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Morning Skate: Olympic Gloating, Trade Fallout

Dan Pennucci

Dan is a former sportswriter and English teacher. He has been covering hockey for Rotowire since 2002. Supports the New Jersey Devils, Washington Nationals and Chelsea FC.

Janet Eagleson

Janet Eagleson is a four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

To: Dan Pennucci
From: Janet Eagleson
Sent: Wednesday, February 26
Subject: Golden Canada

Dan, Dan, Dan ...

I could rub Canada's gold medal in your face right now, but I'm a far kinder person than that. Yes, Canada's men's team delivered what might be the best team defense ever displayed in a tourney like that. But there were plenty of other things that caught my eye.

Phil Kessel was outstanding. Patrick Kane, not so much. I really didn't like that head-snap against Canada that resulted in a red-and-white penalty. And it had nothing to do with the game. Honest. I thought Kane had given up that petulant crap and amped up his game over the last couple seasons. But that move was classic Kane and that concerns me -- he can be so damn good, but not when he's acting like a baby. Besides, refs are like elephants -- they have long, long memories. They don't like to be shown up like that. There may be repercussions back in the NHL.

Jonathan Quick's lateral aggression finally caught up to him in the bronze medal game. He was swimming a la Tim Thomas around the blue paint. Yikes. Do you think NHL teams will try to elicit that same kind of behavior in him over the next 45 days?

Nicklas Backstrom -- what was in your head, man? Snot -- I get it. But really? How many guys chew pseudophedrine products like candy? I know they used to do that to get pumped up. But I also know it's a lot harder to get over the counter in the States than up here. Whatever --Backstrom had a major brain fart. Not that he would have made a huge difference against Canada. Sorry, I had to slip that in again.

So what do you make of the Martin St. Louis and Ryan Kesler trade requests? Kesler's agent called the idea "b.s." Wednesday night; St. Louis isn't denying anything. I've now heard St. Louis wants to play on Broadway -- he maintains a home in Connecticut, so it makes sense. But where might Kesler land should he hit the market? Chicago? Columbus? Toronto?

Lastly, what about Ryan Miller? St. Louis or Minnesota? Will he be a good rental and will he ultimately sign in Anaheim in the offseason when Jonas Hiller bolts?

From: Dan Pennucci
To: Janet Eagleson
Sent: Thursday, February 27
Subject: Sochi Wrap

Yes, hail Canada. The last few days of the break salvaged a few more Gold Medals after a slow start: the curling teams, women's bobsled, and I suppose the hockey teams. Canada played a perfect brand of defensive hockey, using the big ice to its advantage. I loved Babcock's post-game presser where he asked who was the leading scorer and then who won the gold medal? It was a great effort from a ridiculously stacked team. Watching the Americans lose in the semis, I got the sense that close scoreline belied how much Canada controlled that game. The U.S. had that early chance from John Carlson and that seemed it until that Stastny rebound trickled wide. It was a highly frustrating game to watch. I figured the US would fold up in the bronze medal game, a la Canada  '98. Once they conceded the first goal against Finland, it was clear their hearts weren't there.

Great points about Quick, and yes, I did notice it even before you brought up his overcommitting on shots. It worked against the Russians because only getting a net front presence will disrupt it, and that area in front of the crease isn't exactly the office of most Russian forwards. Nothing Quick could do on that Benn goal after there was some confusion among the forwards on point coverage. Quick's overcommitting I don't think will be as much of an issue for the Kings, but you can be sure teams noticed it and will look to exploit it. Quick will almost need to play perfectly to secure a playoff spot for LA as the Kings aren't exactly lighting up the scoreboard, putting even more pressure on him. However, the Kings did point up 6 goals on one of the league's top defensive teams (Colorado) Wednesday, so who knows.

Kessel played well and I was disappointed to see the antics from Kane. Aside from that pass to Pavelski against the Russians, he didn't contribute much offensively, ditto for Parise. David Backes further jumped out at me as a dominant two-way forward and I loved that line of he, soon to be ex-Ranger Ryan Callahan and Dustin Brown. Jonas Hiller looked quite strong for the Swiss and I liked what I saw from Erik Karlsson and the Oliver Ekman-Larsson thing was baffling to me. He wasn't the only NHL player having to deal with home country politics it seemed, as the Russians, Slovaks and Czechs all seemed to let some previous differences filter in to roster decisions, (cough...Ondrej Pavelec...cough...KHL players...cough).

