personal, it’s just business.” How many times have we heard that in the
past week? General Managers with little sleep and most likely the biggest cell
phone bill you’ve ever seen have been trying feverishly to get the final piece
to the puzzle, the missing link, a way to improve their hockey club. Some were
buyers, some were sellers. All have one ultimate goal – be one of the 16 teams
who will be awarded a shot at a championship. For a handful of teams, the
chance to be among the league’s elite is but a dream reserved for next season or
even beyond. For another handful of teams, it’s a story of do it now or die
tomorrow. And for those already at the top, a little fine tuning never hurts.
For myself, I am
still reeling over one move in particular (and will be for some time), and for
those of you out there who know me best, you know exactly what I mean – more to
come of course.
The moves are
made, the players are ready to go, and the games are scheduled. Who made the
most noise? Who will make the most noise? Everybody wants to win, and how it
will unfold over the next month or so will remain to be seen.
Here then, are
the moves made leading up to and on Trade Deadline Day, Tuesday, February 27,
2007 – a day forever remembered as a day filled with both intrigue and in a few
cases, downright stupidity. To borrow words of wisdom from our good buddy
Donald Trump – “who will succeed, who will fail” – and I ask you, who,
ultimately, will be the Stanley Cup Champions? The stretch run is on. Let’s
January 3-2007 –
Ottawa acquired C Mike Comrie from Phoenix for C Alexei Kaigorodov – John
Muckler gets an asset Wayne Gretzky and company would most likely have dealt
anyway, and gets rid of a headache in the process. Kaigorodov refused to report
to Binghamton when sent down and instead went back to his mother country
Russia. Comrie has already an impact on an already lethal offensive Senators
team which is finally playing to their potential after a sub standard start.
There is still the playoff monkey on their back though, something they will get
another shot at getting rid of in April.
January 8-2007 –
Carolina acquired D Dennis Seidenberg from Phoenix for F Kevyn Adams – At the
time, I wasn’t really sure what this trade accomplished other than perhaps a
salary dump to allow the Hurricanes to do some fine tuning – more to come.
January 16-2007 -
St. Louis acquired F Yan Stastny from Boston for a 2007 5th round
draft pick – a future prospect for a future prospect. It won’t be known who
wins this trade until we see what the Bruins do with the pick.
January 29-2007 –
Calgary re-acquired C Craig Conroy from Los Angeles for C Jamie Lundmark – a win
win for both teams. L.A. were the most obvious sellers at the deadline as
owners of the worst record in the Western Conference, and a need to shed some
high priced talent that never worked out. Calgary is a contender again, but for
some reason still one of the lowest scoring teams in the NHL. In an attempt to
get some of the spark back on the top Jarome Iginla line, getting Conroy back in
the fold was the obvious answer and his impact was immediate. The Flames are
definitely a team to watch down the stretch as they fight with Vancouver for top
spot in the Northwest Division.
February 1-2007 –
Washington acquired D Milan Jurcina from Boston for a 2008 2nd
round draft pick – the Bruins also appear to be sellers, and are stocking up on
D Andy Delmore and RW Andre Deveaux from Tampa Bay for RW Kyle Wanvig and RW
Stephen Baby – Both teams shuffled prospects for reasons only their respective
G.M.s can explain – however, both should be in the playoffs when April gets here
– As we’ll find out, the Thrashers would later add a few assets which will help
their cause, while Tampa Bay is right up against the salary cap, but will want
to re-evaluate their team once the deadline arrives. As February 27th
got closer, however, we would see the Lightning go through a hot stretch and
take over the Southeast Division lead, no thanks to this trade. I’ve always
wondered what happened to Delmore – he had the one fantastic playoff run for
Philadelphia, and ever since has been banished to the minors. Well I guess the
farm teams need players too.
February 3-2007 –
Boston acquired RW Brandon Bochenski from Chicago for RW Kris Versteeg –
Bochenski joins his 3rd team in less than a year – you’ll recall he
was traded to Chicago from Ottawa at the deadline last year for Tyler Arnason.
I guess we can call it a bust for both teams, as evidently he didn't work out for
Chicago or Ottawa. When the Bruins made this deal, they were still very much in
the playoff race, but have fallen off the pace considerably since.
