For hockey fans, this is it. The day that sets up so much to come. This can make champions out of contenders, competitors out of those already close, and rebuilding projects out of broken dreams. Perhaps the most relevant event before the playoffs are set and actually begin. So in the spirit of the day, I’ve decided to make some Bold Trade Deadline Predictions that will probably be obsolete by the time this actually publishes. Ah the joys of technology and post times!
Prediction #1: Ray Shero, despite not having to make any significant moves, will still do some magical roster ninja nonsense. The Pittsburgh Penguins are in a very nice spot. They’re sitting pretty at 4th in the Eastern Conference only behind the divisional leaders (and really only behind the Bruins and the Atlantic-leading Rangers). They’ve got an exceptional goalie, obnoxious defensive depth, and the best offensive weapon in the NHL in Evgeni Malkin. Oh, and they’ve got the greatest player on the face of the planet waiting in the wings as he recovers from further concussion difficulties. If Crosby comes back before the end of the regular season, the Pens would instantly move from Stanley Cup contenders to favorites. But Ray Shero is a terrifying, impressive GM who has pulled absurd trades that nearly always work in his favor (the Hossa trade, the Neal trade). So even in a year where he doesn’t need to do much, I still think it’s fair to expect him to do something exciting. Watch for Shero to pick up a strong depth player or reasonable prospect without having to give up anything more than a stern look or a firm handshake. Nobody knows quite how he does it, but he always does it…
Prediction #2: Rick Nash will go to the Boston Bruins. It’s a completely unfounded prediction. All indications have been that the New York Rangers, LA Kings, and San Jose Sharks were the most expected landing spots for the Columbus star. But with LA after landing Carter, New York out because a deal with the Rangers never made sense, and San Jose viewing the price of Logan Couture as just too high, the big players in the Nash Sweepstakes appear to have backed out. Yet after comments from Rick Nash’s agent about the (seemingly inevitable) trade, and post-game statements from #61 himself, it just seems like he’s moving at the deadline. So I figure, why not see Nash end up in a place where he’d more than fill the roll of the injured Nathan Horton? It’s tough to say exactly what the return would be to Columbus, but the Bruins have organizational depth and a goalie in Tuukka Rask that the Blue Jackets would drool over. Again, this has no basis in fact or actual analysis. In fact, I think it’s more likely that Nash will simply stay in the Union Blue until the draft or free agency… but the trade deadline would be no fun without pointless predictions!
Prediction #3: Brian Burke will overpay for a goalie, but it will be the right thing to do. The Toronto Maple Leafs are tantalizingly close to playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference. The late-2008 arrival of Brian Burke came after years of awful mismanagement and post-lockout failure. Now that the franchise has reloaded its offensive and defensive roster spots and reserves, Toronto is left without a proper goalie. While sophomore netminder James Reimer has been at times promising, his play has been inconsistent overall. The same problem exists with fellow Leaf goalie Jonas Gustavsson – they seem so close to success, but can’t quite put it together for long stretches this year. As there isn’t much else particularly wrong with the Leafs, it wouldn’t shock me to see Burke pay at bit too much to pick up a serious goalie threat to close out the regular season. And honestly, a playoff run would awaken even more Leafs fans and would be great for the whole NHL.
Prediction #4: We see too much Gary Bettman during Deadline Day coverage. That is to say, at some point Gary Bettman will stick his head out in front of a camera and demand that he say something. It will be just too much and people around the league will be found spontaneously booing at TSN and the NHL Network. Of course, if he makes more faces like this now-classic image or has more oddly interesting phrases like “bizonkers” up his sleeve, we’ll reap the benefits eventually… whenever Down Goes Brown decides to work those into his latest articles.
Prediction #5: I will absolutely flip out every time Bob McKenzie tweets something. This is actually far more certain than anything here. I’ll personally be stuck in grad level classes all day, so I’m selectively putting some important TSN people on Twitter text alerts to let my stone-age technology (damned lack of smartphone) keep up with all the trades and legit rumors. Any time something important happens, it’s most likely to be broken by TSN’s Bob McKenzie or Darren Dreger. I fully intend on dissecting every syllable as I sit through various lectures. I also entirely expect him to make general comments about the deadline, his sons, or just life – and every text alert will cause the same level of alarm as I await word on Rick Nash or various other potential trades.
Be sure to keep track of what Twitter accounts you’re actually following – all too many people will spread false rumors as the day progresses. And also take some time to enjoy the mayhem. Even if the deadline day itself is quiet, the NHL is a very unique sport with so many roster moves happening in and around the trade deadline. Soak it in and be ready to see new rosters on Tuesday.