It's Time for Bodies to Start Moving
A number of factors have contributed to a super-slow season of trading thus far in the NHL, with the restrictions of the salary cap system probably the No. 1 reason.
But, with the league's Christmas roster freeze over, you have to believe action will start to heat up heading towards the trade deadline.
That deadline, don't forget, has been moved up this year to Feb. 27, a full 10 days earlier in the schedule compared to last season.
Between injuries and tight races, however, GMs are starting to get antsy now.
One of the most interesting teams to watch will be the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Desert Dogs have had a decent December under Wayne Gretzky, with a win in San Jose on Thursday night bumping them to 4-4-2 in their last 10 games.
Still, the Coyotes sit eight points out of a playoff berth and skate out of the very tough Pacific Division.
So, even if Gretzky keeps them going in a better fashion than was the case earlier this year, you have to believe Phoenix will be a seller this winter.
And they have some things to sell, including unrestricted free-agents-in-waiting Shane Doan, Ladislav Nagy and Mike Comrie.
Doan, a 30-year-old power forward, would obviously be the most cherished commodity, although his goal against the Sharks on Thursday was only his seventh of the season.
At $3.4 million a year he's not crazy expensive, and he was a 30-goal shooter last year and a member of the Canadian Olympic team.
If Phoenix GM Mike Barnett chooses to move Doan, he's a player who could theoretically make a Butch Goring-like impact for a playoff team.
Imagine, for example, how Doan could change the look of a smallish Montreal Canadiens squad that's already looking very impressive these days and has excess youth - Canadian junior goalie Carey Price, Kyle Chipchura, Andrei Kostitsyn - to make a move.
If the Coyotes could put together that kind of a deal and then draft high next June, the Barnett-Gretzky program would get a huge boost.
Proving the best deals are usually the ones you have to wait for, meanwhile, you have to wonder if Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson would have fared better in doing a deal with Mikael Tellqvist if he'd been able to hold out a bit longer.
Anaheim is in desperate straits right now, having to make a deal to acquire goalie Sebastien Caron from Chicago to add some depth after losing Michael Leighton on waivers and seeing both Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Ilya Bryzgalov go down with groin problems.
Going into Friday night's game in Raleigh, the Ducks were prepared to go with Michael Wall, formerly the minor-league backup to Leighton, and ECHL callup David McKee, although they were hoping Bryzgalov might be ready to return.
Maybe Tellqvist would have been an enticing commodity for the Ducks, who have also lost defenceman Francois Beauchemin with a lacerated spleen.
Columbus, meanwhile, was just getting into the playoff hunt when Pascal LeClaire was lost for a month or more. Fredrik Norrena certainly looked less than terrific in giving up seven to the Red Wings on Thursday.
Then there's the Leafs themselves, of course, a team currently and understandably dissatisfied with the work of goalies Andrew Raycroft and Jean-Sebastien Aubin.
Tellqvist's .902 save percentage, after all, is not only better than that of Phoenix teammate Curtis Joseph, it's better than either of the Leaf goaltenders these days.