The silly season is upon us and the news about Kesler and St. Louis is not surprising at all. Mighty Mite has asked for a trade before apparently and Kesler might just want to get away from a team closer to a rebuild than winning. I thought he'd be a typical Torts player, but I'm sure the Canucks would love to get that salary off the books considering the twins, Edler and Jason Garrison. I wonder how broken Kesler's hand is and if he'll fetch less of a price tag due to his injury history. His style of play doesn't exactly protect him, but he can be such an effective force when healthy. (Ed. note: However, he looked good on that shorthanded goal Friday night against Minnesota.)

Miller in Anaheim will be scary. We've talked about he wants to be closer to his actress wife and the OC is a bit closer than Minnesota or St. Louis. I can see the Caps being involved in the bidding on him, but I think the problems in Washington crease stem from the team's system rather than who is in the blue paint. Miller is definitely going and it seems like Tim Murray wants to get as much as he can for the assets they have. Steve Ott can be a great get for a team looking to add more grit and a quality defensive center/agitator, Matt Moulson will be marketable. I can't see many players in Buffalo not being available.

These next few games will go a long way in determining who is a buyer and seller. The divisional format, especially in the Metro, will keep a lot of teams close where as they might have put up the for sale sign last year. Teams like New Jersey shouldn't be close to the playoff race. The only teams seemingly out of it in the East are the Islanders, Florida and Buffalo.

Who can we expect to jump out in the final quarter of the season, especially on lesser teams? There always appear to be a few players on teams that are out of it, who explode in the final few weeks?

What teams can you see being able to take on the contract of Ryan Kesler?

Despite my dislike of the Rangers, they seem willing to let a good captain leave, possibly in a swap for Martin St. Louis. With Stamkos coming back soon, where would you see Callahan fitting in on the Bolts?

We talked a lot about the hideousness of some of the Olympic sweaters: Who were your worst and best dressed in Sochi?

From: Janet Eagleson
To: Dan Pennucci
Sent: Thursday, Feb. 27
Subject: Wheeling and Dealing

Best dressed? What is this -- a fashion column? Spit. All kidding aside, I think the Norwegian men's curling team had it all figured out. They didn't wear the same outfits twice and those pants were at their gaudy best. Honestly, I hated all of the hockey uniforms. I just don't get the so-called ironed-on laces, stars, leaves, etc. U-G-L-Y. But the Slovenians had to take the cake -- who in their right minds go with that color palette? You can't blame a color-blind guy -- those colors are probably all visible to the average red-green sufferer.

Ryan Callahan will NEVER get traded for Marty St. Louis -- St. Louis is worth more in relative terms. Callahan wants way too much money for what he brings to the table, in the same way that Toronto's Dave Bolland seems to want too much coin for his toolkit. Callahan got lucky the season he scored 29 goals and ended up with 54 points. I'd love him on my team, but not for the cash he wants. St. Louis has a solid contract, he delivers a point-per-game and is also a heart-and-soul guy. I don't care about the age difference. Do you pay a second-line -- or even third-line -- right winger with limited offensive upside $6.75 mil a year? Not in my books.

Ryan Kesler is another story -- I'd take him in a heartbeat. There are a lot of possible landing spots, but honestly, I think Paul Holmgren has already crapped his pants in excitement when he realized this underwear model was on the market. Remember the offer sheet? It was a long time ago, but I think it's still relevant. Sure, it was Bobby Clarke's offer, but I think that trader Paul might actually give up his own child to get Kesler. And that deal might also include Brayden Schenn. Now that would be something. The Orcas need young, offensive players. And how awesome would the Flyers be down the middle with Giroux, Kesler and Couturier? #dominant

Alexander Edler is a goner in Vancouver, too. Where does he end up? I hear Detroit is calling, but I think there are plenty of other teams that might be interested in a top-four defender. Ya think? How would Edler look alongside Erik Karlsson in Ottawa?

You asked who I'm picking to break out in the last 40-odd games. There are a few. Jakob Silfverberg in Anaheim; I think he takes a jump now that he's got his feet under him on the Left Coast. Brad Marchand can't possibly stay this sluggish for the entire season. Ditto Alexander Semin, Alexandre Burrows and Nail Yakupov ... I think. But honestly, I think a couple of kids in Florida -- Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov -- could actually make hockey fans want to watch The Kitties again. And I want to see what Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson can do on the Island now that John Tavares is on the shelf. I am also really, really curious to see what Olli Maatta does now that Kris Letang is gone. Do you ever think we'd be talking more about Maatta than Seth Jones? Wow.

Now, let's play a little game. Rank each of these trios (from a fantasy perspective) for now AND for total value over the next five seasons. Then tell me why.

1. Olli Maatta, Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba
2. Sean Couturier, Jordan Staal and Martin Hanzal
3. Evander Kane, Wayne Simmonds and Gabriel Landeskog
4. Carey Price, Jonathan Bernier and Cory Schneider
5. Tyler Seguin, Matt Duchene and Logan Couture

From: Dan Pennucci
To: Janet Eagleson
Sent: Friday, Februrary 28
Subject: Meet Me In St. Louis

The curling uniforms were awesome ... again another sport where Canada is kind enough to let others play.

