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Trade Deadline Blowout

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Western Conference Report Card
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Ryan Dadoun grades the Western Conference after Wednesday's trade deadline

Going back to Wednesday morning’s advice not to take off the day of work for the 2013 trade deadline, you really could have done just fine refreshing your favorite hockey news browser (hopefully Rotoworld NHL or Pro Hockey Talk) all day.

While the quantity wasn’t there and the flow of moves wasn’t exactly even, the eventual moves included a few earth-shakers ... at least compared to the duds we’ve had to slink through in recent years.

NHL.com has a thorough list of moves since February 26, so if you want the specifics of each move down to the conditional draft pick and “future considerations,” check that link. I’m going to go ahead and jump into the biggest deals to gauge the fantasy impacts.

GABORIK BECOMES CANNON FODDER

In what I’d wager was the biggest eyebrow-raiser of the deadline (including moves that came before Wednesday like Jarome Iginla to Pittsburgh and Jay Bouwmeester to St. Louis), the New York Rangers sent Torts-browbeaten sniper Marian Gaborik (plus junk) to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Derick Brassard (and junk).

GABBY IMPACTS

Technically, the Blue Jackets have players who’ve scored more than Gaborik has in 2013, but you’d be beyond foolish to suggest that he doesn’t immediately become the most dangerous forward on a team that largely seems anonymous (sorry, Vaclav Prospal).

While Gaborik won’t intermittently have teammates like Brad Richards and Rick Nash, he’ll be appreciated for what he can do where before he was barked at for not being some kind of skating soldier.

If he simply slides into Brassard’s spot, then he’ll line up with Prospal and Mark Letestu. I wouldn’t stumble over my own feet to lock down “The Test Tube,” but Prospal was already a fringe guy in deeper leagues so I’d say ponder him depending on your needs. He’s owned in 16 percent of leagues right now.

(You ABSOLUTELY should make sure he actually lines up with Gabby before dropping anyone of even moderate value to make the move, though.)

BRASSARD AND CLOWE PUT ON A SHOW

Many of you probably observed the big debuts of Brassard (one goal and three assists for four points) and Clowe (first two goals of the season plus an assist) and decided to scoop one of them. That’s fine, although if you grabbed both, you might need to consider the possibility that you have impulse problems.

Ultimately, I’m not super-sold on either, although it would be silly to ignore the strengths they present. Before I do that, here are the Rangers’ Brassard/Clowe Era line combos, courtesy of Sportsnet’s Chris Nichols.

Ryane Clowe - Brad Richards - Mats Zuccarello

Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan

Carl Hagelin - Derick Brassard - Brian Boyle

Clowe and Zuccarello? It would be hard to find two more disparate players on the same (“top”) line; one would expect such disparity in a RPG where you have some mammoth-like creature chumming it up with a jolly dwarf. That aside aside, this setup actually gives the Rangers interesting depth where they were once rather top-heavy ... if Clowe’s two-goal, one-assist night wasn’t a mirage, of course.

Playing with Richards would make a monstrous difference, but let’s not ignore the fact that a) Clowe came into the Rangers roster without a single goal and b) he had disconcerting shoulder problems very recently.

Still, if he can stay healthy and most importantly on Richards’ line, he can contribute. Especially if he’s getting PIM. I’m skeptical-but-intrigued about Clowe, yet I’d hesitate to pull the trigger unless you are just a mess in a fringe spot.

Brassard is the better offensive player - at least skill wise - but as much as I like Hagelin, that line might not get the kind of opportunities you’d hope for night-in and night-out. His mediocre peripherals aren’t promising, either.

If you need a tiebreaker, note that the Rangers have a bruising schedule. Five of their next six contests will take place on the road; overall, they only have four home games vs. eight away matches. The stakes are high, which means John Tortorella might actually (somehow) be more unpleasant.

Somewhere, Marian Gaborik smiles.

Jump for Pominville and Erat talk, plus more.

POMINVILLE, MINNESOTA ... NOT POMINVILLE, NEW YORK

Before hearing the full details of the trade, it sounded like the Minnesota Wild hit a homerun by getting Jason Pominville (plus a fourth-round pick) from Buffalo. When it was clear that Buffalo nabbed a nice prospect in Johan Larsson, a first-round pick and a second-round pick (plus fairly interesting netminder Matt Hackett), it made me wonder why Buffalo didn't fire sale. That’s a pretty dizzying array of elements to receive, even if Pominville’s under contract through 2013-14.

Beyond that Buffalo bevy of futures, it brings up some serious questions about the Wild’s upcoming summer. One can only assume that Dany Heatley will receive a compliance buyout when you consider that Niklas Backstrom, Matt Cullen and Cal Clutterbuck are among those who need new deals.

Enough about that - aside from making an extra mental note that Backstrom and Cullen are in contract years, if you haven’t already - let’s get to Pominville.

THE RUNDOWN

When looking at Pominville, I couldn’t help but think: “This is the guy they probably hoped Dany Heatley would be,” aside from the fact that he boasts the added benefit of having a right-handed shot.

Pominville has two explosive seasons (73 points last year, 80 points in 2007-08), but through peaks and valleys, he's getting at least 20 goals in a full season. He's done that in all but one of his seasons of steady play, and even when he played in 57 games in 05-06, he fell just short with 18.

While he's not particularly useful in most peripherals - although his plus/minus could get rejuvenated on a better team with world class linemates - he fits the sniper profile of getting approximately three shots per game.