February 5-2007 –
NY Rangers acquired LW Sean Avery and F John Seymour from Los Angeles for RW
Jason Ward, F Marc-Andre Cliche and F Jan Marek – the Rangers made this deal for
one reason and one reason only – they wanted somebody in the fold who will send
a message to the other team. While they in all probability aren’t making the
playoffs, they at least want the other team to know this – you want to run
Jagr? Avery will run the goalie or one of your star players. This was the
plan, but as I’ll explain later, it hasn’t exactly worked out as planned.
February 9-2007 –
NY Rangers acquired LW Pascal Dupuis from Minnesota for RW Adam Hall – the Wild
add some grit and the Rangers ended up with an asset which they would end up
dealing away at the deadline. More to come.
re-aquired C Josef Vasicek from Nashville for C Eric Belanger – Vasicek returns
to the defending champs for one of their key off season acquisitions. Belanger
would be dealt again before he ever donned a Predators jersey
February 12-2007 –
Atlanta acquired C Eric Belanger from Nashville for D Vitali Vishnevski –
Belanger is traded to the Western Conference and returned to the Southeast
Division in less than 72 hours, and Vishnevski bolsters the Predators’ blue
D Brad Stuart and C Wayne Primeau from Boston for D Andrew Ference and RW Chuck
Kobasew – While the Conroy trade was about size up the middle, this deal is
about size, period. Stuart adds size to the blue line, and Primeau adds a
grinder for the 3rd or 4th line. Kobasew, who has barely
played this season because of an injury, will help the Bruins in years to come, but the Flames want
to win now. So let me get this straight – the Bruins like Marco Sturm, but
of what they got from the Joe Thornton trade didn’t work? Then again, this is
from a team that once traded Ray Bourque.
LW Ladislav Nagy from Phoenix for LW Mattias Tjarnqvist and a 2007 1st
round draft pick – the desert dogs were the biggest sellers, and managed to shed a lot of salary leading up to the deadline. With Comrie already gone, Nagy
was expected to be shipped out of town - he will only help the Stars’ cause, but it was clear the Coyotes have given up on this
February 15-2007 –
Nashville acquired C Peter Forsberg from Philadelphia for RW Scottie Upshall, D
Ryan Parent, and a 2007 1st and 3rd round draft pick – I
thought this would end up being the biggest deal of the year, but boy was I ever
wrong – for all intents and purposes we’ll call it the biggest deal not to
happen at the deadline. If the Predators weren’t already a Stanley Cup
Contender, this deal put them over the top. It was evident early the Flyers
aren’t going anywhere, and with Upshall, they at least get some offense to help
in the future. Is it just me, or has Philly been a better team statistically
since Forsberg left? If it’s true what they say about playing for pride, the
Flyers have a ton of it.
February 16-2007 –
New Jersey tried to deal LW Alexander Korolyuk back to San Jose for a 2007 3rd
round draft pick, but the NHL voided the deal when Korolyuk refused to leave
Russia. The Devils still own his rights if and when he does decide to grace us
with his presence.
February 18-2007 –
NY Islanders acquired D Marc-Andre Bergeron from Edmonton for D Denis Grebeshkov
– when this deal went down the thinking was Kevin Lowe was clearing a million
dollars of salary cap space in an attempt to tweak his lineup. As we would
later find out, Lowe was far from dismantling his team.
February 23-2007 –
Carolina acquired F Anson Carter from Columbus for a 2008 5th round
draft pick – It wouldn’t be a trade deadline without seeing Carter on the move –
at least this time it was before the deadline – the Hurricanes needed to fill in
a void left by the departure of Mark Recchi and Doug Weight, and the Blue
Jackets are, to put it bluntly, awful.
F Shane Endicott from Anaheim for future considerations – I love trades like
this – a general manager wants to take a player from another general manager,
but can’t decide what they want to send in return. The Stars are gelling at
just the right time, and I don’t see what dynamic, if any, Endicott adds. My
guess is the Ducks will have the upper hand in this one depending on how far the
Stars go in the playoffs, or maybe Brian Burke was just trying to trim some fat
from his roster in anticipation of something better.
