Archive for the ‘Nashville Predators’ Category

Tuesday’s Tour Around the Central

November 2, 2009

You know it’s a slow news week when you do a Google News search for the Blue Jackets and every single thing that pops up has to do with Ovechkin and his wonky shoulder. And, as an afterthought, how they came from behind to win their game Sunday.

Anywho, let’s see what’s out there in America’s Heartland – and Nashville.

Our friends (and by friends I mean fellow smartasses who also write a gameday newspaper – they’re like Game Time’s cousins or something) over at Second City Hockey have a recap of what you can tell about the Blackhawks after one month in. Kudos to them for not doing what a lot of other Hawks sites are doing – “Wooooo! We’re in FIRST!” is not an in-depth analysis. Because, um, there are like 65 or so games left. Gimmie substance, please.

Hockey’s Future has the top 10 organizational rankings out, and the Blue Jackets are 4th (Blues are 1st and the Preds are 2nd, so the Central should be tough for some time to come). Nikita Filatov is their number one prospect and apparently will be a contender for the Calder this year. Someone might want to mention that to Ken Hitchcock.

Mirtle wrote an excellent six part series on the viability of the Nashville Predators as a hockey market. Excellently researched – as a fan of the Thrashers, I appreciate someone taking the time to visit Nashville to see what’s going on there first hand. I’m fairly tired of people writing stuff that usually sounds like:

“(Insert non-traditional market team here) doesn’t have the fan base to succeed. Their attendance is awful. They need to win in the playoffs or else (insert big name star) is going to leave in free agency. Since they’re located in the south, the team will automatically finish in the bottom of their Conference. Oh, and LOL @ rednecks!”

MLive.com is hoping that the Red Wings have turned a corner. That’s odd – so do I. Into a wall.

And finally, continuing the injury bug that has been harassing the Blues for the past few seasons, Andy McDonald does his best impression of me in high heels and takes a header into the boards:

Thank God he appears to be ok so far, though he probably won’t play Thursday as a precaution. No word yet on Sunday at Atlanta.

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Addicted to Vampires? Take a look at Nashville pro sports …

October 24, 2009



We live in a sports culture of “what have you done for me lately?” Although the trend hasn’t been consistent in the NHL lately, it’s not uncommon for a coach to win an annual award one year and find themselves in the unemployment line merely two years later. In a salary cap age, it’s more understandable for owners to expect coaches to catch lightning in a bottle.

That’s what makes Nashville’s NHL and NFL teams unique; both of their coaches have basically lead their teams since they came to Tennessee.* Forgive my horrific pun, but I feel the urge to re-define the region as Tennessee-vania.
* Apparently Barry Trotz was a scout for the Predators’ first season, though.
Now, obviously if the Titans’ current meltdown continues, Fisher might find a pink slip attached to a stake in his heart, but it really is stunning that the two made it this far in the same city. After all, Fisher is the longest tenured NFL coach and Trotz is the second longest tenured coach in the NHL.
First, here’s Trotz’ career stats via his Wiki page:

And now, Jeff Fisher’s from his Wiki page:

Of the two coaches, Fisher’s bulletproof tenure makes the most sense (instantly at least). He lead the Titans to a notably competitive Super Bowl match up against the St. Louis Rams, managed an unexpected 13-3 record last season and has only four seasons with a losing record in his 15 year reign. Only Andy Reid (who started in 1999) can reasonably compete with Fisher in two treasured categories: longevity and mustache dominance.

Trotz’s run seems the most vampiric (and in general, the guy conjures up images of various D & D inspired creatures). On one hand, Trotz managed to squeeze points out of teams that were among the league’s worst in star (and fire)power. You cannot fault him for failing to transform Nashville into a juggernaut.

Which form of the undead is more exhausted: vampires or zombies?

