If there’s anything more prone to producing hysteria and hysterical behavior in the hockey universe than the humongous big trade deadline, I’ve never seen it. This is the time of year when my follow list and the blogs I read have the most turnover. Why?

Well, you get things like this:

Just thinking out loud, the Kings trade Bernier+ for Iginla. Turn around and then trade Kiprusoff to the Leafs for Joe Colborne+? #NHL
@bMacdonald8
Brandon Macdonald

That get taken seriously, grow legs, and inspire flame wars and silly amounts of swagger.

That’s the part most people hate.

For me, it is amusing. But, the really fun part is finding out what people know about the systems of various teams, and of course what general managers think of various players and prospects in their systems.

Dean Lombardi of the LA Kings:

I don’t think that’s feasible at all right now.

of trading backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier back in January, and hasn’t changed his tune at all as of this week.

Or his Boston counter part Peter Chiarelli on a 19 year old prospect:

I’m not trading Malcolm Subban

Which when you consider how rarely Chiarelli, a former lawyer, makes definitive statements, this is a landmark statement. If he does go ahead and trade Subban, players who are told “we won’t trade you” but we can’t give you a NTC are going to have their entire world into question, but that’s not the point of this post. We now know for sure, that Subban looms large in Bruins plans, and arguably is the top prospect in the minds of the Bruins front office. Lombardi has effectively said the same thing.

With Doug Wilson of the San Jose Sharks saying it is “very doubtful” he’d seek a rental player, you have to wonder if the time for an earth shattering kaboom in San Jose.

That’s why even more than the draft, or the Cup finals, or even the ever disappointing July first free agency kickoff, I love the trade deadline.

The Avalanche are in the midst of yet another signing saga. At present they’ve spent the past eight months holding their leading faceoff man and leading scorer from last season by the choke chain known as “RFA status”. The other marks in O’Reilly’s favor are nothing to sneer at. He had two overtime tallies, led the team in assists, won 53% of his faceoffs, potted four powerplay goals, played in all situations and generally contributed to the teams success.

The level of the teams success sheds a different light on his accomplishments, so does the fact that it was his third season and one where he more than doubled his career  assist and points totals on a team that finished 20th in the NHL. Anyone who doesn’t see the potential for steady growth for the 22 year old 200lb center is probably convinced we’ve seen the best from Taylor Hall and John Tavares. I don’t think anyone puts the ceiling for O’Reilly quite that high, but the chance for growth is coupled with one regression as well. He could just as easily turn into a half hundred other forwards like Peter Schaefer who got some ice time, got lucky and then fell apart when he had to repeat it.

If the Avalanche are determined not to give into his teams demands, where else he could land is a matter of finding a GM who sees O’Reilly continuing to get better, and has the assets and the inclination to go after him. Kent Wilson of FlamesNation thinks the Calgary brass must make a play for him. While it is unarguable that the Flames are a bit cool at the pivot position, what they have to offer up isn’t much. The Flames farm system is rated 23rd best in the entire league. Would a package of Jankowski, Seiloff and a 2nd round pick do the trick? And would that package actually be good for either team?

The Florida Panthers are currently underwater on faceoff win percentage, 23rd in the NHL in goals, and almost as poorly off in the east as the Avalanche are in the west. It’s highly unlikely any talks around the Panthers actually include Jonathan Huberdeau since the rookie is currently leading the team in goals, but perhaps Kris Versteeg is due for his sixth jersey since draft day and draft pick or two could accompany him back to the western conference. O’Reilly and Huberdeau could arguably be the best 1-2 punch at center in the Southeast division in a couple years.

Assuming Washington wants to make a shakeup, and they probably should, Backstrom and O’Reilly as a the moving points of the offense for the Capitals could actually get the team out of the lottery even before the seasons end, like Backstrom who Ovechkin has played longest and best with, O’Reilly is a left handed shot. Going back could be any number of pieces, ideally Carlson, although that would prove what just about everyone should suspect about McPhee, but Yevgeni Kuznetsov is a very attractive piece, if they can woo him across the pond, in some combination with Tom Wilson, Filip Forsberg and or picks should seal the deal.

