The Morning After: NHL Trade Deadline Edition
Thanks largely to the Pittsburgh Penguins plundering of the league’s biggest deadline names, the actual trade deadline day was held in check through the morning hours. A small trickle of deals began to work their way into the painfully drawn-out television spectacle made of the day, before a small deluge occurred after 2 pm Eastern time.
All told, 17 deals transpired of varying importance and I’ll try my best to break them down here:
Washington acquires: Martin Erat, RW and Michael Latta, C/LW
Nashville acquires: Filip Forsberg, RW/LW
Martin Erat has been a Nashville Predator for more than a decade, but his time there was running out quickly. His performance this season has been far from stellar and he ultimately asked to be moved. He’s a handsy playmaking winger who can really dish from his off side. He doesn’t shoot enough and sometimes holds on to the puck for too long, but master technician Adam Oates should know better than anyone how to use an amazing playmaker.
Erat has always been on defensive teams, conversely, he always had decent linemates. His production won’t go through the roof on Washington as he’s on the downside of his career. But at 31 years of age, he’s not on the verge of retirement either. There’s some firepower on this Washington team and Erat should fit in nicely, especially if he starts shooting a little more.
On the flip side, the Predators get highly-touted prospect Filip Forsberg. I don’t love Forsberg as much as the rest of the hockey world, but he can play certainly. He has a heavy shot and some good tools at his disposal. He’s really started putting up points in the Allsvenska (Sweden’s second-tier league) this season and he was the captain of his World Junior Championships team a few months ago. I think Forsberg can be a second line winger at the NHL level, but I don’t consider him a super-elite prospect like many draft prognosticators do.
What’s lost in the deal: Michael Latta, the prospect no one is talking about. He’s a forward that can really play a gritty game – snarl and playmaking skill. The Capitals lost out on this type of prospect when they dealt Cody Eakin to Dallas for Mike Ribeiro and GM George McPhee did good to replace him with Latta. When Latta finds himself a consistent niche, he’ll be a player and he helps make up for the loss of a prospect like Forsberg.
Anaheim acquires: Matthew Lombardi, C
Phoenix acquires: Brandon McMillan, C
The Ducks have been shopping for a center for quite some time now and they get something of a consolation prize in Matthew Lombardi. The Ducks get even faster now with the speed merchant center. He’s not top-notch at anything else really though, especially his shooting ability. He won’t be taking home a Selke any time soon either, but he’s competent NHL depth to be sure.
Brandon McMillan is a speedy forward himself who excels at forechecking. The Ducks have a myriad of bottom-six forwards who make McMillan expendable. He’s a good fit for the Coyotes because he’s more effective defensively than Lombardi and, of course, cheaper. The Coyotes won’t keep all of their depth forwards and McMillan will likely get a chance next season.
Toronto acquires: Ryan O’Byrne, D
Colorado acquires: 2014 4th round pick (TOR?)
The Leafs get a RD that can really take the body and protect the front of the net with authority. He was playing on a horrid defensive team in Colorado and didn’t look particularly good in the process (like most Avs d-men). He’s fine in a limited role with a system that has him constantly protecting the net front. He handles the puck poorly in open ice. The value is right on the money.
Minnesota acquires: Jason Pominville, RW and a 2014 4th round pick
Buffalo acquires: Matt Hackett, G; Johan Larsson, C, 2013 1st round pick (MIN) and 2014 2nd round pick (MIN)
Minnesota goes for the homerun but it takes a lot of sacrifices to make it happen. Jason Pominville is one of the more well-rounded players in the game when you factor in all the things that he can do. He can skate, shoot, pass, quarterback the power play, penalty kill and he was the captain of the Sabres. He’s a great fit for Minnesota and helps to really put them in the discussion for best first line in hockey if Pominville joins the right side of the Zach Parise/Mikko Koivu duo. The Wild don’t become major contenders in the West because of this deal because their defensive personnel are on the weak side all things considered and their second line isn’t fully formed yet, but this is a step towards winning for them.
They give up a boat load of future assets to make it happen. Johan Larsson is an underrated prospect that had a shot of being a second line center for Minnesota as soon as next year. He’s a good all-around center who is just in his first season of North American pro hockey. He doesn’t have huge upside, but he’s a fierce competitor that wins puck battles and does good work on the boards despite his average size. He’s a prospect that can start on the lower lines and not have his talents “wasted” down there either as he’ll be an effective role player, at worst, at the NHL level.
