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

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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 three about all the moves that happened on the final day of the trade deadline.

ACT III

Tampa Bay trades Martin St. Louis and a conditional 2015 2nd round pick pick to New York Rangers for Ryan Callahan, a 2015 1st round pick, a 2014 2nd round pick (if the New York Rangers make conference finals, then 2014 1st round pick), and a conditional 2015 7th round pick

Wow!!! Just…wow.

When it first came out that Martin St. Louis requested a trade from Tampa Bay, you thought it was just him being in a hissy fit after not originally being selected for Team Canada. The man that was responsible for picking the eventual Olympic gold medalists just so happened to be Tampa Bay General Manager Steve Yzerman. As much as I have highly valued Martin St. Louis over the years and coming into this season, his Team Canada spot was overtaken by one player: Chris Kunitz. Like many hockey fans, Kunitz has been seen as a guy that benefits way too much as a linemate of Sidney Crosby and not so much as a talented hockey player. One statistic that proves that is with individual points percentage (the total amount of assists and goals scored divided by the amount of goals occured while a player is on the ice). According to stats.hockeyanalysis.com, of the 327 forwards that have played over 500 minutes of 5v5 ice time, Kunitz ranks 241st for 2014. However, you can also look at where St. Louis is on that list and notice that he is sitting at just 186th this year. Of all the forwards that played for team Canada, St. Louis would finish 3rd to last behind Kunitz and Jonathan Toews.

“Wait, Toews sucks at dominating offense?!?!”, you shout. “How is this a valid statistic, especially considering that you have Toews as fourth best trade values in the NHL?” You are right in that regard. Considering that in this new wave era, goals are treated as a luck-based stat that occur so little during such a long season. Since a typical NHL player will be on the ice for about 50-100 goals (this certainly is less if a player misses many games to injury or is a bottom six forward), missing out on a few assists and goals could throw a players percentage off by a few points too many. As a result, Scott Reynolds of nhlnumbers.com suggests that we should look at this through a multi-year window. In this case, let’s look at all the forwards that played and could have played for Canada and how they have done with individual points percentage and other important facts for the 2013-2014 season in between the Vancouver and Sochi Olympics.

Olympians 2014 Age 2014 IPP% 2014 IPP% Rank 2013 IPP% 2012 IPP% 2011 IPP% Avg 2014 PK Tm Rk 2014 PP Tm Rk 2014 OPS/82 2014 PS/82 2014 2-way%
Sidney Crosby 26 81.0 29 80.9 77.4 95.0 83.6 5th-N 1st 11.1 13.8 19.5%
Jamie Benn 24 73.4 102 76.9 84.9 88.1 80.8 7th-N 2nd 8.3 10.7 22.3%
Matt Duchene 23 83.0 22 84.4 73.9 75.0 79.1 8th-N 1st 7.7 9.4 17.5%
Rick Nash 29 72.7 112 79.5 70.2 88.2 77.7 9th-N 6th 5.5 7.6 28.3%
John Tavares 23 73.5 101 80.0 77.4 79.2 77.5 11th-N 3rd 9.2 10.6 13.2%
Martin St. Louis 38 66.7 186 83.3 67.6 82.8 75.1 4th 2nd 6.5 8.9 26.3%
Corey Perry 28 77.6 51 69.7 71.8 80.3 74.9 1st 1st 9.5 12.1 21.7%
Ryan Getzlaf 28 83.1 21 76.5 65.8 72.7 74.5 2nd 2nd 9.9 12.7 21.9%
Patrick Sharp 32 71.4 128 64.7 70.3 84.8 72.8 11th-N 1st 8.1 10.1 19.8%
Jonathan Toews 25 66.7 199 81.4 73.5 68.1 72.4 3rd 2nd 6.9 9.5 27.9%
Patrice Bergeron 28 68.0 177 75.0 74.1 69.0 71.5 1st 4th 5.7 8.8 34.6%
Jeff Carter 29 73.0 108 73.1 69.2 67.2 70.6 5th 3rd 6.2 8.7 29.4%
Patrick Marleau 34 72.9 110 64.0 60 70.6 66.9 1st 1st 6.8 8.7 22.5%
Chris Kunitz 34 63.3 241 69.4 58.6 69.6 65.2 9th-N 3rd 7.9 11.0 28.4%
Snubs 2014 Age 2014 IPP% 2014 IPP% Rank 2013 IPP% 2012 IPP% 2011 IPP% Avg 2014 PK Tm Rk 2014 PP Tm Rk 2014 OPS/82 2014 PS/82 2014 2-way%
Taylor Hall 22 97.8 1 94.3 75.6 67.6 83.8 12th-N 3rd 8.2 9.4 13.2%
Logan Couture 25 65.8 199 82.8 86.5 86.4 80.4 5th 4th 6.1 8.8 30.6%
Steven Stamkos 24 84.0 20* 76.9 78.8 75.4 78.8 9th-N 1st 12.9 15.8 18.5%
Claude Giroux 26 71.2 132 74.2 79.7 80.7 76.5 5th 1st 7.9 10.0 21.6%
Eric Staal 29 75.6 73 87.0 76.5 62.7 75.5 5th-N 1st 5.0 6.5 22.8%
Joe Thornton 34 75.9 71 64.3 81.5 73.1 73.7 8th-N 1st 5.4 8.0 32.4%
Tyler Seguin 22 79.7 34 61.1 70.4 76.0 71.8 11th-N 1st 9.6 11.9 19.6%
James Neal 26 68.3 151 72.0 69.1 70.8 70.1 19th-N 4th 9.5 12.3 22.7%
*=20th out of 385 skaters playing 300 minutes of 5v5 ice time

