The NHL Trade Deadline 2009 was a sneaky little bugger. In the middle of it, you're thinking that there really wasn't a whole hell of a lot happening. But when you look at the sum total of the trades yesterday, all of a sudden it hits you how much really happened; from the baffling to the potential steals.
There's something to be said for the approach of the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks, who managed the deadline like two teams with their hands shaking near the Cup like Indiana Jones reaching for the idol in "Raiders." There's something to be said for the audacious remaking of the Phoenix Coyotes, in which GM Don Maloney basically hit the reset button after bringing in Olli Jokinen to be his star center last summer.
There's really nothing to be said the deadline blunders in Montreal and Washington. But we'll get to those.
Check out Ross McKeon's winners and losers here. Coming up, an evaluation of all 30 teams at the deadline, a.k.a. the moment when Brian Burke held the world hostage for second-round picks.
Anaheim Ducks: Traded F Travis Moen, D Kent Huskins to the Sharks for F Nick Bonino, G Timo Pielmeier and a conditional 2009 fourth-round pick; traded F Samuel Pahlsson, D Logan Stephenson and a 2009 conditional pick to Chicago for D James Wisniewski and C Petri Kontiola; Acquired F Erik Christensen from Atlanta for F Eric O'Dell; Acquired F Petteri Nokelainen from Boston for D Steve Montador; Lost Brendan Morrison on waivers to Dallas; Earlier traded Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi to Pittsburgh for Ryan Whitney.
Well, that was a busy day, and there's a lot to like here. Moen, Huskins, Pahlsson and Montador were all UFAs, while Wisniewski and Christensen are pending RFAs. Flipping Pahlsson, who's had a disastrous season, for Wisniewski was a shrewd character move. Christensen obviously helps with the recent transactions up front.
It's a move for now, keeping the Ducks in a playoff race without dismantling the team, and it's a move for the future: GM Bob Murray is mega-high on Nick Bonino, a Boston University center at the heart of his deal with the Sharks. Nokelainen hasn't impressed with Boston, but still has potential.
Combine the Whitney deal with yesterday's trades, and it was a good day. Factor in that Chris Pronger can still be auctioned off at the draft (should they choose to), and it's a great day. GRADE: A
O'Dell is an 18-year-old center that GM Don Waddell said will play another year in juniors after being taken 39th overall in last summer's draft. But Havelid and Christensen were the only players from an awful team that Waddell found buyers for: Eric Perrin and Marty Reasoner, both UFAs and both still Thrashers. In Reasoner's case, Waddell opted not to do the 'ole "trade him and then sign him in the summer" thing. But hey: At least he didn't trade Kovalchuk for Richard Park and an ice girl. GRADE: C.
After swinging for the fences with Marian Hossa last year (and missing the ball), GM Peter Chiarelli managed like a man with a first-place team yesterday. Recchi's career resurgence now gives him a chance for a Cup, and there's no way that isn't going to energize him even more. Montador is another player already having an outstanding season, and a rather perfect fit for what the Boston blue line needed. Boston sniffed around some high-end deals (like one for Keith Tkachuk), but were unwilling to move a major asset like Phil Kessel. Maybe Lashoff becomes a top-pairing defenseman, and maybe Nokelainen finds his game with the Ducks; it won't matter if Recchi and Montador win a Cup for Beantown. GRADE: A-.
Buffalo Sabres: Traded F Ales Kotalik to Edmonton for a 2009 second-round pick; acquired F Dominic Moore from Toronto for a 2009 second-round pick; acquired G Mikael Tellqvist for a 2010 fourth-round pick.
We'd like to apologize to the good listeners of WGR in Buffalo for poisoning their airwaves with a predication that Darcy Regier would just make a small trade for a depth defenseman after re-signing Tim Connolly to a two-year, $9 million deal. Because he pretty much did everything but that.
