What if the 2014 NHL trade deadline was your high school play? Act II

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

So the 2014 Trade Deadline is officially over with loads of rumors and action swirling around the last week. Last year, NHL teams were petrified to make any moves because of how tight the standings were during the short 48-game season and how much worse the salary cap was going to be next season. Everything was about to end with a clunker until this happened. What I described the Erat trade at the time was something of high drama and I personally feel like I am not alone in this feeling. We as hockey fans follow the trade deadline obsessively, even though we should all expect it to be a dud. We spend the last week speculating and as the remaining hours and minutes unfold, we watch every transaction and speculate some more and then try to come up with some of the most ridiculous ideas imaginable. All this effort tires you out after a while, but you can’t help but love it. Even Mike Millbury was sounding like someone that needed his 8pm bedtime after Tuesday’s NHL Overtime broadcast. With all this in mind, I have decided to write a diary about the last week of midseason trading in the NHL as if it were a three act play.

Here is act two about all the moves that happened last Tuesday.

ACT II

Edmontons signs Ben Scrivens to a 2 year/$4.6 million extension

Everyone’s favorite backup is now extended beyond 2014!!! When he was traded to Edmonton near the end of January, we all thought we would never hear his name again as he was stuck in hockey’s Siberia. Scrivens was certainly sad when he found out this news. One month and one NHL record performance later, Josh Hutcherson’s twin (did you know he likes hockey too?) now gets to be paid like an NHL starter. His career numbers speak for themselves and they closely resemble a rise that is amazingly similar to Braden Holtby’s. With only 60 games under his belt, his point shares per game are 0.242 for the season and 0.200 throughout his career. There will be some regression to the mean during his career, but until he becomes a full fledged starter at some point, we may never know until we see it happen.

The list of March 3rd waivers were released

The day started when Bob McKenzie, Canada’s Chris Mortensen, announced that the following players have been waived on twitter. Here is that list in chart and player usage format.

Player POS Age Games G A Pts SPG TOI PS/82 2-way% remaining salary
Trevor Smith C

28

27

4

5

9

0.89

 10:28

2.4

12.5%

$550,000

51

7

8

15

0.94

 11:16

2.1

30.8%

Jack Dowell C

28

0

0

0

0

0.00

 0:00

0.0

0.0%

$700,000

156

11

22

33

0.89

 10:18

1.1

90.0%

Corey Potter RD

30

16

0

5

5

1.00

 14:47

4.1

62.5%

$775,000

120

8

24

32

1.31

 18:56

4.2

68.9%

Joe Corvo RD

36

25

3

7

10

2.16

 18:31

3.6

2.8%

$900,000

708

92

218

310

2.19

 21:40

6.4

52.6%

Cory Conacher LW

24

60

4

16

20

1.22

 12:18

2.2

62.5%

$925,000

107

15

34

49

1.37

 13:02

3.8

34.7%

Derek Smith LD

29

14

0

1

1

0.86

 10:32

-3.5

83.3%

$775,000

94

2

12

14

0.97

 14:58

1.7

90.0%

Scott Gomez C

34

29

1

7

8

1.10

 14:36

-0.3

0.0%

$700,000

970

172

537

709

2.47

 18:32

5.6

33.4%

Player POS Age Games Record SA/60 Save% GAA TOI PSPG remaining salary
Scott Clemensen G

36

16

 6-6-1

29.64

0.896

3.02

 53:23

0.115

$1.2 million

187

 73-58-23

29.32

0.906

2.76

 52:56

0.159

vvv

From Rob Vollman’s player usage charts: http://www.hockeyabstract.com/playerusagecharts.

Am I absolutely overhyping this list? You damn right I am!!!! But of the $6.525 million worth of mediocre to absolutely decaying NHL talent, there are at least a couple of players on the list worth mentioning.

Two players should be recognized despite the fact that every NHL fan would prefer to mock them. First, let the record show that Scott Gomez used to be a very beautiful hockey player to watch. He shouldn’t be forgotten for his fantastic rookie season that ended with a 2000 Stanley Cup and for him being the 6th best center and one of the 25 best players from 2003 to 2006 (162 games, 47-107-154, 8.8 PS/82). As soon as he left the Devils however, everything collapsed and Gomez wasn’t the same since he was given that shocking 7 year, $51 million deal. His 2006 season was the only time he ever shot over 10% and his career shooting percentage of 7.2 will always be the death nail to his legacy.

