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Monday, February 8, 2010
Cullen, Svatos available, but can they help?

By Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun

Editor's note: There's the March 3 trade deadline, and then there's the Olympic roster freeze that runs from Feb. 12-28. Between now and Feb. 12, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun will look at 10 potential trade baits and which teams have a chance to land some much-needed help.

Matt Cullen and Marek Svatos

Scott Burnside: Well Pierre, the clock is ticking down to the Feb. 12 Olympic roster freeze, and as you reported Sunday, the Carolina Hurricanes finally got the Niclas Wallin deal done and sent the veteran defenseman to San Jose along with a 2010 fifth-round pick for a 2010 second-round draft pick.

But Carolina GM Jim Rutherford is still a busy man. He'd like to move forward Ray Whitney, as we've already discussed in this space. But the player I'm curious about is center Matt Cullen. One of the game's good guys, Cullen was part of the Canes' Stanley Cup squad in 2006, so he knows the ropes and is one of the few centers available on the market right now. He is comfortable playing the point on the power play and relatively inexpensive at $2.8 million with a slightly higher cap hit ($2.875 million). What say you maestro of the trade machinations?

Pierre LeBrun: You know, despite Cullen's impressive credentials, he's not a name I've heard very often in my conversations around the league. Perhaps that's an indication there's a bigger market for wingers than centers. I think Cullen would be a good fit in both Nashville and Phoenix; but as everyone knows, money is a problem with both franchises, and Carolina, as was the case Sunday, is not taking money back in any trade. Another name that surfaced this past weekend is Marek Svatos. He's an unrestricted free agent July 1, and a couple of sources say he's being shopped by Colorado. If Pittsburgh can't land a Whitney or an Alexei Ponikarovsky, wonder if Svatos wouldn't be a good consolation prize come March 3.

Burnside: Svatos' stock sure has fallen, hasn't it? He had 32 goals and was a part of the Slovak Olympic effort in 2006, and now has just nine points in 39 games for the Avs this season and is minus-11. Buying teams likely won't have to part with much to acquire the winger. But back to Cullen for a moment. Rutherford couldn't wait to get Cullen back to Carolina after he signed with the New York Rangers a couple of season ago, which speaks to his character and ability to fit into a dressing room. His abilities on the point would make him attractive to teams like the Rangers, who have struggled on the man advantage. Or how about the Atlanta Thrashers? GM Don Waddell insisted they'll be a buyer before March 3 if they can stay in the playoff hunt (they began the week one point out of eighth), and with Ilya Kovalchuk gone, there is a need to beef up the Thrashers' power play. Hmm.

LeBrun: One player I've always admired is Ethan Moreau. The Oilers are shopping him and many more as they try to break their logjam of contracts and rebuild the club. Moreau has one more season at $1.75 million. He's a fearless leader and ultimate playoff-type ingredient in my mind. I know Washington probably already addressed that void with Mike Knuble this past July, but I would love to see the Caps pick up Moreau. But I suspect GM George McPhee is quite happy with his current roster, given the team's 14-game winning streak!

Burnside: It's not really an issue with Cullen, who has 11 goals and 37 points, but for some GMs looking to add offense before the deadline, it really requires a leap of faith. Like almost every player in Edmonton, Moreau has fallen on hard times with just four goals, but as you point out, history shows he can be a productive player and he is a warrior. But is that enough to make a GM kick in a third- or fourth-round draft pick and the balance of his contract? That's the question.

LeBrun: Good point, Scotty. The compensation in these deals is always a guessing game. As much as I'm sure Carolina hopes to recoup a first-rounder for Whitney and Toronto hopes for at least a second-round pick for Ponikarovsky, it's interesting to remember Pittsburgh paid only a third-rounder for the best pickup at last season's deadline, Bill Guerin. The Sharks paid a second-rounder for Wallin, although they also got a fifth-rounder in return. I don't see a lot of first-round picks changing hands this year. Until tomorrow, my friend.

• You also can get up-to-the-minute trade discussion in Rumor Central.