Your "little game:"

1. Maatta, Jones Trouba- On a strictly hockey perspective, Jones easily. Maatta when you factor in the fantasy aspect simply because Pittsburgh will score more than Nashville and Maatta will have that blue line to himself in five years. Sadly, because of the scary Letang situation but also because Paul Martin will be gone by then. I'd even bump Trouba up in fantasy a bit because that he's going to see more chances. Jones will be a special player and he's already shown amazing poise, but Shea Weber and Roman Josi likely aren't going anywhere. Also, Ryan Ellis is still somewhat relevant, that Windsor Spits dynamo.

2. Hanzal always seem to fly under the radar in Phoenix. On the ice, Couturier is going to be the best two-way player out of that group and I don't see Jordan putting up the numbers in Raleigh. Couturier has the most potential out of that group for long-term production, but I'm worried he'll end up being more defensive. Hanzal is a quiet bet for 45-50 most years.

3. From a strictly fantasy perspective, I see Kane being the best offensive player out of these three. Simmonds will be older and I don't see his body holding up vis-a-vis his playing style, but he's in a good spot on the Flyers and for leagues that reward PIM. On the ice, pure hockey, I see Landeskog emerging as the most complete of this group as he has already shown some veteran poise and can pot 50-60 points. They're all physical players but Landeskog brings some more intangibles to the ice. I also don't see Kane in Winnipeg five years from now.

4. Montreal has looked like a sieve in their last two games, albeit without golden Carey Price. The Habs have some young players in place, but I wonder how they're going to look in five years. Schneider will be in a good system in New Jersey, if only they could score a bit more for him. It's been frustrating watching the team struggle but Schneider has been solid in his last 10 starts. If the Leafs change around their system to allow less chances and commit less turnovers (stop laughing) I like Bernier. From a fantasy perspective, I like Price. On the ice, Schneider will be in a stronger system on a team that can shut down the opposition more than Montreal. Given the age of that team, I can't figure how they'll look in a few years.

5. On the ice, Logan Couture now and 10 years from now over those two. Duchene is a tremendous talent as is Seguin, but Couture has continued to impress with his overall ability and 30-plus goal seasons. Duchene will be the best offensive player out of that group, but Ryan O'Reilly and Landeskog will be the heart and soul of that Colorado team. Seguin will rack up the points if he Benn and Valeri Nichuskin stick together. Fantasy wise on strictly offensive numbers: Duchene, Seguin, Couture.

I do remember the offer sheet on Kesler and the Flyers would blow up something to get a player of his caliber. Kesler will benefit any team who can afford to get him. Considering Vancouver is still relevant out west, I think this might wait until the summer. The rumors coming out of Sochi were a bit damning toward the Canucks. Someone will make Mike Gillis a Godfather offer for Kesler and the Nucks. Edler needs to get out of that team it seems. A New York reunion with AV? I like him in mini-Stockholm with the Wings.

Busy afternoon in New York: 6 years at $33 million for the Rangers and Dan Girardi, ending speculation. He's a primarily defensive player who can chip in offensively, heart and soul guy, but $5.5 seems a bit high. We mentioned the cap going up in talks, but does this set the market for defensemen or will agents look at it and say my guy can score more than Girardi and play great D. Sounds like Callahan is gone and I can't blame the Rangers for paying Girardi over Callahan. Callahan is a great all-around player, but 45-50 seems like it's his ceiling.

Now to the Miller trade:

Buffalo gets a power forward with potential back in Chris Stewart and a starting netminder in Halak with future considerations. St. Louis adds an elite goaltender to play in front of one of the league's best defensive teams and a third-line center who brings energy, grit and a good checking game. Not rushing to judgment on calling St. Louis a clear favorite out west, not with Chicago and Anaheim, but this drastically improves the team. A bit more scoring could be needed as we discussed, but the top four D, Backes-Berglund-Ott down the middle and players like Alex Steen and T.J. Oshie and there is a lot to like here.

Miller instantly becomes more valuable in most leagues as he'll grab a handful more wins simply by being in the St. Louis crease. Stewart could give a bit more size to the top forwards in Buffalo along with Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis; Stewart could be a sneaky pick up in deep leagues.