I know Joe Corvo is like Voldemort to Caps fans (1.8 PS/82 in 18 games), but it is weird envisioning him playing 700 plus games and an average of 21 minutes a game throughout his entire career (6.4 PS/82). One thing that was not mentioned in Joe Corvo’s bio is the lacerated right leg he picked up from Karl Alzner in December 2009 that made him miss 28 games. He really wasn’t the same player the rest of the season (4.8 PS/82 in 34 games with Carolina) and one could argue that he developed an unfair reputation. Since that trade to Washington, Corvo never stayed with one team for more than one season and despite putting up descent numbers overall (222 games, 24-68-92, 5.4 PS/82), his defensive game was all but finished (-10 and 1.4 DPS/82 in the last two years versus +25 and 3.4 DPS/82 during his career).

The big name out of this list, of course, is Cory Conacher. Within the span of three years, he has gone from AHL MVP and Calder Cup champion to biggest surprise of the 2013 NHL season to not fitting into Ottawa’s plans. Since being traded to Ottawa for Ben Bishop, Conacher went from being an 8-standings point player to a 2-standings point player overnight with a shot rate that is similar to Matt Hendricks. Even at the AHL level, it was never considered elite (2.58 shots per game in 118 games, including 10 shots in his 7 games in 2010-2011). His accuracy has always helped him get to the big show, but a 5.5% rate really removed him from Paul MacLean’s good graces.

New Jersey is expected to trade Martin Brodeur to Minnesota, but the Wild will let him play his last game as a Devil

Wait, what?! First things first, it’s not a surprise to see Brodeur traded because he has been crap for at least three of the last four years, but to see that any NHL player is going to be allowed to play for his former team AFTER an announcement came that he was traded is certainly, well, very unNHL. Within a span of five months, Minnesota went from having goaltending as one of their strengths to one of their weaknesses. Josh Harding’s multiple sclerosis has caught up to him at a point where he may be out for at least the remainder of the season while Nicklas Backstrom is also out for that long with a strained abdominal muscle. That leaves Darcy Kuemper, who despite being an asset picked up in the Jason Pominville trade, is still only 23 and may be counted upon too much for a team that is looking to be better than last year’s team that almost got swept in round one in the playoffs last year.

Florida trades Mike Weaver to Montreal for a 5th round pick

We go from one weird story to our first official trade of the day, and it may or may not be much ado about nothing. It’s nothing because at the end of the day, Weaver is a 35-year old undersized stay-at-homer who happens to be Florida’s best penalty killing d-man. That doesn’t say much considering the Panthers have been quite awful this year in that discipline (and power play too, but hey it’s Florida). But the underrated trade so far this NHL season was Montreal trading away Raphael Diaz, a descent two-way guy that is seven years Weaver’s junior. With Josh Gorges now out until possibly the end of the regular season with a broken hand, Montreal could be stuck relying on Weaver and either a mending Gorges, a baby in Jarred Tinordi and another dinosaur in Douglas Murray as the bottom half of their group come playoff time. I know Montreal hates the Bruins, but the last thing they should be doing is emulating them by riding the coattails of their two best back-end players in PK Subban and Andrei Markov. Considering that the Canadiens are among the worst in the NHL in puck possession, this team went from being a beautiful one to watch to a team who’s front office got a bit too cute in one department.

Edmonton trades Ilya Bryzgalov to Minnesota for a 4th round pick

So much for that rumor! Even with GM Lou Lamoriello more than denying that Brodeur was traded, we as 21st century sports fans can’t believe anything until a real credible source jots that rumor and turns it into fact. Case in point, rather than have Brodeur’s corpse rescue the wild, they decided to get something much bigger than that. That’s right, they got the Universe! Where can we get Neal DeGrasse Tyson to make this announcement? As much as all media and fans have given crap about Bryz being more of a standup comedian than being a professional hockey player, he has actually played pretty solidly this season considering that he plays for the Oilers. Sure, he has had a .908 save percentage in a league that expects any average starter to be in the mid 910s, but this is while Bryzgalov has faced 32.88 shots per game, close to 3 shots above the league average. This gives him a point share average of 0.180, right around his career average of 0.188. Not bad considering that the Wild are only giving up a 4th round pick for a short term upgrade in goal.