That being said, many franchises would get antsy with his results. While he managed to break them into the playoffs for four seasons, the team was knocked out in the first round each time and never even made it to a Game 7. They’ve never won their division and some might say the main reason they were No. 2 in the Central for those years was because their other division mates rarely managed to muster even the slightest competition. Over the years, the Predators ceiling has been “frisky.”

Such middling results kept the Predators from getting many premium draft choices and you wonder how many elite players are on that roster … who beyond Shea Weber will truly threaten greatness? Oddly enough, Trotz shares a lot in common with Lindy Ruff, the only guy who has been sitting behind a bench for a longer period of time. Buffalo is off to a great start – and like Nashville – has a nice array of competent players. However, you wonder if the team could benefit from tanking for a season or shaking things up.

My question is: is the city of Nashville that loyal? Is everyone just so preoccupied with fixing the Vols that they don’t even care what happens with their pro coaches? Or could it be that Fisher and Trotz feast on human blood and sleep upside down every night?

I must know.

The Forechecker pressures the Nashville Predators into a draft turnover

June 23, 2009

On the Forecheck is one of the premier blogs when it comes to looking at hockey numbers beyond mere plus/minus and points. The Forechecker is also one of the best sources of information on the Nashville Predators.

For years, I was much like cranky MSM’ers: “numbers don’t tell the real story,” I’d say. Yet over the last year or so, bloggers like Kent, the Forechecker and Earl Sleek keep swaying my opinion. Now, whenever I see someone use plus/minus I cannot help but sport a cocky smirk.

Follow Dirk at On the Forecheck and you’ll probably have the same type of reactions.

1. It might be difficult to predict whom the Predators will end up with at #11, but talk about a few prospects you expect to be available. Is there a guy you’re really hoping will still be around?

The guy who really has people salivating around here is Jordan Schroeder from the University of Minnesota. He’s a high-end talent, with the only knock on him being his 5’9″ height. He’s solidly built, however, and draws raves as a two-way threat who would seem to fit in well with the Predators style. I wouldn’t be surprised to see David Poile trade up a couple spots if that’s what it takes to get him.

2. The defection of Radulov was a pretty big blow to the Predators, particularly since the organization’s strengths seem to be in developing defensive players. How likely do you think it might be that the Predators move their first round pick (or one of their better draft picks/prospects) to fill the offensive void?

I don’t think you’ll see the Preds move that pick to acquire a proven NHL talent, simply because I don’t think you’d get a true difference-maker at #11. Maybe if it was a top-five pick you’d get something nice, but if you’re up that high, you’d rather take a shot at a top-notch prospect that you can work with for the next several years. Don’t rule out the organization using some of that defensive depth that they’ve developed, however, as a trade chip. That’s why taking the best player available, no matter your current need, is generally a good idea. By the time that talent is developed, if you can’t use it, you at least have created some value that you use in trade.

3. Nashville seems like a team that’s been built largely through strong drafting. Talk about some of the best moves in the organization’s history. Are there any picks that stand out to you as “steals”?

You can’t do much better than Pekka Rinne as the 258th overall pick in 2004, but Martin Erat at 191st in 1999 looks pretty good as well.

4. Conversely, talk about some of the Predators’ “d’oh” moments. Are there any botched picks that really stand out as being ones that the franchise should regret?

It might be a bit early, but you’d probably call Scotty Upshall a disappointment with the 6th overall selection in 2002. While he shows occasional flashes of effectiveness, his career-best numbers this season totaled 15 goals and 19 assists, not exactly dynamite stuff. He’s on his 3rd NHL team already, too.

5. Take this opportunity to stand on a soapbox, if you’d like. Feel free to discuss the future of the Predators’ franchise or the NHL at a whole. Perhaps you’d like to discuss Nashville as a market, or something of that nature?