Kotalik never played to his size; and since it'll be years before Gary Bettman scraps five-on-five hockey in favor of a 60-minute shootout, Kotalik's effectiveness is limited to overtime. Moore was coveted by a few teams; his addition could allow Jochen Hecht to shift back to the wing, and he gives the Sabres the best depth they've had up the middle since Drury and Danny left. Based on Lalime's performance last night, Tellqvist has scared the bejesus out of Patty, along with being a solid backup overall. GRADE: A-
Calgary Flames: Acquired C Olli Jokinen and a 2009 third-round pick for F Matthew Lombardi, F Brandon Prust and either a 2009 or 2010 first-round pick; Traded G Kevin Lalande to Columbus for a 2009 fourth-round pick; Acquired D Jordan Leopold from Colorado for D Lawrence Nycholat, D Ryan Wilson and a 2009 second-round pick.
Perhaps the dopiest knock on the Olli Jokinen trade is that the center has never played in a postseason series; as if toiling on some truly putrid Florida teams for a decade somehow invalidates his talent. That's a concern for goalies, not for guys who simply have to get Jarome Iginla the puck on the power play.
The day's most aggressive GM, Darryl Sutter traded expendable assets to go for broke, and he had to: The Sharks and Wings are too damn good to hope that your roster rises to the occasion. He makes the Leopold trade not knowing if he'll be in Calgary next season. He makes the Jokinen deal fully knowing what it means for the cap next season, but also knowing that adding that level of star power elevates his team into the Stanley Cup conversation. Right move, wrong move ... give Sutter credit for making a move few thought the Flames would be the ones to make. GRADE: B+.
Carolina Hurricanes: Acquired F Patrick O'Sullivan and a 2009 second-round pick from the Kings for F Justin Williams; traded O'Sullivan and a 2009 second-round pick to Edmonton for F Erik Cole and a 2009 fifth-round pick.
First off: There was zero chance O'Sullivan could play in Carolina, for obvious and unfortunate reasons. This was a money deal, both in the sense that the Canes were tired of thinking about the $3.5 million they were on the hook for with the oft-injured Williams and in the sense that playoff revenue rules all. While this trade might indicate an optimism in retaining Cole's services this summer, this is a trade in the now. Cole is a kick in the ass for this team, and especially for former line-mate Eric Staal. Much like with his choice in head coaches earlier this season, we see what's old is new again for Jim Rutherford. GRADE: B-.
Climb into the DeLorean with Doc Brown and travel back to November: What would Former You think about a Blackhawks team that still has Huet, Khabibulin and Havlat on the roster, and that failed to acquire that legit second-line pivot to reset the roster properly?
Probably not good thoughts.
The Blackhawks obviously can be patient, and GM Dale Tallon didn't go into the deadline necessarily looking for that Michael Nylander-type to finally replace Robert Lang. He wanted a two-way center that could win face-offs. The Dominic Moore deal fell through; Pahlsson didn't, and if he's healthy he can be an asset to this collection of postseason newbies. Still, you wanted to see more, especially in that conference. GRADE: C.
Colorado Avalanche: Traded D Jordan Leopold to Calgary for D Lawrence Nycholat, D Ryan Wilson and a 2009 second-round pick.
Welcome to the new economy, Colorado Avalanche. Brett Clark, Ryan Smyth, Darcy Tucker and others are still wearing the big 'A' because their salaries next season and beyond were as palatable as a rotten olive to the other 29 GMs. This is a roster that needs turnover; it didn't happen yesterday. That said, snagging a prospect and a second-rounder for an impending UFA like Leopold wasn't bad. Neither was fighting the temptation to do something dumb, like trade Svatos. GRADE: C+.
How to put this kindly ... does GM Scott Howson have a failure fetish?
The Blue Jackets had three missions at this deadline: Get a premiere center, get a premiere center, and then after they've done that, they get a premiere center. Vermette is a center who is better on the wing, despite playing more at center this season. (Hence the struggles?) He's also having a terrible season, and Howson traded his former starting goaltender and a second-rounder for him.
Howson said yesterday that "even if we went out and got a really good center right now, we'd still want Antoine ... we feel like he makes us better." Dandy. But you didn't get a really good center. Again. Eh, maybe Vermette is that guy; Bethany's happy about it. It's just not the splash we were expecting in a critical season for the franchise. GRADE: C+.
Dallas Stars: Claimed C Brendan Morrison on waivers from Anaheim.
