A pre-deadline trading frenzy looms as Stanley Cup contenders load up
This is the time of year when NHL general managers trade with an eye toward silver futures. For playoff-bound clubs, a shrewd short-term investment before the league's March 14 trading deadline could yield the ultimate return—the Stanley Cup. Last year 32 trades were made in the week leading up to the deadline, and this season expect similar volume. With that in mind here are some blue-chip commodities that could be moved.
?Canucks C Mark Messier
Why him: If rebuilding Vancouver keeps the 39-year-old Messier it will have to pay him $6 million next season or buy him out for $2 million.
Possible destinations: Blues, Devils, Maple Leafs, Rangers, Stars.
SI's take: Messier is susceptible to injury, but when healthy he's still a bull. He also has six Stanley Cup rings and imparts a win-at-all-costs attitude to his teammates. He'd be a fine fit in Toronto, where star center Mats Sundin would stay on the top line, enabling Messier to thrive under less physical pressure as a No. 2 center. Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn is smart enough to utilize Messier's firebrand leadership without letting it disrupt the team.
?Sabres G Dominik Hasek
Why him: Hasek is hockey's most valuable player, and his announcement on Feb. 14 that he'll play in 2000-01, instead of retiring after the season as he'd planned, increases his value. Even with him, Buffalo, which through Sunday was ninth in the Eastern Conference, may not make the playoffs. Hasek will earn $7.5 million next year, and in standout rookie Martin Biron, the Sabres have a much cheaper option.
Possible destinations: Flyers, Kings, Red Wings, Sharks.
SI's take: As long as it's in the playoff hunt, Buffalo will be wary of dealing Hasek, who has played very well (1.17 goals-against average) since returning from a groin injury on Feb. 1. If he goes, expect the Sabres to get two frontline players in return.