Sports Outside the Beltway

Twenty three days to the NHL trading deadline

Across Canada and the US, General Managers are already evaluating their team in preparation for Feb. 26th. For the Columbus GM Scott Howson, the big decision is what to do in regards to goaltender Pascal Leclaire. From the Columbus Dispatch-

The next three weeks are crucial for the Blue Jackets, who must decide whether they are a playoff-caliber club and a buyer or a seller at the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

On Feb. 27, the off-ice focus should shift to re-signing goaltender Pascal Leclaire, who is set to become a restricted free agent July 1.

First, a little background.

In the old NHL, there was a gentleman’s agreement that general managers wouldn’t poach other clubs’ restricted free agents by signing them to offer sheets. In the new NHL, gentlemen have gone the way of enforcers, which is to say there aren’t as many left.

Last summer, Edmonton general manager Kevin Lowe extended offer sheets to Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek and Anaheim’s Dustin Penner. The Sabres matched the Vanek offer (seven years, $50 million), but the Ducks let Penner leave for five years, $21.25 million. And a new day dawned.

Offer sheets used to be rare. There were only seven of note between 1990 and 2006. Now, it’s considered another way, albeit an expensive one, of adding star power.

Many have assumed that offer sheets could be extended for the likes of pending restricted free agents Shea Weber, Dion Phaneuf, Corey Perry, Matt Stajan and Alexander Semin, among others.

Does anybody doubt that Leclaire would be near the top of that list?

I might. Leclaire is having an exceptional 07-08 but what was his record like before this year?

59 games played 17 wins 32 losses 0 Overtime losses 3.13 Goals against average .905 save percentage

Those statistics are below average for a starting NHL goaltender. I could also add that Leclaire wasn’t even the starting goalie for the Blue Jackets in 06-07. Instead Fredrik Norrena did most of the net work for Columbus, playing in 55 games.

Could Leclaire have blossomed into a top goalie? Perhaps, but part of one season proves nothing. With his being a restricted free agent and Columbus in contention for a playoff spot, I wouldn’t trade the goalie. That’s unless some team wants to trade the farm to get Leclaire. That will happen sometimes. Nashvile last year traded three players to get the oft injured Peter Forsberg just before the trading deadline. What is Forsberg doing these days?

Update- Another player rumored to be on the trading block is Toronto’s Mats Sundin. He is 36 years old and still a good scorer, Sundin does however have a no trade clause in his contract is a unrestricted free agent at season’s end. A team trading for Sundin could see the Swede take a hike a little over four months after acquiring him.

If Toronto does trade Sundin, lay odds it is to a Western Conference team and definitely not Maple Leaf Division rival, the Ottawa Senators.

Related Stories:
Recent Stories:

Comments are Closed


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.