The concept of selecting winners and losers coming out of the NHL trade deadline has never exactly excited me. By now, most hockey fans are well aware that it takes not hours, but years, to adequately judge the short-and-long-term effects of any transaction.
But in this day and age, that’s not a good enough reason to not take a stab at it anyway. So get your irrational anger ready – here comes Screen Shots’ picks for Trade Deadline Winners and Wieners:
Dallas: Acquiring Brad Richards from Tampa Bay wasn’t an outright heist for the Stars, but at the very least, it qualifies as misdemeanor shoplifting.
That’s not to say Mike Smith won’t evolve into the No. 1 goalie the Lightning require so desperately, or that Jussi Jokinen won’t win Tampa a few shootouts on his own.
It is to say Dallas needed a cornerstone to build around for the next five years, and got it in Richards. Any way you slice it, that’s a win for BrettLes HullJackson & Co.
Phoenix: Let’s get this straight: Glen Sather shipped out a speedy young forward (Marcel Hossa) and a still-developing goaltender (Al Montoya) to the Coyotes for a goalie (David LeNeveu) they’d given up on, a journeyman (Josh Gratton), a soft winger (Fredrick Sjostrom) and a conditional draft pick?
Advantage: Don Maloney.
San Jose: The Sharks need to win at least two playoff rounds this season, a fact that could’ve resulted in a major panic move from GM Doug Wilson.
Fortunately for San Jose fans, he did no such thing. Instead, he paid a fair price (young winger Steve Bernier and a first-rounder) for former Sabre Brian Campbell, whom I firmly expect Wilson will sign to a multi-year contract as soon as possible.
Say what you will about the departing Bernier’s upside, but the plain fact is, even if Campbell is a rental player, Wilson filled a hole in his lineup without creating another one. That’s the essence of a good trade.
Washington: The pressure has been on Capitals GM George McPhee all season to get his team into the playoffs. He’ll have a much easier time of it after bringing in three veterans – goalie Cristobal Huet, center Sergei Fedorov and winger Matt Cooke – to aid in the push.
Huet is the most important addition, but don’t count out the off-ice contributions of Fedorov, who will serve as a mentor of sorts for Washington’s Russian forwards, or Cooke, who’ll amp up their sandpaper quotient.
As noted in our trade deadline day coverage, I see the Caps now as odds-on favorites to win the Southeast Division. However, should they fail in that chase – and most likely miss the playoffs in the process – they become one of the frontrunners to be first in line for a new GM.
Florida: Olli Jokinen is still a Panther, and coach-GM Jacques Martin’s only moves were to add just a pair of fringe Maple Leafs (Wade Belak and Chad Kilger) for a playoff push that will likely fail?
No wonder this team can’t do any better than treading water year after year.
It’s been said in this space before that Martin has to choose either the GM job or the bench boss spot. That now seems more apparent than ever. That is, unless owner Alan Cohen wishes to waste yet another Panthers season.
Minnesota: The Wild have to prove to star winger Marian Gaborik they’re serious about contending for a Stanley Cup. So they do that by, um…trading for Chris “The Stomper” Simon? Color me unconvinced.
Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps Simon, Todd Fedoruk and Derek Boogaard will lead Minnesota in playoff scoring, and Gaborik will chop a couple million off his asking price for his next contract because he’s a closet fisticuffs fan.
Somehow, I doubt it. But I don’t doubt Wild fans deserve better.
Montreal: Give Canadiens GM Bob Gainey credit for freely admitting he took a sizeable gamble by sending Huet to the Capitals.
Unfortunately, his candor won’t stop Habs fans from going on a hole-tearing spree if Carey Price and/or Jaroslav Halak can’t deliver some game-stealing performances in the playoffs.
Granted, Huet would’ve left the team for nothing in the off-season, but that’s just not a good enough reason to leave Montreal’s immediate future in the hands of two goalies who’ve yet to start a single NHL playoff game.
Toronto: Ah, the Maple Leafs. They’re just too easy to pick on these days. But what else is there to do when interim GM Cliff Fletcher’s biggest trade deadline moves did nothing but reduce the team’s payroll – and increase the franchise’s profits – by a miniscule amount?
No team suffered more from the NHL’s preponderance of no-trade clauses than Toronto. That may change by the time the entry draft rolls around as the embarrassment of another year out of the playoffs really sinks in to the heads of Bryan McCabe, Pavel Kubina and Darcy Tucker.
For now, though, the Blue and White Country Club looks almost the same as it did prior to Feb. 26. And no amount of rationalization can take that palate and use it to paint a pretty picture.
Adam Proteau is The Hockey News’ online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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