I don’t know if Darryl Sutter tried to deal one of his extra defenders this off-season (Sarich, Staios come to mind), but I have to assume he did. Unfortunately, the market was saturated with other teams trying to dump expensive blueliners and an excess of NHL caliber guys still waiting in the unemployment line. Add in the tepid demand and you have a rather impossible task.
Not quite two months into the season and the landscape has changed. The Flames have re-upped Mark Giordano and are still provably mediocre when it comes to the offensive things. In addition, Ian White has struggled in his role as Robyn Regehr’s frequent partner and is the only blueliner who:
a.) doesn’t have a NTC and
b.) might have some value in the market
It also seems likely, given he Flames $55M in cap commitments next year and their limited investment in White (a one-year RFA contract) that he’s bound for free agency come June. In short, he’s an expendable asset.
The demand side of things has improved as well. Injuries and cruel reality have some clubs around the league re-evelauating their needs on the back-end. The Montreal Canadiens, for instance, have lost Andrei Markov for a rumored 8-12 months after yet another knee-injury. Having just traded Ryan O’Byrne to the Avalanche for magic beans, their current depth chart includes Roman Hamrlik, Hall Gill, Jaroslav Spacek (who has been a healthy scratch this year), Josh Gorges, PK Subban and AHLer Alex Picard. Maybe three of those guys are worth damn on the PP (Subban, Hamrlik and Spacek). Other possibilities include:
– The San Jose Sharks are another team looking to firm up their blueline. After Boyle and Vlasic, things get thin in a hurry. Demers and Boyle are the PP guys, with the former several hundred yards back of the latter in terms of offensive ability.
– One of the many problems afflciting the New Jersey Devils is their lack of NHL talent on the back-end, particularly of the "PP QB" type. Rookie Matt Taormina has been their leading guy in terms of ice time with the man advantage so far.
– The St. Louis Blues recently lost Barrett Jackman and Roman Polack to long-term injuries (fractured ankle and wrist surgey respectively) and make want to fortify their back-end in order to maintian their impressive start as the season progresses.
Of course, we can’t know the true demand around the league, nor what the potential return for a guy like Ian White may be, which is why I’ve resisted suggesting potential trade packages in this post. However, from this anglie it looks like the stars might be alligning for a White-for-a-quality-forward deal in the near future; especially if the Flames keep stumbling along.