As you can see, St. Louis is very respectable with his four-year average of individual points percentage and he also is a guy that has played on Tampa and New York’s penalty kill for more than a minute per game this season. However, every forward that has been selected for Canada is averaging as much or more goals per game than St. Louis (0.39) in 2014 so and the likes of Bergeron, Perry, Getzlaf, Toews and even Patrick Marleau would easily be ahead of him on the penalty killing depth chart. Of all the non-penalty killing specialists for Canada, you have to look at Jeff Carter as the only player that St. Louis could surpass, but his form has been much improved since moving to Los Angeles. So unless team Canada stopped thinking that Kunitz was a player that could gell on any line easily, St. Louis’ role and order of selection for team Canada is certainly not the most controversial in history and should be treated as such.

Sadly, St. Louis never got that memo and decided to sulk his way out of one contender and into another. At age 38, he has to understand that familiarity and lack of change are his best friends. Look at what happened to Mats Sundin when he left the comforts of the team that drafted him. It’s a huge blow to not only the reputation of the player, but also the reputation of an NHL franchise. Tampa Bay was a very favorable choice to come out of the Eastern Conference before the trade deadline because of the rising stock of John Cooper, his infusion of his former 2012 Norfolk Admiral colleagues that shattered the AHL record books, and the return of Steven Stamkos from injury. Also, you can not forget about the production from recent additions Ben Bishop, Valterri Filppula and Matt Carle and the rise in stock of Victor Hedman (how he did not play for Sweden in the Olympics, I will never know) and you could see why they were a nice pick if you didn’t want to go with Pittsburgh or Boston. Now, they seem a little iffy and that’s a damn shame considering how Tampa is always among the more fun teams to watch. Considering how the NHL has been desperately trying and failing to promote hockey in the southeastern United States, it is even worse to see possibly one of that territories few hockey legends leave for different pastures.

Ryan Callahan will be a solid addition to the team and will at least add a slightly more youthful jolt (sorry Lightning fans, couldn’t help it), but his gritty style for a player so small (5-11, 195) has resulted in plenty of injuries over the years. One interesting comp that hockey-reference.com put on his profile is former Washington Capital Michal Pivonka. Within a six year span, Pivonka went from being a player that could be counted on to play both ends and get 50-70 points a season, to being out of the league by age 33. Like Pivonka, Callahan’s first sign of decline on offense came this season at age-28. His shot rate is down to 2.47 per game and his goal scoring rate is the lowest in four years (0.28). Yes, the salary cap is going up, but it can’t be stressed enough how little that monetary increase is per player and thus how ridiculous it still sounds for a player like Callahan to command $6 million per year for 6-7 years.