Matt Hackett is a goalie prospect that I love. I consider him a top-5 goalie prospect in the world in terms of upside. He’s not just the standard “blocking wall” goalie, he’s athletic with a good glove and he can make saves in the stand-up position thanks to his anticipatory skills. He needs to play a lot of games in a row to get rhythm going and when he does, he’s tough to beat. Former NHLer Jeff Hackett’s nephew needs some work still, certainly, but he has the biggest upside out of the Jhonas Enroth, Andrey Makarov, Matt Hackett triumvirate. Common knowledge now, but the writing is on the wall for Ryan Miller in Buffalo. Hackett could be in the NHL as soon as next season with a strong training camp.
Buffalo gets a couple of quality draft picks in the process as well, including what could be a pick in the 15-25 area provided Minnesota doesn’t become a Cinderella team. As it stands right now, two firsts and two seconds in 2013 and one first and three seconds in 2014, which will allow the Sabres to really freshen up their prospect cupboard.
San Jose acquires: Raffi Torres, LW
Phoenix acquires: 2013 3rd round pick (FLA)
The San Jose Sharks add some energy and bellicosity to their ranks with Raffi Torres. A couple of other clubs were interested in the feisty winger’s services despite the lengthy suspension he received last playoffs for his vicious hit on Marian Hossa. The Sharks lost a good bit of toughness when they shipped out Ryane Clowe and Douglas Murray, and Torres helps replace that. He works hard and hits everything, it might be a good spark of energy for the Sharks as they prepare for the postseason.
Columbus acquires: Blake Comeau, RW
Calgary acquires: 2013 5th round pick (CBJ)
Blake Comeau provides a body for the Blue Jackets after they moved a couple of pieces to get Marian Gaborik. Comeau, now completely convinced that he doesn’t have the skill be a top-six forward in the NHL, has embraced the role of the energy winger. He plays at a high pace and does the best he can physically and on the PK. He helps replace Derek Dorsett and allows some of the youth to get out of the press box and get back to the AHL to continue to develop. His style fits the Blue Jackets system quite well.
Minnesota acquires: Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, G
Anaheim acquires: Future Considerations
Simple deal here: Minnesota moved a goalie from their farm club and replaced him with an AHL vet for no cost. With Fredrik Anderson and Igor Bobkov manning the nets in the AHL, Anaheim had Deslauriers all the way down in the ECHL, so he certainly was of no use to them and he gets a chance to showcase himself a little bit at the AHL level with the hopes of getting a future two-way contract next season. Win-win.
New Jersey acquires: Steve Sullivan, RW
Phoenix acquires: 2014 7th round pick (NJ)
Steve Sullivan returns to New Jersey where he played way back when Martin Brodeur was…still…the goalie… Anyway, the last time the Timmins Tornado donned a Devils jersey was February 20, 1997. For the Devils, he provides a little bit of scoring depth and some help on their rather average power play if they so choose. He’s just a shell of his former self, but he was gotten on the cheap like most of the recent Devils acquisitions (Matt D’Agostini, Andrei Loktionov and Alexei Ponikarovsky, all NHLers, all without giving up more than a 4th round pick).
Boston acquires: Wade Redden, D
St. Louis acquires: 2014 Conditional 7th round pick (BOS)
The Bruins reunite Chara and Redden, well, at least to the same roster. The Blues recent acquisitions pushed a d-man out the door and Redden finds a home on a contender in the East. To show how useful the Bruins find Redden to be, the condition on the pick is: If Redden plays one playoff game, the Blues get a 6th round pick instead. Redden is decent depth, but really shouldn’t be any main component of a winning team at this point in his career.
Columbus acquires: Marian Gaborik, RW; Blake Parlett, D; Steve Delisle, D
New York® acquires: Derick Brassard, C; Derek Dorsett, LW/RW; John Moore, D; 2014 6th round pick (CBJ)
Probably the biggest shocker of the day was Columbus and New York mimicking an NBA-style trade yet again. It’s been a tough season for Marian Gaborik after offseason surgery and he gets to be the catalyst for offense in Columbus. Given the Blue Jackets tight, collapsing defensive system and lack of right wing depth, Gaborik provides a deep threat to scream down the wing and keep the pinching defense honest. He scored 41 goals last season (third in the NHL) but hasn’t found quite the same offensive game again this season – nor have most of the Rangers. The team ranks in the bottom third of the league in power play percentage and 5-on-5 goals. Gaborik is just what the doctor ordered for the Blue Jackets lack of fire power and goal-scoring punch. He has game breaking ability if he can stay healthy.
