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Coach Pharling

Blockbuster Deals at Draft Day

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The NHL entry draft is a very popular day for fantasy hockey. Draft day realizes young players dreams. It brings hope to the teams that have top picks and most of all it brings blockbuster deals.

There is always a cheer from the live audience when commissioner Garry Bettman steps to the podium and says, "I have a trade to announce". TSN coverage breaks from the panel and everyone watching at home leans forward and pays complete attention hoping that their team just added the missing piece. Every team goes into the draft in hopes of making their team better either by adding prospects or making a deal or both. Some teams in a position to make moves at this years draft are Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple leafs, and New Jersey Devils.

Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren recently acquired the negotiation rights for Ilya Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes. Bryzgalov is set to become a UFA July first but clearly Holmgren intends to sign the goalie before he hits the open market. In order to accommodate his contract Holmgren needs to clear cap space. Currently Holmgren has less than half a million to work with and other roster holes to fill. Internet rumours swirl with names that will be traded. Holmgren has two choices in regards as to what direction he takes next. First, move a big-ticket player like Jeff Carter or Mike Richards in return for young players and draft picks.

Second, keep the core intact and move mid ticket players like Kris Versteeg, Matt Carle, or Braydon Coburn. The second option will provide cap relief but will not replenish the lack of quality prospects in the Flyers organization. Bryzgalov may demand a big salary in the range of six million. If Holmgren is determined to make Bryzgalov his man he may have a hard decision to make. Popular rumours now have Carter going to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the eight pick at the draft and a prospect. Other rumours claim that the Flyers are not happy with Richards and trading him would also allow Chris Pronger to assume the role of captain.

Brian Burke of the Toronto Maple Leafs has publicly stated on several occasions he is shopping his draft picks and is looking for a number one center. If Burke feels UFA prize jewel Brad Richards will not sign for the Leafs for whatever reason he will look at the draft as his best opportunity to address the need via trade.

Burke has several assets to work with. Two first round picks and an early second. If J.S. Giguere comes back at a discount the monster Jonas Gustavsson is expendable now that James Reimer has signed. Depth forwards Clarke MacArthur, Nikolai Kulemin, Tyler Bozak, and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson are available and affordable. Burke also has a bevy of prospects to offer and significant cap space to accommodate a big contract. At the very least expect Burke to package two of his top three picks for a pick closer to the top ten.

New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello's biggest off-season decision to make is RFA and star player Zach Parise. Don't expect Lamoriello to move the fourth overall pick or Parise at the draft. However, in order to sign Parise cap space needs to be acquired. With a little over seven million to work with Parise will take all or most of the available cap space. Lamoriello still has a few roster holes to fill after signing Parise. Possible casualties may be Devil vets Danius Zubrus, and Bryce Salvador. Zubrus would bring $3.4M in space while Salvador provides only $2.9 M. Salvador is one of five defense under contract and moving him would create a hole on the blue line. Lamoriello also needs to start looking hard at his teamsí goaltending for the present and the immediate future. Has Brodeur lost his edge? It has been a long time since he has played at the dominant level that has made him the best goalie of all time from a stats perspective. Lamoriello needs to shop for more than cap space this summer.

I do not know if these teams will be able to make the deals they need or want to make. If history shows us anything, there will be some trades. There probably will be at least one blockbuster. We all hope that our team makes it and we get that the final piece to the puzzle. That our team walks out of the draft with the same swagger that we have when we turn off the T.V. We all hope that after the draft we have renewed hope to keep us going all summer long.
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