Anaheim trades Dustin Penner to Washington for a 4th round pick

From one shock to the next, George McPhee just can not stay quiet at the trade deadline. It just seems like ever since Pittsburgh traded for Bill Guerin and eliminated the Caps in the playoffs en route to the Stanley Cup that McPhee has this irrational motivation to one-up Ray Shero every deadline, whether it is necessary or not. Just like old times, McPhee decided to ignore an emphatically pressing team need and overload at forward again. The one positive is that this trade was an absolute steal as Penner is only on a one year deal worth $2 million and they only gave up the pick that Anaheim received in the Matthieu Perrault early Christmas present trade. You can’t help but think that the Ducks gave an “IOU this season” promise when making that trade back in September, but if this were to be true, who in professional sports does this?!?!? You take advantage of teams making dumb trades, not owe them back for their sheer idiocy!!! Oh NHL, when will you ever learn.

Anywho, Penner has been absolutely fantastic this season and like Mikhail Grabovski, he has done so by shooting the puck closer and crashing the center of the net.  You can just envision him teaming up with Troy Brouwer and form part of a second line full of big wingers turning defensemen into, well, pancakes on the fore check. Could this be a natural second line for a cup contender? Hell no!!! But is it an upgrade overall? Perhaps; expecially considering that he is another great puck possessor on a team that needs more of them in the worst way. This addition now means that Washington will have to make another transaction in order to move Penner into the lineup. Aaron Volpatti is on injured reserve, but someone in that group that is not Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom has to be shipped out. More on this later.

Edmonton trades Viktor Fasth to Edmonton for a 2014 5th round pick and a 2015 3rd round pick

One of last season’s biggest surprises was falling down the depth chart in Anaheim and is now stuck with a crummy contract. So it served right for them to trade him to a team that needs goaltending badly and has cap space. One underrated piece that is coming out of this deadline is that Edmonton has now gone from Richard Backman and Devan Dubnyk to Ben Scrivens and Fasth within a span of six months with Bryzgalov in between. One could make a case that Edmonton made an upgrade and that is certainly true for the short term, but Fasth’s contract is so bad that if the Oilers ever become a contender he may have to be shipped out or amnestied. The lesson, as always, is that you should never project long term goaltending performance. It will always nip you in the butt.

Dallas trades Stephane Robidas to Anaheim for a conditional 4th round pick

So after losing Penner and Fasth, the Anaheim Ducks freed up $3.975 million in cap space and decided to spend it on a defenseman with plenty of NHL experience. If Stephane Robidas can come back from surgery on his right wrist in time for the playoffs, this is a move that could just pay off. Before the injury, Robidas was one of Dallas’ top penalty killers and was putting out a career high 6.8 PS/82 this season compared to his career 4.8 PS/82 in 871 career games. Having a career high 11.5% shooting and being second to Sergei Gonchar in offensive zone start% amongst regular Dallas defenceman doesn’t hurt either. Even so, Robidas has averaged over 20 minutes a night in his entire career and has usually handled his team’s best level of competition with solid results. Since Ben Lovejoy is their only true right handed shot that gets consistent playing time, either Hampus Lindholm, Francois Beauchemin, Luca Sbisa, Cam Fowler or Bryan Allen will have to make way for Robidas if he comes back healthy. If not, it certainly looks like a move where Anaheim got too cute in a conference playoff bracket where they could not afford to do so.

New York Islanders trade Andrew MacDonald to Philadelphia for Matt Mangene, a 2014 3rd round pick and a 2015 2nd round pick

Oh Philadelphia, you never cease to amaze everyone! Everything about this just fascinates me. The fact that the prospect involved in this trade looks a little like a mix of Nail Yakupov and Jermaine from Flight of the Conchords is not the biggest point in this trade shows how much we need to get through. First, Andrew MacDonald is making only $550,000 playing over 26 minutes a night and the Islanders expect a first round pick in return. However, this is the New York Islanders, and we have already learned that this is a team that just simply can’t do anything right.

Islanders fans will argue that MacDonald started his contract at a time when he had seven points in 49 career NHL game. With that said, why on earth would you ever give a then border line NHLer four years!!! Dmitry Orlov and Steve Oleksy just got resigned for only two years when they were in the same point in their careers as MacDonald. Let Andrew MacDonald be the lesson to every NHL franchise that signing your players to market value is not a bad thing. This forces trade partners to truly pony up in order to make the transaction work. GM Garth Snow better realize this, otherwise he could set precedent for what might happen if they have no choice but to trade Kyle Okposo or Frans Nielsen while they are still good.

