With the trade deadline quickly approaching, we will be profiling several players in the weeks ahead that are likely to be dealt by March 1st.
The Islanders may be 8-3-2 since they replaced head coach Jack Capuano with Doug Weight, but their early season struggles still have them in a hole in the pursuit of a playoff spot. The Islanders trail the Toronto Maple Leafs by three points for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, still sit a point back of the Philadelphia Flyers as well and must make the most of their games in hand to catch the Boston Bruins. Their 7-1 loss to the Leafs last night doesn’t help the cause. The Islanders will surely take the rest of the month to decide if they are sellers, but if they do, Dennis Seidenberg is clearly a prime target. Seidenberg signed late in the off-season, September 28th to be exact, to an affordable, one-year deal and has provided the Islanders with more value than anyone could’ve anticipated. Should they swap him for a pick or prospect at the deadline, it would only make the deal that much better.
Seidenberg is on a one-year, $1MM deal and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. His cap hit will have been accumulated to around only $250K by the March 1st Trade Deadline.
Though a fan favorite with the Boston Bruins, Seidenberg struggled in his final three seasons with the team. Between battling injuries and struggling to put up points, it seemed as though Seidenberg had hit a wall in his early 30s. When the Bruins decided to re-sign John-Michael Liles and not bring back Seidenberg, many felt it would be the end of his career. However after an impressive performance at the World Cup of Hockey for Team Europe, the New York Islanders decided to give the veteran blue liner a shot. Their decision has paid off; Seidenberg is in the middle of his best season since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign and has been a key component in the Isles’ turnaround. At 34 years old, the German defender is on pace for what could be his best offensive year since the 2010-11 Cup-winning season in Boston. He also leads the Islanders with a whopping +18 rating, twice what the next man up, Casey Cizikas, has on the year. Seidenberg appears to be back to his old self, and his old self was one of the premiere shutdown defensemen in the NHL over the last decade.
48 GP: 4 goals, 13 assists, 17 points, +18 rating, 87 hits, 100 blocks, 19:34 ATOI
If the Islanders choose to trade Seidenberg, that likely means that either they are struggling or the Boston Bruins are continuing their strong play under new head coach Bruce Cassidy. What better story for Seidenberg than a return to Boston for yet another playoff run. Many said this summer that Seidenberg felt he would either play for the Bruins or retire, as he wanted to remain in the city of Boston. While the Bruins have Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug on the left side, as well as the veteran Liles, they have been using right-shot defenseman Kevan Miller as the pair-mate of young Colin Miller, also a right-handed shot, and could stand to upgrade that slot. The Bruins have made it known that they are looking for another left-handed defenseman, and while their search may be more for a long-term replacement for Chara, they likely would not turn their back on a deal to bring back one of the most successful players in recent memory of Bruins hockey. That is, if it’s at the right price. With Liles likely a goner after this season, the Bruins may be more willing to acquire Seidenberg if they plan to give him another year as a veteran safety net on a defense that could lose a contributor in the Expansion Draft.
There certainly are teams with a greater need on defense though, and willing to pay higher prices as well. Atlantic contenders like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets, and New York Rangers are all in need of defensive depth. However there’s always the possibility that the Islanders refrain from trading Seidenberg within the division on the off chance that they keep pace in the postseason race following March 1st. The last thing that GM Garth Snow wants is for his diamond in the rough off-season addition to be a cause of the Islanders playoff elimination.
Out west, one team in desperate need of a veteran top six defenseman is the Los Angeles Kings. While the Kings would likely rather add a right-shot defenseman, those can be hard to find and Seidenberg presents a great option for the team regardless. Seidenberg has a history of playing on the right side, and would be a significant upgrade to Kevin Gravel on the bottom pair. Also, don’t be surprised if the Nashville Predators start sniffing around for a stay at home defensive defenseman like Seidenberg prior to the trade deadline. Although they have tremendous blue line depth, the Predators could use a player with Seidenberg’s two-way tendencies and defensive instincts. Seidenberg would fill out what would likely be the best six-man blue line group in hockey.
Likelihood Of A Trade
Seidenberg’s trade fate is obviously tied to the success of the Islanders. New York is battling just for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and assuming they have that space locked up on March 1st, even if they are currently in position then, is a precarious situation. If the Islanders want to hedge their bet on a postseason run, they may choose to trade Seidenberg, who could potentially earn them a good return. Meanwhile, Seidenberg is an ideal trade candidate for a contenders due to his extensive postseason experience and performance history, his checking ability and strong two-way game, and of course a cap hit that will hardly make a dent. For all those reasons though, the Islanders could also choose to simply retain the big veteran. They don’t have a readily available option to step in as a replacement and they too face a very strong chance of losing a defenseman in the Expansion Draft and could seek to extend Seidenberg. For those reasons the probability of this deal will remain uncertain unless the next couple of weeks really paint a clear picture of the Eastern Conference playoff race.