-A few days back I mentioned here that it would be interesting to watch what John Davidson, Larry Pleau and company do when faced with the March 4th NHL trade deadline. (That's Wednesday folks) Now that the team has pulled itself back into close proximity of the final playoff spot, it will be even more interesting. Let me share my thoughts. (Remember, I am not a pro sports executive...nor do I play one on TV) First...let's recap some of the trade deadline rumors in the wind.
-The Hockey News has touted a Keith Tkachuk/Dan Hinote to New York Rangers for a prospect-and-a-pick deal for several weeks now.
-There have been rumblings out of Boston that the Bruin fan base will be sick if the B's don't acquire Tkachuk before the deadline for their stretch run. KT being a hometowner and all.
-Bernie Miklasz dropped David Perron's name as one who may go to Anaheim in a deal to bring back Chris Pronger to anchor the Blues D. It seems likely the Ducks would deal Pronger if possible before he goes free-agent on them.
-Hockeybuzz.com and Team 1380's Andy Strickland has said Tkachuk won't go to the Rangers because of his no-movement clause and their up-in-the air coaching situation. Andy also blogs about the possibility of a Pronger deal but says young D-man Alex Pietrangelo might be the Blues youngster involved in such a transaction. So, with all that as a backdrop, here are a few thoughts.
If I'm JD and LP (and I'm not) I keep my eye on the future. If we're being honest with ourselves we can't get so wound up about this year's team that we lose focus. I believe we have to keep putting horses in the stable for the teams that will actually have a chance to win it all. That won't happen..IMHO..this year. Sure, Andy Murray's bunch has been wonderful to watch, especially considering the injury-hampered roster, since the first of the year. Lots of hard work. Lots of emerging talent. Great goaltending. But does this roster realistically have a shot at the finals? Even the playoffs..considering the brutal roadtrip in early April?
So in order to formulate a championship roster for 2010-15 or so when we can realistically envision a Cup, I would both buy and sell. If I can coerce Mr. Walt to spend the rest of this season in the Eastern Conference, I would move him to acquire another top offensive prospect or high pick. I might consider attempting to re-sign him to come back home for his final season or two after that if the deal is right, and he's willing to accept a lesser role on the team.
Then, if acquiring Pronger for a propspect or two is a possibility, I would also do my best to make that happen. Not only would he bring the size and nastiness back to the blue line that this team lacks, he has plenty of name recognition and equity in the market to regain his fan favorite status of a few years ago. Think of what Prongs would mean to ticket sales for '10 and beyond. And ticket sales, don't kid yourself, are a big part of winning any championship. If the front office can count on a season of sellouts...and at least a few post-season "bonus cash" games, all resources necessary can be channeled to the on-ice effort. (I don't think anybody is using number 44 these days either).
Let's see...even if you sent Pietrangelo to Anaheim in the deal. You would be looking at a defense next year that includes Chris Pronger, Eric Brewer, Erik Johnson, Barret Jackman, Roman Polak, Carlo Colaiacovo and then take your pick of (Jeff Woywitka, Jonas Junland, Jay McKee, Steve Wagner, Tyson Strachan, Ian Cole, Mike Weaver, or a few others). With or without the potential Pronger deal it appears that soon the Blues defense should almost have an embarassment of riches...minus the injuries that held the team back this year.
Managing to pull off both a buy and a sell at the deadline would also send the signal to the fans that you're still in it for this year...but making the necessary roster adjustments to be a real contender for next year, and beyond. Like I said, it will be interesting to watch.
By the way, Tuesday night's game with Detroit will be my 1000th as Blues PA man. I am blessed to have been associated with this organization and to have been healthy enough that its also 1000 consecutive games since I sat behind the mic for the first time in January of 1987. Much thanks to the man upstairs for both.