February 24-2007 –
Anaheim acquired G Gerald Coleman and a 2007 1st round draft pick
from Tampa Bay for D Shane O’Brien and a 2007 3rd round draft pick –
with the enforcer role diminishing more and more, especially once the playoffs
start, the Ducks stock the farm with a future goaltending prospect and rid
themselves of a heavyweight which won’t see much playing time behind the “twin
towers” of Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. Brian Burke has always had the
knack for turning a draft pick into gold. It will be interesting to see what he
ends up with here, keeping in mind the Ducks are already a very deep team.
D Alexei Zhitnik from Philadelphia for D Braydon Coburn – Given their record
this year, it shouldn’t surprise anybody to see the Flyers in a rebuilding
phase. The irony behind this trade is the NY Islanders got rid of Zhitnik to
get better defensively, and now Atlanta swings the deal so they can get better
defensively. I’ve always believed Alexei’s best days were left behind in
Buffalo, but who am I?
February 25-2007 –
As we got ever closer to the deadline, the moves started coming fast and
furious, and the names involved became bigger and bigger.
F Keith Tkachuk from St. Louis for F Glen Metropolit, a 1st and 3rd
round draft pick in 2007 and a 2nd rounder in 2008 – As expected, St.
Louis moved Tkachuk, but did Don Waddell give up too much? Even if you swap
Tkachuk for Metropolit straight up, it’s not really a fair deal, as Metropolit
is much younger. But to add not one, not two, but three draft picks? It hasn’t
exactly been a secret Metropolit could go back to Washington when he becomes a
free agent, but if even one of the three draft picks becomes a household name,
then J.D. made out like a bandit on this one.
acquired D Craig Rivet and a 2008 5th round draft pick from Montreal
for D Josh Gorges and a 2007 1st round draft pick – Rivet had worn
out his welcome in Montreal, but is Gorges an improvement? If I’d be Bob Gainey
I’d be more concerned over the Habs’ goaltending situation. What’s that you
say? Michael Leighton off waivers from Philadelphia? Better plan the parade
February 26-2007 –
The last 24 hours before the big day – desperation is setting in, and G.M.s want
to get their deals done before 3:00 PM on Feb 27th. A total of 7
deals were made, including a 3-way between Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia –
the calm before the proverbial storm.
acquired versatile F Richard Zednik from Washington for a 2007 2nd
round draft pick – the mini garage sale in Washington continued, and little did
we know the Islanders were far from finished. More to come.
D Lawrence Nicholat from Washington for D Andy Hedlund and a 2007 6th
round draft pick – Nicholat will help the farm team in Binghamton, unless Ottawa
can’t come to terms with Chris Phillips in the off season. But do you really
think John Muckler will make the same mistake with Phillips as he made with
Zdeno Chara? As for Hedlund, he was never going to fit into the Senators long
term plans. Why a 6th round draft pick was part of the deal is
re-acquired D Brent Sopel from Los Angeles for a 2008 2nd and 4th
round pick – talk about your future considerations – the Canucks get back a
player they know to be solid defensively – for the most part – but I’m not sure
if he was worth giving up 2 future players from the farm.
acquired C Bryan Smolinski from Chicago for a 2007 conditional draft pick –
could be as high as a 1st rounder if the Canucks go deep into the
post season. If they at least make it out of the first round it will probably
be a 2nd or 3rd rounder – at Chicago’s discretion. Dave
Nonis is obviously prepared to win now, and Smoke can add a little more depth.
And then the
3-way I referred to: Chicago acquired F Kyle Calder from Philadelphia for D
Lasse Kukkonen and a 2007 3rd round draft pick – Chicago then sends
Calder to Detroit for F Jason Williams – Detroit felt Calder’s impact almost
immediately, Philadelphia as mentioned are out of it but gain prospects, and
Chicago, also out of it for the most part, get a pretty decent forward in
exchange for a pretty decent forward and save money at the same time.