It’d be nice to include the Wild in this list but there problem isn’t talent on the ice. The system in Nashville prevents offensive stars, and I don’t see the new GM in Columbus looking to take on a big contract for someone who seems likely to want to wrangle over it ever time. There are other teams who might make a move to juice their line up, but the Panthers, Flames, and Washington top the list of teams O’Reilly, at the right price makes sense for.

The NHL Entry Draft is perhaps the most exciting day on the NHL schedule. July 1st as the start of Free Agency is fun, but not as good. The trade deadline is probably third, after opening day. The trades are just one of the things that make the day fun.

The New York Islanders made a savvy pickup relieving the Anaheim Ducks of Lubomir Visnovsky. The soon to be 36 year old is on the last year of his contract and will likely be in the dual roll of top defensemen and mentor to the young blueliners. Calvin de Hann will undoubtedly benefit from Visnovsky’s nearly 800 games of NHL experience, this years first round pick Reinhart may get some time riding shotgun as may Scott Mayfield. The Islanders gave up a 2nd round pick in next years draft

The Pittsburgh Penguins sent Zbynek Michalek to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Harrison Ruopp, Marc Cheverie and pick #81 (3rd round). This was the second trade of the night for the Penguins.

In the biggest trade of the day, the worlds best 3rd center Jordan Staal was relieved of that title and an address in Pittsburgh area. Instead he’ll be playing with elder brother and fellow Stanley Cup champion Eric Staal. There are a number of possibilities for how Jordan and Eric are deployed separately and together. Going back tot he steel city are, Brandon Sutter, this years 8th pick Derrick Pouliot, and Boston College alumni Brian Dumoulin. This is a win, win bigger trade. The Hurricanes overpaid, but got a player who wants to be there, will have chemistry with at least one other player, and yes is very highly talented.

The Washington Capitals grabbed Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars for Cody Eakin and the 54th pick. That second round pick will be deployed sometime saturday morning. This is a curious move for the Capitals who have had one or two questions about their commitment and character and Mike Ribeiro is well, Mike Ribeiro. On the other hand I not only haven’t figured out what method George Mcfee is using to shape the team, I haven’t figured out how he’s still employed.

Change and unequal cycles of it are a constant in the NHL. The vogue for over a decade was to draft goalies in the first round, sometimes even very high or first overall. Drafting for need is now frowned upon. And in the last decade we’ve not seen more than two or three major trades. But that trend was almost certainly broken when Ilya Kovalchuk went north.

Since last summer two of the major names from “the golden draft” were traded by one team. One of them was traded a second time. Now the rumor mill is swirling around names from border to border and coast to coast. Jay Bouwmeester is one of the best (and most misused) defensemen in the NHL. There are four defensemen who I’ll accept flat statements of defensemen being better than him, and another four or five who with a different tool set are as good, no more. He’s likely the odd man out on the Calgary Flames roster.

The Nashville Predators have not traditionally been big spenders. A year ago they went to arbitration with one of the best defensemen in the game. This year if they don’t sign him long term it is quite likely he’ll disappear over the horizon next summer. On top of the very real possibility of losing this year’s (and last year’s) rightful Norris trophy winner Shea Weber, their other franchise quality defenseman has decided to test the free agent market. If the Predators can’t find a way to keep both they may just decide a radical rebuild is in order and trade their captain while they can still get something for him instead of letting him walk as a free agent for no return. Without Weber and Suter the Predators would be lucky to win 20 games, and that’s with Renne stealing at least six or seven. With one of them if they manage to get some help up front and a passable replacement they arguably have the balance to go far.

Jordan Staal has more rumors swirling around him than a Hollywood starlet the morning after an serious bender. Most of them are Hurricane shaped rumors. But given the 23 year old stars prowess, even the denial of his availability by Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Ray Shero probably won’t do much to dampen the rumors. As long as those rumors persist, the 30 goal scoring “defensive forward” is going to generate a lot of attention. If there are two teams in the NHL that don’t at least kick the idea of adding him to their roster around their warroom, I’d be saddened greatly.

With all the excitement around the fresh chum in the water its almost possible to forget the #Ranson4Rick saga is entering its sixth or seventh month. Rick Nash is unarguably a high end talent who had the misfortune of being drafted by a team with nearly a thimble full of clue. Some might say he’s been stewing in organizational failure so long he’s never going to have that extra juice to be successful in the playoffs he’s seen exactly once in nine seasons. Depending on who you disbelieve least, the rumors have him going anywhere and everywhere including the San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, and a couple of basement dwellers not much better than the Blue Jackets.

