NHL Handicapping: Trade Deadline Grades
by Trevor Whenham - 4/4/2013
With the dust settled on the NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday night, here is a look, in alphabetical order, of some of the highlights and lowlights of the day, with grades for their accomplishments:
Losing out on Jarome Iginla hurt — especially because they seemed to have a deal but got rejected by the player. They turned things around nicely, though. Jaromir Jagr has more playoff success behind him than Iginla, and the price was better, too. Adding Wade Redden for essentially nothing was a nice character move as well. They fell further behind Pittsburgh, but they still got better.
The Sabres were sellers, but they handled it well. They didn’t panic and didn’t oversell. They also got very nice value from the moves they made. Losing captain Jason Pominville hurt, but two prospects and a first- and second-round pick represents as much as they could have hoped for. Getting two second-rounders for Robyn Regehr was excellent as well, and a second and fifth for Jordan Leopold is a steal. They aren’t going anywhere in a hurry, but in the long term they are in far better shape than they were.
I give my hometown team credit for realizing that it was finally time to blow it up and start again. There are two problems, though — they didn’t go far enough, and they waited about four years too long to do it. Given the situation they got as much as they could have for Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester. They should have ditched more assets, though — guys like Alex Tanguay, Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan, Dennis Wideman, and especially Curtis Glencross, had much more value as trade pieces than they do with the team. For this team now it’s all about getting as many balls in the draft lottery as they can for the next few years, and these players don’t help that goal.
I don’t know if the Columbus gamble will pay off, but I don’t care — I love it. A team that has been a doormat for most of their existence is showing a spark against all odds this year, and they went for it. Marion Gaborik has been terrible this year, but he is a top-level talent, and they paid reasonably little for him. Getting rid of Steve Mason was past due, and Michael Leighton is a sound replacement. This sets a great tone for this team, and it makes the race for the last playoff spot very interesting.
The team didn’t do much, but what they did was good. Jason Pominville was expensive, but he’s worth it, and he makes the team on the ice better than it was. He provides strong leadership, too. This is a solid playoff contender rounding into form, and they are even more dangerous now.
New York Rangers: B
I’m not crazy about the Gaborik deal. They did well grabbing Ryane Clowe at a reasonable price, though. They could be a little better than they were, but the team is such a mess that it won’t matter — they probably aren’t making the playoffs, won’t do anything if they do, and will qualify as one of the all-time disappointments after coming into the season as Stanley Cup favorites.
It was only one deal, but I really like it. Ben Bishop is a goalie with a future, but the Senators had depth in the nets. They got great value when they picked up Cory Conacher from Tampa Bay. The rookie forward is second among freshmen in scoring, and he has a long future as a solid Top-6 forward. This was one of those surprisingly rare trades that makes both teams much better over the long term.
You can’t do the Trade Deadline any better than the Penguins did. They got the top prize in Jarome Iginla. They added Dallas’ captain Brenden Morrow for offensive depth and experience. Defenseman Douglas Murray will eat minutes. Jussi Jokinen is a depth center with far more offensive upside than he has shown this year. Those are four very nice pieces for a playoff run, and they didn’t have to give up a single player off the active roster. Draft picks and expendable prospects are all they lost. Brilliant moves, and it makes them very tough to beat — not that they weren’t already.
St. Louis: A-
The Blues are in a dogfight with Columbus and Edmonton for the last playoff spot in the West. Their biggest concern was their defense, and they did a very good job of upgrading it. They jettisoned Wade Redden and brought in Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold. Neither guy was cheap, but they are solid and reliable, and the investments should be worth it.
Tampa Bay: A-
Like I said, I really liked their deal with Ottawa. They needed a goalie, so they traded from a position of depth — they have a wealth of young guys with offensive upside — to get a goalie with real upside. It is a trade with vision from a team that is going places.
This was such a Toronto way to handle the trade deadline. Incompetent. The team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004. They are going to this year, but it would be foolish to assume that they are good enough to be a major contender at this point. There was lots they could have done — add a Top-6 forward, shore up the defense, and bring clarity to the goaltending situation. Instead they did nothing. There is no franchise in sports more apathetic than this one — they are wildly-profitable regardless of what they accomplish, so they have little incentive to be great. This is just more proof of that theory.
They have screwed up the Roberto Luongo deal forever — since the second they signed him. It has been a massive distraction. By flirting with everyone and then doing nothing yet again, they have continued to make this an issue for a team that just needs to move on. I’d give them an even lower grade, but I like the price they paid for Derek Roy.
This franchise is a mess right now, and they just proved how true that is with the last deal of the day. They traded away Filip Forsberg, who they drafted 11th overall last year and who is a highly-touted offensive player. In exchange they got washed up Martin Erat and middling prospect Michael Latta. Brainless deal. Awful. Twenty-eight other GMs would have happily paid Washington more for Forsberg than Nashville had to.
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