The Rangers acquire a lot of depth that they lost in the Rick Nash trade, depth that is excelling in Columbus by the way. Derick Brassard is a player that has struggled to live up to his draft hype and gets a fresh start on Broadway. He’s a slick passer and if this little tryout of sorts pans out, he might help prepare the Rangers for life without Brad Richards who may be on the amnesty buyout chopping block in the summer. Brassard isn’t really cut out to be a third line center because of his limitations without the puck nestled on his stick, but he could liven up the Rangers neutral zone discombobulation when they attempt to break out of their own zone. He goes hot and cold, but he has the potential if you can fit him into the right role.
Derek Dorsett is a grinding winger with a broken collar bone. He’s a determined rabble-rouser with grit and truculence. He stands up for his teammates constantly and isn’t afraid to throw hands with anyone. His skill level is fine for a grinder, he’s not a total black hole for offense but don’t expect much from him in the first few columns of the scoresheet. By all accounts, he’s a great locker room presence and was a good community guy. He takes some rather dimwitted penalties trying to stretch out possession in the offensive zone (such as, after losing a puck battle where he’s on the wrong side of his man) but all told, he’s a fit for the Rangers style on the lower lines.
John Moore has a lot of tools but hasn’t found the right tool box yet and may never. He has a good amount of upside, mainly because of his phenomenal skating base. The former first round pick is a wonderfully fluid skater. Moore just ran out of race track in Columbus because he wasn’t improving at the same rate as the team. He’s a good outlet passer but he should produce more at the NHL level. I wonder about his hockey sense when he’s a pinch and ultimately, it may hold him back from being anything more than a third pairing guy.
The other two pieces in the deal are just to balance out contracts. In fact, Delisle was also a pawn in the Rick Nash trade.
Philadelphia acquires: Steve Mason, G
Columbus acquires: Michael Leighton, G and a 2015 3rd round pick (PHI)
Though it may seem like a silly deal, the Flyers needed to add an NHL caliber goaltender to their lineup. They are still very much in the hunt for the playoffs and Bryzgalov has started 20 consecutive games because his backups (Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher) have such a slim chance of earning a point in the standings. Bryzgalov has played 1,960 of a possible 2,163 minutes (nearly 91% of all minutes played, no other goalie is even at 88%) and that cumulatively wears on a goaltender, especially in this condensed schedule.
Mason doesn’t do a lot for the future of goaltending in Philadelphia but he’s a stop gap that couldn’t stop much of anything even on a very defensive Columbus team this year. He’s a “blocking wall” goaltender that has a limited skill set. He doesn’t have a good glove at all and his lateral movement is lacking. He was insulated nicely as a rookie under Ken Hitchcock but since then he has had trouble finding his game. The Flyers shovel off an AHL veteran goaltender in Michael Leighton and a draft pick that might not matter to their current GM is things keep going this way.
Mason is a restricted free agent after this season and given the healthy qualifying offer he is due to receive to retain his rights, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was allowed to walk.
Tampa Bay acquires: Ben Bishop, G
Ottawa acquires: Cory Conacher, LW and a 2013 4th round pick (PHI)
It’s no surprise that Ben Bishop was moved on Wednesday but it was a surprise that Cory Conacher was. One of the NHL’s great stories, Cory Conacher has been battling uphill at the steepest of angles to make the NHL. He was at Canisius College for four years, don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it, it’s not a “major conference” hockey program, and then found his way on a minor league deal before Tampa Bay picked him up. He tore it up early in the season, but has settled back down to earth since then.
He plays the game like his pants are on fire. Conacher, a distant relative of the famed Conacher hockey family, battles for every inch of ice when he’s out there. He’s generously listed at 5’8” but plays much bigger. He’s not a well-rounded player by any stretch but he immediately becomes the Sens leading point-getter thanks to all the injuries they’ve had.