 There are conflicting reports on the truth of Evander Kane refusing to sign in Winnipeg, but honestly how many rugged, physical, 30 goal scoring 20 year olds come across the trade market? On a sign and trade there’s no conceivable way he’d fetch less than two first round picks or a pick and player. A team like the Los Angeles Kings who may lose some bodies to free agency could certainly slide him into the mix and improve themselves. The Anahiem Ducks would likewise become a much more formidable opponent. As for the Phoenix Coyotes with the aging core that they have been built around, a youngster who has a similar rugged playing style to Captain Shane Doan and more offense isn’t a bad way to pass the torch. If the ownership situation is resolved there I’d be shocked if there were no major moves in the first few months.

So is this the summer scribes across the continent get to write about things that have or are happening? Will we see more posts on how lineups project and a reordering of the standings than on fighting or contracts that are too long? Maybe just maybe the hockey media will stick to hockey and not TMZ like personal life stories of players? Could we get a trade or two that redefines the next decade of hockey? Please??

What is Jordan Staal worth on the open market? Simply put, a lot. After Parise he’s potentially the most impactful forward on the market. As far as players under contract if he is moved this summer he is the most desirable player likely to become available. Because of his playoff success, offensive ability, and defensive prowess  there is a lot to like. Two important things to remember, without a no trade or no movement clause Staal doesn’t have a say in where he goes, and second if whoever picks him up doesn’t convince him to stay he’ll only be there a year.

Using the Kessel trade as a low end value, two first round picks or (or high end prospects) and one second round pick as the return isn’t really beyond the ability of any team to spend. Assuming there’s no extension and trade deal worked out between the clubs let’s take a look at who is most in need of him first.

Because of his defensive ability and offensive potential, the first team to step up for him in the western conference should be:

The Minnesota Wild. Mikko Koivu is one of the ten or so most underrated players in the league and carries the burdens of captain, defensive and offensive leaders on a team that has struggled since it it was founded. Adding Staal as the second top two center allows the team to retain it’s identity as a defensive first team, and both lower the burden on Koivu shorthanded and increase the teams five on five strength. A return of Coyle, a 1st round pick and second is reasonable, although if the Penguins are looking at a backup goaltender Matthew Hackett might end up in the mix.

Staying in the west, two teams that are young and strong but  would likely want as much in the way of offense out of Staal as defense are:

The St Louis Blues and Dallas Star, Pietrangelo and Backes highlight the first, while Benn and Eriksson lead the latter. The two teams finished back to back in the low twenties in offense this season. Adding Staal’s offensive production over anyone internal gives either team the chance to level up. For the Blues who have to be considered to be in “win now” mode given their high finish, he’s got the potential to put them over the top. For the Star’s, he represents the difference between breaking up in mid April and having to worry about arena availability through at least one round of the playoffs.

The biggest question for either team is what is ownership willing and able to spend to keep him long term.

Staying in the Central, one of the NHL’s longest snipe hunts might be concluded if this team were to pickup on Staal:

The Columbus Blue Jackets might just find the center to compliment Rick Nash. With Johnson and Wisniewski to patrol the blueline, and Nash, Staal, and Umberger up front all that’s needed to get out of the lottery is an average performance in net to lift the team out of the lottery. Arguably it could be done with the goaltending they’ve gotten if you factor in Staal’s penalty kill prowess. Having taken on Carter and then Johnson’s contracts after signing Wisniewski’s it’s doubtful they’d be unwilling to sign Staal long term if he decided he liked the move about three hours drive west of his current team. There isn’t a great deal on the Jackets roster that could be traded out that is something the Penguins would need currently, so straight draft picks are most likely.

Coming up a look at the eastern conference possibilities.

Some teams you just can’t tell how the moves will work out. In some cases it is because the player is inexperienced, or going from a really good team to a bottom feeder and the adjust might period might be rocky. In some cases it is a question of the player fitting the system. In still others the chemistry of players left behind can be damaged.