It's been such a baffling year for the Stars due to the early-season adversity and the injuries that it's hard to figure out if they should have been more active at the deadline. B-Mo (can we call him that with Brenden Morrow injured?) is an expiring contract and a good fill-in with Brad Richards and Toby Petersen out of the lineup. And Morrison is Razor's brother-in-law? Nutty. GRADE: B-.
Detroit Red Wings: Nada.
As we said yesterday: An Ian Lapeirriere or Chris Neil-type player would have helped, but it also would have meant moving a roster player somewhere. Like the Capitals, the Wings have made their goaltending bed, and nothing on the market would have dramatically altered that situation. You can afford to be conservative when you're this damn good. GRADE: B+.
Edmonton Oilers: Acquired F Ales Kotalik from Buffalo for a 2009 second-round pick; Acquired F Patrick O'Sullivan and a 2009 second-round pick for F Erik Cole and a 2009 fifth-round pick.
Not bad at all. Erik Cole getting traded wasn't a stunner, but did anyone envision a player the caliber of Patrick O'Sullivan coming back the other way? TSN's Darren Dreger actually thinks that outside of Jokinen, O'Sullivan will have the biggest short-term impact of any player acquired yesterday. Kotalik's a rental, and a decent one at that. Two moves that help immediately, at a reasonable price. GRADE: A-.
The thought process for GM Jacques Martin was clear on Jay Bouwmeester: We couldn't fleece anyone, so we're going to make the playoffs with him and hope that those warm fuzzies convince him to stay. You almost want to hold off on a grade until you see if that works, because if it does then Martin played this right.
Eminger logged a lot of minutes for the Lightning, and his addition adds a little flexibility to the blue line. This team remains one significant injury up front from being dead in the water, but Martin's betting chemistry and momentum overcome offensive deficiencies. GRADE: B, with a dash of Incomplete.
Los Angeles Kings: Traded F Patrick O'Sullivan and a 2009 second-round pick to Carolina for F Justin Williams.
"Would he be further along as a player if he doesn't hold out? I think that's a possibility." That was GM Dean Lombardi on Patrick O'Sullivan, reminding us about the quality of a general manager's long-term memory.
Bottom line: If Williams is healthy, he's the legit top-six forward that O'Sullivan flirted with being. That's important for a franchise transitioning from the rebuild to contention. But again: Saying "if Williams is healthy" is like saying "if ‘Heroes' doesn't suck this week." Points to Lombardi for once again staying out of various "we want all your young talent for our star" derbies. GRADE: B.
Minnesota Wild: Nada.
While the team did ink goalie Niklas Backstrom to an extension before the deadline, it did jack and squat otherwise. Pending UFAs Marc-Andre Bergeron and Martin Skoula didn't move. The asking price for Marian Gaborik was too high, so he becomes a de facto deadline move when he rejoins the Wild lineup soon. While he deserves credit for not overpaying for, say, Olli Jokinen, General Manager Doug Risebrough was taken apart by The State of Hockey for his inactivity at the deadline. GRADE: C-.
Montreal Canadiens: Nada.
As we said yesterday, the Canadiens decided to put the onus on the players that are there and hope that getting players back from injury (like Alex Tanguay) will act like a de facto trade. Elliotte Friedman believes this shows GM Bob Gainey has a steady hand at the wheel, unwilling to let the pressures of centennial celebrations and panicking fans rile him. We believe Gainey's the guy whose team is four points away from being out of the postseason and who still hasn't replaced Robert Lang's offense. GRADE: D+.
Nashville Predators: Nada.
General manager David Poile worked the phones but ultimately found that "nothing quite seemed to fit, either because of the price being asked or the chemistry it would have brought to our team." But more that that, he told the Nashville City Paper, was the asking prices: "Suddenly someone who might have been seeking a third-round pick says they want a second-round pick." We're sure Predators fans who will be watching their team scratch and claw for secondary scoring in a playoff race would have gladly offered a two over a three for the right player. GRADE: D+.
New Jersey Devils: Acquired Niclas Havelid from the Thrashers for Anssi Salmela.
As GM Lou Lamoriello said, this team needed the tweak. Not the big move like an Alex Mogilny or a Jason Arnott were in the past. Just a simple trade that sent one of the team's few rookie assets to Atlanta for Havelid, a very steady D-man on an underrated blue line. When Marty Brodeur is your late-season acquisition, there's nothing more to do. GRADE: B+.
