February 27, 2008

NHL Trade Deadline ‘08

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

I will give the NHL credit where it is due, which is not in many areas, but their trade deadline is probably the second most exciting in the sports world. Major League Baseball is first because there are a lot more buyers and sellers than in hockey, due to the retarded amount of parity combined with an even dumber point system and playoff structure.

Some big names even moved, but unless you actually follow this dying sport closely, you may not recognize who the top performers are.

Brian Campbell, a good puck-moving defenceman was traded to the San Jose Sharks for a prospect and a first-round pick. He’s due to become a free agent after this season and demand something bigger than the $18-million, three year extension that Buffalo offered him. He is sure to crumble under the pressure of that deal, pretty much ensuring he’ll get a no-trade clause and piss off a team for quite some time.

Marian Hossa, another “rental” player was dealt to the Penguins who look like a surefire cup contender. Boasting Hossa, Crosby and Malkin up front, they could score at will if they mesh. There’s still that pesky problem of defence and goaltending that aren’t exactly top-notch in Pittsburgh. Atlanta got some good young kids back in the deal but are halfway between the Southeast crown and the top of the lottery — which isn’t very far apart.

Brad Richards, who earned a big deal from Tampa Bay after winning the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP on their Cup run, was sent packing along with mediocre goalie Johan Holmqvist to Dallas for Mike Smith, a second-line centre at best (Jeff Halpern) and shootout specialist Jussi Jokinen. This looks and smells like a salary dump with the Lightning out of the running. It makes sense after inking Dan Boyle to his big extension.

The Wild traded for crazy Chris Simon. Why? Who knows…

The Montreal Canadiens — fifth in the East, three points out of first — dealt away their starting goaltender for a second round pick. That was their only move. I would completely understand this had they swung another deal for a new goalie, but now they’re left with rookie Carey Price to carry the majority of the workload. This sounds almost as dumb as something Toronto would do.

Speaking of the Maple Leafs, they dealt away three of their mediocre players for four mediocre picks. That’s a great way to rebuild guys. They’re just good enough to sneak into ninth place still, ruining their shot at a good pick. Also, considering how awful the Leafs are at drafting, were these moves really that smart?

Now with the stretch run at hand, I can safely go back to hardly caring until the playoffs start or some goon does something stupid a la Todd Bertuzzi.

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