Thursday, March 4, 2010

Trade Deadline Recap

So, according to TSN, the busiest trade deadline day ever.

Didn't feel like it.

With Ilya Kovalchuk gone to New Jersey, Olli Jokinen to New York City, Dion Phaneuf to Toronto and Jean-Sebastien Giguere too later on, all the big names that would be moved were gone before the Olympic break. Florida was asking for too much for Tomas Vokoun, and Nashville and Anaheim decided they'd keep Dan Hamhuis and Scott Niedermayer respectively. That certainly made it tougher. That being said, moves that could have an impact.

Alexei Ponikarovsky to Pittsburgh
He's a bit of an enigma (how many former USSR players does that describe?) as his skill, speed, and vision indicate he should produce more than he does. Maybe a stint on the Sid & Geno show will help him out. The Penguins still are thin on wing, but not as thin as before.

Jordan Leopold to Pittsburgh
He's been pretty good for Calgary, Colorado, and most recently Florida over his career. He played tough minutes and put up decent numbers for a not-so-great Panthers team. He's a solid addition to a defense corps that hadn't been able to adequately fill the void left by the departures of Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill via free agency last summer. With Gonchar, Orpik, Letang, Leopold, and Goligoski, the Penguins can count on five D contributing every night.

Lubomir Visnovksy to Anaheim
Anaheim already has a top-5 power-play; Visnovsky will make it better. Seems like he's been around forever, but he's only 31, and with nice puck-moving skills, a nice shot, and good hands, he'll make sure Anaheim makes the playoffs and at least gives a top seed a run for its money.

Joe Corvo to Washington
Not the trade we were looking for in Caps land. But unable to acquire Dan Hamhuis, Scott Niedermayer, or Anton Volchenkov, GM George McPhee went inter-divisional and got Corvo from Carolina. He's a great puck mover with a hard and accurate shot and a great skater. That being said, he's a "turnover machine."
Should fit well in Washington (note: stats show he's very underrated defensively). But more importantly, he adds depth, so guys like John Erskine won't be getting sweaters for postseason games (barring injury).

Eric Belanger to Washington
A good move by Washington. While the price of a 2nd round pick may be a little steep, it could pay off incredibly well for DC. The scoring lines in DC will be even deadlier with an actual good faceoff-winning center (sorry, but Nicklas Backstrom, Brendan Morrison, Tomas Fleischmann, and Brooks Laich don't qualify). With nice speed and two-way instincts, if Alexander Semin can stay healthy, the Caps' second line will be unstoppable. Imagine what that means for the rest of the lineup.

Steve Staios to Calgary
Calgary is hanging around that final playoff spot and after having traded Dion Phaneuf and prospect Keith Aulie, added depth in Staios (they'd gotten Ian White as part of the return for Phaneuf). He'll put up points but isn't exactly a defensive defenseman, although he's decent. With Miikka Kiprusoff playing great for Calgary, though, that won't matter. They'll be a scary team for any team that draws them.

Wojtek Wolski to Phoenix
Phoenix clearly believes they can make some noise in the playoffs, a far cry from the unanimous "15th place" pre-season predictions made by "experts." Phoenix also acquired others like Derek Morris and Mathieu Schneider, but Wolski is the most important. Phoenix, between their defense corps and Ilya Bryzgalov, won't have any trouble keeping the score down. They'll need offense, and Wolski's skills could come in handy, notably in shootouts which could get Phoenix a few extra standings points down the stretch.

Matt Cullen to Ottawa
While Washington was riding a 14-game winning streak and Los Angeles a 9-gamer, Ottawa built up an 11-game winning streak too to vault them into the Northeast division championship race. With the way Buffalo has been playing, they'll win the division. Cullen adds some depth at center as a guy who can win draws, play solid two-way hockey, and slide over to wing from time to time at well.

Denis Grebeshkov to Nashville
Most people thought this would be a precursor to a trade involving Dan Hamhuis going East. The Predators ended up not doing anything to help themselves offensively. While this trade was good, now the Predators have way too many blueliners (you thought Toronto had a lot? Nashville probably has 2 teams' worth of NHL-level defensemen, give a year of experience). But hey, if they can pitch shutout after shutout, it's all good, right?

In short: Washington and Pittsburgh are THE teams in the East, and Chicago, San Jose (maybe), Detroit, Anaheim, Los Angeles,...ugh. That's a lot of teams, and the list isn't even finished. Bodes well for the Eastern Conference champion.

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