02/27/2008 1:54 PM
THE FAR SIDE OF THE POND:
Trade Deadline Day (TDD for the ADD crowd)
By Chad Huebner
When it comes to the GM side of hockey, I tend to leave that part to the “experts” (i.e. guys who’ve played and watched a ton more hockey than I ever will). But like in last week’s column, and because I’m following the NHL more and more closely than in the past, I’ll take a crack at the wheeling and dealing known as Trade Deadline Day (not the same ring as Judgment Day in the Terminator movies, but I can still envision the same theme music being played) or TDD, and give my insight into what I think were the biggest moves on Feb. 26. Afterwards, I’ll pick which teams were the winners and losers, though we really won’t know who was a boon and who was a bust until after the season, thus, absolving me of blame for another few months.
Chicago Blackhawks trade C Tuomo Ruutu to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for LW Andrew Ladd
Blackhawks trade RW Martin Lapointe to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 6th round draft pick
In the first deal, basically the teams are swapping guys who had a lot of promise, but are injury prone and when they were healthy, just couldn’t live up to the hype. Ruutu (which makes for a good chant ala Ruuuudy! in the movie) was part of the wave of up-and-comers for the ‘Hawks, pre-Toews and Kane. Ladd (no relation to Cheryl Ladd, I checked) was part of the 2005-06 champions. The ‘Hawks save about $1.3 million in the exchange, probably part of the plan to save their pennies for a big off-season free agent extravaganza. Of course, last time they did this, we ended up with Khabibulin, Adrian Aucion, and Marty Lapointe. Yeah, that didn’t turn out as well as planned, did it?
Speaking of Lapointe, he’s a guy who doesn’t score a lot in the regular season, but turns it up a notch for the playoffs. And that’s the problem for someone who’s played with the ‘Hawks the last few seasons. I hear he’ll add “grit” and leadership to the Sens, but I think Ottawa just needs goals right now (back-to-back shutouts will do that to you).
Washington Capitals trade a 2009 2nd round draft pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for G Cristobal Huet
The Caps actually made a few more moves on TDD (like getting retread Sergei Federov), but this one stands out for me. Huet will be challenging Ollie the Goalie for the starting position, while Ollie needs a swift kick in the padded rear for being off his game the entire season. This is a pick that can really help the Caps next season, though if they make the playoffs this year (thanks to a weak-but somehow exciting-Southeastern Division, the Caps can be a third seed with an eighth seed record), all the better for them.
Is Carey Price the next St. Patrick? Potentially, but we don’t know how he’ll do under extreme pressure known as the postseason. A risky move, but isn’t this is what TDD is all about?
Speaking of which. . .
Philadelphia Flyers acquire C Vaclav Prospal from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for D Alexandre Picard and a Conditional Draft Pick
Maybe things are finally falling in place for the Flyers to make a big run in the last month and a half of the regular season. The announcement for this deal came on the heels of a dramatic, come-from-behind shootout win in Buffalo, (where the Flyers are usually torn to pieces) on a shootout goal scored by former Sabres’ star Daniel Briere.
I don’t think I could’ve written a better script for this.
The Flyers get some added firepower from Prospal, who’s having a career year (29G-28A-57 pts) right now. His 29 goals are the most he’s ever scored in a season, but as a result, his assists and points totals are way down. I’m all in favor of the Flyers getting some extra scoring, but be warned: Prospal has done little or nothing come postseason. In 41 playoff games with the Lightning, the Ottawa Senators and the Flyers (he started his NHL career in 1996, the last time Philly made it to the Cup Finals) he only has 21 points and six goals, and four of those goals were scored in the 2003 playoffs.
Still, the Flyers could use all the help they can get and they only gave up a minor league defenseman and a draft pick to do it.
Meanwhile, the Lightning fire sale doesn’t end here. . .
Dallas Stars acquire C Brad Richards, G Johan Holmqvist and a 4th round draft pick from the Lightning in exchange for C Jeff Halpern, D Jussi Jokinen and G Mike Smith
Not that he needs the name recognition, but Co-General Manager Brett Hull got some notoriety here for making a gusty trade in order to land a guy who’s a proven playoff commodity in Richards. The Lightning weren’t going to give up Vinnie Lecavlier for the moon, and Martin St. Louis was pretty secure, too. Then they sign Danny Boyle to an extension, so that meant Richards and Prospal were the odd guys out. Richards is having an off year with a last-place team, so Dallas is banking on him to turn it up before and during the playoffs, where he won the Conn Smythe trophy in 2004 as playoff MVP.
