For the past week, the Toronto Blue Jays have owned the sports news cycle thanks to the club’s big time acquisitions of Troy Tulowitzki and David Price ahead of the MLB trade deadline. There’s one problem, though: there’s a possibility that neither trade will actually help get the Blue Jays into the post-season.
The Blue Jays currently sit two games back of a wild-card spot, and, even then, they may find themselves ousted in the one-game playoff between the wild-card teams. If that happens, they will have made two major trades and, especially with regards to the Price trade, have mortgaged their future in a non-playoff year.
This isn’t a problem specific to baseball, however. Every year, teams wheel and deal at the NHL trade deadline with hopes of getting that final piece to put them over the top. This season was a rarity, in that the Chicago Blackhawks’ key addition, Antoine Vermette, actually performed admirably throughout the post-season and helped bring another Cup to the Windy City. In other cases, though, the deals went bust. Such is the case when there can only be one champion.
Here are five deadline deals from the past season that fell flat:
5) Penguins trade Despres for Lovejoy
The Pittsburgh Penguins needed defensemen at the trade deadline, especially once they lost Kris Letang to a concussion following a hit from Shane Doan. In a tough spot, the Penguins acquired someone they were familiar with: 31-year-old rearguard Ben Lovejoy. In exchange, they gave up Simon Despres, a 24-year-old defenseman with big time potential.
No one saw the Penguins as true Stanley Cup contenders this past season, but the club still went out and gambled on a veteran blueliner and gave up a young player in the process.
The Penguins were ousted in five games by the New York Rangers. Lovejoy played big minutes for Pittsburgh, but he wasn’t a major factor in the post-season. Meanwhile, in Anaheim, Despres scored one goal and six points in 16 regular season games, adding another goal and seven points in 16 post-season outings.
4) Blues acquire Michalek, still get booted in first round
The St. Louis Blues had been ousted in the first round in two consecutive seasons heading into the 2014-15 season and the hope was this past season would be the year to bust that slump. Unfortunately, that was not the case, not even with the help of sought after blueliner Zbynek Michalek. To acquire Michalek, the Blues had to send prospect Maxim Letunov the other way.
While the deal itself — Michalek and a third-round pick for Letunov — isn’t all that bad, the outcome was a brutal one for the Blues. For years now it has appeared St. Louis is primed to get out of the post-season’s opening round, yet they’ve come up empty in three consecutive attempts.
Maybe this is the year, Blues fans.
3) Glencross flames out in Washington
For much of the season, it looked as if Curtis Glencross was going to remain a Calgary Flame for the foreseeable future. However, as the trade deadline approached, news broke that the 32-year-old winger had submitted a list of teams that he was willing to be dealt to. On that list was the Washington Capitals.
The Capitals were desperate to bolster their top-six heading into the post-season and Glencross was the perfect option, it seemed. He was having a productive enough season to make him a good second-line option.
It didn’t work out for the Capitals, however. In 10 regular season games, Glencross managed four goals and seven points, but he mustered just one goal in 10 post-season games. That’s not to mention that he was a healthy scratch for three straight games in the first round against the New York Islanders. Washington gave up 2015 second- and third-round picks for Glencross and the club was booted in the second round by the Rangers.
2) Connolly trades fails to boost Bruins
The Bruins gave up two second-round picks, one in 2015 and one in 2016, in hopes that Brett Connolly would be able to slot into the lineup and give the club some extra punch in a depth role. Unfortunately, before he could play a single game for the club, he injured a finger on his right hand and was kept out of action for 15 games.
Eventually, Connolly got back into the lineup with five games remaining in the season. He did manage two points — both assists — in his Bruins debut, but it was too little, too late for Boston. They were in a heated race for one of the wild-card spots in the Eastern Confernece, but came up short by losing their final three games of the season. Had Connolly been in the lineup prior to the last five-game stint, maybe things turn out different in Beantown.
1) Wisniewski a lame Duck
It was no small deal when the Anaheim Ducks acquired James Wisniewski from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Wisniewski had cornered the Blue Jackets by giving them a list of only contending teams with which he would accept a trade, yet somehow Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen found a way to work out a deal. He sent Wisniewski and a third-round pick to Anaheim for Rene Bourque, William Karlsson and a second-round pick.
Though Bourque is a prime trade candidate in Columbus, Karlsson, 22, is adjusting to the North American style game and scouts ranked him the third-best prospect in the Anaheim system in The Hockey News’ annual Future Watch issue. That was a nice pick up for the Blue Jackets.
The real problem with the deal, however, is that Wisniewski wasn't a fit in Anaheim — at all. He played 13 regular season games with the Ducks and collected five assists, but was a healthy scratch for all 16 post-season games. All of them.
Wisniewski’s time in Anaheim ended about as soon as it began when the Ducks shipped him off to the Carolina Hurricanes for goaltender Anton Khudobin. All told, Wisniewski was a Duck for less than four months.