NHL Trade Deadline Recap
As expected, GM David Poile made no moves when trade deadline day arrived, perhaps learning from prior mistakes of adding too much at once and disrupting team chemistry. However the same can’t be said for other GM’s in the Western Conference who made their moves to dethrone the Preds from the top of the standings.
St Louis Blues: With injuries plaguing their defense, St. Louis sought to add depth and some insurance by adding former Coyotes blue-liner Zbynek Michalek. Michalek is a solid NHL d-man, though what contribution he makes will have to wait as he is currently out with a concussion. They also swapped d-men when they traded away Ian Cole to Pittsburgh for tough guy Robert Bortuzzo and a late draft pick. This was a curious move as the Blues are not mistaken as a soft team, and Bortuzzo has the tendency to rack up PIM’s. In their final move of the day, they added former Predator Olli Jokinen from Toronto in exchange for a late draft pick and prospect Joakim Lindstrom. The Blues are simply adding depth, but the fact they felt Jokinen was worth anything is a bit puzzling. This felt like a move to pick Jokinen’s brain a little bit should there be a future playoff matchup against the Preds.
Anaheim Ducks: As the deadline approached, it appeared as though Anaheim would lay low and go with what they have, particularly on defense. But as was the case across the NHL, every playoff contender was looking to bolster their back end. They swapped d-men with Pittsburgh in sending Ben Lovejoy to the Penguins for Simon Despres, but their biggest acquisition was trading for James Wisniewski. Sure they traded away Rene Bourque who they plugged into the top line at stages this season, but the Ducks were willing to part ways in order to solidify their blue line.
Chicago Blackhawks: Some thought Chicago would be quiet at the deadline due to their cap situation which will be a major issue going into next season. That being said, GM Stan Bowman has never been one to shy away from giving his teams a chance at winning Cups year in and year out. With the absence of Patrick Kane (and the ability to bury his contract under Long-term IR) the Blackhawks acquired Antoine Vermette from the tanking Coyotes. They can’t replace what Kane does, but Vermette will help fill his shoes in the top 6, which is already stacked with the usual suspects of Toews, Sharp, and Hossa. Chicago didn’t forget about their blue line as they added former Nashville favorite Kimmo Timonen. Timonen hasn’t played all season due to blood clots, but Philadelphia somehow managed to pry away a 2nd and 4th round pick from Chicago for his services. In their final move, the Blackhawks shipped Ben Smith to San Jose in return for Andrew Desjardins. This was not so much another depth move by Chicago as it was shedding some salary in moving the physical Smith out west.
Winnipeg Jets: Much like the Preds, the Jets made their splash a couple weeks early in the Evander Kane deal, acquiring Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford. Unlike the Preds however, they continued strengthening their team by adding Jiri Tlusty from Carolina for two draft picks. It’s obvious that Winnipeg’s brass isn’t sure how many chances they’re going to have in the uber competitive west to make any noise in the playoffs and kudos to them for going after it. They have a small, yet incredibly loud MTS Centre and the fans have been waiting for playoff hockey since the team’s departure to the desert nearly 20 years ago.
Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks looked like they were going to be the only team in the NHL playoff race not to make any significant moves. This coming from the team that traded away Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo and Ryan Kesler in the last 20 months. But as the deadline passed, news came that they acquired Sven Baertschi from division rival Calgary for a 2nd round pick. The team is firmly in the playoffs and is battling for home ice in the first round, going from chaos, to stable in a very short amount of time.
Minnesota Wild: The Wild have the propensity to be buyers despite the fact they are fighting just to squeak into the playoffs, and this year was no different. They traded for Sean Bergenheim last week to help boost their offense, but they were far from done. They also shipped away Justin Falk and a draft pick for an upgrade on the blue line in Jordan Leopold, but would it really be a trade deadline if the Wild didn’t pick up a former Buffalo Sabre? The final trade of the day saw them land Chris Stewart, who was being interviewed on live TV as the transaction happened. Minnesota is red hot right now, going 14-3-2 since making their most meaningful trade 6 weeks ago for goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk, with the help of some new-age puck-tracking techniques, was the NHL’s number 1 star for the month of February. Time will tell whether or not he will sustain his phenomenal play, but for now, nobody wants to face Minnesota in the opening round.
Calgary Flames: Despite the fact Calgary is in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009, they proceeded to be sellers at the deadline. With news that Norris-trophy candidate Mark Giordano would miss the remainder of the season due to a torn biceps, the decision was made to move some parts for draft picks. They traded away Curtis Glencross to Washington for 2nd and 3rd round picks, then finished their day with the aforementioned trade of Baertschi to Vancouver. In those two moves alone however, they’ve put themselves in a great spot with several picks in the first few rounds of a very deep crop of talent at this year’s draft.
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings were another team that made their move before deadline day. With the uncertainty that surrounds Slava Voynov, LA looked to improve their defense corps by acquiring Andrej Sekera from the Hurricanes last week. Sekera is a solid defender who can create some offense as well. However, since their 8-game winning streak, the defending champs have lost 3 straight, scoring just 4 goals in the process. Considering the subtractions from the lineup in Calgary, the Kings should still make the playoffs, and that’s bad news for everyone out west.
San Jose Sharks: Speaking of bad news, no team understands what the Kings can do in the playoffs better than the Sharks. After blowing a 3-0 series lead to LA last season, San Jose is in trouble of missing out on the playoffs altogether. We’ve been waiting for the implosion of them since the off-season, but that has yet to happen. The Sharks made several minor moves trading away Tyler Kennedy, James Sheppard and Desjardins. After their surprising shutout victory last night to snap an 8-game home winless streak, they are tied for the last playoff spot. With serious questions ranging from leadership to goaltending, if the Sharks somehow get in, look for them to make another early exit and another promise of a rebuild next year.