Nashville has a pretty bright future as an NHL market, based on the commitment that the city has made in terms of the Sommet Center lease, and the direction that the new ownership group has taken, to aggressively develop the business side of the team. There’s been talk of renovating the arena to include a stretch of retail stores to better integrate it into the downtown area, for example. Combine that with the long-term demographic shifts which keep Nashville among the faster-growing cities in North America, and I think over time it should become a well-established, reliable NHL market. If the league as a whole grows at 2-3% a year, for example, I’d expect the Preds to grow by 4-5%. That “slow but steady” development could always take a leap forward if the Preds managed to make a decent playoff run, but people are very positive about the overall direction of the organization.

Where should the Sedins cycle in 2009-10?

May 11, 2009

July isn’t that far off into the future, really. Every now and then, we’ll take a look at some of the more interesting free agent situations.

Since we named this crazy little blog after the Sedin twins, it only makes sense to start with them. Now that the Canucks are out of the playoffs, let’s ask: where will those whacky gingers land?

***

How much are the Sedin twins worth? From what I’ve read, it sounds like it will take about $13 million to wrap up those weird looking twingers. James Mirtle provided a fantastic rundown detailing the fact that they might just in fact be worth that much cash (and cap space). With that in mind, let’s take a look at the teams that should strongly consider wrapping those freakish little Swedes up:

Vancouver
Salary Cap 2009-10: (without Sedins) about $31.3 million; (with Sedins) about $44.3 million

Naturally, the team that drafts you usually gets the benefit of the doubt in re-signing a player. The Canucks have improved this season as players like Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler raise their games, but they still would be extremely weak offensively if they let their two point-per-game players go via free agency. If the Canucks are willing to tie their future to the Sedin twins, then they have the money to do it.

Twin-o-meter:

Almost too obvious, like a reference to the movie “Twins.”

New York Islanders
The Islanders cap (with or without the Sedins) is a bit hard to figure because I still haven’t quite wrapped my mind around how rookie contracts will show up on the cap. As you may or may not already know, incentive clauses will be reflected differently on next year’s cap numbers.

If Hockey Buzz’s NHLSCAP page is correct, the Islanders currently have about $32.5 million committed to players going into the 2009-10 season. The good news is that money constitutes nearly enough roster spots to fill a whole team. The bad news is that those roster spots would be filled mostly be awful hockey players.

John Tavares (please tell me the Islanders draft him, they’ve made enough mistakes already … just take the big name Canadian forward and move on) will mean a cap hit between $1 million and $4 million. In a worst case scenario, adding the Sedins and Tavares would bring the cap to $50 million.

This would give the Islanders four nice offensive players (Tavares – Sedin twins – Kyle Okposo) to construct to respectable forward lines. This could actually be a good move if Rick Dipietro can bounce back from knee surgery, but there’s just so many “ifs” that it would be hard to imagine the Sedin twins going to Long Island.

Twin-o-meter:

Could be awesome, but could also be a train wreck … like the Olsen twins

Nashville Predators
Pre-Sedin Cap: $33 million; With Sedins: $46 million

While it wasn’t the first match that came to my head, it almost makes sense. After all, isn’t cycling the puck hockey’s answer to the line dance? (cricket chirps … dodges a tomato)

The Predators could conceivably bring the Sedins aboard and pair them up (perhaps) with tail-between-his-legs Alex Radulov to give the team what could be the franchise’s greatest line ever. The Sedins seem like they would fit in nicely with the Predators’ worker bee mentality.

You’d have to think they could make the playoffs with a core of Sedins-Radulov(?)-Jason ArnottShea WeberPekka RinneJ.P. Dumont, right?

Twin-o-meter:

Could be brilliant, but might upset mainstream audiences like “Dead Ringers.”

The Southern Ontario Team-to-be-Named-Laters
Pre-Sedins Cap: $32.1 million, with Sedins: $45.1 million

If the Coyotes DO get moved, you know Mr. Blackberry will want to bring some top-end talent to a roster that was gutted during the trade deadline. There are some really nice steals and semi-steals on this roster: Shane Doan is a nice power forward who could fit in well with the Sedins at a low price ($4.55 million cap hit) and Kyle Turris/Peter Mueller both have sub-$3 million contracts that could end up being steals in the right situation.

