"Can't you understand what's happening here? Don't you see what's happening? Potter isn't selling. Potter's buying! And why? Because we're panicky and he's not. That's why. He's pickin' up some bargain. Now, we can get through this thing all right. We've, we've got to stick together, though. We've got to have faith in each other." -From "Its a Wonderful Life"
Every trade deadline is a little different than the ones before it. Every year we say that.
This trade deadline took the other deadlines and put them out to pasture. This was a new paradigm on many levels. This was a deadline without key star players but a deadline where MANY more players changed teams. This was a deadline that saw almost every major move take place before the major networks in Canada started their coverage.
This was a deadline with two fronts. A deadline of extremes.
Winning the Battle...
The Eastern Conference is anyone's game and in the West there are at least 6 teams who could argue they are the best team in the NHL. Because of the closeness of competition we saw some teams "going for it" and sacrificing the future (or at least part of the future) to get the slightest of edges.
Winning the War...
On the other side of the aisle sit more teams than I can ever remember who feel they are out of it and are willing to rebuild. Those teams went for draft picks, even if they may technically still have a shot at a playoff run... They approached the deadline as sellers, but honestly, just like Old Man Potter in the quote from the Christmas Movie...the were really buying. Buying futures away from teams who needed this.
20 Teams Who Showed They Want to Win the Battle...
8 Teams Who Showed They Want to Win the War
Only 2 Teams in the Middle...
Ottawa is hot right now, and rightfully did nothing at all....
Only Florida did some buying AND selling. Picking up Jagr for short term, while moving Fleischman and Bergenheim for long term.
In general we probably have about 10-15 teams who are "going for it" 5-10 teams in the middle and 5-10 teams out of it.
So when you look at "Who are the winners and losers?" of a Trade Deadline there are several ways to go. To say a team which compiled draft picks is a "winner" is somewhat iffy until those picks have been made and we see how they develop.
To call a team who added a significant player to their roster for the playoffs also takes time to determine of course....and what is "winning" for those teams? Only 1 of the 19 will win a Stanley Cup after all. Although you could argue a team making the playoffs or winning a round or two could justify the cost.
In today's Blog I will be looking at the teams who I think set themselves up best to WIN NOW...aka Winning the Battle. Tomorrow I will talk about the teams I feel did their best to "Win the War."
#1 Chicago: Upside: Hard to argue when they got two top players in Vermette and Timonen...In my opinion they got the top rental forward and the top rental D-man. Timonen is a question mark, but heaving seen him practice and knowing him as I do...I would cash those chips. It remains to be seen if it's enough to get by Nashville and St. Louis before they get Kane back....but if they do look out. They are all in. Possible Pitfall:
Ben Smith is a character player, and losing first and second rounders is tough (especially the second 3rd/2nd for Timonen) but the Hawks have enough depth to field a second NHL team it appears.
Upside: If you were to judge GMs over the past three years Bergevin might be at the top. He makes savvy smart deals and has no lacking in the guts department. In a league with too many GMs afraid to make bold moves, Bergevin makes them effortlessly...and in front of one of the most harshly judging fan bases in sports. Smith-Pelly and Petry fill VERY specific needs on and off the ice.
Downside: Not getting Neuvirth out of Buffalo. Let's face facts the Canadiens are incredibly dependent on the health of Carey Price. If they lose him in the playoffs it could cost them a trip to the Cup Final....AND THIS IS NOT EVEN HYPOOTHETICAL. They lived this scenario a few months ago.
#3. Los Angeles: Upside: For the third straight year Lombardi saw a need and filled it. Sekera was the best player for them...safer than Kimmo Timonen because this team doesn't have the depth to take a shot at Kimmo like Chicago does. Downside: They are still going to have cap issues this summer. They didn't move anyone out and if they don't win it all that will be a "Hindsight is 20/20" type of moment. But the Kings are going to be favorites in EVERY playoff series they play in until someone can off them. No matter where they end up in the standings....So why wouldn't you go for it?
#4 The NY Islanders: Upside: They picked up Michal Neuvirth as insurance in case Halak goes down and added Tyler Kennedy who has plenty of playoff experience and is extremely versatile....and they didn't mess with chemistry or trade anyone of significance. Downside: They might have looked to grab a shutdown tougher D-man with playoff experience. A player like Nik Grossmann would have been helpful.
#5. Anaheim Upside: It took until the final minute, but the Ducks turned out to be winners and tinkered quite a bit for a team leading it's division. The Ducks have had issues on defense all year and picking up THREE new D-men in Wisniewski, Despres, and Holzer was BOLD to say the least. Tomas Fleischman also gives them some experience and grit up front. And Boudreau had him in Washington and trusts him. And the one thing I look at when I see Wisniewski is the Ducks added a D-man to help them beat LA. He will really be huge against LA. Downside:
Not sure I would have traded Lovejoy for Despres. Lovejoy has been VERY strong against LA and I am not the biggest fan of Despres...but I could be wrong. They also gave up WAY too much to get Fleischman in my opinion. Even after they brought the contract down to 3.5 I can't imagine any other team would have paid this much for him. That is a DEFINITE All-in move. It will either pay off huge or go down a blaze of glory.
#6 Nashville. Upside: Once again "mild-mannered David Poile" took off his glasses and became Superman by grabbing Franson and Santorelli. Both players add great depth and both came through Nashville before so the chemistry of the team shouldn't suffer. This team is primed. Downside: If the Preds had grabbed a backup with playoff experience, like Neuvirth, they would have been #1 or #2 for me. This is such a solid defensive team and they can win a Stanley Cup with Rinne or without him if they get someone to play really well in pressure spots. I am a big Carter Hutton fan! Please don't take this as I am not. In time Hutton could be that guy for sure, but if I am the Preds, with a shot at a President's trophy, and a big open window in front of you I need more assurance in goal should something go wrong. I just do.
#7 The NY Rangers Upside: Keith Yandle makes them a much better team THIS year and a side-effect of it all was they got Zuccarello signed long term which is equally important. They need a healthy Lundqvist, but assuming he is healthy they have given themselves a serious shot at another trip to the Final. Downside:They gave up a ton moving forward and they aren't as stacked as Chicago to do so...
What's the BUZZ?
*Who do you think best set themselves up short term and long term?
My blogs for the rest of the week will focus on the aftermath of the deadline.
Tomorrow: I will discuss the biggest winners long term
Thursday: I will rank the top ten moves at the deadline.
Friday: "What Could Have Been?" I will discuss the deals that I heard "almost happened, but didn't.'
Today on the Hockey Buzzcast at 1pm we will discuss all this and much, much more.
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