There was talk
all throughout Monday the 26th about Gary Roberts being dealt to
Pittsburgh if he agreed to waive his no trade clause, and as we’ll find out, he
February 27-2007 –
It wasn’t the busiest trade deadline in recent memory, but it will be regarded
as one of the most memorable – 24 deals in total involving 43 players and 25
draft picks. As for the waiver wire, another 5 players were claimed before they
could be sent down to the minors. We’ll talk about those first.
G Michael Leighton off waivers from Philadelphia – he’s no Cristobal Huet.
claimed LW Denis Hamel off waivers from Atlanta – they had just claimed him off
waivers from Ottawa on February 10.
F Jason Krog off waivers from NY Rangers – he was an impact player for Anaheim
in their 2003 run to the finals, perhaps the Thrashers are expecting the same
G Brian Boucher off waivers from Chicago – right after they traded away Ty
Conklin – more to come.
C Niko Kapanen off waivers from Atlanta – expendable after the moves the
And then came
the deadline deals – Warning – some of these may cause you to enter a shock
Veteran F Gary
Roberts waived his no trade clause which allowed Florida to deal him to
Pittsburgh for D Noah Welch – the Penguins get the veteran leadership they were
acquired G Martin Biron from Buffalo for a 2007 2nd round draft pick
– the Sabres have been trying to move him since 2005, and finally found a home
for him, and only because:
G Ty Conklin from Columbus for a 2007 5th round draft pick – so the
Sabres got a cheaper backup goalie and gained a higher draft pick – and they
weren’t done here as we’ll find out.
acquired F Georges Laraque from Phoenix for F Daniel Carcillo and a 2008 3rd
round draft pick – the Penguins get some protection for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni
Malkin and Jordan Staal – and Sean Avery of the NY Rangers has already felt his
acquired F Bill Guerin from St. Louis for F Ville Nieminen, F Jay Barriball and
a 2007 1st round draft pick – the bar was raised by the Keith Tkachuk
trade, and John Davidson let it be known he wasn’t selling for cheap - if the
Sharks weren’t a scary team already – they are now.
acquired F Dominic Moore from Pittsburgh for a 2007 3rd round draft
pick – It doesn’t get any grittier than Laraque, and the Wild can only benefit
from a little more sandpaper in their lineup.
D Aaron Ward from NY Rangers for D Paul Mara – a fairly even deal – barring a
miracle, neither team is expected to make the playoffs at this point, so I’m not
entirely sure what exactly this accomplishes.
F Oleg Saprykin from Phoenix for a 2008 2nd round draft pick – John
Muckler should have asked Wayne Gretzky if he’d also like a box of pucks and
some composite sticks – he gets two depth forwards in Comrie and Saprykin and
gives up a mere draft pick and a prospect who may never play another NHL game.
I can’t wait to see what the Coyotes do in the off season.
F Brad May from Colorado for G Michael Wall – Brian Burke looks to create a “May
Day” of his own as he gets his “big brother” forward back. Don’t forget he
traded for him on deadline day when he was G.M. in Vancouver too. The Avalanche
clearly need goaltending help, but Wall is an unknown who we may see down the
stretch just to see if he’s any good.
F Todd Bertuzzi from Florida for F Shawn Matthias, a 2007 conditional draft pick
and a 2008 conditional 2nd round pick – Other than to antagonize
Colorado, I’m not entirely sure why the Red Wings needed or even wanted him.
While short term they lose nothing if he doesn’t play, long term they’re giving
up a forward who was supposed to be part of their life after Steve Yzerman.
F Pascal Dupuis and a 3rd round pick from NY Rangers for F Alex
Bourret – so not only do the Rangers no longer have Adam Hall, now they no
longer have Pascal Dupuis and lose a draft pick – not sure really what they were
thinking with this one. Dupuis, on the other hand, already looks like a nice
addition to the Thrashers.
C Yanic Perreault and a 2008 5th round pick from Phoenix for D
Brendan Bell and a 2008 2nd round pick – Perreault now enters his 3rd
stint as a Maple Leaf, but at too great a cost – I don’t care how good he is at
face offs, they could have signed him as a free agent in the off season without
having to give up a defensive prospect – I don’t know what it is about former
Ottawa 67s – the Leafs never seem to keep them for very long.
