Unlike recent seasons, the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline extravaganza seemed to end the last two weeks’ worth of trades with a whimper rather than a bang. In total, 16 trades were consummated on Monday, a significant dropoff from the 31 trades that were completed on the 2010 deadline day. One significant reason may be that NHL GMs are finally realizing that Stanley Cups aren’t won and lost by making the biggest splash on deadline day. Time and time again, the numbers prove that a third-line rental player is simply not worth a second-round pick, so sometimes the big winners on trade deadline day are the teams that simply stand pat.
Now that we have witnessed the last trades of the season, there will be a significant dropoff of the blog entries that I will make. The flurry of trades prior to the deadline made for an exciting last week and a half, I’ll say that much.
Brad Boyes to Buffalo
Boyes’ days in St. Louis seemed to be numbered after the Blues swiped traded for Chris Stewart from the Colorado Avalanche. Boyes is the first acquisition for the Sabres under the team’s new ownership, which seems more committed to spending the money needed than the previous regime. According to the Buffalo News, Boyes will play on a line with Tim Connolly and Tyler Ennis, a line that appears to be the equivalent of a second line. Jason Pominville will be bumped down to the third line with hat trick specialist Drew Stafford residing on the top line. Don’t be surprised if Sabres coach Lindy Ruff tries Boyes at center, as he also has the ability to win a few faceoffs and since the Sabres are without Derek Roy for the season. All in all, Boyes has more to gain in Buffalo than he would have in St. Louis.
Dennis Wideman to Washington
At first, the Capitals’ acquisition of Wideman seemed to be odd, considering that the Caps already have offensive-minded d-men Mike Green and John Carlson in the fold. However, according to the Sporting News, Green’s availability for the next couple weeks, not to mention the rest of the season, seems to be in doubt because of his second head injury in two weeks. As I mentioned in my previous entry, Wideman was a prime candidate to be dealt with the current “everything must go except for Marty Reasoner” sale in Florida. Wideman should improve his (-26) immediately playing for the Caps, and he will no doubt benefit from moving to the 29th-ranked power play to the 25th-ranked power play (no, that’s not a typo). I’m stating the obvious here, but Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom represent a significant upgrade from Stephen Weiss and David Booth. As I also mentioned in the previous entry, the trades of Wideman and Bryan McCabe will mean that Dmitry Kulikov should benefit with major minutes on the Panthers’ anemic power play, so don’t be afraid to take a flyer on him here on out.
On a side note, I think the two biggest winners on deadline day (at least for teams that participated) were Washington and Florida. By acquiring Wideman, Jason Arnott, and Marco Sturm, the Capitals should now be back in the discussion for top Eastern Conference contenders along with Philadelphia, Boston, Tampa Bay, and perhaps Pittsburgh. On the other hand, give Panthers GM Dale Tallon credit for recognizing that the group that he inherited last summer wasn’t going to be a playoff contender. By stripping down the Panthers after years of 18th-place finishes, he is positioning his team to draft elite prospects over the next few years. The more important question for the Panthers is will the fans show the patience of Job, like the faithful in more stable hockey markets like Edmonton and Toronto?
Jason Arnott (and Marco Sturm) to Washington
In acquiring Arnott in a trade and Sturm off waivers, the Capitals have upgraded their secondary scoring to make up for the drop-offs in production from the likes of elite scorers Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Alexander Semin. After all, isn’t it puzzling that the Capitals currently hold the league’s 20th-ranked offense at this point in the season? According to the Washington Post, the two new forwards will form two-thirds of a new second line along with Semin. Either Brooks Laich or Mike Knuble, who have also experienced drop-offs in production, will move down to the third line, so keep an eye on their situation if you own either player. Back in Jersey, Patrik Elias has moved back to center on a line with Brian Rolston and Dainius Zubrus. Don’t be surprised if Nick Palmieri appears on the top of your waiver-wire add list soon, as he has been bumped up to the top line alongside a red-hot Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac (Bergen Record).
Dustin Penner to Los Angeles
Has there been a player in Edmonton in recent seasons who has been panned more than Penner? At least the Oilers were able to salvage a 30-goal season out of Penner and his overpriced offer sheet once Craig MacTavish was axed as coach. Playing for the playoff contending Kings, Penner should immediately improve on his (-12). Expect the Kings to ride the 6’4”, 245 lb. Penner plenty down the stretch as the Kings jockey for position alongside sizable Pacific Division foes like San Jose and Anaheim. Penner’s acquisition should also mean that the Kings have officially given up on Alexei Ponikarovsky, who has a mere two points over the last two months after being one of last year’s most sought-after trade deadline acquisitions. Just because the Oilers are out of playoff contention doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t find fantasy value up north. According to 630 CHED, Magnus Paajarvi will move up to line 1A alongside Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, which will no doubt increase the rookie’s average of 14 minutes per game.
By the way, do you want to see how an actual NHL trade call goes down? Check out this video from NHL.com showing the Penner trade call.
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