Well, the trade deadline has come and gone, amidst quite the fanfare, although not for the reason it should have, but we won’t discuss this issue here. Like last week, this article breaks down every move made, from trades, to waiver pickups, to even free agent signings made before the Trade Deadline, which passed at 3:00 PM EST on Tuesday. So, without further ado, let’s start analyzing deals, beginning with those made the day before the deadline.
March 8, 2004
Rick Kozak, 2nd round pick (2005)
In the first of many trades to come this week, the Flyers have tinkered with their defence yet again. In Malakhov, Philly acquires a d-man with plenty of skills, however, more often than not, he fails to harness them. He is an unrestricted free agent in the summer, and has already indicated he will not be back next season, work stoppage or not. The Rangers continue to stockpile 2nd round draft picks, and they acquire yet another unknown prospect.
Winner: Flyers, since Malakhov has actually made it to the NHL.
8th round pick (2004), 3rd round pick (2005)
Because of their prior acquisition of Malakhov, the Flyers had to move one of their other defencemen. That would be Chris Therien, he who has cleared waivers and has spent time in the minors this season. However, he does add some much needed depth and experience to the Dallas blueline. Philly picks up a pair of picks in return, which isn’t too bad for their then #7 defenceman.
Winner: Stars, they needed some depth on the back end, and they got it.
In the first of several of these moves to come in the next 36 or so hours, this was merely a swap of minor leaguers. Atlanta adds some much needed defensive depth to their farm team in Chicago, while Florida picks up another young centre with potential.
Winner: Thrashers, they were weak in the minors at D, they needed this deal more than the Panthers.
Washington’s firesale moves into its second week, this time, they send a player they acquired in an earlier salary dump, for a prospect who has played a total of 0 games this season. In Carter, the Kings acquire an underachieving winger, but he has played his best hockey in the Western Conference. Aulin is quite the prospect himself, but it will be a while yet to see if this move actually works out for the Caps.
Winner: Kings, they add some much needed healthy depth on the wings.
The Isles finally make the move they should have made back in the summer, they bring back their “tough guy”, but it costs them a player who has actually spent time in the NHL this season. If the Isles make the playoffs and get into a tough series, Webb will help, but if not, they moved an important player in Bridgeport to the Pens for nothing.
Winner: Penguins, they aren’t making the small risk, and the words feel nice when said out loud – “Pens win.”
Brad Brown, 6th round pick (2005)
4th round pick (2005)
Contrary to the beliefs of many analysts, myself included, the Sabres make a move to improve their team, albeit a minor one. Brown adds some toughness to a defence corps lacking that particular attribute. This isn’t a big loss for Minnesota either, as he was, on most nights, the defenceman not patrolling the ice, but the pressbox instead.
Winner: Sabres, this is a good move to add depth, and the price was right too.
Drew Bagnall, 2nd round pick (2004)
The Stars, feeling that being the lowest scoring team in their conference was a bad thing, made a move to improve the offence. Val Bure does just that, but don’t expect much else out of him. If his role is to just score, he will succeed in Dallas; if it isn’t though, Florida steals this one. Bagnall is a bit of an unknown prospect, but a 2nd rounder is a 2nd rounder, not a bad return for a waiver pickup.
Winner: The jury’s hung here, depending on Bure’s role in Dallas, this deal could really go either way. For now though, I’ll give the ‘W’ to the Stars.
Matthew Barnaby, 3rd round pick (2004)
Chris McAllister, David Liffiton, 2nd round pick (2004)
In the first of trades made in the early hours of the morning on deadline day, the Avs acquire one of the best known “pests” in the game. Not only does Barnaby get in your face, he can score too. In Liffiton, the Rangers pick up a quality defensive prospect, while adding yet another 2nd round pick to the mix. Oh yeah, they acquired McAllister here too, wonder why I missed him…perhaps the fact that he’s scoreless in 30+ games this season – I have yet to figure out why the Rangers asked for him in this deal.
Winner: Avs, they already have the scoring, now they get some much-needed grit.
2nd round pick (2004)
Calgary continues to add some decent role players to the fray, this time, acquiring a struggling Nilson out of Florida. Nilson, supposedly best known for his scoring, doesn’t actually score often, but has an adequate two-way game, and should fit in nicely on the team’s third line, seeing some powerplay time as well. Florida continues to move away some proven talent, all but removing themselves from the playoff race.
Winner: Flames, injuries up front have left them weak on the wings, Nilson helps to alleviate the problem there.