Who knows: the South Hamilton ex-Yotes could end up adding Jay Bouwmeester and the Sedins for $20 million and make a lot of people nervous.

Twin-o-meter:

Could be ugly, like the Phoenix Coyotes situation and the movie “Stuck on You.”

Hockey Orphan: The Forechecker on the Nashville Predators

April 8, 2009
Click on the logo above to read all the Hockey Orphan entries

(Special thanks to The Forechecker for his contribution to Hockey Orphan. One of Battle of California’s SBN-mates, On the Forecheck is your go-to source for the Nashville Predators as well as being one of the most respected number crunchers in the hockey blogosphere. Make sure to check out that great blog.)

Things to love about the Nashville Predators

Underdog mentality: At times, it seems like most of the hockey world is arrayed against the Preds. Either some critics claim they can’t succeed on the ice, or others want to see the whole operation folded up and packed off to Hamilton, Ontario. But to paraphrase ESPN’s Chris Berman talking about the Buffalo Bills, “Nobody circles the wagons like the Nashville Predators.”

Young stars: There is a young core of talent this is just entering their prime years, between Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and Pekka Rinne in particular. With more prospects on the way, the cupboard is finally getting restocked after the Great Salary Purge of 2007.

Downtown Nashville: Music City certainly has things right in terms of putting an arena downtown, in the middle of a vibrant area that welcomes tourists and hockey fans alike. No sooner are you out of the arena after a game than you’re confronted by countless opportunities to eat, drink, and be merry.

Ice Girls: The music business isn’t shy about using eye candy to its best effect, and neither are the Preds.
Rock ’em Sock ’em action: Jordin Tootoo dishes out thundering hits and backs himself up well when challenged, and there’s also renowned heavyweight Wade Belak, who earlier this season crumpled Washington’s Donald Brashear on home ice. Even a star like Weber isn’t shy about chucking knuckles when the time is right.

The Crowd: The energy and feel of Predators games is more akin to college hockey than typical NHL action. Even the folks in the lower bowl know when to get loud and raz the opposing goalie. It’s all led, of course, by the crazies up in Section 303.

Stability: Unlike most expansion clubs, Nashville has had a clear vision of what kind of hockey they play and boast a stable front office to back that up. Both the GM and coach have been with the team throughout its entire 11-year history.

Things to hate about the Preds

Lack of playoff success: While four-straight playoff appearances sounds nice, four consecutive first-round eliminations surely don’t.

Budget Consciousness: The last time this team made a “go for it” personnel move, the team flopped in the first round and fiscal responsibility has ruled ever since. Peter Forsberg ain’t walking through that door again, folks.
The Immeasurable Patience of David Poile: Closely tied to the point above, GM David Poile prefers to develop talent internally than acquire it through trade or free agency. For hockey fans who love to engage in pretend wheeling & dealing, the Preds are a major party pooper.

Big Brother in Motown: The Central Division has long been “Detroit & everybody else”, and considering the budget differences between the Red Wings and Predators, and it’s doubtful that Nashville will win a division title anytime soon.

Living GM vs. Blogging GM: Central division

March 8, 2009

To wrap up our Trade Deadline coverage, we’ll take a look at the big moves (and non-moves) in each division one-by-one. Did our contributors and their respective GMs see eye-to-eye? Would those guest posts provide a better reality than what really came about? Let’s take a look at the Central division:

Real Life: Blue Jackets send Pascal Leclaire and a second round draft pick to Ottawa for Antoine Vermette
Bethany from Bethany’s Hockey Rants mainly pleaded with Columbus to rid the world of Christian Backman.

