The trade deadline is over and done with, and now it’s time to breathe.
We won’t truly appreciate the ramifications of these deals until decades from now. It’s entirely possible the Vancouver Canucks will look back in 20 years and say they stole the deadline. It’s possible the New York Rangers will regret offing picks, or the St. Louis Blues will wish they had held onto Jaroslav Halak.
But for the time being, all we have are instant insights. So I give you my grades for trade deadline week. Remember this is for the week, not just for the day — I had to fit Ryan Miller’s move, since that was like a trade-deadline deal.
Remember, folks, ‘C’ is average. ‘A’ is very good.
Without further ado.
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks made a depth deal, acquiring long-time Dallas Stars defenceman Stephane Robidas while dealing Dustin Penner to the Washington Capitals. They also dealt Viktor Fasth, getting two picks in return.
These are all fine deals with the future in mind, but the Ducks’ window is now. Plus, Anaheim has been rich on defence all season and now finds itself short offensively — defenceman Luca Sbiza was left playing wing on Wednesday night against Montreal.
I know the Ducks have scored the third-most goals in the league, but scoring goals also wins in the postseason. To miss out on scoring depth, potentially in Teemu Selanne’s final run, seems like a missed opportunity.
Boston Bruins: Injuries decimated the Bruins’ blue line so they scooped up a veteran in Corey Potter and a puck mover in Andrej Meszaros while giving up only one pick to get them. Well played, Peter Chiarelli.
Buffalo Sabres: Their on-ice product and front office may be a mess right now, but the Sabres did the trade deadline right. Ultimately, they got four picks and Torrey Mitchell for Thomas Vanek. They got two picks, Chris Stewart, Rusty Klesla and Michael Neuvirth for Ryan Miller and Steve Ott.
The Sabres will have at least 11 first and second-round draft picks over the next three years, plus, they picked up a top-six forward in Cory Conacher off waivers.
Now that is how you rebuild.
Calgary Flames: Take some notes on how the Sabres did it, Flames fans. Calgary is going nowhere, and Brian Burke so much as said that any player not named Mark Giordano or Sean Monahan could be dealt. What did Calgary actually get? A third-round pick for Lee Stempniak and a second-round pick for starting goalie Reto Berra. Mike Cammalleri is still unsigned and Calgary couldn’t even wrangle a first-round pick from a contender.
Carolina Hurricanes: Carolina’s recent 3-7 stretch — plus a dreadful start to the season — left them in seller’s mode. The Hurricanes did re-sign Anton Khudobin and unloaded Tuomo Ruutu’s pricey contract, freeing up cap space this off-season. But, with goalies on the move left and right, no one even sniffed at Cam Ward’s deal.
Chicago Blackhawks: When you’re among the league’s elite, and you add blue-line depth without giving anything up, you get a good grade. Maybe the Blackhawks could’ve gotten insurance for Corey Crawford, but tell me what this team really needs to add right now, besides a healthy Marian Hossa?
Colorado Avalanche: The Avs got an emotional, statement win in Chicago on Tuesday night. They’re young, exciting and on the cusp of becoming a sleeper pick in the Western Conference. So what did Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy do this week? They acquired Reto Berra.
I appreciate the need to sit pat when you’re not “there yet” especially in this year’s loaded Western Conference. Sakic told me earlier this year any consideration of deadline moves would have the future in mind, but the Avs have proven they can play with the Blackhawks, Ducks, Sharks and Kings. The youngsters might begin to wear out, and it would’ve been nice to see a depth move to infuse some energy into the club.
Columbus Blue Jackets: As I write this, the Blue Jackets occupy the eighth-and-final Eastern Conference playoff spot. They have a budding collection of young forwards and seem solid on the blue line. They’re quietly fun, difficult to play against, and they did nothing to adversely affect that on Wednesday.
Matt Frattin is a pain to play against, plus Columbus got him and picks while unloading oft-injured forward Marian Gaborik. Nick Schultz is a veteran blueliner who can take injured-defenceman Fedor Tyutin’s spot for now and then slot in as a third-pair ‘defenceman once Tyutin returns.
Dallas Stars: The Stars, like the Blue Jackets, are clinging to the last playoff spot. Unlike in the East, the West is slightly less open for a team to make a run. Still, with an exciting team that has potential to make postseason for the first time since 2008, you’d think the Stars would want to hang onto Robidas and upgrade their offence.
