The NHL trade deadline is less than 1 month away. However in this shortened season, the race for playoff spots is tighter than ever. The number of teams who have given up, at this the half way point of the NHL year is few, and as a result we have less confirmed sellers right now than we normally do at this point in the year.
I’m sure that in a month, there will be more than a few teams to add to the list of deadline sellers, but as it stands lets look at Columbus. Once again, the Blue Jackets are having a poor season, and are currently in last place in the NHL, and 8 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Don’t get too down though, Jackets fan, all hope is not lost. The team has a plethora of draft picks in June including 3 first rounders. New GM Jarmo Kekalainen was a real draft guru in St. Louis and should be able to turn those picks into quality talent. He also has some UFA rentals to trade. The question will be, is Columbus looking for more picks, or for prospects to accelerate the rebuild. For this article, I’m going to assume that the Blue Jackets are willing to trade for picks, merely to give some comparisons in my estimated value.
Vinny Prospal: 38 years old, Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of the Season, $2.5 million in cap hit, and 8 goals so far this season. Prospal screams Trade deadline rental. He brings a ton of experience, with well over 1000 career NHL games. Prospal will be a good addition for teams looking for extra 2nd and 3rd line scoring down the stretch. Estimated Value: 4th round pick.
Mark Letestu: Tied with Prospal for the team scoring lead with 12 points, Letestu is 28 years old, and with a $625,000 cap hit, Letestu may not be as talented as Prospal, but his contract is more attractive as well. He could be good for a team looking for bottom line depth and will get a player who can play both Centre and Wing. Letestu has performed well in Columbus, and for that reason, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Jackets resigned him instead of trading him. Estimated Value: 4th round pick.
Adrian Aucoin The 39 year old has a $2.25 million dollar cap hit. Aucoin has had a great career, but at this point is basically just a filler on someone’s defence. He would be playoff depth and experience, and would likely come very cheaply in terms of trade value. Even at his age, Aucoin is still playing nearly 17 minutes per game, and has leadership intangibles. Estimated Value 6th round Pick.
What do you guys think, have I valued these three trade deadline rentals too high? too low? Feel free to add your comments below.