For New York, even though they will save money on any possibility of resigning Callahan, the Rangers spent a lot of draft picks on a player that could lose it any moment if history stays the same. The Rangers now hold the keys as the darkhorse Eastern Conference Champions pick because of their fantastic penalty kill and possession numbers, but if St. Louis does not help, the Rangers will realize that they have lost three high end draft picks after using only nine total picks in the last two years. New York has young players in place to stay relevant for a while, but it is certainly not to a level where they can maintain that for more than two or three years and they will have to find a way to replenish the talent pool next year with only $17.5 million of cap space for eight players (including restricted free agents Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, John Moore, Justin Moore and Derick Brassard). There are certainly interesting futures ahead for both franchises.

Buffalo claim Cory Conacher off waivers

For a franchise that is struggling to get two goals a game, Buffalo honestly needs anybody to create offense for them. Even if his shooting numbers are low, picking up a player like Cory Conacher for nothing is great business for a Buffalo team that needs to continue to make moves like that for their rebuild.

Boston claim Corey Potter off waivers

Boston may have the most reliable set of defensemen in the league over the last three seasons. But with Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg on injured reserve, the Bruins have to make sure their second and third pairs are at a dependable level if they ever make it to the later stages of the playoffs. My question is if Corey Potter can really be a better defensemen for Claude Julien than a sheltered Kevan Miller. Worst case scenario, this is a waiver pickup for a player that clearly will be lucky to stay in the NHL next year, but at least Boston tried to find out if they have an able body on their hands.

Chris Phillips agrees to a 2 year, $5 million extension

At 36, Chris Phillips is becoming a shell of what he once was. This is the first time in nine years that Phillips will not be able to play all but two or less more games for an entire season and he is on pace to have the third worst season of his entire career (2.1 PS/82). Even with his possession numbers being better, it is still in the red despite playing against poor competition. Let this news remind everyone how Phillips will still go down as one of the better defensemen in Senators history with 1131 games under his belt, a 2007 Cup final run while after a career best regular season (6.8 PS/82 at age 28) and posting a career 4.7 PS/82 while having 81.7% of his point shares come from the defensive side. It is just surprising that he has never been paid like a world class defender. Such is the life of the drop back players.

Edmonton trades Ales Hemsky to Ottawa for a 2014 3rd round pick and a 2015 5th round pick

Despite still being rated highly by Oilers management, Ales Hemsky had to go and the fact that only two mid round picks were sent back is an indictment for what he has become. Despite being a solid skill player on any NHL 2nd or 3rd line with great possession, Hemsky’s shot rate and average time on ice are the lowest since his age-20 season. Hockey reference compares Hemsky best with Keith Crowder and Patrick Sundstrom; two players that basically were out of the league between 30-32 years old after looking like promising stars before they were 25. If that is Hemsky’s future, this is sadly the best Edmonton can do.

Buffalo trades Brayden McNabb, Jonathan Parker, a 2014 2nd round pick and a 2015 2nd round pick to Los Angeles for Hudson Fasching and Nicholas Deslaurier

If I made such a big deal on waivers from all the March 4th moves, we definitely have to discuss this trade. Yes, this is a trade amongst second tier prospects, but notice that Buffalo traded two 2nd round picks in order to make it happen. After a horrible draft year that only saw him picked in the fourth round, Fasching has been a revelation for the University of Minnesota, by scoring 13 goals and 29 points in 38 games. Deslauriers is a former defenseman that was converted into a left winger and became among the leading scorers for the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs.

As much as McNabb was among Buffalo’s better prospects, he is 23 and if he can’t make the Sabres blue line now, when will he? As for Jonathan Parker, he is seen as a 22 year old undrafted free agent on the last year of his rookie contract and has struggled to stay in the AHL. With Fasching and Deslaurier only being 8th and 10th on their team rankings respectively, the Kings thought getting two second round picks and any decent defenseman prospect was a good return. Like their previous moves, Buffalo gets more under-25 offensive players hoping to contribute soon.