Instead, they dealt for Tim Thomas.
Detroit Red Wings: Let me start by saying that the David Legwand deal coinciding with the announcement of Pavel Datsyuk’s shutting down is scary if you’re a Wings fan. But, if the Wings can survive Datsyuk’s absence and stay in the hunt, they’ll have remarkable depth down the middle when he returns.
Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers’ goaltending and defence was a serious weakness, and in six weeks, Edmonton acquired two goaltending upgrades — Ben Scrivens-Viktor Fasth is a significant upgrade from Devan Dubnyk-Ilya Bryzgalov. The Oilers got a pick for Schultz and two for Ales Hemsky, and they didn’t deal any of their oodles of goal-scoring talent.
They’re about two ‘D’ from competing next year.
Florida Panthers: If the game is to build from the back-end out, the Panthers are building properly. Roberto Luongo is still a bona fide No. 1 goalie, plus Florida’s cap-recapture penalty isn’t nearly what the Canucks’ will be if he retires early. The Panthers now have a stalwart netminder to build around — something they haven’t ever had.
Florida also locked in Brad Boyes — who wants to be there — and now have a couple of solid lines to move forward with. Could Florida have gotten anything for Dmitry Kulikov? Perhaps, but the Panthers are trying.
Los Angeles Kings: The Los Angeles Kings needed goal scoring and they addressed that need by acquiring Gaborik for just the regular healthy-scratch Frattin. The Kings didn’t need much, and if Gaborik can adapt, they are sitting pretty.
The question is if Gaborik will coexist.
Minnesota Wild: The Wild are firmly entrenched in a Western Conference wild-card playoff spot, but good for general manager Chuck Fletcher for going for broke this year. Minnesota may not have a big team, but with Matt Moulson and Ilya Bryzgalov’s additions, it will be a tough team to play against.
Moulson joins hard-nosed scorers Zach Parise and Jason Pominville and could move up with Nino Neiderreiter on the Wild’s second line, giving them a fearsome top-six forward crew. With Bryzgalov’s addition, Minnesota deepened its goaltending as well. If ever there was a team capable of making a run through the West, it’s the Wild.
Montreal Canadiens: All I heard for weeks is that Montreal needed to get bigger and tougher up front, and that’s what the Habs did. Montreal got Thomas Vanek, essentially for a song. They now have three legitimate scoring lines, and in their trade for Mike Weaver, they picked up depth on defence — something the Canadiens so desperately need.
A few weeks ago, it was rumoured that Michel Therrien was losing the team. Now the Canadiens are among the shortlist of Eastern Conference favourites.
Nashville Predators: It’s hard to get behind the Predators’ moves. They traded David Legwand — their first-ever draft pick — for Patrick Eaves and a conditional third-round pick, and then offed Devan Dubnyk for “future considerations” — whatever that means.
Nashville appears stuck in a holding pattern and may need more.
New Jersey Devils: For starters, Lou Lamoriello was right to not deal Martin Brodeur, unless he was going to get a backup-type goalie. Brodeur has started, and won, two-straight games and despite his mediocre numbers he’ll play and contribute more in New Jersey.
I have a lot of friends who are Devils fans who are trying to talk me into the Tuomo Ruutu deal. It’s the kind of deal Lamoriello makes that usually pans out, and Ruutu is a 31-year-old pugnacious forward who has played top-six minutes historically. But, he has just 16 points and is minus-19 in 57 games. I know they didn’t give up much to get him — Andrei Loktionov had chemistry with Ilya Kovalchuk and hasn’t done much without him around — but for “buyers”,t I don’t know that the Devils did much to improve.
New York Islanders: Where do we begin with the Islanders? It’d be easy to lambaste Garth Snow and the Islanders’ moves this deadline. Vanek was the premier scorer at this juncture, and the Islanders got a 20-year-old prospect and a conditional second-round pick. They undoubtedly received a better offer for Vanek in the weeks leading up to the deadline, but alas that’s what they got.
If you look at what New York got for Moulson, it is paltry. The Isles gave up a first, second and Moulson and got Sebastian Collberg and a second-round pick back, which is an underwhelming get for a 30-goal scorer.
