22
Career
4 Seasons
NHL
214
33
40
73
-8
144
24
9
0
4
314
10.5
2781
12:60

Ottawa Manager, Bryan Murray, wants to make a big deal to shake up his team.  Only Nick Foligno and Pete Regin interest most teams.  Murray does not want to trade either player.  However, Murray might have to change his thinking in order to shake things up.  

Bobby Butler, rookie free agent signing, was called up yesterday by Ottawa.  A strong performance by him might shrink the halo sitting over Foligno and make Murray more open to moving Foligno.

Like Setoguchi, Foligno's scoring percentage history indicates this season may simply be an off-season.  He showed good power play performance two seasons ago.  Ottawa was one of the final two teams in the hunt for Tyler Bozak.  Perhaps Brian Burke and Brian Murray might agree a change in scenario might be beneficial for both players and their respective teams.

Conclusion

It will be a coup for Brian Burke to acquire a player who was a first-round draft pick but in the middle of a disappointing season.  You do not get many opportunities to buy low on high potential players.  Especially as they approach the peak years of their career.  Of course, these players are not "sure bets".  But, they are good investments with potential for high yields.






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