New York Islanders: Traded F Bill Guerin to Pittsburgh for a 2009 conditional pick.
Garth Snow decided against a fire sale, refusing to budge on his price tags. The conditional pick from the Penguins can be anywhere from Tampa Bay's fifth-round pick to Pittsburgh's third-round pick if they win a round and Guerin plays in 50 percent of the games. Combined with the Mike Comrie deal earlier, it wasn't a bad deadline for Snow. GRADE: B+.
New York Rangers: Acquired D Derek Morris from Phoenix for D Dmitri Kalinin, F Nigel Dawes and F Petr Prucha; acquired F Nik Antropov from the Leafs for a 2009 second-round pick and a 2010 conditional pick.
In essence, GM Glen Sather has attempted to atone for his off-season blunders in the last two weeks. He didn't sign Sean Avery last summer, and now he's back. He didn't make the Rangers blue line any better last summer, so now Derek Morris is a Blueshirt. His offensive acquisitions underachieved or fit poorly, so here comes the big forward in Antropov that the Rangers should have probably pursued last summer.
Morris is a veteran presence that will help. Antropov has the potential to really help if he clicks with the other forwards, and if the Rangers can bring him back. Both trades were fair value, even if there's always a chance Dawes or Prucha could blossom in the desert. Rangers fans no doubt wanted to see more, but Sather's already bungled the mess to the point where this is deadline is essentially a tourniquet. GRADE: B.
Ottawa Senators: Acquired G Pascal Leclaire and a 2009 second-round pick from Columbus for F Antoine Vermette.
Re-signing Kuba was a surprise, only because one assumed his value would be quite high as the only affordable but elite puck-moving defenseman on the market. The Senators got a good return for Vermette, assuming that Leclaire is healthy and assuming that he isn't just a product of Ken Hitchcock's system (two very big assumptions, no doubt). Not bad, but you would have liked to have seen more activity from a team that needs a makeover. GRADE: B-.
Unable to do something significant, the Flyers added a veteran castoff to the blue line and a traded one of their most tenacious and well-liked forwards for a guy who's still trying to figure out if he's Milan Lucic or a less clinically insane Steve Downie. Combined with the waiver banishments of veterans Glen Metropolit and Ossi Vaananen, this was a cost-effective deadline for the Flyers -- if not necessarily one that elevates the roster to elite status. GRADE: B.-
Pittsburgh Penguins: Acquired F Bill Guerin from the Islanders for a 2009 conditional pick; Acquired D Andy Wozniewski from the Blues for D Danny Richmond; Claimed Craig Adams on waivers; Earlier acquired Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi from Anaheim for Ryan Whitney.
OK, so Marty St. Louis wasn't walking through that door to save the team. Guerin is the kind of veteran Shero let slip away last offseason, and he'll help as long as there isn't too much expected from him. He and Adams and Kunitz add some sandpaper to this team. Best of all: Satan is banished to minor league hell. GRADE: B.
Phoenix Coyotes: Traded D Derek Morris to the Rangers for D Dmitri Kalinin, F Nigel Dawes and F Petr Prucha; Traded C Olli Jokinen and a 2009 third-round pick for F Matthew Lombardi, F Brandon Prust and either a 2009 or 2010 first-round pick; traded G Mikael Tellqvist for a 2010 fourth-round pick; traded F Daniel Carcillo to the Flyers for F Scottie Upshall and a 2011 second-round pick.
Understatement of the week from the Arizona Republic: "Coyotes active at NHL trade deadline."
GM Don Maloney has loaded up with picks, given himself some flexibility with expiring contracts and added a few real nice pieces in Lombardi and Upshall. But most of all, he said, it's about changing the culture of that locker room: "We were off center with the team, just the chemistry and the mix wasn't working and this has nothing to do with wins or losses for me. It's just the way we're playing, the way we're competing, the way we're supporting each other, and it just wasn't working." So he hit the reset button. GRADE: B+.