For Philadelphia, let this post from the team’s SB Nation blog better describe how much every smart hockey fan feels about Andrew MacDonald. In short, the Flyers do add a warm body in defense at next to nothing, but this will not make them better anytime soon. Lastly, we are in our fifth major trade and the fact that we have not seen a first round pick exchange hands just shows once again how unnecessarily uptight general managers are.

Vancouver trades Roberto Luongo and Stephen Anthony to Florida for Jakob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias

Welp, it finally happened. Vancouver’s tumultuous relationship with Roberto Luongo came to an end when they were able to trade him to his former franchise in Florida. In return, the Canucks only receive a young goaltender that hasn’t even come close to living up to his billing and a fourth line player that will show skill at times. Florida picks up a solid goaltender, but will be stuck paying him until his mid-40s because decade long contracts are stupid and almost ruined the modern NHL. The truth is, nobody wins this trade at all. Florida still doesn’t have a clue how to build and develop an NHL caliber defense and Vancouver needs anybody with top six forward offensive skill anywhere it can get.

When you look at the list of Canucks players under the age of 25 that has given them significant playing time, to say that it is grim is an understatement. Ryan Stanton and Chris Tanev have the potential to be solid defensemen but Zach Kassian is forever a  fourth liner on a cup contender that just so happened to play for the Canadian Juniors and Zac Dalpe is, well, Zac Dalpe. The real disappointment in all this is still Jordan Schroeder. Yes, he has missed 47 games to either a broken foot or a broken ankle this season, but time is running out on him figuring out if he could ever be a long term answer in the top six. With all this in mind and the fact that Cody Hodgson is STILL the only draft pick that has ever made any impact during the Mike Gillis era shows how much this franchise is rotting and how hard it will be for it to stop rotting.

Carolina signs Anton Khudobin to a 2 year/$4.5 million extension

After two major trades, we get to something that shows at least some form of sanity. Considering that Cam Ward is a walking injury waiting to happen, signing Khudobin to a multi-year deal is the way to go. With a cap hit being only $2.25 million, Khudobin will make less money than the likes of Devan Dubnyk, Michael Neuvirth and Viktor Fasth. Considering how the Hurricanes franchise has been in the absolute doldrums for the last four years, this is good news for their front office and their fans.

Washington trades Martin Erat and John Mitchell to Phoenix for Rusty Klesla, Chris Brown and a 2015 4th round pick

Considering how ridiculous this day has been, it is fitting that the last transaction had to catch people by surprise. McPhee pulled the impossible by trading away a $4.5 million albatross in Martin Erat. Despite Erat still being a solid possession player under tough zone starts and tough competition, he requested too many trades compared to any NHL player in an entire career, let alone the last 12 months. Once you added that he has only had one empty net goal as a Capital, you get a player that looks like he quits when the chips are down. But considering how bad his contract is, you would think an amnesty would be the only possible outcome. Low and behold the Phoenix Coyotes were willing to get rid of another albatross (though a cheaper one) in Rostislav Klesla.

In short, if you include the admitted Mathieu Perrault salary dump back in September to free up a roster spot for Tom Wilson, you get Anaheim receiving Perrault, Phoenix receiving John Mitchell and Martin Erat and Washington receiving Dustin Penner, Klesla, Chris Brown and a 4th round pick. Sadly, I would still take Perrault and Erat and see what I can get out of that instead. The unfortunately named Brown could be a nice coup at age-23, but he honestly looks like a carbon copy of Michael Latta. As much as these fourth line players don’t force the team to be up against the cap, Washington just has too many of them to keep on the NHL roster long term. You would have to think one or both of them may not pan out at all once Evgeny Kuznetsov joins the fold and Andre Burakowsky follows suit in the coming year or so.

As for Klesla, he is a body that could be used in defense, but is he genuinely a significant upgrade over John Erskine, Dmitry Orlov, Connor Carrick, Steve Oleksy, Nate Schmidt or Jack Hillen? Especially in the long term for the Caps? I seriously doubt it, but that’s what you get when you screw up a trade and your coach has no clue how to use him properly.

INTERMISSION

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