Nashville trades Devan Dubnyk to Montreal for future considerations

Poor Devan Dubnyk. At first, he was a possible breakout star at 27 years old and now he looks like a one year wonder that has just lost his talents. Since being traded to Nashville, he has been playing in the minors and watched his worth go from Matt Hendricks to “future considerations” in a span of four months.

Columbus trades Marian Gaborik to Los Angeles for Matt Frattin, a 2014 or 2015 2nd round pick and a conditional 2014 or 2015 3rd round pick

While Columbus is trying their best to make the playoffs, it was clear that contributions were coming from other places instead of their best player. At 32 years old and after missing 39 games to a sprained knee and a broken collarbone while holding a $7.5 million cap hit, Marian Gaborik’s stock was plummeting. With Gaborik as a King, this is now his 3rd team in two years and he will enter the free agent market with plenty of uncertainty about his future.

What has been forgotten about Gaborik was how fantastic he was between his age-25 to age-27 seasons from 2007-2008 to 2009-2010. This was when he was in his last two years as a member of the Minnesota Wild and his first year as a New York Ranger. During that time, Gaborik scored 97 goals and 192 points in 170 games with an average time on the ice of 20:50 and an amazing 13.1 PS/82. If we were to assume that Gaborik would have played all 246 games during that span, guess where he would have ranked amongst the best skaters in the world. According to hockey reference, 2nd behind Alex Ovechkin!!! Instead, he missed 27 games due to a back injury, 38 games due to hip surgery and was still on the mend after missing 34 games with a groin injury from the 2006-2007 season. That list turns that 2nd place ranking into 25th.

In total, Marian Gaborik has been out of the lineup due to injury 22 times, with seven of them lasting for ten games or more, according to his TSN profile. Assuming we prorate the 2013 season as a full 82 game season, and that Gaborik plays the final nine games of Los Angeles’ 2014 season, he would still average only 60 games a season.

Even with all this said, Gaborik should still be a player that when he is at his healthiest, can score with the best of them. That is something Los Angeles desperately needs now that the production out of Mike Richards has continually declined and Dustin Brown has been arguably the worst superstar in the league.

Barring additional details, Los Angeles can decide when to give up their draft picks for either this summer or next summer and the third round pick is only dealt if Gaborik resigns with the Kings or Los Angeles makes it passed the first round of the playoffs. Oh yeah, that Matt Frattin guy? With all due respect to him, he is not that important because he is a 26-year old that is still struggling to be good enough to play more than 56 games in an entire NHL season.

Florida trades Marcel Goc to Pittsburgh for a 2015 3rd round pick and a 2014 5th round pick

If you thought Ray Shero was going to buck trends and make no moves at the trade deadine, think again. Shero decides to get a bottom six forward with good puck possession in Goc for two draft picks. Again, I can’t stress this enough: Dustin Penner was worth one mid round draft pick, yet Marcel Goc is worth two? Once again, the NHL makes no sense. Also, is Pittsburgh genuinely comfortable rolling out just Chris Kunitz, James Neal and Jussi Jokinen and a poo poo platter as their top six wingers, especially with Pascal Dupuis out for the season? More to come later.

Carolina trades Tuomo Ruutu to New Jersey for Andrei Locktionov and a 2017 conditional 3rd round pick

Oh Carolina, you just don’t do anything right. If you thought Brooks Laich and Ville Leino were expensive commodities, GM Jim Rutherford thought that after having just two seasons of 40 points and one season of 20 goals was enough to have Tuomo Ruutu deserve a cap hit of $4.75 million. After missing all but 17 games last year to a hip injury last year, Ruutu is having his worst shooting percentage of his career this year. At 31, Carolina decided to get rid of him by keeping $950,000 of his salary each year and picking up a 3rd line player that has never played over 39 games a season until this year and a 2017 draft pick. Not a 2014 pick. Not a 2015 pick. Definitely not a 2016 pick. But a 2017 3rd round pick. Good luck getting rid of a part-time owner Hurricanes fans!!!!

Florida trades Tim Thomas to Dallas for Dan Ellis

So now that Roberto Luongo has become the starting goalie at Florida, Tim Thomas was only going to be a wasted pawn if he were not to be traded. Since Jacob Markstrom was traded away the day before, the Panthers had to get a backup in return (that is, unless you want to awkwardly bring back Scott Clemmenson or promote former college free agent Michael Houser from San Antonio). As a result, Dan Ellis comes back and Dallas should free up some playing time for former 2010 U.S. Junior star Jack Campbell. All in all, everyone wins.