But while Snow’s moves reek of aimless maneuvering, this deadline wasn’t a total loss. The Islanders turned Andrew MacDonald — who had slipped to a third-pair defenceman on the Islanders — for two draft picks. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t good. But it could be worse, as you’ll see below.
New York Rangers: While the Islanders are a mess, 27 miles to the west, the Rangers look like a sincere threat in the East.
The Rangers would’ve been winners purely because they did not overpay to keep Ryan Callahan, but that they got the defending Art Ross Trophy winner — one with a chip on his shoulder who is notorious for his ability to prove doubters wrong — with one more year on his contract makes them the league’s big winner on trade deadline day.
Add to that the fact the Rangers also acquired Raphael Diaz for defensive depth, and New York will look fairly loaded once Mats Zuccarello returns.
Ottawa Senators: Ales Hemsky is a 30-year-old potential-unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He’s a two-time 70-point earner in Edmonton who had been dropped to the Oilers’ bottom-two lines in the past three seasons. Hemsky is going to step in and play with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek.
That’s all well and good, except the Senators still have allowed the NHL’s second-most goals this year, and besides re-signing Chris Phillips to a two-year contract, they did nothing to address defence or goaltending. Can the Sens outgun the rest of the East and make the playoffs? They’re already falling out of the race because they can’t do that now.
Philadelphia Flyers: Andrej Meszaros and a second-round pick for Andrew MacDonald. That sounds like a deal worth making, even if MacDonald is a rental. The Flyers are a tough, strong team that will go as far as their goaltending takes them. But MacDonald can eat minutes, play in all facets of the game and is an upgrade from Meszaros’ offence-first game.
Does that move put them over the top? I don’t think so, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.
Phoenix Coyotes: This is finally the year the Coyotes can try to “go for it” and it’s nice that they made a deal to add offence. The sulking Martin Erat may only have one goal to his name this year, but he can aid Phoenix’s scoring troubles and potentially boost them to the postseason. Even if he doesn’t, the Coyotes needed to prove to their fans and the league that they’re poised to compete.
Pittsburgh Penguins: We all heard that Pittsburgh was in on Ryan Kesler, Thomas Vanek and a collection of wingers. Instead, Ray Shero decided to pluck Lee Stempniak from the Flames. It’s not a sexy move, but was Pascal Dupuis a sexy top-line winger before he started playing with Sidney Crosby? Honestly, Stempniak boasts better credentials than Dupuis did and came for far cheaper than Vanek or Kesler would’ve.
It’s the kind of under-the-radar move we’ll all remember when the Penguins are winning the Eastern Conference.
San Jose Sharks: San Jose doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. But we all heard about the moves the Ducks, Kings and Blues made — two of those teams share the Sharks’ division — yet San Jose stayed relatively static. It’s fine to trust your team, especially if Tomas Hertl is going to return this season — that would be like a trade-deadline acquisition. But if the Sharks have grand plans that this is their year, they didn’t go for it the way most of us figured they should’ve.
I may be wrong — I picked the Sharks to win the Cup a few months ago — but I think they’ll come to regret standing still.
St. Louis Blues: Meanwhile, the Blues did not stand still. St. Louis addressed what they felt was a hole, acquiring goalie Ryan Miller a week ago. I don’t know why goaltending was a perceived hole for the Blues, but Miller is better than Jaroslav Halak, and if Miller re-signs in St. Louis, the Blues could compete for years to come. Plus, they offed Chris Stewart — who reportedly didn’t want to be there — and brought in Steve Ott, who only was Buffalo’s captain.
Tampa Bay Lightning: If you factor that Steve Yzerman got a first and two seconds — one of which could become a first — for a disgruntled player who would only go one place, the St. Louis deal looks fine for a Lightning fan.
Callahan can help Tampa Bay in the short-term — just because he isn’t a $6 million-per-year player doesn’t mean he doesn’t bring something to the table. Tampa Bay’s penalty kill is 25th in the NHL, and Callahan can kill penalties and block shots and sacrifice himself for the good of the team. Plus, he can bring some offensive punch to add to the return of Steven Stamkos.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Was it widely reported that the Leafs would stand pat? Yes. Did they? Yes. No moves whatsoever. This team is not designed to win this year anyway and is playing well without any moves needed, so why not leave it as is?
