March 03, 2010
There were 30 trades made on and around NHL Trade Deadline Day 2010, all of them seemingly involving second-round picks. There were 52 players moved during that time, all of them seemingly with expiring contracts and roughly one-third of whom were completely unknown commodities to hockey fans. The Phoenix Coyotes made at least five trades. The Chicago Blackhawks made one. The Philadelphia Flyers made none.
They were strange days indeed.
The 2010 Deadline will go down as an adventure in tedium, as television pundits attempted to analyze insignificant moves, then desperately focused on trades made before the Olympics to pass the time before finally succumbing to the giggles around 4 p.m. when attempting to offer any salient thought on Stephane Yelle(notes) and Harrison Reed(notes) going to Colorado for Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll(notes) and a sixth-round pick.
That said, there were some interesting moves made by nearly all 30 teams, and the teams that didn't make moves were making a statement, too. Here are letter grades for all of them. We're not rehashing every trade, so check out Ross McKeon's rundown here for specifics. We're going big picture.
Anaheim Ducks: The Ryan Whitney(notes) trade shook the hockey world out of its deadline malaise. It's a ballsy move, as Lubomir Vishnovsky is signed through 2013 at a $5.6 million cap hit, but a solid one considering how ill-fitting Whitney had been with the Ducks. They saved money in the Vesa Toskala(notes) swap, and made a shrewd veteran acquisition in Aaron Ward(notes), who has rebounded from an awful start. A lot of bodies moving around -- including that poor guy Kampfer -- but a well-managed deadline by Barstool Bob. GRADE: A-
Atlanta Thrashers: Clarke MacArthur(notes) was given every chance to be a difference-maker in Buffalo, but his early pace slowed significantly. Atlanta gave up two picks for an RFA and a player who still has time to develop is a worthwhile deal. Forward Evgeny Artyukhin(notes) is already getting a look with the Thrashers' top liners. Most of all, they hang onto Slava Kozlov(notes), and linger just a point out of the playoffs. GRADE: B
Boston Bruins: Spare parts for Dennis Seidenberg(notes), who is a UFA this summer. Stanley Cup of Chowder sees him as an upgrade over Derek Morris(notes), and notes his NHL leading 179 blocked shots as a factor. It's a nice deal for the blue line; too bad the problem is the offensive zone, which wasn't addressed at the deadline. Not like the Bruins are the lowest-scoring team in the NHL or anything. A player like Raffi Torres(notes) would have helped. GRADE: C-
Buffalo Sabres: If it's seen as a MacArthur-for-Raffi Torres swap, then it's a big upgrade and a big win for the Sabres. Torres helps the power play and becomes one of the leading scorers on the Buffalo roster. He's singing for his supper as a pending UFA, and doing it well. MacArthur was given every chance to make an impact, and did for a month. Then he was about as satisfying as a Clark bar. (We're Snickers men here.) GRADE: A-
Calgary Flames: The Flames made their "deadline" deals weeks ago with the Dion Phaneuf(notes) and Olli Jokinen(notes) blockbusters. If there's a disappointment, it's that some of the pieces they acquired in that deal didn't move today. On Wednesday, they made one of the best trades of the day in acquiring defenseman Steve Staios(notes) from the Edmonton Oilers for Aaron Johnson(notes) and a third-round pick. He's signed through 2011 at a $2.7 cap hit. Hard-nosed, puck-moving and a great addition by the Flames. They also made a significant upgrade at backup goaltender with Vesa Toskala over Curtis McElhinney(notes), for whatever that's worth. GRADE: B-
Carolina Hurricanes: The big news, obviously, is that Ray Whitney(notes) is still a member of the Hurricanes, and probably by his own doing. His no-trade clause put the kibosh on any move GM Jim Rutherford wanted to make. Scott Walker(notes), Andrew Alberts(notes), Aaron Ward and Joe Corvo(notes) all had expiring contracts; Brian Pothier(notes), who came over from the Capitals, has one too. The Corvo trade was probably the white flag on the season, but they managed to acquire some assets. The lack of a Whitney deal is frustrating. But operation Tank For Taylor has never been healthier. GRADE: C+
Chicago Blackhawks: Everyone will overreact to the fact that they didn't improve their blue line or between the pipes, but it says here they didn't need to; partially because their goaltending is better than given credit, but also because doing anything with Cristobal Huet(notes) and his contract is problematic. Defenseman Nick Boynton(notes) was signed for minor league depth. The Blackhawks pretty much stand pat. GRADE: B
