Thursday, March 09, 2006

Trade thoughts Part 2

Minnesota traded Willie Mitchell and a 2nd round draft pick to Dallas for Martin Skoula and Shawn Belle

Dallas was one of the teams who was very quiet all day, as their name was hardly ever even brought up in rumors, but they managed to make a pretty good sized splash with this deal. Mitchell was one of the most sought after defencemen on the market, with a lot of teams apparently seeking his services. He's a big upgrade over Skoula, who was their fifth defenceman. Skoula's a useful player, but doesn't bring to the table what Mitchell does as far as toughness and playoff performance. It's worth noting that while Skoula and Mitchell will be a UFA at the end of the year, Skoula is signed. If Dallas doesn't make a long run, they'll regret giving up Bell for what is probably a rental player. He's considered one of their best defenceman prospects, but to get a guy of Mitchell's calibre, I suppose that's what they had to give up.

The edge: Slight to Dallas

Boston traded Sergei Samsonov to Edmonton for Marty Reasoner

A monster deal by Kevin Lowe that just might put the Oilers over the top as far as the Western Conference contenders. It's almost certainly a rental deal with Samsonov being a UFA in four months, and though I'm sure Lowe would love to bring him back, the price tag will be significant. Samsonov gives the Oilers a tremendous offensive presence, and if matched up on a line with, say, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, could be ridiculously dangerous. Giving up Reasoner hurts though. He's been a great role player for them, anchoring their checking lines and playing a key role on their PK, but one could make the case that considering he has the worst +/- on the club, it's not a major subtraction. When acquired by Edmonton in the Doug Weight trade of 2001, there were high hopes, as he was drafted by the Blues 14th overall in 1996, but offensively, he's never lived up to the expectations. Maybe a move to Boston, where he played his college hockey, will be good for him.

The edge: Edmonton

Washington traded Brendan Witt to Nashville for a 1st round draft pick and Kris Beech.

This is a deal that has been rumored for over a month now, and off all the trades, is the one that is the least surprising. Witt's wanted out of D.C. for since the beginning of the season, and the fact it took this long doesn't look good on George McPhee. The Preds did have to give up a lot, however. A 1st rounder, even a late round one, is a valuable commodity, and when you throw in Beech, who despite the fact he's bounced from organization to organization is a highly thought of young player, it's not a big loss for the Caps, and perhaps, makes the delay by McPhee worthwhile. Witt brings grit and determenation to Nashville, who now have a good mix of offensive defencemen (Kimmo Timmonen and Marek Zidlicky), bruising blueliners with an edge (Witt and Danny Markov) and promising young rearguards (Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, and Dan Hamhuis). It seems win-win to me.

The edge: Even

Pittsburgh traded Mark Recchi to Carolina for Niklas Nordgren, Krystofer Kolanos and a 2nd round draft pick.

As a Senators fan, I was green with envy when this was announced. Recchi brings a lot of experience to a squad that has been criticized for lacking it. Between Recchi and Doug Weight, they get 179 playoff games of experience, and that’s huge, I contend. I suspect, however, that had Erik Cole not gone down, Jim Rutherford would not have made this move, but his hand was sort of forced with that injury. Recchi will give them tremendous second line depth. As of the time of this post, the details as far as what he’ll do with his contract are not known. It was suspected over the last couple of days that Recchi would only waive his no trade clause if it was stipulated that the option on his contract would not be picked up for next year, allowing him to return to Pittsburgh next season, where he, for some reason that I can’t understand, is happy playing. Pittsburgh did not get much in return. Kolanos could’ve been had off waivers, Nordgren is not considered a top prospect, and that 2nd round pick will likely be in the high 50s as far as overall. It makes you wonder if Recchi stipulated that he would only go to Carolina, because you have to think they could’ve gotten more from someone else. An excellent move by the ‘Canes.

The edge: Carolina

Anaheim traded Keith Carney to Vancouver for 3rd round draft pick.

A tremendous move for Dave Nonis and his team. Keith Carney is a proven playoff performer, having been the Ducks best blueliner during their run to the 2003 finals. He’s not flashy, he won’t show up on many highlight packages, but he gets the job done. Can log major minutes and is very effective in one-on-one situations, shutting down top players on the opposing team. Adding Carney also moves Bryan Allen and Nolan Baumgartner down the depth chart, and that’s a good thing. Both have had strong seasons, and there is no reason to think they will be ineffective in the playoffs, but they are unproven commodities in the postseason. Combined, they’ve only played in 10 playoff games, while Carney has 80 to his name. The price, a 1st round pick, might seem steep, but as was the case with Kevin Lowe giving up identical compensation for Dwayne Roloson yesterday, the ‘Nucks were not negotiating from a position of power. Their dire need for help on the blueline was one of the worst kept secrets in the NHL. For the Ducks, they get something for a guy who might not have come back anyway.

The edge: Canucks

Buffalo traded Mika Noronen to Vancouver for a 2nd round draft pick

I doubt Noronen was the guy who they wanted most, as I’m sure the Canucks brass had their eyes on Curtis Joseph and Roloson ahead of the Finn, but you take what you can get. They needed goaltending help, if for no other reason than the fact that Alex Auld cannot be expected to keep playing as many games as he has been down the stretch if they don’t want him to be completely out of gas by the first round. The Canucks aren’t out of the woods as far as guaranteeing a playoff spot, but odds are, they’ll be in the dance. Noronen gives them a guy who can step in and play some games. If he plays very well, perhaps he even gives them a bit of a goaltender controversy and makes Marc Crawford’s job difficult as far as choosing who to go with. It might be a bit worrisome that Noronen has played so little this season, but at the same time, if I was a fan of the team, I’d be excited by the fact that he sounds like he wants to prove himself. He was interviewed about an hour or so after the trade by TSN and he was not shy about his unhappiness in Buffalo. That little bit of a chip on his shoulder might just be what the Canucks need from a ‘tender. On Buffalo’s end, I question the wisdom of trading Noronen over Biron, but that’s something I’ll probably touch on to a larger extent at a later time. A 2nd rounder for someone who wasn’t even in their line-up isn’t a bad shake.

