Rozner DEMANDS trades; Offers no examples

We’re coming rapid fire with our posts today.  In case you missed it, scroll down for blackhawkbob’s All-Star game rant.  The only thing I will add to it is, I find it to be an incredible waste of energy for people to be wasting their breath on how player X should be a starter over player Y, this year’s case being Ovechkin should be a starter.  Unless it’s the goalies, the ‘starters’ are on the ice for a whole 45 seconds before their line changes and the next group jumps out.  It’s not like MLB’s showcase where starters can sometimes play the entire game.  So you don’t get to see Ovechkin start, wait a whole minute and his beautiful face will grace you.  It’s nothing to get fired up about.

Ok, now to fry the bigger (and much stinkier) fish.  In Friday’s edition of Barry Knows Best, he’s abandoned his season-long quest for toughness and is instead demanding the ‘Hawks trade Havlat and Khabibulin by the trade deadline.  His reasons?  Here are some:

Khabibulin is a commodity, and in the NHL you must maximize assets and get value in return, something the Hawks have often failed to recognize, but with new faces around like Bowman and Al MacIsaac, that message will probably be delivered.

Furthermore, since the Hawks have so much invested in Huet, he must play in the postseason, where he’s been twice and hasn’t won a series.

Khabibulin is always great in contract years, but this isn’t about which goalie is better today. It’s about who’s going to play for you tomorrow.  

But, wait there’s more:

So get something for Khabibulin and Havlat before the deadline, finish the season hard, and let your youngsters get those playoff minutes that are going to pay off a year or two from now. Let them succeed and fail, grow and suffer, at the most critical time of year.

If you can admit you’re not going to win the Stanley Cup this year, then you can surely trade Khabibulin and Havlat and get players and picks in return that will help you down the road, maybe even next year.

Let’s go into the wayback machine and see what Rozner had to say on November 20th about Khabibulin.

He has outplayed Cristobal Huet, and as expected created a dilemma. The Hawks need to make the playoffs and send the message to season-ticket holders, in brutal economic times, that winning comes first.

So in November, the ‘Hawks needed to send the message that winning comes first, but now it’s about tomorrow and not today.  So which is it?  I don’t think trading away two of your best players away for prospects or draft picks sends the greatest message to a fan base starved for a winning product.  If the ‘Hawks were six or eight points out of a playoff spot, sure, unload them.  As a top five seed, they better get one helluva package before unloading those guys.  Not to mention, who is Havlat going to steal precious playoff experience from, Ben Eager and Colin Fraser?  Puhleze.  They’re going to grow and suffer if Havlat and Khabibulin are there or not. 

What Rozner fails to provide is any examples of teams who can afford to take on the contracts of Khabibulin and Havlat who are taking home 6.75 million and 6 million, respectively.  Let’s take a closer look.  The first thing you can do is scratch off any Western Conference team.  The ‘Hawks aren’t going to be dealing those two guys to teams who might help eliminate them in the near playoff future.  Among the top five Eastern Conference teams, (Boston, Montreal, Philadelphia, Washington, and New York) none of them have more than 1.836 million dollars in cap space.  In order to make a trade with the ‘Hawks, they’d have to send some big contracts over and that’s not going to happen.  That leaves the bottom feeders.  Of the remaining contending teams, (New Jersey, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Florida, and Carolina) none of them have goaltending issues so the market for Khabibulin has essentially been eliminated. 

Any of the top five teams would kill for Martin Havlat, unfortunately human sacrifice doesn’t help to lower their cap number.  The team I thought would make a huge play for Havlat was Pittsburgh.  Then I realized they are 439,000 dollars below the cap.  So unless they feel like trading Malkin and Crosby for Havlat, that’s not going to happen either (But the ‘Hawks would then be over the cap.  DAMMIT!!!).  Buffalo is the only team with enough room in the cap to acquire Havlat without having the ‘Hawks take money back.  They got a pu-pu platter of prospects from San Jose last year in the Brian Campbell trade but they traded away the centerpiece of the trade (Steve Bernier) for a third round pick.  I highly doubt Buffalo would a)want to give up stud prospects to guarantee they get raped by Boston or Washington in the first round and b) would even want to take on the money as they have a reputation of being one of the cheaper organizations in hockey.     

This brings me to my bigger point: I think there’s going to be some disappointed people at the March 4th trade deadline if they’re expecting a ton of trades.  Sure, the Martin Lapointe’s of the world will get dealt but unlike last year when there was a huge shuffle of talent, (Campbell, Hossa, and Huet just to name a few) this year will have very little.  None of the contending teams have the room to take on monster contracts like Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Gaborik, Martin Havlat, or Nikolai Khabibulin.  What you see now is basically what you’re going to get come May and June, save for injuries and minor league call-ups.  The greatest weapon teams can hope for is catching lightning in a bottle with their goaltending because if the NHL playoffs have proved one thing through the years, the best thing to stop an unbeatable offense is a hot goalie.  I forget, what team did Khabibulin play for when he won the Cup?

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