Colorado Avalanche: Wojtek Wolski's(notes) RFA status meant making a financial commitment to a player that the Avs didn't want to make. The acquisition of forward Peter Mueller(notes) (and to a lesser extent, Kevin Porter(notes)) is a crap shoot. If Mueller finds his game as a plodding winger skating with the speedy young forwards in Colorado, perhaps this works. If he descends deeper into bust-ville, then this stings. The Avs may not have done enough to remain a contender in the West, with the pack closing in. GRADE: C+
Columbus Blue Jackets: Probably waited too long to pull the trigger on a Raffi Torres trade, getting back a body on defense in Nathan Paetsch(notes) and a second-round pick for a player who may have demanded more. They cut bait with Alex Picard, sent Milan Jurcina(notes). But full marks for finding a taker for Freddy Modin in the Los Angeles Kings, who apparently believe it's 2004. GRADE: C
Dallas Stars: Made the Kari Lehtonen(notes) trade before the Olympics and then did nothing at the deadline. Can't blame the Stars for standing pat, because that roster could be good enough to make the postseason -- in theory. But keeping Marty Turco(notes) and not improving the blue line is Joe Nieuwendyk's(notes) decision, who was more interested in hunting draft picks that never materialized. GRADE: C-
Detroit Red Wings: As we've said for weeks, the Wings getting healthy is better than any deadline move they could make. Stood pat, and better for it. GRADE: B+
Edmonton Oilers: The Visnovsky deal was financially driven, but Ryan Whitney is an interesting option coming back, signed through 2015. They've cleared salary in that trade as well as the Denis Grebeshkov(notes) and Steve Staios trades, getting a second- and third-round pick in the process. It's all setup for the rebuild, even if the setup didn't include other significant salary dumps (Souray, Moreau).
Of course, it's also Edmonton, which means that GM Steve Tambellini was going to get torched. Said Edmonton Journal blogger Dave Staples: "So you trade Grebeshkov, then bring a Grebeshkov-alike back in trade for Visnovsky." From The Copper & Blue:
Bob Murray, on the other end, is nobody's fool. He aims high and works his way down. "So how about Ryan Whitney?" says Bob. "He's younger, bigger, and he makes less." He's also worse. Considerably worse. Epically worse.
Steve Tambellini glances at the clock. It's 12:45, Mountain Standard Time. He knows that if he doesn't pull the trigger on something his press conference will be awkward, or it would be if Edmonton's hockey media wasn't competing to get him into the sack. "Throw in a sixth-round pick," Tambellini says.
Bob Murray spits out his coffee. And we're the ones who get burned.
Ouch. The team did make a more universally embraced move in claiming Ryan Jones(notes) from the Predators on waivers. So those are some good vibes ... until Staios helps turn the Flames into conference contenders, of course. GRADE: C-
Florida Panthers: Snagged a second round pick for Jordan Leopold(notes) and another second (along with Bitz and Weller) in the Seidenberg trade from Boston. Not the big waves ownership promised, and no Tomas Vokoun(notes) trade. But that deal could actually bring more back at the draft than at the deadline anyway. If you expected them to be buyers, you were disappointed. But why they heck would you expect that? GRADE: B
Los Angeles Kings: Picked up Jeff Halpern(notes) as a veteran depth forward, dumped a problematic forward in Teddy Purcell(notes) and then made the bizarre decision to acquire the player formally known as Freddy Modin. No big moves, but they didn't need any. GRADE: B
Minnesota Wild: Made their big move for Cam Barker(notes) before the Olympics, and then snagged a second-round pick for the expiring contract of center Eric Belanger(notes) from Washington. Hung on to other assets like Owen Nolan(notes). GRADE: B-
Montreal Canadiens: No Jaroslav Halak(notes) or Carey Price(notes) trade, and not even a whisper of one. Picked up Dominic Moore(notes) before the Games, sent Matt D'Agostini(notes) to the Blues. Standing pat or simply without any desirable options for suitors? Either way, they needed more improvement. As Eyes on the Prize said about GM Pierre Gauthier: "He's damned if he budges and damned if he don't in Montreal." GRADE: D+
Nashville Predators: Flipped a second-round pick for defenseman Denis Grebeshkov, who improves an already solid blue line and who's up for a new contract as an RFA after the season. Acquired hard-working forward Dustin Boyd(notes) from the Calgary Flames. Dan Hamhuis(notes) was coveted by several teams, but the Preds never pulled the trigger. It makes them better in the short term. GRADE: B+
New Jersey Devils: The Kovalchuk trade was their essential deadline deal. Martin Skoula(notes) was acquired for a bag of pucks from Toronto because he thrived under Jacques Lemaire and because the Devils needed some defensive depth. But a Staios-type would have pushed this team closer to a Cup. GRADE: C (again, without the Kovalchuk move factored in.)
