Here’s a thought: with so many teams on the want list for a ‘power forward’ or ‘top-six defenseman’ coming up to the trade deadline in February, why not utilize the upcoming All-Star game in Ottawa as a scouting session? The ASG is designated as a carefree weekend for players and fans alike to have fun. But hear me out – several players participating in this year’s game have openly been declared by their teams to be viable trade possibilities. So while the players play, the scouts should scout. Specifically, it’s teams with players participating in the ASG that could benefit. A team like the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have made it no secret that they are in the market for a power forward, can take the opportunity to see how players from other teams perform on the ice with their own.
For example, Leafs GM Brian Burke still has a great relationship with the Anaheim Ducks and all trade rumors involving one team usually links to the other. Earlier in the month, Anaheim GM Bob Murray stated that he was willing to trade everyone on his team with the exceptions of Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. So if the players mesh, why not negotiate? Imagine Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, or Dion Phaneuf finding chemistry in the ASG with Ducks forward Corey Perry.
Many teams are also in the market for a defenseman. Nashville’s Ryan Suter, for example, is an all-star defenseman presumed to be available. This is where a team like Philadelphia, who are aggressively seeking a new defenseman, can see how well their man Kimmo Timonen plays partnered up with a player of that skill-set and how well they could handle the puck to star forwards Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell, who have also selected for the ASG.
All-Star weekend is a chance to have a little fun but, at the end of the day, the NHL is a business that never rests. With what is expected to be a very busy trade deadline creeping up, the ASG could be the perfect opportunity to make assessments. It would give scouts, coaches, and GMs a chance to actually witness their players on the ice with those of another team. It allows a team to see if the trade could work before making a deal instead of making a deal and hoping for the best. A lot of teams over the last few years have been building from the ground up – starting fresh and bringing in draft picks and prospects. This seems to be the year of the all-star; every team seems to what a top-six player and you can see them all in one place: Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place this weekend.
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