Vancouver Canucks: And now, the fireworks.
This story truly starts last summer with the trade of Cory Schneider. Maybe Bo Horvat, who has 70 points in 50 games with the London Knights, will become a superstar, and that deal will make Mike Gillis look brilliant for trading arguably the game’s No. 1 netminder for just him.
Maybe swapping Alain Vigneault for John Tortorella will prove smart. Perhaps Gillis realized his club was a little too old, a little too brittle, a little too slow and realized now — despite Vancouver sitting just two points out of a playoff spot — is the time to blow it all sky high.
The problem with that logic is the way it’s been executed. When you root for a team, or own a team, you trust the people in charge will have a plan of action. With every move, there’s a counter move. When you sign Roberto Luongo to a 12-year, $64 million contract, he’s your starting goalie. When Schneider passes as Vancouver’s No. 1 — in year two of that deal — you’re supposed to alleviate the problem by dealing one. When you fail to trade Luongo last trade deadline, then deal Schneider on draft day, you’re putting your faith in Luongo — whether that’s right or wrong.
When you deal both goalies in a nine-month span, you look ridiculous.
They didn’t placate Ryan Kesler with a trade, and now word is ownership wants the playoff revenue officially damaged the Kesler-to-Pittsburgh deal that would’ve propagated a true rebuild. Maybe they should’ve told Gills that on Wednesday before he dealt Luongo to Florida for a backup goalie, a third-line winger and zero draft picks, while taking on 15 per cent of his salary and the majority of his potential cap-recapture penalty if he retires before the contract expires in 2022.
All in all, it feels like a hedge, and the fans need to take notice how they’re being treated in this situation.
Washington Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin needed a winger to play with them as Martin Erat was clearly struggling. Exit the unhappy Erat and insert Dustin Penner. The Capitals needed an upgrade and some stability in goal. Insert Jaroslav Halak.
It’s not about managing feelings, it’s about winning hockey games. Would I have liked to see the Caps get more defensive on their blue line? Of course. But, they did OK.
Winnipeg Jets: It’s unfortunate. Mark Scheifele’s injury left Winnipeg devoid of too many options. The Jets are only a point out of the playoffs and were wise to stand pat this deadline.
How about that? A more-active-than-usual NHL Trade Deadline that resulted in more than a few surprises. I enjoyed my trade deadline role as part of the Sportsnet crew, my second year working with Greg Wyshnski for our Puck Daddy Meets Stellicktricity segments, taking a lighter approach to Deadline Day.
Lost in transition
We began the day with a segment called “Wearing a Tuxedo with Brown Shoes,” a look at trade deadline deals where a quality NHL player got shipped to a town that never felt anything close to home sweet home. The ultimate example, for me, is always Peter Forsberg’s awkward adventure in Nashville, never having anything like impact and prominence he enjoyed in Colorado and Philadelphia. It was a negative-enough experience on the trade deadline that his good friend Mats Sundin took it into consideration when force to make a decision about waiving his no-trade clause with the Leafs.
Other “winners” (read: losers) included Keith Tkachuk’s time Atlanta, Theo Fleury with Colorado, Trevor Linden with Washington (remember that?!) and—especially—Ryan Smyth with the New York Islanders, a really odd stint, especially considering he’s been back where he belongs in Edmonton for a few years now. To me, it will be interesting to see how David Legwand looks with his new duds in Detroit, and whether he’ll end up on this list in years to come.
Get your resumes in early, boys
For general managers on the hot seat, they likely didn’t enjoy our segment selecting the most likely execs to work on for sports network next season. Especially since we’ve got a decent track record: Our three picks from last year (Jay Feaster, Joe Nieuwendyk, Darcy Reiger) found themselves unemployed this year and available for television work. Our three picks for this dubious distinction this year were Pat Lafontaine (an easy one since he already has a head start on the ex-GM unemployment line), Mike Gillis and George McPhie. Maybe next year one of them will be at Sportsnet helping us make our picks. Awkward.