March 9, 2004
Now, to the busiest day of them all, D-Day itself! First the waiver claims:
Chad Kilger (From Montreal)
In Kilger, the Leafs acquire a perennial underachiever, with little offensive abilities. However, he can handle things in his own end, and usually fares well in the faceoff circle. That being said, one can certainly forgive Habs GM Bob Gainey for whooping it up like he just won the lottery – he didn’t, but the Canadiens save $800,000 off of next season’s budget.
Sandy McCarthy (From Boston)
The Rangers finally realized that their plethora of second round picks aren’t actually players yet, so they decided to bring in someone who could play out the season. And in this case, it’s a familiar face in McCarthy. He brings some grit and toughness, but fails to bring what the Rangers really need – a quality player who can actually achieve expectations when moved to the Rangers.
Mike Green (From Florida)
McCarthy wasn’t the only new acquisition for New York on this day, they also acquire minor leaguer Mike Green. The only question that Ranger fans have – whose spot will he fill: Kovalev’s, Nedved’s, Barnaby’s, Simon’s, or Lindros’? Something tells me that this isn’t going to happen.
Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre (From Atlanta)
The Capitals, the other team moving anyone and everyone, also decided to add depth, perhaps in the hopes of moving them too, no one’s sure of that. Their first move was “stealing” away Grand-Pierre from the Thrashers. He’s versatile, and he’s big. Other than that, well…if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Bill Lindsay (From Atlanta)
The Caps also made another move, claiming Bill Lindsay, also from the Thrashers. This was a stunner, considering Lindsay suffered a potentially career-ending injury earlier in the season, and it is the general consensus that’s he’s out for the remainder of this season minimum. Perhaps GM George McPhee was able to hire someone to discover a cure for the injury with all the money he saved from dealing away all of those “other guys.”
There were also a pair of free agent signings as well, so let’s get those out of the way:
The Leafs have signed Johansson! Plan the parade route! If anyone actually felt this way, please feel free to kick yourself anytime. Had he actually been playing this season, this would have been a good signing, but he hasn’t been playing, he’s been scouting instead. Calle is a reliable defensive player, and will add even more depth to a depth-ridden Leaf blueline. As for the rumour floating around Leaf-land at the moment, it remains unknown if the Leafs sent a “scout to be named later” to the Caps in exchange for Johansson’s services. We’ll keep you posted for breaking developments.
The Stars also made a small splash, adding a veteran in Sekeras to the mix. He’s nothing more but an insurance policy in the event that one of their other players get injured, and even then, he may not be used a whole lot. Sekeras is a steady defenceman who gets the job done, but don’t expect to be seeing him on the scoresheet.
Now, to the deals, all 20 of them made on Tuesday:
Ossi Vaananen, Chris Gratton, 2nd round pick (2005)
Derek Morris, Keith Ballard
The Avalanche continue to tinker with their defence, shipping out one of their top rearguards and their top defensive prospect for more grit and toughness. In Vaananen, the Avs acquire a young, bruising d-man who is very solid in his own end. Gratton is often called an underachiever, but the fact is that he is best suited to 3rd line duty, which is where he’ll fit in with the Avalanche. Derek Morris gives the Coyotes a true PP quarterback, something they have been truly lacking all season long. Ballard immediately becomes the organization’s top defensive prospect, which doesn’t really say much considering who was in the system before.
Winner: Coyotes, they already had enough grit, now they acquire some much needed firepower on the back end.
Note: Colorado now has just 2 defencemen remaining from last year’s playoffs – Rob Blake and Adam Foote.
Tommy Salo, 6th Round Pick
The Avs make yet another early morning move, this time addressing a truly pressing need in goal. Salo gives the Avalanche a veteran netminder who has some playoff experience, something that the prior pair of Aebischer and Sauve both lacked. The Oilers claim that they were extremely high on Gilbert, and feel that he will be a quality player in the league sooner than later. Sadly for the Oilers who are in a playoff hunt, sooner is at least 2 years away.
Winner: Avalanche, a veteran goalie is just what the doctor ordered.
4th round pick (2005)
In a move that caught several off guard, Ron Francis indeed wound up waiving his no-trade clause, to become a Maple Leaf. At 41 years of age, his detractors claim he should have retired years ago, but he can still contribute to this team. Francis is no longer the scorer he once was, but scoring will not be his role in Toronto, two-way play will be – he can still handle that. A 4th round pick was all it cost the Leafs to acquire him, which isn’t a lot for a future Hall-of-Famer.
Winner: Leafs, Francis is well worth the “risk” of a 4th rounder in next year’s draft.