Since my picks are rarely correct, here’s the closest I came: “The Blue Jackets have a great thing going. If I were Howson, I’d look for that one extra center. If they found the right guy who can slide right into Hitchcock’s system, they should finally make the playoffs.”

And Leclaire was the main image of the BJs section. Give credit, too, to Chris Kontos who predicted that CBJ would have to give up a draft pick. A rare win for the CLS gang!

Real Life: Red Wings do nothing
The Chief aka IwoCPO from Abel to Yzerman said:

“Denver fans are literally sobbing at the thought of Ian Laperriere joining the Wings, and for that reason I’d like to see it happen. We’ll see. My prediction? Nothing. No additions. Nada.”

Correct. Good job Mr. Chief.

Real Life: Nashville Predators do nothing
The Forechecker said:

“The first caveat heading into the deadline is, “no deals that make the 2009-10 edition of the team any worse.” This Predators team is hardly in the position to make a “go for it” type of acquisition, but there are two scenarios in which they could be considered Buyers.”

He ends up being half-right. Not bad.

Real Life: Anaheim Ducks trade Sammy Pahlsson, Logan Stephenson and a conditional fourth round pick to Chicago for James Wisniewski and center Petri Kontiola.
Clare from All Hawks Hockey said:

“If I were the Blackhawks GM, I would be hesitant to make any sort of trade. Adding another center would be nice but not at the potential cost that would be required in return. The Blackhawks have some minor issues that could be addressed but I believe the Hawks can be successful with the team they have now.”

Half-right. Chris Kontos and I guessed that they’d add a center. The question is: what was the “potential cost” of the Pahlsson deal? Was that peanuts or way too much for a guy who might just go back to Anaheim this summer? I’ll leave that to the commenters.

Real Life: Blues do nothing of significance
Brad Lee from St. Louis Game Time said:

“I would stand pat. The chemistry is good. The mix with young and old players is strong. They’re winning. It’s important to keep the long view of growing from within, but the fans are desperate for a chance at the playoffs. The energy around St. Louis and the enthusiasm for this team is really strong right now. So you can’t trade Keith Tkachuk. And I don’t want to give up any picks or prospects.”

Well done, Brad. That is correct.

If you were the GM (Central division edition)

March 2, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Psh.)

Columbus Blue Jackets

Usually don’t feel moved to give photo credit but this was awesome enough: dshultz.blogspot.com

Bethany from Bethany’s Hockey Rants

(3/2)

“If I were Scott Howson, I would give away Christian Backman, yes, GIVE him away. I don’t care if we get anything in return, just make him go away, I mean sure he played six good games for the Jackets this season, but he’s totally not worth it. We still need that top line center for Nash, and all we have to offer is a broken goalie, in Leclaire, and a broken defenseman in Klesla. Who wants to trade?!”

Chris Kontos: It’s amazing how far Backman has fallen since his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2002-2003. And the fact that Columbus would give him away for nothing speaks volumes to that. Oh, wait… what? Christian Backman? I was thinking of Barret Jackman. Who the hell is Christian Backman? Bethany is right on here… I expect the Blue Jackets to make the biggest splash this deadline… but who in hell do they have to give up to trade? Looks like it will be draft picks a plenty.

James O’Brien: The Blue Jackets have a great thing going. If I were Howson, I’d look for that one extra center. If they found the right guy who can slide right into Hitchcock’s system, they should finally make the playoffs.

***

Detroit Red Wings

The Chief aka IwoCPO from Abel to Yzerman
(2/28)

If I were Tick Tock Kenny Holland, I’d drink heavily at the deadline. Actually, if I was Cindy Brady or practically anyone else, I’d drink heavily at the deadline. In Kenny’s case? I think it’s going to be a slow day so he’ll have some time to kill. Now that’s the logical consensus…not because the Wings don’t need anything. They do. But more because all the smart kids say their too close to the cap. But…if Holland finds a way to add a player, I think it will be a gritty winger.
Denver fans are literally sobbing at the thought of Ian Laperriere joining the Wings, and for that reason I’d like to see it happen. We’ll see. My prediction? Nothing. No additions. Nada.