The Vancouver Canucks took a big, big gamble on deadline day. Not only did they give up skill and experience. Zach Kassians physicality is a huge element to add to the team. Marc Andre Grangnani is also a skilled defenseman I’m pretty high on. But Cody Hodgson is not just skilled, he’s canny. He’s displayed the ability to be a game changer. Alexander Sultzer is a more defensive minded defenseman than Gragnani as well. The relative skill difference doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the age and attitude differences. Sultzer is 27 and broke into the NHL in 2008-9, Kassian just turned 21, and Gragnani is 24. While Sultzer didn’t play a huge role for the Canucks, I’m curious as to how the Sedins, Salo, Bieksa and the other older players are going to deal with being told, implicitly or explicitly, that they need to take their emotional cues from guys that young who have never even seen a conference final in Gragnani’s case or a single NHL playoff game in Kassian’s.

Even more you have to wonder if, should the team make it that far, if Kassian will have enough skill to be impacting on the ice or if he’ll just be setting things up for other players to take lumps for him. We saw last year in their series against the Bruins and in the earlier rounds that the bulk of this roster is not able to play ferociously and focused at the same time. I’m not sure Bitz and Kassian can impart that trick to the rest of the roster and shaking up a teams identity is rarely a good thing unless it is changed entirely from the top down.

The Winnipeg Jets didn’t do much. This is probably for the best given some of the prices we saw and that were reported. They did pick up defensemen Grant Clitsome (@GClitsome) off waivers and then shipped out Johnny Oduya to Chicago for two draft picks. They are still a bubble team and entered Monday’s play in 8th place, but given how desperate Claude Noel was for offensive help, its curious that there wasn’t even a token trade. A team that’s been as erratic as this one has could have used the vote of confidence implied by bringing in a little help, as it is they essentially stood still. This might rally the dressing room or deflate it.

The Boston Bruins gambled and gambled big. Their biggest question marks are offensive production and forward depth. Adding Greg Zanon, Brian Rolston and Mike Mottau does little to address that. With Rich Peverley out with a knee injury, Nathan Horton not even skating yet with his second concussion in a year, and now Boychuk out they added no one who has displayed an offensive gift of late. Mike Mattau hasn’t scored a regular season NHL goal since March 13th 2010. Since breaking into the NHL Greg Zanon has never had more than four goals in his seven seasons of NHL play. Brian Rolston is not the player some Bruins fans remember, not only has his shooting percentage dropped every year since 2004, he only hasn’t broken 40 points since the 07-08.

Tampa Bay Lightning had an interesting two or three weeks heading up to the deadline.  Steve Downie was packed off, as was Dominic Moore, Aulie, Lee, a second round pick and a 1st round pick were the major fruits of the trades. Neither Aulie nor Lee have managed to be impacting players to date in their careers. The two picks are from teams who will almost certainly be in the playoffs meaning they first can’t be any higher than 17th and the 2nd will at best be 47th. Given the deficiencies of the defense and goaltending this season that seems an odd way to address them even if you lay the blame at the feet of injuries to key players and father time catching up with Roloson.

The Minnesota Wild rolled the dice by trying to add by substitution. Bringing in Steve Kampfer for Greg Zanon is a clear attempt to get younger and better offensively. Erik Christensen coming over from the New York Rangers earlier in the year was also a clear attempt to add offense. Gilbert for Shultz was again a swap up in offense. The problem with all of these trades is that the total goal difference is probably on the order of 7-8 goals a year. That is unlikely to be what separates a tenth place finish from a sixth or third place finish. If they had ten more goals to date this season it would move them from 29th in goals for to 27th, hardly inspiring. These may prove to be helpful moves, but you have to wonder how long even “The State of Hockey” will put up with a mediocre team that can’t score and doesn’t often stand up for itself.

New York Islanders traded Brian Rolston and Mike Mottau for Yannick Riendeau and Marc Cantin of the Boston Bruins organization. Rolston is 39 with a shot that has concussed two different goalies. Mottau is a defenseman who won the Hobey Backer in 2000.Both have Massachusetts ties as Mottau is a Quincy native, and Rolston wore the spoked B for a couple years.

No Rick Nash trade as I suspected.

Most interesting trade of the day is Toronto Maple Leafs swiping Carter Ashton from the  Tampa Bay Lightning  for defenseman Keith Aulie. Aulie was part of the Phanuef deal and well regarded until the Toronto organization soured very quickly on him Carter Ashton was a or possibly the top offensive prospect of the Tampa Bay Lightning playing in the AHL.