Buffalo continues to add some depth, this time adding Grier out of the fire-saling Capitals. Grier is a solid two-way player, who adds some depth and much needed toughness to the team’s wings. Klepis is a former first round pick who has now been deemed expendable by two teams, first the Senators, and now the Sabres.
Winner: Sabres, since they get what they need for a run now, but Washington also fares well in this deal.
In a deal that hardly seems worth analyzing, the Rangers send away a “veteran” for a younger prospect. Paul is a tough stay-at-home defenceman, who adds some depth to their farm team. Healey is the more proven player of the two, and has seen limited action in the NHL this season. He too adds some depth to the farm team, but he may see a recall before season’s end.
Winner: Panthers, you can never have enough reliable checkers in your system.
Brad Boyes, Andy Delmore
Jeff Jillson, 9th round pick (2005)
Curtis Brown, Future Considerations
In the most complicated deal on deadline day, the Sabres make another move to improve their defence, while the Bruins add a quality prospect, and the Sharks add a depth player. Jillson will improve the Sabres PP, but will do little more than that. Boyes does nothing to help the Bruins now, while Delmore is a depth acquisition only. Brown gives the Sharks a reliable two-way centre while adding depth for the playoffs. The future considerations here may eventually wind up with the Sabres, as part of Jillson’s bonus clauses, which he is close to hitting. But for now, they remain with the Sharks, via Boston. This could be made even more complicated, but we’ll stray away from those aspects of the deal.
Winner: I give it to the Bruins here long-term, they add a high quality prospect, and replace Jillson’s PP production with Delmore.
In the other semi-complicated deal, the Coyotes actually were successful in dealing away Savage, who cleared waivers last week. St. Louis picks up a forward who is not known to produce at this stage in the season, but he came cheap enough for GM Larry Pleau to take the risk. As for the meaning of the futures, St. Louis has the option of returning Savage to Phoenix after the season if “they are not satisfied with his performance.” If they don’t return him, it is assumed that Phoenix will pay part of the remaining salary owed over the next 2 years to Savage, although there is no confirmation of whether this is accurate or not.
Winner: Blues, if they return Savage at season’s end, if not though, Coyotes with the big steal in this one.
4th round pick (2004)
The Islanders finally make a splash in the trade pool, albeit a minor one. Karpovtsev, when healthy, is a very solid defender, and can produce offensively, however his health is the biggest factor; he suffers injuries at a higher rate than Eric Lindros suffers concussions. Meanwhile, Chicago is just happy to get something for him.
Winner: Islanders, if he stays healthy, this will be a very solid pickup for them, and a low-risk investment regardless, since he’s a free agent at season’s end.
Greg De Vries
Karel Rachunek, Alexandre Giroux
Ottawa makes a move to improve an already solid defence corps, bringing in a proven playoff performer in deVries. He adds grit, toughness, and possibly the most important, lots of playoff experience to a team looking to go deep into the postseason. In Rachunek, the Rangers pick up a quality NHL defender, best known for his offensive capabilities. Unfortunately, he is also prone to lapses in his own end, which is a concern for a team that already suffers too many of these already. Giroux will help the farm team in Hartford; he was the 2nd leading scorer in Binghamton.
Winner: Senators, this move will help them to make a long playoff run in the tough Eastern Conference.
3rd Round pick (2004)
With the acquisition of deVries (see above), someone on Ottawa’s defence had to go. That would be Hnidy, one who already was reportedly unhappy about a lack of playing time he was receiving with the Sens. Nashville becomes the lucky recipient of the tough guy’s services. Hnidy is a very physical stay-at-home defenceman, exactly what the Predators need. A 3rd rounder was all it cost for the up-and-coming youngster.
Winner: Predators, Hnidy is exactly what this team needed, although they may have been better off with a veteran with similar capabilities.
Pittsburgh did the unexpected – they were actually able to dump more salaries! Holzinger, who actually cleared waivers early this season, is a good depth centre who can produce offensively. Sure, he’s minus a million, but who isn’t in Pittsburgh? In Pirjeta, the Pens acquire one of the strangest names in the NHL, but not much more. He was recently sent to the minors for a lack of production and effort, but could still find a home on the 4th line of the depth deprived Penguins.
Winner: Blue Jackets, as they acquire the more proven centreman here.
6th round pick (2004)
Now, since the Predators acquired Hnidy (see above), someone off their roster was now the odd man out. That player was Neckar, just recently activated off the injured reserve. Neckar gives the Lightning a valuable veteran depth defenceman who won’t complain about a lack of playing time. A 6th round this season heads back to Nashville.
