When he was their GM, Colorado Avalanche President Pierre Lacroix always called it "teasing time" -- that initial trade offer that produces the sheepish chuckle or two from the seller, as in, "Well, maybe he'd bite on this, you never know."
The usual response from the potential buyer is a laugh.
It's the time when both sides hope the other might be half-moon crazy, so they get their pie-in-the-sky pitches out of the way before settling down to more realistic trade fare.
Lacroix, who was responsible for such Brinks job deals as the ones that brought Patrick Roy, Ray Bourque and Rob Blake to Denver, isn't as involved in the deal-making process anymore. But that can't stop us here at SI.com from engaging in a little teasing time. Already, there are rumors of teams getting itchy to unload some of the pricey cargo listed here, so why not act as the middleman and try to broker some deals, shall we?
Just call me hockey's version of Mr. Haney of Green Acres fame here, wantin' some fair trade in return for my Gen-you-wine hockey player merchandise.
First up for sale:
I see and hear that there are NHL teams looking for a bona-fide power forward on the left side, and Flames GM Jay Feaster may be listening to offers.
Well, who wouldn't want a player who has posted 27 goals and 50-plus points in each of his last two seasons? So what if turns 30 in December and carries a big, lengthy contract (five years left at $3.3 million per)? Bourque's numbers are proven and he's scored three goals in his first five games.
Possible trading partner: Colorado
The Avs look like they will lose top-six left wing Peter Mueller to concussion symptoms for an unknown period again, so they could offer one of their top three defensive prospects and/or maybe throw in left winger TJ Galiardi too. Besides, isn't there an unwritten rule in hockey that says stars named Bourque must be traded to Colorado?
While teams are genuinely interested in Bourque right now, Bouwmeester's sales tag is becoming a lot like that rainbow-colored dress shirt on the clearance rack with lower price stickers barely covering up the previous higher ones. How dearly Feaster must want to move this grossly overpaid defenseman ($6.6 million) who plays with all the passion of a Stepford Son. Still, there might be a team out there that is teased by his potential.
Possible trading parter: Carolina
How about Bouwmeester to the 'Canes for Tuomo Ruutu? The Flames get some size and skill back at forward in the wake of the Bourque trade, and Bouwmeester gets to join a defense that already has some nicely overpaid, underachieving fellows like Tomas Kaberle and Joni Pitkanen. What's not to like? Sign the papers! We could rename the Carolina defense the Not-Such-In-A-Hurry-Canes. Now that's marketing.
Has anyone taken a good look at the Jackets' way of doing business with their player payroll? Umm, maybe they're just a little too.....looooong, some of these contracts?
OK, we can see Rick Nash getting a fat deal. (He's still due between $7.5 and $8.2 million for every season through 2017-18.) But was there really a need to keep Fedor Tyutin locked up for SEVEN more seasons at $4.5 million per on the last six? Really, for a guy who averages six or seven goals a season, 20-30 points and double-figures in minus? Really now.
Another D-man, Marc Methot, who scored zero goals in 74 games last season, got a four-year deal at $3 million per. We won't even mention the six-year deal for James Wisniewski, who has yet to play for the (as of this writing) winless Jackets, thanks to an eight-game suspension from Sheriff Shanahan.
Nash is still attractive, but is there anybody who wants to bite on one of those other guys?
Moving on then. Next up:
This aging blueliner must buy his agent a new house or something every year. If he doesn't, he should, because how Morris keeps getting teams to give him nice, healthy, long-term contracts every few years is truly one of the great mysteries of our time.
At 32 last season, Morris played 77 games for the Coyotes and put up five goals and 11 assists with a minus-2. Then he didn't play at all in the playoffs because of the dreaded "upper body" injury. Nice little numbers we suppose, but enough for another THREE-YEAR contract at $2.75 million per? Morris went through his first five games this season without a point and is minus-4, and so maybe the Yotes are looking to pack his well-traveled bags for another suitor, since we're in teasing time and all.
Possible trading partner: Calgary Flames
How about Morris for Alex Tanguay? Because when you have a 31-year-old left winger like Tanguay who has a five-year contract that will keep paying him $3.5 million per at age 36, well you gotta do it.
Olli Jokinen makes sense, too. That way, Morris can go back to Calgary, where he started his career, and Phoenix can get the full Jokinen experience again, the kind that kept him there less than a year in 2008-09.
Or how about Morris, an entire three-block section of seats at Jobing.com Arena (sure to be unused and in pristine condition) and a promissory note from the City of Glendale on some great land lease rates around the arena in exchange for Jarome Iginla?