The edge: Canucks, because they had a need

Anaheim traded Sandis Ozolinsh to NY Rangers for a 3rd round draft pick.

Burke has obviously reshaped his blueline, and unloads a big contract here. Ozolinsh is signed through next season, at a pretty hefty $2.7 million. For a guy who’s play has been inconsistent, as well as the reality that he’s coming out of the league’s substance abuse program, it’s a risk on Glen Sather’s behalf, but a risk I like. Ozolinsh has a wealth of playoff experience, having gone to the finals twice, and won the Cup once. The Rangers blueline is underrated, but they do have some key guys back there in Fedor Tyutin and Michal Rozsival who don’t have a single NHL playoff game under their belt. That can sometimes be an overstated fact, as rookies enthusiasm in the playoffs is often a good thing, but it doesn’t hurt to surround them with guys who have been there before. Ozolinsh is also only 33, so he’s not as old as we might think considering how long he’s been an impact player in the league.

The edge: Rangers

Washington traded Jeff Friesen to Anaheim for a 2nd round pick.

Friesen was brought into D.C. with the hopes that he’d take some of the offensive burden off of rookie Alexander Ovechkin. As it turns out, the freshman Russian didn’t need it, and that’s a good thing, because Friesen, who everyone in this city hates with a passion, has been a catastrophic disappointment, collecting only 7 points in 33 games. The hope on Brian Burke’s end, I suppose, is that a chance of environment, and specifically, a move to a team that is competitive and is actually fighting for something, will re-energize Friesen. There might be something to that, as Washington was out of it almost from the first game, and Friesen was coming from an organization in New Jersey who were among the most competitive teams consistently in the NHL. Having said all that, a 2nd round pick seems like a lot to give up for an underachiever who doesn’t have a contract for next season. The Caps filled Friesen’s roster spot by picking up Rico Fata off waivers, and not only will he be considerably cheaper, but he’ll probably be an even better producer.

The edge: Washington

NY Islanders traded Brad Lukovich to New Jersey for a 3rd round pick.

Lukovich is a grizzled veteran who will bring a lot of depth to a New Jersey team that’s had some question marks on their blueline this season with some of their signings having been busts. Lukowich was, quietly, one of the Lightning’s better defencemen during their Cup run. He didn’t log as many minutes as some of their other rearguards, but he was most definitely an impact player. In that fifth or sixth defencemen spot, which is, I assume, where he’ll be slotted in the swamp, he can excel. And once again, the Isles get something for a guy who was not going to be back.

The edge: New Jersey

Phoenix traded Denis Gauthier to Philadelphia for two 2nd round picks.

A couple of 2nd rounders might seem like another example of a team overpaying, but it’s important to remember that the Flyers have four 2nd round picks in the draft, and so could afford to move a few of them without hurting their future. The whole reason you stockpile picks is to use them in trades. The Flyers were in need of a defenceman, and Gauthier fills a void. With Derian Hatcher having gone down last night and Kim Johnsson’s concussion problems still being considered, a veteran blueliner like Gauthier helps a lot. It’s been said by others, but it bares repeating: he’s the type of player the fans in Philly will eat up. He works his ass off and hits like a mack truck. Sometimes, that enthusiasm for hitting hurts him (both literally and figuratively), but they have some solid defensive defencemen who can cover his ass in those instances. He probably wasn’t going back to Phoenix, having turned down a three year, $4.5 million contract offer, so Mike Barnett getting two picks is a great move.

The edge: Slight to Philadelphia, but pretty even.

Phoenix traded Sean O’Donnell to Anaheim for future considerations.

Unlike all of the other depth defenceman moved today, O’Donnell actually has a contract for next season, so it’s not a rental situation. However, I’m sure economics did play a factor. O’Donnell will make $1.7 million next season, and with the season he’s had in Phoenix (where he’s been a healthy scratch on a few occasions and has seemed to occupy the doghouse of Gretz all year), that’s too much to pay. Phoenix, having just signed Derek Morris to a new three-year deal yesterday, seem to be putting their money on their duo of young defencemen, Keith Balalrd and Zbynek Michalek, as well as Paul Mara, so O’Donnell was expendable. From Anaheim’s end, O’Donnell fills the hole that Carney left. Whether or not he will be able to fill those shoes remains to be seen, but they’re similar players in a lot of ways. If you say that Carney for O’Donnell is a wash, then getting a draft pick for Carney tips the scales in Burke’s favor.

The edge: Even.

Chicago traded Todd Simpson to Montreal for a 6th round draft pick.

Simpson is someone who we in Ottawa know sort of well, because he was brought here for much of the same reasons I assume the Habs acquired him. The Canadiens’ defence is not shabby, but they lacked a physical veteran (Mike Komisarek can hit, but he’s still very green), so what they got was a solution. Perhaps not as significant a solution as they would’ve liked, as I doubt Simpson will be anything more than a fifth or sixth rearguard, but alas, that dimension now exists on their team, and it’s not as if they had to give up a lot.

The edge: Montreal.

New Jersey traded Sean Brown to Vancouver for a 4th round pick.

Having acquired Ken Klee last night, and with the trade for Lukowich on the way, I guess the Devils saw Brown as expendable. He’s been a healthy scratch often this year, and in Vancouver, I have to think he’ll be strictly a depth guy. A seventh blueliner who will step in and play when called upon. Whether he’s any better than what they had is the question to me.

The edge: New Jersey


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