Winner: Lightning, as Neckar is an upgrade over current reserves Nolan Pratt and Darren Rumble.
Martin Grenier, RJ Umberger
Finally the Canucks have made a deal! Realizing that there was a lack of depth on the wings beyond the top 2 lines, Vancouver swung a deal to land Rucinsky, the final player in the Rangers firesale. Rucinsky is a valuable two-way player, who can fit in anywhere in the top 3 forward units, as well as log important time on special teams. The Rangers continue to add depth in Grenier, but Umberger is an interesting acquisition, as he is currently in a contract holdout, but he is just a few years removed from being a 1st round draft pick.
Winner: Canucks, as they are able to acquire a true 2nd line winger to play with the Sedin twins. (If the Rangers can sign Umberger, than this is a good move for them as well.)
Conditional Draft Pick
Vancouver wasn’t done dealing after the Rucinsky deal on this day. They were able to land a veteran defenceman in Bergevin, who is a great dressing room leader, which is exactly what the Canucks need at this time in the season. Bergevin is not a great player at either end of the rink, but he will serve nicely as a depth defenceman who will contribute if the Canucks go far into the playoffs. The pick going to Pittsburgh is a conditional one, meaning it all depends on what Bergevin does to see what type of pick they receive. More than likely, it will be a 6th or 7th rounder.
Winner: Canucks, it never hurts to add a little more depth for the stretch run.
The Kings make another small move to add depth to their depleted roster, this time adding a young forward in Cowan. Cowan is a tough checker, who possesses a limited scoring touch, but is willing to stick up for his teammates, something very important come playoff time. Brennan is merely a depth pickup for Atlanta, it is doubtful that he will have a significant role there, unless he is sent to the minors.
Winner: Kings, they acquire a cheap, but solid 4th line winger for virtually nothing.
Vancouver continues to make the last second deals, this time acquiring Varlamov, a player who some say is gifted offensively, but seldomly comes to play hard. However, their farm team needs the scoring, so they had to part with Ready. In Ready, St. Louis acquires a forward with limited offensive abilities, but is solid at his own end of the rink.
Winner: Canucks, as they address the more pressing concern on the farm.
3rd round pick (2004)
Vancouver makes yet another deal, this time bringing in an NHL player in Sanderson. He has been struggling mightily this season, but a change in surroundings to a more offensive minded team can only help. Columbus receives just a 3rd rounder in return, but they also remove a high salary for next season off the books, which is what they’re looking to do at this point in the season.
Winner: Guess who…it’s the Canucks once more, as Brian Burke continues to make moves to address various needs for Vancouver.
Phoenix, as was mentioned earlier, was weak in defensive prospects, and this move helps to address this need. Koivisto was the highest scoring defenceman for St. Louis’ farm team (Worcester), despite playing less than 30 games for them. It is unknown what the future considerations may potentially amount to.
Winner: Phoenix, Koivisto adds some much needed defensive depth for their farm team in Springfield.
Hab fans rejoice! Bob Gainey has indeed made a trade after all! Lacking toughness, the Canucks were able to pry away a tough guy in Blouin in exchange for a struggling prospect in Vydareny. Blouin gives the Moose (Vancouver’s farm team) a true enforcer, while Vydareny adds some depth to the Bulldogs defence corps.
Winner: As much as the Canucks get what they need here, I have to give this one to the Habs because of the money saved in this deal – Blouin’s contract is a one-way deal, while Vydareny’s is a two-way one.
The final move made on deadline day, the Avs and Wild simply swap minor leaguers. Krestanovich is a young playmaker who was expected to crack the Avs roster a few years ago, but has since regressed in his development. Bala on the other hand, moves to his 3rd team of the season, after beginning training camp with the Senators.
Winner: I give this one to the Wild, as Krestanovich has more upside at this point in time than Bala.
Well, that’s all for trades until the draft in June; players can now breathe a sigh of relief, as they will not be moved for now. The deadline was certainly a busy one, however, not all of the big names were moved like expected; Kolzig and Witt remain in Washington, Sykora and Salei stay in Anaheim, while Satan remains in Buffalo. There were no real winners on deadline day, as although Vancouver acquired Rucinsky and Sanderson, they also lost Bertuzzi for the remainder of the season and playoffs, so did they really improve after all? Time will tell the story, as we’re now just less than a month away from the playoffs, and races for positions remain in both conferences. It certainly will be an exciting finish to the season, so don’t touch that dial.
Beginning next week: Playoff primers, beginning with a goaltending analysis.
Questions/comments? E-mail me at [email protected].