San Jose Sharks: Acquired F Travis Moen, D Kent Huskins from the Ducks for F Nick Bonino, G Timo Pielmeier and a conditional 2009 fourth-round pick; Traded D Kyle McLaren to the Flyers for a 2009 sixth-round pick
Good, aggressive move by GM Doug Wilson in trying to keep the train steaming ahead during a time of some frustrating injuries down in the lineup. Moen is a really nice addition, even if Bonino seems like a good prospect. It's about the present for the Sharks, so that's understandable. Oh, and that sixth-round pick could turn out to be Dakota Fanning and Wilson still gets credit for shipping out McLaren (finally). GRADE: B+.
St. Louis Blues: Traded D Andy Wozniewski from the Penguins for D Danny Richmond.
No Pronger, Tkachuk stays and John Davison basically stands pat. Played like a GM who's just happy to be in the playoff race ahead of schedule. GRADE: B.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Traded G Olaf Kolzig, D Jamie Heward, D Andy Rogers, and a 2009 fourth-round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for D Richard Petiot; Acquired D Noah Welch and a 2009 third-round pick for D Steve Eminger; traded F Mark Recchi and a 2010 second-round pick for D Matt Lashoff and F Martins Karsums.
What an embarrassment. From a summer of veteran acquisition, "Seen Stamkos?" hype and boastful expectations to selling cap space with a fourth-round pick and getting excited about clearing potential salary for next year. The Leafs trade is what it is. Finding a suitor for Eminger was good, as was the return in light of the deal: Welch is a much cheaper RFA than Eminger would have been. Don't sleep on Lashoff; the price was high, but the return could be stellar for him. No taker for Jeff Halpern or for Ryan Malone's elephantine deal. GRADE: C+.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Acquired G Olaf Kolzig, D Jamie Heward, D Andy Rogers, and a 2009 fourth-round pick from Tampa Bay for D Richard Petiot; traded F Dominic Moore to Buffalo for a 2009 second-round pick; traded F Nik Antropov to the New York Rangers for a 2009 second-round pick and a 2010 conditional pick; claimed G Martin Gerber on waivers.
Let's start with Burke's wacky transaction with the Lightning, which Jim Kelley of Sportsnet describes thusly:
Take Burke's deal with Tampa Bay. Burke may have done something outside the spirit of the rules while working completely within them. He traded Richard Petiot to the Lightning for veteran goalie Olie Kolzig, Jamie Heward, Andie Rogers and a fourth-round pick. Knowing full well that Petiot isn't likely to ever be a player in the NHL, that Heward hasn't made it (and likely never will) and that Rogers is also looking at the end of his career, he essentially delivered about a half million dollars in cap space to the Lightning in exchange for a fourth round pick. If this kind of transaction holds up, Burke will have won a battle he's been losing for years, that being the ability to trade cap space from a team that has it to a team that doesn't. This bears a whole lot of watching.
Indeed it does; especially at the draft, where one assumes the Bolts will do Burke a solid for this.
The rest of the deadline for the Leafs was a success, for what it was. Getting second-rounders for UFAs Moore and Antropov was solid. Gerber's not a bad guy to have around with Vesa Toskala done for the year; and by that we mean he'll look good enough in defeat that no one will expect you're tanking for Victor Hedman. The great what-if would have been if Tomas Kaberle had been healthy: With Kuba resigning and Bouwmeester's price so damn high, it would have been interesting to see if Kaberle would have been in play. GRADE: B+.
Washington Capitals: Nada.
As we discussed yesterday, the Caps were in the Pronger Derby but the asking price was a deal-breaker. Not sure what happened with the Bill Guerin thing. After last year's stellar deadline that saw Sergei Fedorov join the team, this season is a pretty big letdown when you consider the room for improvement this team still has on its lower lines and its defense. But that all traces back to the disastrous decision to give Michael Nylander a no-movement clause as a free-agent -- it's handcuffed the team. They didn't do anything stupid at the deadline, though. GRADE: D+.
Vancouver Canucks: Nada.
Standing pat is pretty easy when the team is on fire, but the bottom line is that the Canucks had money to spend and talent to flip and chose not to do anything. OK, that's not fair: They were in the Bouwmeester Derby until the action got too rich. But the deadline comes and goes without any changes, which along with Mats Sundin's signing will be GM Mike Gillis's legacy this season. GRADE: C-.