I’d expect a slight-to-nice bump from his 25 points in 37 game 2013 pace because ... (see the section below)

THE LINEMATES

Once the trade went down, it seemed like one of two players would face the highest odds of being impacted negatively by Pominville joining the Wild population: Dany Heatley and Charlie Coyle.

Heatley has been Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise’s linemate quite a bit, but lately, Coyle’s gotten the call. Heatley can now be eliminated from the equation after Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s slash from Wednesday seemingly put him on the mend for what coach Mike Yeo believes will be (ominous music) “some time.”

While Coyle brings a right-handed shot to the table and the Wild might opt to spread out their offense,* I think the young winger’s eight points in 25 games just doesn’t make the argument needed to dissuade the Wild from loading up with a Parise-Koivu-Pominville top trio.

Admit it, just reading those names in succession sounds like danger for opposing defenses. Who knows how good the Wild really are, but they got a lot scarier on Wednesday.

Well, for the next few months, at least.

ERATTATION

Whether Filip Forsberg pans out or not, the first-rounder’s name will be associated with trades that seemed really lopsided in a would-be-desperate team’s favor. The Washington Capitals decided they didn’t want to roll with Semyon Varlamov, so they got a killer package from Colorado that included the pick that would be Forsberg. This time around, Martin Erat asked out of Nashville, so the Predators were up against the wall and received ... the type of prospect they usually miss out on because they’ve become a regular playoff team.

Now, there’s always the chance that Forsberg was traded for a reason; he slipped ever-so-slightly to the Caps at No. 11 in 2012, so maybe something’s amiss. Still, it seems like David Poile made such delicious lemonade out of Erat’s lemons that he must have cheated by spiking it.

Either way, that talk is moot for now, even if Forsberg plays a bit at the NHL level this season. The real question revolves around Erat’s value.

MEDIUM FISH IN A SMALL POND

I’m a lifelong New York Giants fan, which means that my childhood years revolved around terrible teams featuring running back Rodney Hampton. For some reason, an interesting parallel popped into my head for Erat: Chris Calloway.

I’ll never forget that when the Giants had a new coaching staff roll in, they eventually allowed Calloway to go despite regularly leading the team in receiving.** How could they let their top WR go?


Well, because Calloway wasn’t very good; he was just the least bad guy on a team full of guys who weren’t there yet, were past their prime or would never have a prime. Erat was a go-to guy for the Predators in many situations like that, but with emerging forwards like Gabriel Bourque, Colin Wilson and Craig Smith, the writing’s on the wall.

OVI TREATMENT?

Still, Erat isn’t as done as Calloway (who had about 800 yards in the four seasons after leaving New York ... combined). He’s also likely to line up with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom - don’t cross your fingers to the point of injury there - on the first line or Mike Ribeiro on the second.

My guess is that Erat lines up with Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer while Brooks Laich gets pumped to his should-be role as a useful third-line center.

Ribeiro’s the kind of playmaker who can give Erat a real boost, even if the Czech-born winger hardly qualifies as a “sniper.” My concern is that he’s not a great peripheral guy, so he’s just there for point potential.

Not the worst option, but he’s no Victor Cruz, either.

Jump for a roundup of the rest in this jam-packed Dose.

* - One can see the wisdom of looking at the team as a series of duos: Koivu-Parise, Cullen-Devin Setoguchi and Pominville-Kyle Brodziak. Not saying I’d do that, but there’s an argument.

** - The fact that he was a guy who maxed out at 849 yards in one season says a lot about how a) plodding the Giants were back then and b) how much football has changed, passing-wise. It’s especially funny to look at the players who were just behind Calloway in receiving yards in 1998. (Well, it’s funny if you’re a Giants fan whose hopes were eventually pinned to the exploits of Tiki Barber and Amani Toomer.)

WRAPPING UP TRADES

The biggest impact trade I left out of the first two pages (look, I don’t blame you for skimming this one if needed) is the Ben Bishop - Cory Conacher swap. Bishop should get plenty of starts with the Tampa Bay Lightning, which almost guarantees that his sterling stats will drop, although he could be a useful “quantity over quality” guy. Conacher’s likely to get a great chance to produce in Ottawa because the Senators are being forced to be more resourceful than MacGyver when it comes to squeezing out wins. I actually think Conacher’s going to be much more intriguing in the future - imagine if he’s a regular top power play guy alongside the like of Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson - but his situation is one to watch.

I’ll say this about Matt Lombardi ... he’s fast? ... Raffi Torres for a third-rounder? I guess the Sharks had to make a mistake or everyone would grumble about the ridiculous set of assets they received for spare parts ... Jussi Jokinen might get a real shot with the Penguins in the short-term. I’d keep an eye on him.

INJURY NOTES (full list) and QUICK HITS

Patrice Bergeron has a “moderate” concussion. That’s not good since this would be head injury number four at the NHL level, as far as I can tell. (Not including non-diagnosed issues, of course) ... Good gravy is Taylor Hall ever on a hot streak. He has a six game run with seven goals and eight assists (15 points) highlighted by last night's jaw-dropping five-point performance. He also had nine points in five games from March 10-17 before totally slacking off in two pointless games on March 23 and 25. Amazing stuff. It's almost like he was the top pick of a draft or something ... Antti Niemi is on a six-game winning streak while Devan Dubnyk’s won four in a row ... Tomas Plekanec is day-to-day with a lower-body conundrum ... Chris Kelly sounds like might near a return ... The same can’t be said for Ville Leino.

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