Chris Kontos: Don’t mess with success. The Red Wings will stand pat. But adding former King Laperriere would be a HUGE get for this team.

James O’Brien: Is it possible for the Red Wings to at least feel around for Manny Fernandez or some other goaltender? Sure, it doesn’t really make a bunch of sense to mess with a good thing but on the other hand you only get so many chances to win a Cup. Nicklas Lidstrom isn’t getting any younger.

***

Nashville Predators

(2/26)
The Forechecker

The first caveat heading into the deadline is, “no deals that make the 2009-10 edition of the team any worse.” This Predators team is hardly in the position to make a “go for it” type of acquisition, but there are two scenarios in which they could be considered Buyers. First, something similar to last season’s pickup of Jan Hlavac; a late-round pick in exchange for a veteran who, it is hoped, can be plugged into the existing lineup and provide help in a specific role. The role that sticks out like a sore thumb right now is a power play specialist.

The other Bonk. The cooler, balder Bonk.

Secondly, you could do a contract-swapping exchange similar to the Whitney/Kunitz deal between Pittsburgh and Anaheim, in which two teams trade underperformers in long-term contracts to juggle their assets and take a gamble on the player faring better in a new environment. I doubt we’d see that type of trade here, but Martin Erat and/or Dan Hamhuis might make attractive candidates there.
If, in the judgment of the team, they should sell assets instead, pending UFA’s like Greg de Vries and Radek Bonk (assuming a trading partner is comfortable with his injury status) might be attractive to contenders looking for that veteran presence on defense or a faceoff specialist. No matter the case, slow & steady is the course for Nashville, and 2009-10 looks enticing with the possible addition of Colin Wilson to the lineup.

Chris Kontos: Did you know that Radek Bonk was a 3rd overall draft pick? Eventually he and Rico Fata will make awesome linemates in Europe.

James O’Brien: Nashville might be the team that truly blows my mind. These guys keep hovering around the playoffs year after year, amid turmoil and losing personnel. Would this be the team for Marian Gaborik? Wouldn’t wish that on such an intelligent franchise.

***

Chicago Blackhawks
March 2

Clare from All Hawks Hockey

If I were the Blackhawks GM, I would be hesitant to make any sort of trade. Adding another center would be nice but not at the potential cost that would be required in return. The Blackhawks have some minor issues that could be addressed but I believe the Hawks can be successful with the team they have now.

Chris Kontos: I think the Blackhawks need to make a move. They have a great young team but are ready to compete now. They need another center, especially with Sharp out, and with the right move, they could be quite the dark horse team in the playoffs.

James O’Brien: Have to agree with Chris on this one. The Blackhawks are often referred to as “a team of the future” but there is a bit of pressure on the present tense Blackhawks. If they don’t plan on keeping Martin Havlat, why not trade him for a center? No? I’m an a-what? Easy!

***

St. Louis Blues

Brad Lee from St. Louis Game Time (March 2)

I would stand pat. The chemistry is good. The mix with young and old players is strong. They’re winning. It’s important to keep the long view of growing from within, but the fans are desperate for a chance at the playoffs. The energy around St. Louis and the enthusiasm for this team is really strong right now. So you can’t trade Keith Tkachuk. And I don’t want to give up any picks or prospects.

Chris Kontos: I can’t even put into words how strange it is to see an Andy Murray coached team actually on the rise in the last 2 months of a season. This is usually Murray’s time to tank. The Blues have a solid team that is on the up and up for future seasons. I think it’s more important to get the experience in battling for a playoff spot than sell off Tkachuk. But… if Boston or Washington comes knocking for Tkachuk with a huge payday… how can you say no?


Laura from Wazzupwitchu?

