Being that I’m not a professional athlete (or an athlete at any level, really), I can only speculate regarding what it must feel like to join a new team during the trade deadline. Then again, there are any number of things that neophytes write and observe while brushing off a lack of experience, so I cannot help but think of a grade school analogy.
For players on new teams, Thursday (and in a few surprising cases for guys like Derick Brassard and Ryane Clowe, Wednesday) must have felt like the first day of school. At least a school that’s basically all gym class ... though with the grinding, film-heavy nature of modern sports, it couldn’t be called full-time recess. Some players get moved all the time - making them something like “army brats” and other kids whose families relocate with stunning regularity - while others haven’t ever been through this before.
Still, the basic goal is to impress your new peers. Or at the very least, find someone to sit with at lunch time.
Usually, such first-time experiences are lukewarm enough to generate warnings not to sell a guy down the river immediately. Yet in the case of an unexpectedly large number of introductions, these guys made the kind of introduction you’d expect from a kid who was breathing fire in chemistry class.*
While I cannot guarantee that this will be a comprehensive rundown, here’s a look at how a lot of the new guys fared and how you might take advantage or avoid an impulse buy.
Marian Gaborik - While I still have some serious doubts about the Columbus Blue Jackets’ chances of making the playoffs, I also still love this deal for the team. He made an immediate impact, and while it’s unrealistic to expect a goal and an assist every game, it’s reasonable to expect a boost from a guy who’s produced at an elite level quite often (when healthy).
Gabby’s already taken in every league worth being in, though. As far as I can tell, he skated with former-turned-renewed teammate Brandon Dubinsky and Matt Calvert on Thursday.
While Calvert’s had some amazing moments, I’d take a long look at Dubinsky (10 percent owned in Yahoo leagues), particularly if you’re dealing with a wide variety of categories. Beyond scoring potential that’s promising - but probably only with Gaborik on his line - Dubinsky seems like he can be depended upon for about two hits per night, 100 PIM in a full season and some FW’s. Add all that to his C/LW eligibility and I’d be awfully tempted to pluck him. (I love versatility in head-to-head leagues, at least in depth spots.)
Jaromir Jagr - In a weird way, I think it was actually really promising that Jagr was noticeably tired on Thursday.
Why? Because his hockey IQ and sheer skill still jumped off the screen. While he won’t get many more goals to just bounce off of him going forward, the well-conditioned vet should look better when he’s further removed from being traded.
(Want another reason to get excited about Jagr? Read this well-reasoned piece about the very strong possibility that he’s better for the Bruins than Jarome Iginla would have been.)
So far, it looks like the Boston Bruins are going to roll him out with Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand, which might expose the fact that Jagr’s 41 every now and then. (Patrice Bergeron’s injury likely had a huge influence on keeping the up-and-far-too-often-down Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton line together.) It’s hard to avoid getting excited about this trio.
Ben Bishop - When it comes to goalies, I don’t mind the practice of jumping on bandwagons ... at least when it comes to your third (or even fourth?) netminder. There’s essentially 60 jobs and probably less than 30 good guys available, so if a guy emerges with potential to be a surprise gem, why not launch on him?
Bishop’s Ottawa numbers could be a mirage. It’s not anywhere near realistic to expect many 45-save shutouts after Thursday; that output tied a franchise record and Tampa Bay is becoming a goalie graveyard, after all. Still, when you consider the fact that there are valuable fantasy backups, why not go for a guy likely to run with the ball ... who might just be really good (at least for the next month)?
NOT QUITE SPECTACULAR
Jay Bouwmeester - If Bishop, Jagr and Gaborik pulled off the equivalent of becoming the varsity quarterback the minute they stepped on campus, then the next group of guys merely fit in with a funny joke in class. Jay Bouwmeester basically did exactly what the St. Louis Blues probably expected: one assist, he logged a crack over 25 minutes of ice time (only one on the power play, although the Blues didn't really get many chances to try that new unit out), fired two SOG and collected two PIM.
That won’t win you your week by any stretch, but he has some value, especially in TOI leagues.