And how often does a team land a playoff whiz and a solid goalie for backup purposes? Holmqvist was 20-16-6 for the Lightning, not bad considering their current status. He gives the Stars some extra security between the pipes, as Turco has been less than stellar during the playoffs.
But such a deal doesn’t come without a bit of sacrificing. Mike Smith will immediately jump into a starting role for the Lightning, and can become their dependable netminder for years to come. Halpern wins faceoffs. Period. And no, Jussi is not related to Ollie from the Florida Panthers, which is a shame, since it would add a little Civil War spice to that interstate rivalry (“brother against brother”, and all that jazz).
The Stars keep shining brighter each week, and they’re poised to overtake the struggling Detroit Red Wings for the number one seed. Maybe the best team in Dallas doesn’t play on artificial turf or hardwood floors.
San Jose Sharks acquire D Brian Campbell and a 7th round pick from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for RW Steve Bernier and a 1st round pick
Unless the Sabres wanted a riot to break out in front of HSBC Arena, they weren’t going to let Campbell go for next to nothing. Besides, one of the guys they let go quietly away just beat them in a shootout in their own building, so I’m pretty sure the Sabre fans were getting their torches and picks ready for a Darcy Regier “weenie roast”. Getting Steve Bernier might be better than nothing, but clearly he’s not in the same category as Campbell. Seems like the Sabres should have asked for more, be it another player or someone of a higher caliber.
The Sharks haven’t had much going for them on the blueline, so Campbell becomes their top-notch guy. He doesn’t rack up the PIM, at least in the regular season, but can still be physical, and adds a scoring dimension the Sharks will welcome. More importantly, 21 of Campbell’s 43 points this season are on the power play, something that makes or breaks all playoff-bound squads.
This looked to be the biggest deal of the day, until. . .
Pittsburgh Penguins acquire RW Marian Hossa and RW Pascal Dupuis from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for RW Colby Armstrong, C Erik Christensen, C Angelo Esposito (junior hockey player drafted by the Pens) and a 1st round draft pick
It’s scary to think how much better the Pens can be than right now. You thought Crosby and Malkin was an unbeatable combo? Pens fans have to be drooling over daydreams of Crosby feeding Hossa the puck in the slot.
But these dreams are tinged with a bit of sadness, seeing Crosby’s chum Armstrong go. Hopefully the idea of playing alongside Hossa will cheer him up. Plus, this might just be a rental pick (though a pretty good one). Then again, Hossa’s never played on a team that has so much potential, so he might want to hang around and see how things play out.
Atlanta gets a bevy of young talent, both in the NHL and looking to make their way into the bigs. Kovalchuk’s still their star player, which can be a good news-bad news thing, since every opponent can tailor their game plans to focus on shutting Ilya down.
The Winners of TDD
The Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals made the best, if not biggest and most shocking moves of the day. I feel the Stars have what they need to make a really good run at the top seed in the West, and will do enough damage in the postseason to finally get them noticed outside of Dallas. The Caps are setting themselves up for a big season next year, and maybe Fedorov will want to hang around and get more of a chance to play with Alexander the Great. Then again, Sergei the Nomad might want to play with all 30 NHL teams before he’s through.
Yes, the Sens made a big move a week before TDD to snag Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore from Carolina, but what have they done lately? Do they really think Lapointe’s the final piece in their playoff puzzle? Or perhaps things in Ottawa are so bleak, not even the likes of Hossa or Richards would be enough to turn their fortunes around?
And the other Conference leader, the Detroit Red Wings, didn’t make a splash in the trade market. They picked up Brad Stuart, a guy who’s lugging a -16 rating with him this season, and is -17 all time in the playoffs. They’re at least winning slightly more than the Sens right now, but the Red Wings can ill afford a bad stretch before the postseason begins. Maybe they should have made more of a play for Huet, just for some netminder insurance.
(That’s the rational hockey part of me talking. In reality, I’m grinning and laughing like a fool over Detroit unable to pull the trigger. You know why.)
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