Goalies on the go
There isn’t usually much movement of goaltenders around trade deadline time. This year was not usual. The unique opportunity to upgrade with a hired gun like Ryan Miller was simply something that the St. Louis Blues couldn’t pass up on. Then the Vancouver Canucks chose to move Roberto Luongo to Florida….one year too late. Buffalo then traded Jaroslav Halak to the Washington Capitals after his (successful, I guess) five-day career as a Sabre.
Motionless Maple Leafs
For the Toronto Maple Leafs, they chose to stand pat rather than make a deal that didn’t make sense to them. Fair enough. At least this time we weren’t subjected to Brian Burke’s rant about the NHL trade deadline being “unfair” to Leafs players because of the incredible attention and scrutiny they are subjected to in Toronto.
A bit of a worry for Leafs fans is the upgrades they see around them with not just Vanek in Montreal, but Hemsky in Ottawa, St. Louis in New York and a few other upgrades. Bottom line is that the Leafs control their own playoff destiny and have proven that they are a legitimate playoff contender based on their existing talent alone.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Daytona 500 win was a major headline, but if you are looking for gross racing news tonnage, give the early season nod to Stewart-Haas Racing.
This actually started last season with news occasional bad-boy and former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch and front-runner Kevin Harvick were heading over to join Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick at Stewart-Haas Racing.
All these personalities and egos on one team was a news bonanza waiting to happen.
Things started to boil right before the season-launching Daytona 500, when our friends and partners at The Canadian Motorsports Expo decided bringing in NASCAR “King” Richard Petty would be a good idea.
How right they were.
In the media scrum with Petty, The Toronto Star’s Norris McDonald asked if he thought Danica Patrick would ever win a NASCAR race.
Petty, with that patented grin drawled “Yeah … as long as everybody else stays home. If she was a male, nobody would pay any attention to her.”
Petty’s answer created an over-blown firestorm of media coverage that extended far beyond the boundaries of the racing world.
Even NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams ran the story. Was Petty sexist? Was the seven-time Daytona 500 winner out of bounds with his rebuke of Patrick?
Patrick and I took the same stance. The King is entitled to his opinion and his NASCAR royalty status allows him to say pretty much what he wants, understanding this was all marvelous publicity for Patrick, Petty and NASCAR on the eve of their biggest race.
It was also invaluable coverage for Stewart-Haas. “Smoke’s” driver stable was already making waves, and the season hadn’t even started.
Patrick does need to get a lot more competitive before she can challenge for wins, but as the photo shows, this is where Miss Patrick wins and where NASCAR and the sport wins. She’s a role model for countless young ladies to strive for their goals and dreams.
This little girl is not only a Patrick fan, she’s now a racing fan and that’s the key to racing’s future. Patrick knows that and stops to make sure she gets an autograph.
Even Petty admits she’s fabulous for NASCAR’s image, and no goofy The King versus Danica gimmick race is ever going to change that.
So the Patrick-Petty tussle got it started, before Harvick went to work and wins the second race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, dominating at Phoenix and making the move from Richard Childress look like pure gold.
Less than a week later Kurt Busch generated even more headlines for the team, confirming he will attempt “The Double” — the Indy 500 for Michael Andretti and the NASCAR Coke 600 at Charlotte later that same day for Stewart-Haas, a grand total of 1,000 miles of racing and media attention in two vastly different forms of machinery.
Of the three drivers who have attempted “The Double,” Robby Gordon, John Andretti and Tony Stewart, Smoke is the only one who’s completed the entire total distance.
His results in 2001 were also outstanding that day: a sixth-place finish in the Indy 500, and a third-place finish at Charlotte after starting dead last and recovering from an early race spin.
Stewart’s feat comes full circle again with teammate and employee Busch attempting to at least match his boss’ numbers, to say nothing about the value it brings IndyCar to have a NASCAR star cross over to the open-wheel world.
In essence, Stewart-Haas Racing is currently the darling of two major sanctioning bodies at the same time.
If the team was paid by their sponsors per word of media coverage, Smoke and company would have enough cash flow to race the next decade free and clear.
We are thrilled to announce News 95.7 Halifax has re-joined the Raceline Radio Network. That brings us to 16 affiliates across Canada, and 21 airings a week … Canadian Motor Speedway works through the winter interviewing architects to take Jeff Gordon’s track design to blueprints. Work on the Fort Erie site resumes when the ground thaws in the spring.