F Dainius Zubrus and D Timo Helbling from Washington for F Jiri Novotny and a
2007 1st round pick – an already potent offense gets even better, and
the Sabres add a little defensive depth for another expected long playoff run –
provided they can stay healthy.
acquired F Scott Parker from San Jose for a 2008 6th round draft pick
– the Sharks needed to make some roster and salary cap room for Guerin.
D Mattias Norstrom, F Konstantin Pushkarev and a 2007 3rd and 4th
round draft pick from Los Angeles for D Jaroslav Modry, D Johann Fransson, a 2nd
and 3rd round 2007 draft pick and a 2008 1st round draft
pick – If the Kings weren’t already considered sellers, this deal confirmed it
as they traded their captain and prospects for a defenseman they let get away
acquired F Ryan Smyth from Edmonton for C Ryan O’Marra, Robert Nilsson and a
2007 1st round draft pick – The most unexpected trade of the year
sent shockwaves through the entire league. The expectation in Edmonton was
Smyth was going to sign a long term deal before becoming an unrestricted free
agent on July 1st. When talks broke down at the 11th
hour, Kevin Lowe did what not too many G.M.s would have the guts to do – he
traded him so he can at the very least guarantee he won’t lose him and not get
anything in return. O’Marra and Nilsson are good prospects, and the Oilers can
certainly benefit from a 1st round draft pick, but with less than 20
games left they were still mathematically alive in the playoff race! While it’s
possible Smyth could still re-sign in Edmonton as a free agent in July, the move
has soured fans and media alike, and the team has played their last two games as
you might expect – listless, lost, as though somebody ripped the heart out of
their chests and held it in front of their faces – as for the Islanders – this
could turn out to be what they need to get themselves into the post season. For
me, I’ve been asking the same question since the deal went down, and I will
continue to ask it until somebody can give me the true facts as to why this deal
was made – Why?
Can you imagine
trying to explain this to young fans between the ages of 6-12?
After the Ryan
Smyth deal happened, I’m not sure how many people outside of the cities involved
noticed, but there were still a few smaller deals to talk about:
St. Louis got F
Brad Boyes from Boston for D Dennis Wideman – the Blues replenished their
suddenly depleted forward positions while the Bruins add to their blueline.
more defensive depth as they acquired D Mikko Lehtonen from Nashville for a
draft pick. Calgary did the same, getting D David Hale from New Jersey for a
draft pick. Same thing for Pittsburgh, D Joel Kwiatkoski moved over from
stocked up on another draft pick as they sent F Jason Ward to Tampa Bay, and
then used a draft pick to acquire D Jamie Heward from Washington.
addressed their goaltending depth as they got G Nolan Schaefer from San Jose,
again for a draft pick. I actually like this move, as it’s no secret the
Penguins are mediocre in net. I wonder if they’ll call him up when they play
against Schaefer’s brother Peter and the Ottawa Senators?
Chicago and Tampa
Bay swapped forwards, as Nikita Alexeev changed his zip code to the Windy
City, and Karl Stewart went the other way. Anaheim and Tampa Bay made a
West-East swap of defensemen, with Doug O’Brien headed West and Joe Rullier
Finally, New Jersey
sent prospect RW Aaron Voros to Minnesota in exchange for a 7th round
draft pick in 2008.
While I can see
St. Louis, Buffalo and Calgary benefitting somewhat from these little tweaks,
the rest are really nothing to write home about unless you’re the actual
So there you
have it – for better or for worse, the 2007 NHL Trading Deadline came and went.
Now it’s time to sit back and see who will end up on top.
