Monday, March 10, 2008


The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are looming ahead. In the Western Conference, a couple of big deadline day moves have brought two teams closer to the front running Detroit Red Wings; while some prepared for the future by obtaining draft picks. Two teams, Calgary and Edmonton, were silent as the deadline came and went. Who won? Who lost?


In the Pacific Division, two of the top three teams made big trades to upgrade their rosters. In San Jose, the Sharks acquired D Brian Campbell and a 7th round draft pick for RW Steve Bernier and a 1st round pick in the 2008 draft. The trade is sound for both clubs. Both players have five points in their first five games with their new clubs. Campbell is great at running the power play and has eats up ice time (averaging just over 25 minutes a night). If the Sharks can sign Campbell to a new contract (he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1), Campbell will be a thorn in the side of his division rivals for years to come. If Campbell is nothing more than a rental, he still gives the Sharks a better shot at advancing in the playoffs. This move could be GM Doug Wilson’s master stroke, or his downfall if San Jose fails to advance.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, the GM duo of Les Jackson and Brett Hull engineered a deal to bring Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards in from Tampa Bay. The price was steep: for Richards and G Johan Holmqvist, the Stars let go of forwards, Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen, G Mike Smith, and a 2009 draft pick. Richards, a Cup winner with Tampa, had been more noted lately for having the worst plus-minus rating over the past two seasons. That is not completely his fault, of course, but it did make some people wonder (including yours truly). Richards must have been happy about waiving his no-trade clause and moving to Texas… in his first game as a Star, Richards collected five assists in a 7-4 rout of Chicago. Personally, I hated to see Jokinen go – I think his career is on the rise (Note to Tampa: keep him at center instead of on a wing). The worst part, however, is letting go of Smith. Smitty has played so well in his first two seasons in the league, and provided Marty Turco with a solid safety net. Given Turco’s past playoff outings, it will be interesting to see if Turco can build upon last spring’s performance against Vancouver. Dallas lost the series in seven, with Turco winning three games by shutout. Should an injury befall Turco, Johan Holmqvist will man the net, which would probably mean yet another first-round ouster for Dallas. Yikes.


In Anaheim, the Ducks made deals with an eye on getting some insurance for injuries or underperformers. Anaheim obtained D-men Jay Leach (Tampa) and Marc-Andre Bergeron (NYI), as well as exchanging a 7th round pick with Los Angeles for G Jean-Sebastian Aubin. Leach and Bergeron will augment the blueline (with Bergeron providing insurance on the PP), while Aubin will probably backup J. F. Giguere come April. The offense took a hit last night, as Corey Perry went down after being cut by a skate in a 1-0 loss to Colorado. Perry, who was second on the team in scoring (29-25-54), will likely miss six weeks, meaning Anaheim will have to get through the first round, and perhaps part of the second, without him.

There is a reunion in Colorado. D Adam Foote was acquired from Columbus for conditional draft picks in 2008 and 2009. This, combined with the signing of Peter Forsberg, shows that Colorado wants to win now. The loss of draft picks could haunt them in the future, but that doesn’t seem to bother the Avalanche, who missed they playoffs last year by one point. Where are Deadmarsh, Ozolinsh, and Roy? Colorado also acquired D Ruslan Salei from Florida for Karlis Skrastins and a draft pick in a depth move.

Detroit gave two draft picks to Los Angeles for D Brad Stuart. Stuart will help a D-corps that has been a bit banged up. In another “homecoming” move, Darren McCarty was signed as free agent. Columbus traded Sergei Fedorov to Washington for a college defenseman (Ted Ruth of Notre Dame)…did the Wings even make a call to the Jackets? Vancouver traded a veteran grinder (Matt Cooke) for a younger, perhaps more offensively gifted, grinder (Matt Pettinger). Pettinger is physical, but has yet to show much more than fourth liner ability on offense.


The Phoenix Coyotes and New York Rangers combined to deal five players. One of the Coyotes’ acquisitions was G Al Montoya, who they believe can be their tender of the future. Marcel Hossa (no, not THAT one) comes to the desert as well. In exchange, the Rangers got a draft pick and three guys (F Fredrik Sjostrom, LW Chris Gratton, and G David LeNeveu). Three or four years from now, this may be seen as the steal of the year. Or, we will never hear from these guys again.


Minnesota got Chris Simon from the Isles for a 6th round pick… this will make Marian Gaborik feel better about his playoff chances?

St. Louis got a 4th line winger (Cam Janssen from New Jersey) and a 4th pick from the Rangers for two D-men (Bryce Salvador to NJD, Christian Backman to NYR).

Nashville hoped to improve their offense by getting Jan Hlavac from Tampa and Brandon Bochenski from Anaheim.

Chicago sent Martin Lapointe to Ottawa for a draft pick, and sent forward Tuomo Ruutu to Carolina for forward Andrew Ladd in a deal that gives each player a fresh start in a new town – a chance to retool and elevate their careers.


Detroit is still the class of the conference, but Dallas and San Jose have gained ground.

Anaheim’s chances of repeating took a hit, but never count the champion out.

Dallas must hope that Marty Turco – and his teammates – can get that first-round monkey off of their backs. IF they can, the sky is the limit. The team is a great mix of young and old that has survived injuries to their top two defenseman (Sergei Zubov and Philippe Boucher). Can they keep it up?

San Jose must find a way to lock up Brian Campbell.

Colorado must get Ryan Smyth healthy and keep him that way.

As long as Vancouver has Roberto Luongo, they must be respected.

Phoenix just might be the mystery guest in the playoffs; Minnesota just might be left scratching their heads as to how they missed the postseason.

It’s one more month until the playoffs: THE best time of the year!!!


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