Monday, March 2, 2009

The Afinogenov question

Buffalo Sabres Patrick Lalime
With the trade deadline quickly approaching the Sabres have one player that stands ahead of the rest as one likely to go, and that is Maxim Afinogenov.

Unlike Kotalik, Connolly, and Tallinder there is obviously no interest in bringing back Afinogenov next season, and it doesn't look all that likely that he will play again this season either.

While technically still on the injured reserve list, the whole world knows that he is ready to go, but is more convenient to keep on the sidelines, now that he is behind Andrew Peters and half of the Portland Pirates on the depth chart.

So while the reasons that Buffalo wants to get rid of him are obvious, there is little interest that other teams are likely to have in him.

Any teams not making the playoffs will want nothing to do with Afinogenov as he will be a free agent this summer, and will only give them questionable quality in return. Teams towards the top of their conference also have no interest in Afinogenov as they would not want to break up their roster for a player of questionable talent.

That only leaves the teams in the middle, and despite how things appear I think it is more than likely that one of them will be interested in Max Afinogenov. For one, he can be had at a very cheap price. The Sabres have shown no interest in him, and will probably put him on waivers to the AHL if he can't be traded this weak, as a result Buffalo would be happy to get anything in return for him, so he could be had for very little, and a low round draft pick would be seen as a good trade for Buffalo.

The teams that will want Max will be those on the edge of making the playoffs, and realizing that they need to change something to turn things around. Montreal and the Rangers are two such teams that while currently in a playoff spot, are in freefall, and are desperate to change something to turn things around. The Canadians are unlikely to take a risk with Afinogenov, but the Rangers would be interested in him. New York has been struggling as of late, and needs to shake up the lineup in one way or another, Afinogenov does have the potential to be decent in the right system, and the Rangers have one where teamwork is already not a main priority. Furthermore Max is both cheaper and more reliable then the Rangers other option in Sean Avery.

Another team in the East who may be interested are the Ottawa Senators who appear to still think that they can make a run at the playoffs this season. Basic math indicates that they are out, but their GM is an idiot and who has indicated that the Senators look to be buyers at the trade deadline this year.

Out west the market for Afinogenov looks smaller as border teams such as the Ducks, Predators and Wild are all unlikely to be willing to take the risk. The most interested team in the west would probably be the Columbus Blue Jackets who may be looking for some extra fire power as they try to hold on and make the playoffs for the first time in the franchise's history.

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