The stretch run begins for the Colorado Avalanche tonight as they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. But before we turn the page towards the final twenty-something games I thought I’d take another look at the trade deadline.
Well that was a bit of a hectic trade deadline. Although most of the moves that were made were on the minor side, there were plenty of transactions. Twenty-four to be exact, the most since 2009-2010. Let’s take a look at the Central division and how each team fared and where the might be headed down the road as a result of deals that were made. For the purposes of this story, I combined all the deals that were made by each team as opposed to one by one. This includes trades conducted from Feb. 27-March 2.
Thoughts: If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it right? 101.8 five-on-five PDO notwithstanding, Nashville is having a tremendous season and saw no need to shake up the roster for the stretch run. A pretty balanced team all the way around, the Preds have proven in the past they can ride Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber to the playoffs. After that comes the hard part.
In: Zbynek Michalek (D), Conditional pick (from AZ), Robert Bortuzzo (D), 2016 seventh-round pick (from PIT), Olli Jokinen (C).
Out: Maxim Letunov (C), Jakim Lindstrom (C), conditional pick (to TOR).
Thoughts: The Blues got in on the Arizona firesale, landing Michalek for a midlevel prospect. Michalek is a 32-year-old UFA after this season, so this is the definition of a rental for a depth defenseman. He is coming off a concussion, so it will be interesting to see how long it takes him to get accustomed to St. Louis. The Blues are also buying low on Jokinen, who has fallen off a cliff since his somewhat productive seasons in Calgary. Hasn’t appeared in the playoffs since 2008-2009. Overall, the Blues added some depth without giving up much and sometimes that’s what it takes to make it through a long, seven-game Western Conference playoff series. The Central Division crown is also in sight.
In: Andrew Desjardins (C), Antoine Vermette (C), Kimmo Timonen (D)
Out: Ben Smith (RW), 2015 first-round pick, Klas Dahlbeck (D), 2015 second-round pick, 2016 conditional fourth-round pick.
Thoughts: The deadline deal was a typical "take a slumping player and deal him for another slumping player and see what sticks." This does little to change Chicago’s outlook. The deal for Vermette seemed like a panic button press after the Hawks discovered Patrick Kane would be out for most of the playoffs. In an NBA-type move, Chicago parted with their first round pick for a rotational piece that might help. I really don’t know if that was a smart move. The Hawks are also out of a second rounder in the Timonen trade.
In: Lee Stempniak (RW)
Out: Carl Klingberg (RW)
Thoughts: Stempniak is one of those players where if you judge him based on how he’s played against the Avalanche (24 points in 34 games), you’d think he’s big time. That said, this was a no brainer for the Jets. They gave up nothing to get a bottom-six forward that could slide around any line should injuries dictate. Klingberg has yet to pan out at the NHL level and I assume the Rangers just did this to clear cap space for the other deals they made. The Jets made their big move three weeks ago for Tyler Myers, and it seems to have been a good trade for them with six points in eight games.
In: Jordan Leopold (D), Jared Knight (C), Chris Stewart (RW)
Out: Justin Falk (D), 2015 fifth-round pick, Zack Phillips (C), 2017 second-round pick
Thoughts: http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2015/03/03/nhl-player-traded-closer-to-home-after-11-year-old-daughter-letter-goes-viral/ Awww well isn’t that nice. Heartwarming story aside, Leopold had 17 minutes of ice time in his debut last night, so it appears he’s going to get some ice time for a playoff contender. Same goes for Stewart, who has had a bit of a stop and start career and is now on his fourth team in five seasons. Last month’s trade for Devan Dubnyk was a home run. Minnesota is my pick to win the West, and a recent hot streak appears to have wrapped up a playoff spot.
In: Mattias Backman (D), Mattias Janmark (C), 2015 second-round pick
Out: Erik Cole (LW), 2015 conditional third-round pick
Thoughts: Cole was off to his best start since 2011-2012, but Dallas couldn’t stay in the playoff race, making him expendable. Getting a second round pick and two prospects is a pretty good haul for a 36-year-old. Dallas fans have to be happy with that as it looks to reshuffle its roster in the offseason for 2015-2016.
In: Freddie Hamilton (C), Mat Clark (D), Jordan Caron (RW), 2016 sixth-round pick
Out: Karl Stollery (D), Michael Sgarbossa (C), conditional 2015 seventh-round pick, Max Talbot (F), Paul Carey (F)
Thoughts: Well the good guys were busy on deadline day. MHH has done a great job breaking down all these deals so I’ll leave this short. I’m not a fan of the Sgbarossa trade. It feels like he should have made the breakthrough by now, but he is only 22 years old still and has that dreaded upside, character issues aside. Clark, 24, grades out as a bottom-pair defenseman — like we needed another one of those.
Nothing about the Central really changed: It’s still the best division in the league and its four qualifiers will be serious contenders to make a run deep into the playoffs. St. Louis, Chicago, Winnipeg and Minnesota each picked up decent players that will help for the grind of the second season. The Myers trade was the biggest move made in the division this year, and it’s the one paying the biggest dividends early on. Dallas and Colorado accomplished minor feats of letting older guys with an eye to next season.