ALONG THE BOARDS
As expected, the
finger pointing over the Ryan Smyth trade has turned into a triangle. While
Smyth himself has taken the graceful route as always and referred questions to
Kevin Lowe and Don Meehan, both are blaming each other over why a long term deal
couldn’t be reached. Lowe has gone on the record to say Smyth wasn’t, in his
opinion, deserving of franchise player dollars as the feeling was he wasn’t
considered to be a franchise player (ouch!), while Meehan has said the
negotiations broke down once it was realized the Oilers wouldn’t budge on what
we speculate to be as low as $100-300,000 apart. In pulling the trigger, has
Lowe already burned the bridges between what could have been a potential off
season free agent re-signing? We’ll have to wait to find out. I know Smyth
said on his way out of Edmonton he’s leaving his heart behind, but I do know
this – Garth Snow isn’t afraid of long term deals. Fans, I know this hurts like
hell right now, but maybe it’s time to look to the future and to all the bright
young talent this team has (even though we’ve seen this movie before), because
we’ve most likely witnessed the end of an era - again. For me, it means the
Ottawa Senators could potentially see me in their arena at least twice more a
year if Ryan remains on Long Island. Since Edmonton doesn’t meet Ottawa next
year due to the current rotation, they probably wouldn’t have seen me at all
otherwise. I really do need to get out to more games.
I very much
enjoyed hearing Jeremy Roenick’s comments after it was revealed he would be one
of the few Phoenix Coyotes who wasn’t getting traded at the deadline – “I've got
19 games left and I'm enjoying myself because chances are it will be the end,”
he said, following Phoenix's 3-0 win over Edmonton. “I'll keep a little glimmer
of hope and see how the year ends. But I'm tired and my body is beat up and it
gets harder and harder every game. I'm enjoying my team and being in Arizona but
I'm probably, not definitely, but I am thinking of calling it a career.” If he
does retire, keep an eye out for him in a broadcast booth somewhere – I think
he’d be great at it.
Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers both in danger of missing the playoffs,
the thinking leading up to the deadline was both teams would have done more to
try and improve their fortunes. If both teams miss, it will mark the first time
both defending Conference champions failed to make the playoffs the following
season. Of course, with just under 20 games to go, it’s far from over, but talk
about going from champs to chumps. How do you like parity now?
I’ve heard a lot
of talk the last little while about how Canada is losing their identity in
hockey over the last decade or so – while it’s true a Canadian team hasn’t won
the Stanley Cup in over a decade, and while they blew their shot at an Olympic
Gold Medal in Italy, Canada is very much alive in Hockey. As you’ll recall, the
Juniors team won yet another Gold Medal at the World Championships in January.
If you look at the NHL scoring leaders – the entire top 5 point getters and 7
out of the top 10 players listed are Canadian, and the captain of 8 of the last
10 teams to win the Stanley Cup? – you guessed it – Canadian. It’s still very
much our game, and like Canada, open to anybody who wants to play – which makes
it as diverse a sport as there is. So, America, you can pass the Stanley Cup
around all you want, just remember it was most likely a bunch of Canadians that
won it for you. What’s my point exactly? I don’t know – just needed to get
that off my chest – so enough with the Canada bashing already.
By the way –
congratulations to Sidney Crosby on becoming the youngest player ever to score
200 points in the NHL – if ever there was any wonder why he’s referred to as
“The Next One”, even Wayne Gretzky didn’t hit 200 points until he was on the
verge of his 20th birthday – Crosby also did it at 19, but has
Gretzky beaten by at least six months (Gretzky’s birthday is in January,
Crosby’s is not until August).
And finally, to
address the rhetorical question in a recent television ad “Do Canadians Really
know anything about beer?” – The answer is a resounding Yes - We know how to
drink it – especially when we watch our hockey – even if we can’t identify with
the players anymore. But don’t worry, by the time the second game of the double
header starts on any given Saturday, we won’t be able to tell Ryan Smyth from
Georges Laraque anyway, let alone what team they play for these days. I keep
telling myself, Thank God the Islanders don’t wear those awful lumberjack
jerseys anymore. I can see the headline: “Captain Canada becomes Captain
Highliner”. And I really don’t care to hear another “fish sticks” chant as long
as I live. They may make a great hockey meal, but…oh never mind! As for the
beer, just remember this everybody, enjoy responsibly. Most importantly, enjoy
the stretch run, no matter how exciting or depressing it may be depending on
where you pledge your allegiances. The playoffs are coming.
I almost feel
better now – stay tuned here for a full playoff preview once we know who will be
participating. Until then, as I always say this time of year - whatever you do
– don’t blink as you’re bound to miss something!