Florida or Tampa Bay as a trading partner with Colorado doesn't make a lot of sense.
The Colorado Avalanche have the #1-overall pick in the 2013 Draft and it's widely assumed that that they will be using it on Portland Winterhawks D Seth Jones. Jones is considered by most to be the top prospect in the draft.
Freshly inked Head Coach/VP of Hockey Operations, Patrick Roy, has made his mark already by telling Excutive VP of Hockey Operations, Joe Sakic, that the Avalanche, "need to study the possibility of trading the teams first round pick."
Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshinski quotes Roy as wondering aloud saying, "Are we going to keep the first overall? Are we going to move the first overall?"
And Adam Gretz of cbssports.com has Roy "reportedly being the one working out trades with other teams, and it appears that one of those trades could include one of Colorado's most valuable assets, the #1 overall pick."
Gretz concedes that a GM (or in this case, the head coach/VP of hockey ops?) wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't at least listen to offers. He believes that maybe Roy is "drumming up interest in the pick so that another team presents them with an offer that totally blows them out of the water."
There are six teams between the Avalanche at #1 and the Sabres at #8. All of them could presumably put together a strong package in a pitch for the coveted top-pick. And, of course, all of them would represent less of a drop in the draft than the Sabres.
The player coveted, however, doesn't seem to be Jones. Teams are looking at Halifax Mooseheads C Nathan MacKinnon. And there isn't a team in the NHL who wouldn't want a potential franchise center like MacKinnon.
Sabre great Danny Gare was on WGR's Hockey Hotline today. He, Kevin Sylvester and Andrew Peters were discussing the possibility of Colorado trading the pick and with whom they would trade?
For a good chunk of the segment they talked about Florida who has the #2 overall and Tampa Bay at #3.
Their thought process needs to be questioned in this matter as to why either of those two teams would want to make an "blown out of the water offer" to Colorado to move up one or two spots to draft a top-line/#1 center.
The Panthers drafted Jonathan Huberdeau #3 overall in the 2011 Entry Draft. Hockey's future has Huberdeau as the third best prospect in the league.
In the pipeline for the Cats down the middle are Nick Bjugstad (ranked as the 39th best prospect,) Drew Shore and Rocco Grimaldi.
Florida doesn't really need another center prospect, although if MacKinnon dropped to them, the choice is easy. What they could use is an NHL-ready, potential franchise defenseman similar to Jay Bouwmeester, picked third overall by the Panthers in the 2002 draft. Sitting at #2 and having someone else pick MacKinnon opens the door for them to draft just that in Jones.
And besides, Petey, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that Brian Campbell's trade value has declined considerably. Not to mention that I believe Florida would be remiss in trading away the league's top-rated goalie prospect in Jacob Markstrom (#12 overall.)
As for Tampa Bay, they're in pretty good shape with the #3 pick.
If Jones and MacKinnon occupy the first two picks, they'll be "settling" for Halifax LW Jonathan Drouin.
Drouin is an electric player with great hands and serious playmaking skills. After amassing 105 points in 49 games this past season, some believe he has the most talent of the three. He won the Michael Bossy Trophy as the QMJHL's best professional prospect and many consider him on par with Chicago's Patrick Kane.
The Lightning already have a bonafide #1, franchise centerman in Steven Stamkos. They have veteran Vinny Lecavalier signed for an eternity (with a no trade clause) in a top-six role and Vladislav Namestnikov as an up and coming two-way center.
In addition they have undrafted FA center Tyler Johnson. As an overager for the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL he racked up 115 points in 71 games in the 2010-11 WHL season with seven goals and seven assists in 14 playoff games that year. With the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) this season he scored 61 points (37 goals) in 62 games and was named the 2012-13 AHL MVP.
Not to discount what MacKinnon could bring to the Lightning, but I tend to believe that they're salivating at a potential top-line of Drouin/Stamkos/St. Louis.
It would make more sense if Tampa was willing to trade up to land Jones than MacKinnon, but they drafted Victor Hedman with the 2nd overall pick in 2009. He has a similar build and skill-set to Jones, has 258 NHL games under his belt and is only 22.
Simply put, the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning are in pretty good shape if they stay put. They will get one of the top three players in the draft all of whom occupied the top-prospect spot at one time or another.
Not to say that it couldn't happen, but why on earth would either team give the Avalanche an offer they couldn't refuse for the #1 overall pick when a franchise-type player will fall to them if they stay put?
Doesn't make a lot of sense.
For the Sabres at #8, or any team occupying the #'s 4-7 slots, that's a different story.