Thursday, March 09, 2006

Trade thoughts Part 1

I’m man enough to admit I was wrong.

I didn’t think this year’s edition of the NHL trade deadline day would have many fireworks. Though we’re only 90 minutes into March 9th, Wednesday saw a handful of significant deals go down.

Montreal traded Jose Theodore to Colorado for David Aebischer.

You have to hand to Pierre Lacroix. He continues to show he’s one of the ballsiest GMs in the NHL. Whether or not it works out for him remains to be seen, and largely depends on what Theodore arrives in Colorado: the goaltender who took a team on his back and won a Hart Trophy or the netminder who’s struggled with consistency all season. However, the rewards far outweigh the risks as far as I can tell. If it works out, Lacroix looks like a genius, acquiring a top goaltender for very little. If it doesn’t, he can say, “well, it wasn’t as if Aebischer was all that special”. On Montreal’s end, they unload a big contract and get a goalie who is able to shoulder some of the workload. Christobol Huet looked incredibly tired Tuesday night versus the Leafs. If they didn’t get him some help, the Habs would’ve fallen out of a playoff position.

The edge: At this point, I’m inclined to say Colorado.

Minnesota traded Dwayne Roloson to Edmonton for a 1st round draft pick

Edmonton needed a goalie. This much has been known for a while, and Kevin Lowe has said as much. As a result, their bargaining power had to be severely diminished because they weren’t working from a position of power. This deals show that. I like Roloson as a goaltender, and he’s absolutely an upgrade over what they had, but a first round pick, even in a mediocre draft year, is a steep price to pay for someone who likely won’t be with the team past this season. Not only will Roloson have to perform tremendously for this trade to go in the Oilers favor, but they’ll also need to make a playoff run, and I don’t see that happening.

The edge: Slight to Minnesota.

NY Islanders traded Brent Sopel and Mark Parrish to Los Angeles for Denis Grebeshkov and Jeff Tambellini.

A deal that makes sense for both teams. The Kings, who are still fighting for positioning, get two players who can step in and make a big impact. Parrish is an excellent secondary scoring weapon, having collected at least 20 goals in all but one of his seven NHL seasons. He’s going to be a UFA at the end of the year, and he made it clear he wasn’t happy on the Island and was going to explore the open market. So getting something for him was a good thing. Sopel is a guy who I’m a big fan of, yet for whatever reason, he did not work out in New York this year. After excelling in Vancouver and being traded in a salary dump (a move that was criticized greatly by ‘Nucks fans), he’s never been able to find his role with the Isles. A change of scenary will do him well, I think. He goes back to a conference he knows well, and will help turn their pathetic powerplay around. To get guys like this, the Kings had to give up two pretty good prospects. Tambellini and Grebeshkov were the team’s 1st round picks in 2002 and 2003, and each were expected to be a big part of their future. Tambellini in particular. He’s having a hell of a first year as a pro, averaging a point a game in the AHL this season. The Kings are thought to have one of the better crop of young prospects in the league so while the losses will hurt, they won’t be crippling. For once, Mike Milbury didn’t get hosed.

The edge: Even. Short term, the Kings. Long term, the Islanders.

Columbus traded Luke Richardson to Toronto for a 5th round draft pick.

A perplexing deal to say the least. Richardson, who at 37 is pretty long in the tooth, has struggled all season long in Columbus, having been a healthy scratch on a number of occasions. He was on Ottawa radio Wednesday afternoon, before the deal was announced, and expressed that if he was going to be moved, he’d like it to be to a team that’s contending and where he will play and not sit in the box (thus squashing the rumor that he’d be coming to Ottawa). One of those things is true with the Leafs. He will get playing time. But the Leafs are hardly any kind of contender, and even if they do squeak into the playoffs, it’s highly unlikely they’ll make any kind of run. A 5th round pick isn’t much, but still seems to be too much. For the Jackets, it was a no-brainer, unloading a salary. This might’ve been the best move Doug MacLean has made since getting the job.

The edge: Columbus.

Toronto traded Ken Klee to New Jersey for Aleksander Suglobov

Good move by the Leafs, and frankly, it looks like a steal. Klee, despite what David Johnson will tell you, isn’t all that, and has been a weak link on their blueline all season long, I think. His game has fallen off horribly this year, and he no longer looks like a top four d-man. Getting a highly thought of prospect for a guy who’s struggled and will be a UFA at the end of the season is a miracle. Suglobov is only 24, has good size, and is leading the Devil’s AHL affiliate in Albany in both goals and assists with 48 points (25 goals and 23 assists) in 51 games.

The edge: Toronto.

The way the NHL seems to work, deals like this tend to create a domino effect, as other GMs, having seen their contemporaries make moves, feel pressure to keep up with the Joneses. So Thursday might not be such a bore after all. Through the day I’ll probably update the blog with my thoughts, though if you’re looking for breaking news, the latest rumors, and what now, this isn’t the place to come to.


At 2:27 AM, Anonymous David Johnson said...

Once upon a time Leaf fans ran a defenseman out of town saying he was useless, couldn't play defense, was over paid and was the source of many of the Leafs woes. Leaf management gave him away for next to nothing and even agree to pay for half his salary. The useless player that Leafs fans drove out of town went on to help lead a team to back to back Stanley Cups and in the following 3 years he posted 52, 52 and 40 point seasons. His name: Larry Murphy.

Now I am not saying that Ken Klee is Larry Murphy but I think we will see that he will help stabalize the Devils defense and the Devils will be a much better team for having him around. He can play 18-20 minutes a game, he can kill penalties and he even help out on the second PP unit. I'm sure when the Devils knock the Senators out of the playoffs in the second round I'm sure you'll change your mind.

I'll still maintain that the problem with the Leafs defense is not the defensemen, it is the forwards not supporing the defensemen.

At 2:33 AM, Blogger d-lee said...

Oh. I disagree on the Theodore/Aebischer trade. I think Montreal absolutely gets the best end of this. Theodore has had an awful season, has been colder than a winter in Siberia, and is injured. Aebischer, on the other hand, is red hot, and has shown me more than Theodore ever has.
However, Theodore will have a much better defense in front of him than he did in Montreal.

At 2:41 AM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

I'd agree the Theodore deal is risky, but it's a roll of the dice I'd do if I was the Av's GM.

They're not going to win anything with Aesbischer in nets. Of that, I am convinced. He's never shown he's capable of being a top goaltender.

Theodore has.

Now, it was four years ago, but I don't believe great players simply "lose it". A change of environment, getting away from the pressures of being the Habs' 'tender will be great for Theo. Plus, away from all those off ice distractions.


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