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Trading Marian Hossa

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Craig Custance has a story about DW heading down to Tampa to talk trade at the GM meetings and lists five teams who are chasing Hossa. I'll take Craig's list and give a run down down of potential players the Thrashers could get in return for Hossa.

What I would do if I were GM is target young defensemen and centers between the ages of 20-25. Why?

1) Young players on average get better. NHL players reach their peak years younger than you might think--most players have their peak performances between age 25 and age 30. As a franchise the Thrashers have continually made the mistake of acquiring or signing players over the age of 32 who are entering the decline portion of their careers. Betting on young players is wiser than betting on older players.

2) Avoid getting draft picks in return. The Thrashers record on draft is merely average, but the bigger problem is there is too much chance involved in picking 18 year olds. They are not physically or mentally mature. It is much easier to assess a player at age 20 or 21 than at age 18. The Thrashers need players that are highly likely to become quality NHL contributors and they would be better off to concentrate on young players with a track record over draft picks.

3) The Thrashers are not just one or two pieces away from being a Stanley Cup contender. If they are going to trade Hossa they need to expand the foundation of young talent that can become the basis for a Stanley Cup contender as those players hit their peak years. The Thrashers core talent of Kovalchuk, Lehtonen, Enstrom needs to be surrounded with other young guys. The Thrashers have tried going the veteran route but the team still grossly deficient in terms of determination and effort in back-to-back contests such as the other night against the Islanders.

Let's go down Craig Custance's list of teams pursuing Marian Hossa and see what players might be available.

1. Detroit

Valtteri Filppula 23, 27 points in 60 games +17. This should be the Thrashers number one trade target in my opinion. Only 23, Filppula has should tremendous growth at every level. In his second year in Finland his scoring rate nearly doubled. He came to North American at age 21 and was a point-per-game player in the AHL. In his 2nd year in the NHL he again doubled his scoring rate (with better ice time and better linemates). His development track looks like someone who will certainly be a top two center and perhaps even a star down the road. If I were GM Detroit would not get Hossa unless Filppula was coming back to Atlanta, I'm sure Hossa would need to sign an extension in order for Filppula to come this direction.

F Jiri Hudler 24, 34 points in 59 games +11. A very skilled player with strong upside. But at 24 he only has another year or two left on his development curve before hitting his peak. The biggest drawback is that he is just so small. If the Thrashers acquired him in a trade they would feature a top six that includes Recchi, Perrin, White, Hudler who are all under 6 foot with Bryan Little and Brett Sterling down in the AHL. I don't mind having small players but there is a limit and the Thrashers are approaching it already.

D Kyle Quincey 22, in the minors. He put up some good numbers for a defenseman in his age 18 and age 19 seasons in the OHL. His AHL scoring rate fell during this current season compared to the season before which is a concern. The forecaster scouting report says he has a big frame with solid potential but struggles with consistency (sounds like a lot of other current Thrashers)

D Derek Meech 23, 0 points in 19 games -2. Given plus marks for his skating and hockey sense but lacks size and suffers from coverage breakdowns. Has not put up very good plus/minus numbers while playing on some quality teams which is a warning side.

D Jakub Kindl 21, playing his first season in North America. Not sure if he is ready to step into the NHL next season or not.

D Brett Lebda 26, 12 points in 59 games +5. He would receive much more ice time if he played for Atlanta Thrashers. Would help immediately but not get any better with time.

2. Montreal

C Plekanec 25, 53 points in 59 games played +7. He has taken a major step in terms of production and is just entering his prime. Probably untouchable unless Hossa agrees to a contract extension. A bit small, but he has emerged as a legitimate scoring center.

W/C Chris Higgins 24, 36 points in 59 games +4. A well rounded player who can play on both the PK and PP units. Still likely to improve and has plus hockey sense and a strong defensive game. I like him a lot and think he would flourish offensively with Atlanta.

D Ryan O'Byrne 23, 2 points in 14 games -4. Strong and tough defenseman who in the traditional stay at home style. He will do nothing to help the offense and lack of offensive flair might be a problem in terms of outlet passing in the NHL as is the case with Exelby now.

D Ryan McDonagh, playing at Wisconsin this year as a 19 year old freshman and putting up very good numbers of an offensive defenseman in the WCHA. He likely need more time before playing in the NHL.

C Kyle Chipchura, considered to be a very good 3rd line center. In my opinion you need to acquire more of an impact player than this if you're Atlanta. Third line centers are readily available each summer through unrestricted free agency. No need to overpay for one in a trade.

3. Anaheim

The Ducks have the Oilers first rounder which will likely be quite high in a quality draft. As I mentioned above I don't want to see this team trade Hossa for picks but Anaheim will not want to weaken their roster.

D Mathieu Schneider 38 might be expendable with the return of Scott Neidermayer and he has family in Atlanta. Schneider is far too old to be on any Stanley Cup championship team in Atlanta and acquiring him would only make sense if the Thrashers were to trade him elsewhere for younger players who could help down the road.

RW Bobby Ryan 20, has split this season between AHL and NHL. He was taken 2nd overall after Crosby (what a drop off eh?) and has good hands and good size. More of passer than a shooter.

4. Dallas

Jussi Jokinen 24, 25 points in 48 games played. The king of the shootout in past years has seen his NHL scoring rate fall each season in the NHL. Is that a function of the conservative style in Dallas or a stagnating player? Nearing his prime years he might still improve in a more wide open offense.

Matt Niskanen 21, 22 points in 62 games +13. Niskanen played just 13 games in the AHL before making the jump to the NHL at a young age. A great skater with strong offensive skills. This guy could be a stud defender on the Thrashers blueline for a decade. Would Dallas give him up for Hossa?

5. San Jose

The Sharks draft better than almost any other NHL teams. They also have a nack for figuring out which of their away prospects who still look attractive before they flame out. I would be nervous about taking whatever the Sharks offer without doing a LOT of homework. Ask for the the guys they don't offer "Beware of Sharks bearing gifts." They seems to turn out defensemen at will.

C Patrick Marleau was the subject of a whole post. The more I think about the more I'm inclined to say he is not a good fit. He's already 28 and will make over $6 million the next two seasons. If he returns to the point-per-game level that salary is fine, but if not he becomes a giant salary milestone around the Thrasher neck. The team would be much better off to get some high quality youngsters who are not overpaid and use Hossa's salary to fill another whole on the roster.

D Christian Ehrhoff 25, 17 points in 55 games +1. A solid player who has always been a plus defenseman in the NHL. He could bring some much needed puck skills to the Thrasher blueline but will not add much in the way of physical play.

D Marc-Edouard Vlasic 20, 10 points in 57 games played -10. Given high marks for hockey sense and coverage. Broke into the NHL at 19 which is very impressive. Has time to improve on the offensive side and he scored over a point-per-game as a defenseman in the QMJHL at age 18. The more I learn about him the more I like him.

D Matt Carle 23, 13 points in 51 games played -7. The Sharks seemed to sour on him a bit after a hot start in San Jose. He scored a lot of points with college powerhouse Denver and won a national championship. Much stronger on the offensive side than the defensive side of the puck.

RW Devin Setoguchi 21, 12 points in 29 NHL games as a rookie. His WHL numbers make me gun shy to be honest. His WHL numbers don't scream NHL top six forward. He projects to be a either a OK 2nd line winger or a 3rd line winger based on his track record and comparable players.