The Chicago BlackHawks upgraded their defense by shipping out John Scott for a New York Rangers 5th round pick. They brought in Johnny Oduya from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a 2nd and 3rd round pick .

The Minnesota Wild have shipped off Greg Zanon to Boston for Steve Kampfer (@SteveKampfer47)  a younger defenseman with a good shot and good stride. Zanon is a UFA July 1, Kampfer has one more year left on his deal.

Buffalo Sabres also shipped out Paul Gaustad and a 4th round pick to the Nashville Predators for a 1st round pick. Very interesting. looks like the Predators are going for the biggest prize.

Zack Kassian of the Sabres also shipped to Vancouver for Cody Hodgson. (This one may be bigger, conflicting reports.)

 

 

Sources TSN, NHL.Com, Sportsnet Canada, and anyone retweeted on twitter.

 

Trades are often a hard thing to gauge, but some just make more sense than others. Going back over the last few weeks there are some teams who have addressed their needs.

Philadelphia Flyers.

Probably the biggest winners thus far. With all the injuries to the team this season, and all the question marks about this mad science experiment they went out early and addressed the sieve that has been their blueline thanks in large part to the injury to Chris Pronger. Neither Grossman nor Kubina can replace what Pronger does, but they are on the ice and each brings an element to strengthen the team.

Los Angeles Kings

They dealt from a position of strength in moving a defensemen who is talented, but not living up to their (possibly misplaced) expectations and getting a player who enhances what they have and addresses a need. Jeff Carter for all the concerns some have over possible partying is at least a part of the solution.

Montreal Canadiens

The train wreck of a season that has happened to the organization the last few weeks have had some benefits. Hal Gill was moved for a couple well regarded prospects and a second round pick. Andrei Kostitsyn was moved out for a 2nd round pick and a 5th rounder. Gill’s movement left room to further evaluate the young players, by moving Kostitsyn they dump a distraction and disappointment for further picks, and if needed for trades later today more cap space.

New Jersey Devils

If the Flyers aren’t the biggest winners n the NHL so far, it has to be the Devils. They got a mobile top 4 defenseman who wants to be there. They got Alex Ponikarovski back on January 21st and all he’s done is pot 11 points in 15 games. Between the two the Devils have managed to pitchfork teams out of the way as they’ve climbed up the standings. On January 20th before acquiring Ponikarovski they were up on 8th place by just 2 points with equal games played, today they are 6 points up on the eight spot with three games in hand on 7 & 8 and two on 9.

Watching the media is frequently dismaying, you can always be sure that the only peoples words who mean exactly what they they say they mean are the media themselves. Everyone else no matter how simple, transparent or obvious what they’ve said is has their words twisted twelve thousand ways. This makes it so much fun to watch people play the media. Some times it is players, general managers and coaches Allan Walsh (@Walsha) has a reputation for using social media and the press in pursuit of his clients benefit.

Dean Lombardi may have just won the media manipulation award for the year. After picking up one part of Party Inc from Philadelphia over the summer the world was treated to a barrage of “dry island” stories. They went on and on. The fact that the other half of Party Inc went to another city was seen or at least spun as indicative of how bad they were in the locker room. Of course these story’s only got attention after the trades, so one has to wonder how much was Philly management directing attention where they wanted it.

This week when Lombardi staged the biggest on ice reunion of the season by adding Jeff Carter to the LA Kings to go along with Mike Richards and the rest I’m sure several thousand rehashes of the dry island stories were two thirds written before the paperwork was dry in the NHL offices. Then an odd thing happened. A well liked, well respected, player who’s averaged 27 goals over the last four seasons, plays physically and is engaged in the community was heavily rumored to be available. This happened quite quickly after they acquired someone to help their 30th rank offense. In the same trade they gave up a former 1st round pick, and a first round selection. Somehow things got focused on this trade potential.

For several hours Dustin Brown (@DustinBrown23) became the most interesting man in the universe. No one was talking about Rick Nash and why the Kings settled for Carter or didn’t get both. No one was talking about dry island. No one was talking about the Kings residing in 10th place with less regulation or overtime wins than anyone but the Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers, or Columbus Blue Jackets. By some strange coincidence no one managed to get any attention for pointing out Jeff Carter’s having been just slightly healthier than Simon Gagne this year.  But hey, its not like the media is easily led or will take whatever easy story falls in their laps.