Friday, March 10, 2006

 

Trade Deadline Analysis

The National Hockey League trade deadline has come and gone and the General Manager's can let their phone take a rest. There was plenty of activity throughout the past 48 hours that needs critiquing and discussing - comments welcome. This is the new NHL where small market clubs - read the Oilers - can be buyers and large wallet clubs can be passengers - read the Laughs.

Who were the winners? Who were the losers? What are the long-term prospects for clubs?

Winners - in no order

Edmonton Oilers

Craig MacTavish stated it best - "We are spending like drunken sailors." The Oilers are making a push to keep their playoff spot, win a round and make a real run. This club badly needed a goalie and got it in Dwayne Roloson. The team could not afford anymore games with Conklin and Morrison splitting the game / shootout. I had better goaltending when coaching a Pee Wee squad years ago.

The addition of forward Sergei Samsonov from Bruins in exchange for forward Marty Reasoner, forward Yan Stastny and a second-round pick in 2006 was an excellent pickup and he "could" really excel on the fast Edmonton ice. He could, however, become the new Radek Dvorak and fans could continue to wait for his potential to catch his skill.

Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks were sure busy. They acquired almost everyone 30+, Unrestricted Free Agent with a pulse - spare the garbage the Leafs had in the garage sale. The Canucks added defenseman Eric Weinrich from the St. Louis Blues, Keith Carney from Anaheim and Sean Brown from the Swamp. All should contribute to the Canucks in the new few weeks and months. They badly needed backline help with their injuries and they got a guy who can move the puck, a guy who can kill penalties and a guy who can lay the lumber and body.

The Canucks also acquired goaltender Mika Noronen from the Buffalo Sabres. I really like this move. Noronen will be a good NHL goalie and may emerge as a true number 1 on the west coast. Dan Cloutier is overrated and a band-aid and Alex Auld is better suited to be a back-up.

Carolina Hurricanes

The loss of Eric Cole will be offset, not completely, by the addition of Mark Recchi. The shifty, speedy winger will provide more ancillary scoring to the Canes drive for the cup. He will fit nicely with recent addition Doug Weight. Those two moves should position the Canes to go deep in the playoffs and to see them back in the Stanley Cup finals wouldn't be a complete shock.

Montreal Canadiens

Someone actual took Jose Theodore's contract. I had to pinch myself twice. The Habs actually got a player back who can help. Manna from heaven. The money saved will allow the team to be active, if they choose in the off-season and allows new starter Chris Huet to get a rest down the stretch.

The addition of Todd Simpson was a footnote in history. He will eat a lot of Bell Centre popcorn from the press box over the next few weeks and months. He is a good character guy to add to the room and team meals should be better for it.

Ottawa Senators

No Oli, no problem. The Panthers pulled the real true prize off the market by locking the big Fin up (and to a lesser extent Chris Gratton). John Muckler addressed secondary scoring with the addition of Tyler Arneson. He should perform better in Ottawa than in Chicago. Why? Bryan Murray demands effort. The Sens have real fans and play games that matter. The team have leaders that will bust his chops if he slacks off. Arneson should gel nice with Havlet - when he returns.

Adding Mark Morrison means that beer league goalies in Ottawa will not have to backup either Emery, if Hasek can't go for prolonged periods of time.

Los Angeles Kings

They paid a price (two good prospects and a pick) to add Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel, but prizes don't come free. Parrish should help an injury riddled front line and Sopel will add a skater who can move the puck to the backend. The Kings couldn't afford to sit this deadline out since they are fighting for their playoff lives now. My bet is that they still fall short, but one can't blame Dave Taylor for trying.

Nashville Predators

This team needed size and strength and got both. The addition of Brendan Witt will help as they attempt to make their first real playoff push. He should add some leadership as well to an already balanced squad.

Dallas Stars

Willie Mitchell will hurt people and log minutes. A good pickup for a team that has overachieved and is likely a little soft for the playoffs. They gave up some pieces for Mitchell so they better get on a nice run.

Losers

Toronto Maple Leafs

Subtract one slow, out of his element in the new NHL defender and add another older version. Hmm, interesting to see the GM's rationale. Luke Richardson would have been a great pickup at the deadline if it was 1996, but somebody tell John Jr it is 2006.

The Leafs, as Toronto residents are told, believe they have the pieces to make a run at the playoffs and into the second season. I don't see it. In fact, this club will struggle to finish 10th.

The club is old, slow and disjointed. They have too many passengers - e.g. Aki Berg (who should have stayed in Turin). They have too many overrated players - e.g. Jason Allison - who makes Dave Andreychuk look like Cindy Klassen or Bryan McCabe - who cares how many garbage power play points he gets, he still can't play in his own end or with the heavy hitters - see his performance at the Olympics - disgraceful. They have too many practice All-Stars where there are no opposition or body contact - e.g. Nik Antropov and Alexis Ponikarovsky. These two are great to watch on half ice with a whistle, but not when the real game starts.