Derek Roy - OK, stat-leaning types would argue that Roy was actually borderline spectacular on Thursday. His simple numbers were nice but far from unbelievable, however, with an assist, a +1, two SOG and 17:54 of ice time. I already thought Roy (27 percent owned) was worth pondering in Dallas, but now on a better team with more to play for each night (not to mention a new contract still dangling), I think he’s worth a look in deeper leagues.
Jason Pominville - The good news is that it looks like he’ll get at least a dress rehearsal on the big line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. The bad news is that the Los Angeles Kings rolled with a 2-0 lead early on in the game, obscuring much of a chance to judge what he might bring to the table (aside from the fact that Minnesota needed him). To really belabor the point with the school metaphor, it’s like someone pulled the fire alarm.
Martin Erat - And this guy got drenched by the sprinklers.
Jump for a worrisome injury and thoughts from around the league.
* - I WISH this happened at any point in my scholastic experiences.
THROWN FOR A LUPUL (AGAIN)
The Toronto Maple Leafs stood pat on Wednesday, which many would agree was the right plan. Who knows what they would have done if Joffrey Lupul got hurt earlier in the week, though.
He took a hit that inspired some to throw the word concussion around, which is troubling beyond the universal fears of head injuries. Like Bergeron, Lupul has a history with problems, as he’s had three (by my count) in his NHL career.
Could be a big loss for Nazem Kadri and the team as a whole. Let’s not panic yet, but you’d be wise to survey other options in case this is an emergency.
So, to not that much of a surprise, the Los Angeles Kings decided to opt for safety by keeping Jonathan Bernier. Should they start thinking about giving him more starts as Jonathan Quick struggles with The Great American Goalie Breakout Curse?
Either way, he stopped all 23 Minnesota Wild shots for his first shutout of the season and fourth win in a row. He's 9-2-0 with a .927 save percentage and 1.77 GAA. Meanwhile, Quick is 12-11-3 with a .896 save percentage and 2.54 GAA.
Maybe Quick’s hardware works as a fort for him in April, but what happens if the math above translates to playoff losses? Will the Kings get submarined by too much loyalty then?
RYDING OVER COLE
Michael Ryder had a fantastic night on Thursday (two goals, one assist to help Montreal beat Winnipeg 4-1), so I thought I’d take another look at the Ryder-Erik Cole trade. Really, the players’ numbers since being moved are sufficient enough:
Ryder's 17 games with the Habs: nine goals, eight assists for 17 points, even plus/minus, two GWG
Cole's 16 games with the Stars: four goals, zero assists for four points, -9 rating, you get the point
Well, hey. Alex Goligoski looked like he’d fetch equal value for James Neal early on (seriously, Neal only had six points in his first 20 games for Pittsburgh) and that turned out the opposite way.
(Oops, I don’t think that made Stars fans feel better. Sorry.)
INJURY NOTES (full list) and QUICK HITS
The Penguins insist that Sidney Crosby is not suffering from concussion symptoms. Instead, it’s just a broken jaw as initially reported ... Henrik Zetterberg came back from a groin injury on Thursday ... Kimmo Timonen suffered a lower-body injury while Zac Rinaldo’s out indefinitely with a high-ankle sprain. Tough year for the Flyers, who actually might still be hovering around the playoff picture, by the way ... Justin Faulk is day-to-day with a knee issue ... P.K. Subban has 30 points in 31 games this season. Outstanding stuff ... A hip flexor is bugging Damien Brunner ... Don’t look now, but Mike Green has a four-game goal-scoring streak ... Keep an eye on Brian Elliott, who might just have a new lease on life ... Tuukka Rask and Cory Schneider also had shutouts on Thursday ... Justin Williams looked a little banged up on one hit, but hopefully that won’t tarnish his two-goal output from yesterday ... Wow, don’t get Evander Kane mad. Alexei Emelin learned the hard way, as Kane went irate and earned 15 PIM attacking him ... East update: the Capitals now lead the Southeast, the Islanders are in seventh, idle Rangers are in eighth while the Devils and Jets fellow to the fringe thanks to Thursday’s events.