What do Ryan Smyth, Peter Forsberg and Keith Tkachuk have in common?
All were franchise names who donned new jerseys at last year’s trade deadline and all were golfing by the end of the first round of the playoffs.
So while marquee names send hockey pundits’ hearts a-flutter, it’s the subtle moves that often do a Stanley Cup make.
And when a team already has a murderer’s row at its disposal, “upgrading” by acquiring fourth-liner Brad May – the sum total of Anaheim’s moves last season – is sometimes the way to go.
Which brings us to the first significant trade of the deadline season, Ottawa shipping unhappy offensive defenseman Joe Corvo and oft-injured winger Patrick Eaves to Carolina for veteran winger Cory Stillman and physical defenseman Mike Commodore.
The general consensus is Ottawa won this deal, at least in the short-term.
Both Stillman and Commodore will be eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer, which means they could be Sens for mere months. This is a double-edged sword. If the Sens win the Cup, then hey, mission accomplished. It would be nice to have the pair back, but it’s not the end of the world.
Should the Senators falter, however, the departure of Eaves becomes a potential albatross. At just 23, Eaves’ best years are ahead of him – this is simply because his health history, which included missing a majority of his freshman year at Boston College with a neck injury, has been hexed.
Any consistent string of play from the youngster would improve his stock greatly, making him a legitimate top six forward for years to come.
Corvo was a simple decision; the Sens didn’t really need him and he didn’t like being in Ottawa.
In terms of what the Senators received, Commodore will add more toughness to the blueline. He’s not afraid to drop the gloves, which ironically may come in handy in a Cup showdown with whichever bruiser comes out of the West (Detroit being the exception).
Stillman is a consistent point-producer who won back-to-back Cups with Tampa and the Canes. Most importantly, he’s a threat for the second line, which once again is what Ottawa needed in order to take pressure off the Big Three of Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza.
Because after all, with those marquee names already humming, sometimes all it takes is a minor name to put a team over the top.
This column also appears in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his features, The Hot List and Year of the Ram, appears Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
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