Monday, June 26, 2006

Weekend action wrap-up

Ottawa draft recap

Despite picking very late into the entry draft, I feel as though the Sens did pretty well for themselves when they snapped up Nick Foligno 28th overall. Son of the famous Leaf leaper, he appears to have all the attributes Ottawa needs going into the future: a large work ethic to go along with a sizeable mean streak. Five years from now, with Foligno and Cody Bass in the line-up, I can’t imagine anyone saying this is a team that doesn’t work hard or is soft.

The Sens didn’t have a second round pick, having sent it to Chicago in the Tyler Arnason deal (I know, I know), but with the 91st overall pick, took LW Kaspars Daugavins of Latvia. Statistically, he seems promising, having put up 9 points in 5 games in the Under 18s. The scouting reports on him seem to indicate he’s a few years away, at least, but it sounds as if he has the tools to be a player. Some insiders even pegged him as a darkhorse going into the draft, so perhaps we’ll be hearing more from him in the future.

Their fourth round pick saw Ottawa select Pierre-Luc Lessard a player I’m actually a little familiar with, as should any local junior hockey fan. He’s spent the past two seasons playing for the team across the river, the Gatineau Olympiques. I remember being impressed with his skating, shot, and ability to join the rush. He was moved to PEI late in the season so we won’t get as golden an opportunity to see him first hand this coming year, but I like this pick.

In the fifth round, Ottawa added another young goalie to their stable, picking Ryan Daniels of Saginaw. Daniels won the OHL’s F.W. “Dinty” Moore award this past season for the rookie netminder with the lowest GAA as well as earning a spot on the league’s all-rookie team. He also made an impact at the CHL Top Prospects game, not allowing a goal for his entire time between the pipes. He was a back-up most of the year but should see more action this coming season, so we’ll really see what he’s made of very soon.

In the sixth & seventh round, the Sens finished the day by picking D Kevin Koopman, a junior B player from B.C., and Erik Condra, a RW from Notre Dame. Koopman had a monster year with Beaver Valley, putting up 40 points in 38 games while also going +50. He has good size at 6’3” and 200 pounds, but dominating an inferior league doesn’t mean much. If he can get with a CHL team, then we’ll see if he has a future. Condra is also coming off a strong season, having been named CCHA all-rookie team. As a freshman, he led the team in scoring.

Onto the trades

Vancouver traded RW Todd Bertuzzi, G Alex Auld, & D Bryan Allen to Florida for G Roberto Luongo, D Lukas Krajicek.

The consensus among the media pundits and with bloggers seems to be that Vancouver got a steal, and while I’d concede that the Canucks probably came out the better of the two teams, I don’t believe this is the one-sided trade most everyone else does. Luongo still needs a contract, and there is no assurance Dave Nonis will be able to get his name on one. Losing Allen is a big loss, perhaps the biggest of the three players leaving B.C., as he’s developed into an incredibly reliable rearguard, on a team that needs them. With Jovo likely also on the way out, the Canucks blueline will look considerably different next season, and without Allen, it won’t be as good. Alex Auld is a sturdy but unspectacular netminder. I’m not convinced he’s a legitimate #1 goalie, but if nothing else, he’ll make a solid backup. The real wildcard is Bertuzzi. If he can regain the form that made him among the league’s most dominant skaters as recently as the 2003 season, then Mike Keenan will look like a genius. If not, and instead they get the inconsistent lug that existed in Vancouver this past season, they’ve inherited a very expensive headache. Either way, he had to be moved.

Truth be told, I believe this deal benefits both teams. In Allen, the Panthers get a reliable defenceman who could very well continue to improve and maybe even become a top two blueliner, and with Bertuzzi they have a very talented player who, when he’s on, can be an elite player. He’ll also help sell tickets in a market that desperately needed some star power. For Vancouver, they finally have a genuine top goaltender. The Canucks have been brought down by shoddy play between the pipes for too long, and if we know one thing for sure, it’s that that will no longer be the case. The question now is how will the team around Roberto look. Something tells me Nonis isn’t finished, and I’d bet good money either Markus Naslund or Brendan Morrison are on the way out as well.

Boston traded G Andrew Raycroft to Toronto for G Tuukka Rask.

Like with the Bertuzzi trade, this one depends on which player arrives in T.O. If it’s the Calder winner from two seasons ago, then I believe JFJ pulled off an excellent deal. If it’s the guy who fell so out of favor this past season, then Toronto’s goaltending woes have not been fixed. Having said all that, I think it’s a gamble worth taking if I’m the Leafs brass. I do think Raycroft can return to his old form in a new environment and at around a million and a half bucks, he can be a good deal financially. Losing Rask hurts, but with Justin Pogge in the system, the Leafs could afford to deal him.

Colorado traded LW Alex Tanguay to Calgary for D Jordan Leopold, second round pick in 2006, & a conditional second rounder.

If Darryl Sutter can get Tanguay signed to a long-term deal (which, I suspect, is where the conditional pick comes into play), this is a tremendous deal. Tanguay addresses the Flames’ need for big time scoring and at 26 is still relatively young. Leopold never quite materialized in Calgary as the offensive defenceman he was supposed to be, and with the Flames loaded on defence, they could lose him and not suffer severely. I had to wonder what the new Avs GM was thinking, and if this is a way to keep Rob Blake around as some have suggested, then I think it’s a mistake. Blake is on his last legs while Tanguay could’ve been a major part of the franchise for many years to come.

Los Angeles traded C Pavol Demitra to Minnesota for Patrick O’Sullivan & the 17th overall pick in 2006.

This one shocked me. I’ve never known the Wild to be spenders of a large variety, but trading for Demitra’s $4.5 million contract, they sent a message to their fanbase: they’re willing to spend to win. Demitra’s always been one of the league’s most underrated players, and his success in St. Louis hurt my heart as a Sens fan. He has the ability to make those around him significantly better and, ideally, will do that for Marian Gaborik, assuming they can get him signed. I have to think this trade will make it easier, but Gaborik’s a strange cat sometimes. O’Sullivan will be a very good NHLer sooner rather than later, but Minnesota’s a team with a good collection of prospects, and can get away with moving a big one for immediate help. This trade, seemingly, sends the message what the Kings’ approach will be. If they’re not going to make the playoffs, I guess Dean Lombardi has decided they might as well do so without big contracts and the even bigger egos that come along with them. Of course, the rumors were that also that the Kings were in the Luongo sweepstakes, offering up Alexander Frolov as well as bluechipper Dustin Brown, so Lombardi could have an identity crisis.


At 12:18 AM, Anonymous pete said...

Don't forget Bertuzzi is UFA next year too. So theoretically, both Luongo and Bertuzzi could be with new teams in 12 months.

That, to me, makes the trade even less one-sided than some have made out.

At 1:29 AM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

The difference is I don't think Bertuzzi will get as much on the next contract. Unless he had a 90+ point season, I don't see him getting over $5 million.

Where as assuming they get Luongo's name on a short term deal, or he accepts their qualifying offer of about $3.5 mil, you know Roberto will get much more than that so their whole pay structure would have to be rearranged to keep him.

And I really think Bryan Allen was a great pick up. This guy's a horse and will do a lot of good things in Florida.


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