Edmonton trades Nick Schultz to Columbus for a 5th round pick

With Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin temporarily missing some time due to injuries from the Olympics and Ryan Murray having season ending knee surgery, the Blue Jackets picked up some defensive cover in Nick Schultz. However, Schultz is an old 31 years old because of playing 876 career games with a hard checking style while making his NHL debut at age 19. As a result, he is struggling to average 18 minutes a game while getting paid $3.5 million. With Tyutin and Nikitin back in the lineup, Schultz has only played 6 of Columbus’ 13 games since the deadline as Dalton Prout is preferred as the sixth defenseman in the depth chart.

Even if Columbus misses the playoffs, the Blue Jackets had set themselves nicely to have five picks in the top 100 in either the 2014 or 2015 draft thanks to the Gaborik trade and are waiting to see what comes out of their three first round selections from the 2013 draft (Alexander Wennberg, Kerby Rychel and Marko Dano) and Oskar Dansk. As for Edmonton, even with the picks received from Schultz and Hemsky, they will only have their first and fourth round picks within the top 100 of this summer’s draft. That is because they gave up their second and third round picks in the David Perron and Ben Scrivens trade respectively. It was pretty clear that the Oilers were in a win-now mindset coming into this season, but when it falls apart like it did, it really does feel like you have taken two steps back after taking one step forward. With Edmonton only having Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse as the only prospects that are guaranteed to be NHL mainstays, GM Craig MacTavish has to get that better if Edmonton ever wants to relive the glory days again.

Philadelphia trades Andrej Meszaros to Boston for a 3rd round pick

Under old head coach Peter Laviolette, Andrej Meszaros went from being an offensive defenseman that played over 21 minutes a game to a player who started 42.5% of his zone starts and missed all but 11 games due to a shoulder injury. Under new head coach Craig Berube, Meszaros is back to getting offensive zone starts, but is sheltered and was a healthy scratch for 24 of Philadelphia’s 62 games. Add the fact that he has a $4.5 million cap hit and is falling on the depth chart with the addition of Andrew MacDonald and Meszaros had to be traded. Boston took him and they could still end up with someone who is still 28 and a major contributor when used properly. Philadelphia gets cap space and a 3rd round pick to replace the one lost in the Andrew MacDonald trade.

Vancouver trades Raphael Diaz to New York Rangers for a 2015 5th round pick

I really don’t get what Vancouver is doing. Unless they feel like Ryan Stanton is a guaranteed quality defenseman, why would you trade a guy that is of NHL quality for a crummy fifth round pick. Also, why is that 5th round pick for the 2015 draft and not this summer’s draft? Haven’t we learned that even third round picks are crap shoots for the most part? Is John Tortorella asking to be fired? Is Mike Gillis ever going to shave? In Vancouver, answers will become questions.

Calgary trades Reto Berra to Colorado for a 2014 2nd round draft pick

Speaking of dumb trades, apparently Colorado thinks Reto Berra is a good enough goaltender to lose a second round pick for. To recap, they gave up a chance to draft Filip Forsberg for Semyon Varlamov and now they’ll lose a top 45-60 pick for a netminder that is worse than Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Unless you feel like Giguere is gone as a free agent or you need to free up enough cap space to resign all your potential free agents (especially Ryan O’Reilly, Paul Stastny, Andre Benoit and Cory Sarich), this move makes no sense.