If I were John Davidson, well, I’d be an old man who is extremely well off and in charge of one of the best up and coming teams in the league. Aside for the fact that I would be a paunchy late-middle ager, I have to say I would be fairly content. With his salary, heck, I could even tolerate being the late-middle ager.

Unfortunately, I am not the GM of the Blues – I’m a late 20s chick who happens to draw a salary as a teacher that is the equivalent to probably one of Brad Winchester’s game paychecks.

I agree with the GM’s assessment that the best thing we can do for the team is build from within with intelligent draft picks and prospects who have been cultivated through the farm system. The Blues have done an outstanding job of this – we currently have one of the top ranked farm systems in the league. By all accounts, we have had the most roster-damaging injuries all season out of any team, and we should have been far out of the playoff race a long time ago. Amazingly enough, here we are short some veteran leadership (Brewer, Kariya) and young guns (King, Johnson) who should be making up the core of our team… and we’re 3 points out. Players have stepped up from the Rivermen into our roster without missing a beat and we traded for two individuals (Steen and Colaiacovo) who are making a huge impact. One would say that with the roster we have now, our chemistry is set.

The most important thing when looking at this, and then looking at where we are in the standings, is the potential to throw off the team chemistry. Absolutely, positively, do I not trade Keith Tkachuk. Recent articles in the Post-Dispatch show more and more his willingness to lead these young guys into the playoffs. They also show a commitment to Walt from the other players, young and old alike, who view him as a mentor and the team leader. Davidson mentioned that the 3 games before the trade deadline were deal-makers or breakers. In those 3 games we’re 2-0-0 with the third to be played tonight. Regardless of a win against Detroit, I think that we are close enough to the playoffs (with teams beneath us who seem to be on the decline) that we stand pat with Tkachuk.

Another thing that I certainly would not do is something that rumor sites have the Blues thinking about – trading for Chris Pronger. Nothing against the guy, but this idea is wrong from several different angles. Why would the Ducks, a team who is slipping and who needs to tighten some things up, trade to another Western Conference team who is on the rise? Why in the world would they make the Blues any better than we are? If the Ducks dump Pronger it’ll be to an Eastern Conference squad.

Also mentioned in the “Pronger to the Blues” rumors is the inclusion of David Perron. He’s #3 on the team with points, and is a sharp playmaker, especially on the Kid Line. The only reason Perron’s name has been tossed about is because someone unfamiliar with the team noticed that Andy Murray called him out in the press a few times and moved him to the 4th line for a couple of games. He did that because Perron responds to this kind of treatment by ratcheting up his play a few notches, NOT because he dislikes him or wants him gone.

The other UFAs (Hinote, Winchester, Weaver, Legace) are all good for some picks and maybe a prospect thrown in with Manny. I’d try to move them – Legace isn’t showing his worth in Peoria right now, but there are teams with goalie issues moving into the playoffs who might take a risk (Buffalo). I would try to resign Brad Winchester, though. He’s fit in very well with the team this year, and is producing (10 goals and 4 assists in 44 games). He’s an extremely solid 3rd liner, and his salary isn’t huge ($600K with a cap hit of $465,000) – he’s an affordable and valuable re-sign.

One other thing I would do if I were the Blues GM – keep doing things right. I live in Atlanta and am a Thrashers fan as well (which explains the schizoid nature of my blog), and Don Waddell is probably one of the worst GMs I have ever seen. I would kill for a guy like Davidson to be down here. That being said, I am more than happy to keep JD in St. Louis where he can help with the successful re-build.

James O’Brien: There are certain inevitable things in the end of February/early March. People start to tense up about taxes. The weather’s still cold, dammit, and people are getting tired of it. And the NHL trade deadline comes and Keith Tkachuk‘s name comes up.

He’s been quite the draft pick machine for the Blues. Why stop now? Trade him for a bunch of picks and then wait for him to come back next year. Again.