New York Islanders: Kept Dwayne Roloson(notes), kept Marty Biron, even kept Richard Park(notes). Traded Andy Sutton(notes) to the Senators and made one minor move. Getting a second-rounder for Sutton makes this a somewhat successful deadline. GRADE: C-
New York Rangers: Already made their epic move in acquiring Olli Jokinen before the Olympics, and tweaked the lineup with defenseman Anders Eriksson(notes) from the Coyotes. Another team whose bed was made well before the deadline. GRADE: B-
Ottawa Senators: Defenseman Andy Sutton brings a solid physical game to the Ottawa blueline, and the second-rounder appeared to be the going rate. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov(notes) wasn't really in play; you can argue that he should have been, but the Sens are a better team with him right now. Worry about the present. GRADE B+
Philadelphia Flyers: Lost out on Hamhuis because the asking price was too high, and didn't improve their team on defense or in goal. Unlike the Chicago Blackhawks, who may be able to still win with their goaltending, the Flyers needed to add a better veteran to the Michael Leighton(notes)/Brian Boucher mix. But to the surprise of no one, the Flyers will enter the postseason with a terrific group of forwards, an impressive defense and a question mark in goal. Just. Like. Every. Other. Year. GRADE: D
Pittsburgh Penguins: Another bit of Ray Shero deadline magic. After seeing what went down the following day, landing explosive forward Alex Ponikarovsky for prospect Luca Caputi(notes) and salary dump Martin Skoula was aces. (Ed. Note: Streaky? Explosive? Talented? The Poni debate is on in the comments.) Ditto the trade for Jordan Leopold, who will bring the Hal Gill(notes)/Rob Scuderi veteran aesthetic to the blue line. Shero has a knack for understanding what his roster and his locker room need. He exhibited it again this week. GRADE: A
Phoenix Coyotes: It shouldn't be a surprise that the Coyotes were active at the deadline, because they were active last year while under NHL control, too. (Only we didn't know it at the time.) The surprise should be at just hoe effective GM Don Maloney was on Wednesday in acquiring Lee Stempniak(notes) and Wojtek Wolski up front and Mathieu Schneider(notes) and Derek Morris for his blue line. The Wolski trade could turn out to be one of the best of the day, depending on how he fits the Tippett system and in his next contract. GRADE: A-
San Jose Sharks: Anyone taking issue with the Sharks standing pat is baffling to us. Best team in the conference, made all the depth moves they need to make already. No need to do anything but wait until their inevitable playoff disappointment, which will have nothing to do with this deadline. GRADE: B
St. Louis Blues: Held on to their veterans, picked up Matt D'Agostini from the Habs. Quiet deadline for a team that, frankly, needed to make a little more noise. GRADE: C+
Tampa Bay Lightning: Teddy Purcell is an enigma who was given several chances by the Kings but couldn't stick. Change of scenery deal, with a third-rounder coming back to Tampa as well. Another team whose roster is so financially top-heavy that it handcuffed them a bit at the deadline. GRADE: C+
Toronto Maple Leafs: They get a solid prospect in Luca Caputi from the Penguins, turn a salary dump in Martin Skoula into a fifth-round pick from the Devils, get a three more picks in the Lee Stempniak and Joey MacDonald(notes) trades to Phoenix and Anaheim, and a prospect from Pittsburgh in Chris Peluso. Nothing major, because Brian Burke will tell you he hates deadline day. Only he'll most likely say it more colorfully. GRADE: C+
Washington Capitals: The Capitals made an incredible amount of noise at the deadline, and left some fans scratching their noggins. Adding veteran forward Scott Walker from Carolina is inspired, because he brings grit and experience down the lineup. Adding Eric Belanger from the Wild was puzzling, because the Capitals seemed pretty set up the middle; but he adds a solid two-way game.
The reacquisition of Milan Jurcina from Columbus makes sense, because he's a banger that GM George McPhee likes on his blue line. The trade for Joe Corvo is a bit of a puzzler, because with Mike Green(notes) and Tom Poti(notes) one would think that type of defenseman is already well represented on a roster that could have used a veteran shutdown guy. Corvo makes the deadliest offensive team in the league more dangerous, and but only adds to the jitters that this team could be susceptible on defense in the postseason.
All that said: Big moves from a team looking at a Cup within reach, and not many assets sacrificed to make them. GRADE: A-
Vancouver Canucks: Some minor league depth moves to go along with the acquisition of defenseman Andrew Alberts from the Hurricanes, who helps ease the need to a defensive defenseman banging around on the blue line. Still, the fact is that the Canucks feel like a team one key veteran forward away from real Cup contention, and he didn't walk through that door today. GRADE: C+