Nashville trades David Legwand to Detroit for Patrick Eaves, a Calle Jarnkrok and a 2014 2nd or 3rd round pick

One of the underrated trades was David Legwand’s move from one team that emphasizes two-way play to another. Like Martin Erat, Legwand will come to Detroit as a two-way top six forward who can give great possession under tough zone starts and competition. But since Legwand is 33 and on the last year of his $4.5 million per year contract, now was the time to see if Nashville can get anything valuable in return. They did so in getting one of Detroit’s best prospects in Calle Jarnkrok; also a two-way centerman with underrated skill. The fact that Jarnkrok has been called up by the Preds within three weeks and that he has been rated more highly than Danny DeKeyser by hockeysfuture.com speaks volumes for how highly coveted he is. Nashville could also get Detroit’s 2nd round pick if the Red Wings make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Detroit gives up all that for a skilled forward to cover the injuries of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen. This is a major risk, however, as Gustav Nyquist has been the only under-25 Red Wing that has any shot of hitting 40 points. Even with the added offense, Legwand has become more of a pass only player as his shot rate is on pace to be the third worst of his career. Legwand should be fortunate that one of his other declining skills, killing penalties (from 2:33 per game in 2006-2007 to 0:07 per game in 2013-2014), is not needed as Detroit is sitting in the top ten in that department.

“The pressure. Nyaaaaah!!!!”

We are hitting the final minutes of the trade deadline and Buffalo and the New York Islanders have not yet traded away Matt Moulson and Thomas Vanek respectively. TSN’s tradecentre (yes, that is how you spell it!!!) has beautifully dragged GM Garth Snow through the mud, but like all TV networks that decide to avoid proverbially upsetting the eggs in the basket, the real blame goes to Charles Wang and the Islanders ownership group for time and again turning his franchise into a generation’s worth of false hope and empty promises.

Buffalo trades Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick to Minnesota for Torey Mitchell and a 2014 2nd round pick and a 2016 2nd round pick

Like they have been doing from the very beginning, Buffalo has been executing the rebuild perfectly. Now the Sabres will come into the summer with at least eight draft picks with either five or six picks in the top-50. This is after receiving Minnesota’s 1st round pick (Pominville trade) and Winnepeg’s 2nd round pick (Moulson trade via the Devin Setoguchi trade) as well as St. Louis’ and/or the Islanders’ 1st round pick (Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek trades, respectively). Next summer, they’ll have two to three first and second round picks and then three first or second round picks for 2016. They have seven players in their prospect pool that could become NHL regulars and over $33 million in cap space. Outside of Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno, none of the Sabres’ free agents should be worth over $2 million or warrant resigning. So Yeah, I wouldn’t be shedding tears for the Sabres anytime soon because if they pull this off, they’ll be drinking them because they are so delicious.

The New York Islanders trade Thomas Vanek and a conditional 5th round pick to Montreal for 2nd round pick and Sebastien Collberg

Welp, it finally happened. It may have been like extracting teeth, but the Islanders excepted Montreal’s offer and got a prospect with World Junior experience and a 2nd round pick out of Thomas Vanek. Don’t let the fact that this is his third team in one season fool you for how good of a player Vanek is. He has played like a seven-point player ever since his second year in the league and has not shown any signs of slowing down. Montreal needs more top tier forwards like him as Max Pacioretty has been their only player that has been able to score more than 25 goals this season. The one thing to watch out for is Vanek’s performance during the playoffs. While he averages close to 0.84 points per game throughout his career in the regular season, Vanek stops passing the puck (0.42 assists per game vs. 0.14 assists per game) and sees his playoff production drop to 0.56 points per game. That is only good if you are looking for a second line player, and that is not what the Canadiens hope they received.

As for the Islanders, they will now have to decide whether or not they will hand over their first round pick to Buffalo for 2014 or 2015. They have at least three picks in the top 65 in each of the next two drafts, but it will be four for 2014 in a draft class that could return 11 players (along with Montreal’s second round pick, they will have Philadelphia’s 2nd and 4th round picks from the Andrew MacDonald and Mark Streit trades, respectively, and Chicago’s 4th round pick from the Peter Regin/Pierre-Marc Bouchard trade) or they could pick up a franchise changing star for 2015 if they mess up next season like they did this year. In Collberg, Long Island gets a right winger who was dominant representing Sweden at the last three World Junior Championships (9 goals and 19 points in 19 games), but has struggled mightily to make a name for himself at the Swedish Elite League at Frolunda (9 goals and 18 points in 121 games). His slight frame (5’11”, 185 lbs) and lack of a strong defensive game has been a major concern for his transition to the professional North American game and I am sure the last thing Montreal wants to add right now is another short speedy score first playmaker.