Ben Bishop was a beneficiary of injury himself. Thanks to Craig Anderson’s downfall, Bishop got an extended look at the NHL level after being acquired from St. Louis last season. Bishop’s 6’7” frame makes him a palatable goalie prospect but the only thing that makes this trade so lopsided is the striking disparity between the two players’ heights.
The Senators, now a very defensive team without Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza, allow a lot of low quality shots and as a result, their goaltenders have terrific save percentage numbers that can fool some fans into believing the Senators have the best three goalies in the league or thereabouts. The top two goalies in the NHL in save percentage are Ottawa’s Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner. Bishop is tied for 10th. That’s not a strange coincidence.
GM Steve Yzerman panics a bit here but he doesn’t sell the farm as the Lightning have an impressive stable of forwards just waiting to make their mark including Brett Connolly and Tyler Johnson. Bishop seems like more size than ability, but he should be able to hold on as a backup in the NHL.
Columbus acquires: Patrick Killeen, G
Pittsburgh acquires: Future Considerations
This is a “friends” deal, which is what Ray Shero and Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen are. Shero likely wanted to just dump a contract in case a college free agent or some such became available to him. Killeen is a free agent at the end of the year and is likely on the last days of his last NHL contract.
Pittsburgh acquires: Jussi Jokinen, F
Carolina acquires: 2013 conditional 7th round pick (PIT) and retains salary
The deal is interesting because it’s the first of its kind. Versatile forward Jussi Jokinen is under contract next season at a less than desirable $3 million. No team was willing to just swallow that so no one traded for him, nor did anyone put in a waiver claim for him recently either. However, the Hurricanes have agreed to eat some of his salary for next season in exchange for the Penguins taking him off their hands. The salary retention feature is a spiffy new tool in this Collective Bargaining Agreement and has yet to be utilized until now.
At press time, it was unknown how much salary the Hurricanes have retained, but they can keep up to 50% of his contract or $1.5 million in this case. The Penguins don’t see Jokinen as anything more than a stop gap until Sidney Crosby gets healthy and Jokinen remains a candidate for an amnesty buyout in the summer despite the salary retention.
The conditions on the pick:
If Jokinen plays 50% of the Penguins playoff games and the team wins the Stanley Cup, Carolina receives a 6th round pick. If Jokinen plays 25% of the Penguins playoff games it becomes a 7th round pick and if less than that, it’s nothing, as I understand it. Complicated things are always subject to change.
Jokinen has a lot of natural skill and can play any of the three forward positions. He’s a very good faceoff taker and fanciful shootout man.
San Jose acquires: Scott Hannan, D
Nashville acquires: 2013 conditional 6th round pick (SJ)
It hasn’t been a great year for most of the Predators defensemen, Shea Weber and Roman Josi notwithstanding, so it’s natural that the Preds just moved Hannan along for whatever they could get. He goes back to his old stomping grounds by the Bay and helps to replenish a little depth lost in the Douglas Murray ousting and Brent Burns shift to forward.
Hannan, a rugged defender, is winding down and while he’s a little banged up right now, he’ll be a fine insurance policy in case injuries occur in the playoffs.
Edmonton acquires: Jerred Smithson, C
Florida acquires: 2013 4th round pick (EDM)
Very quietly, the Oilers have gone 6-2-2 in their last ten games and are in the eighth spot in the Western Conference. So, while many wouldn’t expect this team to buying a rental player, the Oilers add a body that can help with their possession because he wins faceoffs. Additionally, the Oilers were using Ryan Smyth as a fourth line center when he’s a natural left winger. Smithson can take over as 4th line center and the Oilers some help defensively and, more importantly, in the dot. The Oilers were a league worst 45.5% in the faceoff circle heading into action Thursday night.
Chicago acquires: Maxime Sauve, C
Boston acquires: Rob Flick, F
The deal that didn’t happen until after noon Eastern Time turned out to be the ice breaker on trade deadline television across North America. Unfortunately, most people don’t know who either of these players are. Sauve is a good two-way energy type winger who has a good amount of skill but has been saddled with injuries – including leaving his first and only NHL game with an injury. Flick is a guy that is scrapping and clawing his way through pro hockey. Something of an instigator, but probably doesn’t do anything well enough to be an NHL regular.
And that concludes my 2013 NHL trade deadline coverage. Thanks for reading.