Monday, June 9, 2014

Are Ovechkin/Phaneuf Tradble?

1) While it appears that there are certainly going to be many more than usual big names thrown about as trade bait this month and into the summer (we will have our annual pre-draft post naming those) two of the biggest and intriguing names we are hearing are none other than Dion Phaneuf and Alex Ovechkin.  In the case of the former he just recently (before the season concluded) signed a 7 year 49 million dollar extension. While Ovechkin is in the middle of his deal that has 7 more years with an annual cap hit to Washington of 9.5+ million. 

2) The important aspect with respect to Ovechkin is his "No trade clause" kicks in July 1. meaning up until then the Capitals would theoretically be free to deal the Russian super star without his consent. After that date we believe he would have limited veto power over his possible destination. As we saw a couple of seasons ago with the Dany Heatly fiasco in Ottawa, or the Nash trade more recently, having flexibility when dealing a player is key to getting a good return.  Therefore we believe it this along with Ovechkin coming off an impressive 50 goal season would make him a potentially desirable commodity for a goal starved team or one looking to add star power to attract/excite its fan base.

3) With respect to Phaneuf, he signed his deal BEFORE the epic Leafs collapsee that cost them a playoff berth.  The team was still riding high when he inked his massive deal.  Many at the time criticised the team for it, but others said they had little choice, as they had no one to filll his shoes if they let him go for nothing. Now, he is signed  and  like Ovechkin after 7/1/14, has some veto power over his possible destinations. Phaneuf, like Ovechkin has been a lightning rod of sorts through out his career. Both on and off the ice.  He plays with an edge, and at a high level, but never quite a Norris calibre defensemen as his salary would seem to indicate.  Ovechkin on the other hand has won almost every individual award but his team has failed to get past the 2nd round in the playoffs since his arrival in DC.

4) Which brings us the the question: Are either of these players tradable? In theory any player who doesn't have a iron clad No trade clause is tradable. We of course did our usual research to see if there is any interest and sure enough there was. We then attempted to inquire if either of these players are 'on the block'.  That answer is always a bit more tricky to determine. Teams don't necessarily want it known they are dangling a player as this could potentially drive his value downward.  From what we could find out (through 3rd parties-agents, etc) that Phanuef has certainly been discussed and Ovechkin's name has been broached but not initiated by the Capitals. We will tell you that the interested team was not rebuffed entirely possibly leaving that admittedly 'heavy door' open.

5) Of the two Dion would seem to be the most likely candidate to be dealt.  The biggest reason one scout told us is "the absolute dearth of quality defensemen available in this summer's" (UFA class).  While his cap hit (7 mil) might deter some, it won't prevent a few decent offers coming the Leafs way. Our sources tell us the most likely destinations would be 'North of the Border  with an outside chance of a west coast team'.  Might a return to Calgary be in the offing?  "Dont' be shocked to see it", is what one asst GM told us this morning.  As for Ovechkin, its a little bit trickier. Ted Leonsis, the Capitals owner, loves his captain's star power.  In a fickle fan base like Washington its vital to have a star attraction to keep the arena filled. Therefore while it appears that Leonsis would consent to Ovechkin's being traded he would want a player(s) with some star power in the return.  The other fly in that ointment is the fear of Alex pulling a Kovolchuk and "retiring"  to the KHL if he is dealt to a team he may not approve of.

6)  Ironically a deal or a one for one, Ovechkin for Phanef isn't totally implausible.  Would fit both teams needs. One source tells us 'if the Leafs approached the Caps and those players were part of a larger 4-5 player swap something could get done.'  The more likely stop for 8 could be Montreal where his buddy Ander Markov is a mainstay, but at the moment an UFA. They may an impasse with impending RFA PK Subban, but would they be willing to part with him for Ovechkin?  Our sources say it isn't likely, but not impossible.  The Canucks might throw an offer for the star winger, but it would have to include Kesler for the Caps to listen. Again, not likely, but far from impossible. So to sum up we'd say based upon our league-wide discussions the odds of Phaneuf being traded is 40:60 against and for Ovechkin its 25:75 against. Both will be in play, but we wouldn't bet the ole farm on a deal, but as they say, ya never know! ; )

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