Buffalo trades Jaroslav Halak and a 2015 3rd round pick to Washington for Michal Neuvirth and Rusty Klesla

EWFGEIRHFIURBEFIVUEWB!!! Sorry..but F@#% McPhee!!! It took a little while longer to see what the Caps got in return and it was good to see the Caps get a third round pick as well as Halak and it’s good to see Michal Neuvirth get a chance to get some real playing time and a real viable chance to get a starting job, but…seriously McPhee!!! We as Caps fans have kept telling him time and again that improving the blue line is the way to go and instead, he “improved” the goaltending.

Sure, McPhee has time and again mentioned that the Caps would have more points than they would have now if there were better goaltending performances, but Washington time and again ignores the fact that they have been waiting for a generation to find anyone that can be comparable to Rod Langway and they have never had a penalty kill that is consistently dependable under McPhee’s tenure. Facts like that time and again stunt Washington’s development to ever truly contend beyond the second round of the playoffs.

Now, Halak might end up being an upgrade to Braden Holtby, but Halak is a free agent this Summer. Deciding on what to do with Halak after this season sends a message on how they truly feel towards Holtby and Philipp Grubauer as long term answers in net. Some Capitals fans will still regret having to trade away Semyon Varlamov and if Neuvirth finds success in Buffalo, they will be furious about that too. Either way, if George McPhee stays long term, he has to commit to a goaltender for something longer than two years in order for the Ovechkin era to ever grow to its full potential.

Winnepeg signs Mark Stuart to a 4-year,$10.5 million extension

The Winnepeg Jets have gotten much better under new head coach Paul Maurice (15-10-5, 96 points per 82 games), but quite frankly, I have not trusted their front office at all in making smart decisions since the franchise removed its “Atlanta Thrashers” name tag. As if signing Olli Jokinen to anything substantial, losing a second round pick for Devin Setoguchi and drafting Mark Scheifele instead of Sean Couturier, Dougie Hamilton or Jonas Brodin in the 2011 NHL entry draft was bad enough, signing Mark Stuart to a four-year deal could be up there among the dumbest things GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has ever done during his tenure. I mean, just look at all the red in this chart!!! I know the salary cap goes up by $7 million next year and I know he and Karl Alzner have the same career PS/82 (high 3.2s), but Stuart will be 34 when his contract runs out. At least with Alzner, we know he is at least trying to shoot more and make an effort to add things to his game. Until they ever sort out what to do with Dustin Byfuglien, Zach Bogosian and figure out if Grant Clitsome as long term answers over there, the Jets’ blueline will stay stagnant and mediocre in the long term.

Calgary trades Lee Stempniak to Pittsburgh for a 3rd round pick

Along with trading Reto Berra, the Calgary Flames were able to get a third round pick for 31-year old Lee Stempniak. He has only had two years as a potential top six player and that was three years ago; plus this year’s shooting percentage was the worst of his career (5.6%). However, Pittsburgh can at least, have a temporary answer to Pascal Dupuis and Stempniak was deployed more as a defensive specialist under head coach Bob Hartley. Stempniak has been able to generate good puck posession, but he will be needed more on the offensive side and his scoring has to go up in order for the trade to be a success.

As for the Flames, they leave the trade deadline with five draft picks in the top 90. That is not the worst of hauls, but they also haven’t fully committed to a fire sale rebuild like Buffalo has as they will only have 8 total picks this summer. They could have had 11 draft picks instead, but instead they were used for acquiring Kris Russell (4th round pick), Lane McDermid (6th round pick) and Joe Colborne (6th round pick). They will also have just six draft picks in 2015 after trading their fourth round pick for T.J. Galiardi. At the very least, Calgary isn’t close to being done with their rebuild.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has been very good for a very long time now, but they will only have their first round pick that is in the top 100 and five total draft picks for this summer’s draft. They will also have only six draft picks for 2015. They have been fortunate to make plenty of moves that have worked and the likes of Olli Maata, Simon Despres and Beau Bennett hope to keep making the Penguins young and competitive, but eventually the arsenal for trades may begin to run out and GM Ray Shero will have to find other means to make sure Pittsburgh stays as a cup contender.

CURTAIN CALL

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