One has to think that Ferguson has a plan for the summer. It likely includes adding more over-the-hill, washed up talent. Keith Tkachuk would nice in Blue!

Tampa Bay Lightening

The fact that they didn’t make a move is troubling for one or three fans in St Petes. This team is shell of the squad that won the cup in 2004. Marty St. Louis was truly a one-year wonder. The team lacks leadership and defense. There biggest problem is between the pipes and they will be hard pressed to make the playoffs with John Grahame and Sean Burke.

Calgary Flames

Jamie Lundmark in for Jason Wiemer. I understand the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the dressing room mentality, however, they need scoring. The team is made up of Iggy and 11 other pluggers. Tony Amonte has turned into a lunch bucket guy with cement hands.

The immediate loss of Rhett Warnener to a knee injury will hurt and Cale Hulse will not replace those minutes.

The Flames should be ok with Kipper in goal, however, Flame fans deserved better.

Colorado Avalanche

Pierre Lacoix is the traditional riverboat gambler. He is the type of guy that would vacation in Thailand without protection and roll the dice. Trading your number 1 goalie for a guy who is: (a) struggling (b) injured (c) scandal dogged is a risky proposition. He now goes down the stretch drive with an untested goalie and one on the mend. Plus, he picks up a large contract that may prevent future signings - i.e. Sakic or Blake.

Detroit Red Wings

Cory Cross. Is this the best that they can do? This team is fairly deep and really talented, however, they could have used some depth up front and real defensemen.

New York Islanders

Fire Mad Mike Milbury. Oh wait, he quit. He continues to have unnecessary influence on the franchise. The team is gutted and attempts to rebuild around Alexi Yashin. Yikes. They are destined to stay in gutter for quite some time.

Indifferent

Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils

All added some pieces and subtracted others in search of chemistry. Time will tell if they made enough moves.

Comments:
Let me be the first to retort. I disagree that the cap gives small market teams a chance to be buyers where they were not before. They still have to pay the salaries of the newly aquired players. If you look at the oilers and canucks additions as well as the preds it is of rental players who are unrestricted next year. An advantage taken away from the rich would be to not add a guy like Tkachuk for a run and swallow his bloated contract for next year. The cap makes the rich move money in return which squashes the overpaid being moved. I agree that the oilers and cunucks have greatly improved. Roloson will make a difference in Edmonton. Vancouver desperately needed d-man and Nonis produced. My question is where were the other 29 teams when Carney and Weinrich were being moved. The Preds also filled an important need with Witt. Big defensive experienced d-man go a long ways in the playoffs. Arnason has been pushed before in Chicago by Sutter, i think he is a pouter that may excel in Ottawa with winning and ice-time. He will not be in Ottawa for a year. Mark Morrison can pull double duty backing up the beer league-ers as well, be a shootout specialist there for free beer before we forget his name forever.
 
I'm disappointed the Canucks didn't dump our prima donna, Bertuzzi. Who needs a moody non-producer who takes stupid penalties? Fire sale pricing!!
 
The salary cap allows for parody since big market clubs like the Red Wings, Flyers and Leafs have to operate under the same fiscal constraints as the Oilers, Hurricanes and Senators. This has been good for the NHL and one has to be happy for their fans, who finally have a chance to see their teams stay intact at the deadline.

Todd Bertuzzi will be dealt in the off-season when the Canucks re-assess their direction and they will be able to get some pieces then for him. This isn't a move made at the deadline bourne of desperation. Bertuzzi would be a nice fit on many clubs and there should be no shortage of suitors.
 
Wishful thinking on my part... For some reason, the Canucks want to build the franchise around Bertuzzi. Yes, he's got skills but where's the production? 21 goals, 55 points, tied for 48th in the league this year. I don't know whether to blame Bertuzzi for being such a prima donna or Crawford for not inspiring him.
 
Monday morning hindsight;

Oilers fall out of eighth spot and the Avalanche pull into first. Rolston let in like 8 goals this weekend.

As for the Flames, there wasn't much for scorers up for grabs the Oilers kind of got one in Samsonov. Too many buyers and not enough sellers.
 
I appear to have cursed the Oilers and Canucks. I take it back, there moves were crap.
 
Finally we have parody in the NHL. Last season Detroit with 109 pts finished an astonishing 51 pts above the last place Pens. THankfully in the new NHL the league leading Redwings are only a measly 51 pts ahead of those restocked Pens (thanks salary cap). This year maybe we will be able to see a small market team or a lower seed make a cinderella run to the finals. Good riddance to the days of Florida, Buffalo, Anaheim, Carolina, Calgary or Tampa throwing their money around to buy playoff success. As for teams staying intact didn't you think it was great to see a record number of trades at this years deadline with the second most ever amount of player movement.
 
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