Monday, February 28, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: D-Day Special

Ahhhh, the NHL Trade Deadline.

Once a year you grace us with your presence, teasing us with the prospect of blockbuster deals and momentum shifting swaps all in the name of gearing up for the playoffs/next season (depending on how things have gone up to this point, of course).

It’s been kind of a funny lead up to the “big day” this time around with a number of fairly significant moves since early February, but you just never know what will happen! The aim of this feature will be to try and stay updated on the latest trades up to (and beyond) that 1pm deadline and provide a bit of my own insight into each move!

Let’s get right to it (despite several alarms set, I couldn’t actually get up before 10am this year)!

Deadline Deals:

Penner to the Kings

The Edmonton Oilers have finally pulled the trigger on that big deal that everyone thought they’d be making today: Dustin Penner is off to the LA Kings, with a first round draft pick, prospect Colten Teubert (who was a teammate of Jordan Eberle in Regina) and a conditional pick in 2012.

Penner has long been rumored to be on the way out if the right package was offered, and this is one heck of a deal for the Oil! They will have a high pick already in the first round this year and this gives them a shot at another pretty good prospect. It's also another former Oiler in Los Angeles!

The big thing the Oilers should be looking at is adding defenseman, but then again, they’ve got all summer to do so.

A little more on Penner: He came into the Oilers organization under fire from the paying customers for the money he was making and the length of his contract (neither of which was dictated by him), he ended up taking a lot of heat from the fans and the media in the first couple of years and I think he was often misunderstood, but in the end he has become a pretty solid player. He’s got room to grow for sure, but I think we’ve seen in the past two years especially that he is making strides in that direction. With the right linemates, he is a deadly offensive weapon and when he uses that frame of his to his advantage, he’s an even better player. Before the Oilers, a younger Penner was a good fit in Anaheim and I see him having success with the Kings.

Sound The Horn!

Alright – so the deadline has come and gone with not that many trades in comparison to years past. By the 1pm deadline, we saw eight trades involving 18 players. As always, we could still see a ton of trades come through that logjam at the NHL office…but then again there shouldn’t be much of a logjam, should there?

Here are the late trades so far: The Leafs have dealt John Mitchell to the NY Rangers in a minor league deal (he only played 23 games this season with the big club). Going the other way is a seventh round pick.

The Vancouver Canucks have acquired Christopher Higgins from the Florida Panthers, in exchange for Evan Oberg and a third round pick. In my opinion, the Canucks have made a good habit of taking players like Higgins and turning them into solid two-way guys. The team also picked up gritty forward Max Lapierre from the Anaheim Ducks (and formerly the Montreal Canadiens). I think that move can potentially give them some of the grit that could help them down the stretch. They also get a fellow by the name of MacGregor Sharp, while going the other way there is forward Joel Perrault and a third round pick.

Fredrik Modin is the newest member of the Calgary Flames with a seventh round pick going the other way. The Flyers have acquired Tom Sestito from the Jackets for forwards Greg Moore and Michael Chaput.

After some pre-deadline speculation that Jason Arnott would waive his no trade clause if the right team came knocking, he is heading to the Washington Capitals! Arnott is a proven leader, he’s a big body and I think he’ll be a solid fit on the ice and in the dressing room for that club. In return, the Devils get David Steckel who should be able to add some grit to the bottom lines of that New Jersey team down the stretch. They also get a second round pick.

In another minor deal, the Habs picked up goalie Drew MacIntyre from the Atlanta Thrashers for defenseman Brett Festerling. The Minnesota Wild sent goalie Anton Khudobin to the Boston Bruins for defenseman Jeff Penner and forward Mikko Lehtonen.

Last Hour Flurry

I don’t think we’ll be breaking any records this year, but here we go with a couple of quick trades as we inch towards the deadline: The Caroina Hurricanes are sending forward Sergei Samsonov to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Bryan Allen and Brad Winchester is joining the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a third round pick.

I like Samsonov – he’s a steady scorer who can add a spark here and there, while Brad Winchester is a big body that sounds like he’ll be a good fit with a big, gritty Ducks team.

Hawks add to Blue Line

Currently in a dogfight for the final playoff spot in the western conference, the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks have added some depth to the blue line, acquiring Chris Campoli from the Ottawa Senators for a second round draft pick and forward Ryan Potulny.

The Hawks have been worn a bit thin at that position, so this is obviously a move to patch things up and really make that push to get into the postseason. They obviously don’t want to be a team that wins the Cup one year and watches the playoffs the next, and in Campoli they get a fairly solid and steady blue liner who is good for a few points (averages about 18 per season, has 14 so far this year) and doesn’t take many penalties.