Speaking of Western Contenders- please diagnose the following contenders' needs:

San Jose
Los Angeles

Deadline lightning round:

Christian Ehrhoff or Tyler Myers
Matt Moulson or Thomas Vanek
Ales Hemsky or Sam Gagner
Michael Cammalleri or Olli Jokinen

From: Janet Eagleson
To: Dan Pennucci
Sent: Friday, February 28
Subject: Mighty Mite Out

Lightning round, eh? Consider this -- Brian Lawton, former Bolt GM, was on a Toronto radio station today and revealed that Martin St. Louis asked him for a trade to the Rangers back in 2009. Smoke? I say there's a bonfire in Tampa Bay. Wouldn't a St. Louis -- Rick Nash deal be a doozy? Not saying it'll happen, but are the Blueshirts going to give up Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider or Derick Brassard in a deal with the Bolts? No bloody way. Just pouring fuel on the fire.

Christian Ehrhoff without hesitation. And I don't even like the guy. His game has picked up dramatically under Ted Nolan, but few have noticed. And he's poured it on since the break. He's not a high-end guy, but a top-four stud in the right setting. Tyler Myers is nice, but his game is still far too variable for me. I'm not sure he's going to become the player we all want him to be.

Matt Moulson, again without hesitation. I own Thomas Vanek, but he burns my butt in every league. I play head-to-head and Vanek is wildly inconsistent. He's a lot like Marian Gaborik -- elite talent, but questionable desire. That might be the wrong perception, but I have it anyway.

Ales Hemsky is another high-risk, high-reward kind of guy, but I'm going with the third boring pick in a row. Sam Gagner is smart; he'll find ways to get points. Hemsky can't even figure that out while surrounded by a cadre of elite young talent.

And lastly, Michael Cammalleri. I wanted to say Roli Poli Olli; I really did. But Cammy is four years younger and someone -- rightly or wrongly -- will continue to use him on the second line. Jokinen has settled into a third-line checking role and that ain't changing at this point in his career.

Now for needs. I'm a Chicago fan and I'd like to see a second-line center to take some of the pressure off Jonathan Toews. San Jose needs a kevlar-wrapped right winger to play on one of the top two lines -- Brent Burns and Martin Havlat are both injury prone. I'd hate to see to see a fault line form on the right side right before season's end. Anaheim? A second-line center. Mathieu Perreault is a nice player, but I'd want someone with more experience in there. And Saku Koivu is too long in the dentures to win 16 postseason games as the second-line man. L.A. needs scoring, particularly on the left side of the top-two lines. I like Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, but they don't have the experience to play there through a postseason run. That's just too much pressure.

To you, my friend, comes the final word. I look at the East and I see imperfect teams in every city. Does Detroit make or miss the postseason? Can Boston get through two rounds if they fail to land a top-four defender? And what's the chance the Bolts make a run straight through the middle right to the Cup finals?

Eagle out.

P.S. Trouba, Maatta then Jones. I love Seth, but his fantasy best is a long way off. Jacob Trouba gets no hype, but his game is elite in all zones. Guys in the Peg don't get no respect.

From: Dan Pennucci
To: Janet Eagleson
Sent: Sunday, March 2
Subject: Anyone viable in the East?

I truly like Moulson as a player and his ability to convert around the net. He has great hockey sense and has shown the ability to play alongside an elite player. I can see him being a good fit in Pittsburgh as he can help create even more space on the top two lines there. Him alongside Anze Kopitar in LA is intriguing too.

San Jose continues to baffle me. So much top-end talent but they fall 3-2 to Buffalo, who's been on a tear since Sochi. This loss for the Sharks comes a night after they hung seven goals on Philadelphia.

The Eastern Conference continues to befuddle me. From the fact that all but three teams are viable in the playoff race (Florida, Buffalo, Islanders) to the fact that they seem to just eat their young and no one can pull away. Boston, presumptive favorite alongside Pittsburgh, dropped games to Buffalo and Washington since the break while Pittsburgh, the runaway train top seed was embarrassed in snowy Chicago on Saturday evening. Montreal can't play defense, Toronto is enigmatic as always, Washington and New Jersey have actually looked solid since the break.

Tampa Bay is intriguing, as they've played well in the absence of Stamkos thanks to that guy who wants a trade. I'd worry about Ben Bishop in the playoffs, but with how Pittsburgh and Boston have stumbled, Tampa Bay has as good a shot as any. I do see Detroit getting in, even without Henrik Zetterberg and I can see Toronto possibly overtaking Montreal. Boston and Pittsburgh have holes and the Pens holes seem to be in goal and on the blue line, due to injury.

Scratch that: Wings out, Caps in.

Top 8 Eastern Conference: Atlantic: Boston, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Metro: Pittsburgh, Rangers, Columbus
Wild Card: Montreal, Caps.
Within a few points: Devils, Flyers, Wings, Canes.
Not happening: Ottawa, Buffalo, Florida, Islanders.