Potulny had 15 goals and 32 points for the Oilers last season, but is a minor league guy this year…that said, he’s going to Ottawa which means he could easily play out the rest of the season with the big club. So far the Sens have traded away four forwards, all for picks.

Oilers & Avs in Minor Deal

The Edmonton Oilers started what could be a an interesting day with a minor league deal, sending defenseman Shawn Belle to the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Kevin Montgomery.

The 23-year-old Montgomery is in his second season with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters (19 points in 51 games this season). Belle is 26 and is in his sixth AHL season, putting up 20 points in 39 games so far. I thought Belle looked pretty good when he was up with the big club – he’s a fantastic skater, but obviously the team decided that he wasn’t developing at a quick enough clip for them.

Yotes & Jackets Swap

Finally! We’ve got a trade! They aren’t coming as fast and furious as they sometimes do, but here we go: The Columbus Blue Jackets have traded Rostislav Klesla and AHLer Dane Byers to the Phoenix Coyotes for Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto.

In this deal, the Jackets add some scoring punch to a lineup that might be lacking a little bit as you go down that roster, while the Coyotes add a blue liner who is a plus-10 on the season but hasn’t played since January 22nd with a knee injury. He must be close to being healthy, otherwise I doubt they’d make this trade.

Upshall has 16 goals and 27 points this year, quickly closing in on the career highs that he set last season (18 goals, 32 points). The biggest thing for him is that he’s shooting the puck more, and with Columbus sitting four points out of the playoffs they’ll be hoping that trend continues!

Lost in the shuffle here though is the big question: What will Biz Nasty do without his Twitter pals?

Panthers Wheel and Deal

As I mentioned above, I chose not to get up at 6am this year and I was rewarded with a slow start to the trades – only two to report by 10am, both involving the Florida Panthers.

The Panthers sent defenseman Dennis Wideman to the Washington Capitals for Jake Hauswirth and a third rounder at this year’s draft. They also picked up Patrick Rissmiller and Niclas Bergfors from Atlanta, sending Radek Dvorak and a fifth rounder the other way.

The Panthers currently sit eight points under the playoff cut line, with the Thrashers four points up on them. Will either of these teams make the playoffs? It’s possible, but I’ve got a feeling that one or both of them will be watching from the sidelines.

Waiver Pickups

The Thrashers were busy on the wire side of things early on as well, plucking former Oiler Rob Schremp off of the market. The Ottawa Senators picked up goalie Curtis McElhinney, a few days after he was traded from Anaheim to Tampa Bay. As well, defenseman Brett Carson goes from Carolina to his hometown of Calgary.

The Lead Up:

Before we got right down to the wire this year a number of teams decided to jump the gun and get things going early. That included guys like Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe and Eric Brewer being welcomed to new homes, along with forwards like Mike Fisher, Kris Versteeg, James Neal and Alex Kovalev.

In all, there were 26 trades happening before today, which involved over 50 players, and about 20 draft picks or prospects.

When the Ottawa Senators dealt Fisher it looked like it would be the start of the garage sale outside of Scotiabank Place, and it sort of was, but it’ll be interesting to see where they stop. Since that deal, the Sens have also sent goalie Brian Elliot to Colorado for fellow netminder Craig Anderson and they also shipped Alex Kovalev to the Penguins for a late draft pick. Will they send Jason Spezza packing? Tough to say…I can tell you though that Chris Phillips is going nowhere though – he signed a three-year deal with Ottawa on Sunday night worth a reported $9.25-million.

Speaking of defenseman, how many years have we heard about the possibility of Tomas Kaberle being traded? Feels like at least three or four, doesn’t it? Well, it finally happened! I wonder if it was a little strange for Kaberle to have it actually happen this time after so much speculation over the years! That sets up quite a solid 1-2 pairing in Boston and makes them just that much more dangerous down the stretch!

On Sunday night the Blues sent forward Brad Boyes to Buffalo for a second rounder in 2011. That’s a decent pickup for the Sabres as Boyes is a guy who has had success as a goal scorer…just not lately. Buffalo is just on the cusp, while the Blues are slowly losing ground in the western playoff race.

There were also a couple of other interesting moves: Toronto’s Beauchemin back to Anaheim for Joffrey Lupul; Kris Versteeg leaving the Leafs for the Flyers; James Neal and Matt Niskanen of the Stars to Pittsburgh for Alex Goligoski and many more!

Best Pickup so far: It has to be the Blues going out and getting Chris Stewart from the Avalanche in a four player, two draft pick deal on February 19th. In six games with St. Louis, Stewart has six goals and seven points!

Final Thoughts:

I suppose the question now becomes who has done enough to give themselves that extra push into the postseason and who hasn’t – which of the fringe teams do you think will end up playing beyond 82 games?

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