2010 was a unique trade deadline season. The Olympic roster freeze effectively created two trade deadlines; one before the roster freeze, and the official NHL trade deadline, which was yesterday at 3pm. When picking winners and losers, let’s look at the entire trade season, and not just yesterday’s moves.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils acquired the best free agent on the market in Ilya Kovalchuk, making them true competitors in the East. They now have the legitimate scoring threat that can compete with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. With Martin Brodeur in net, the team can go far in the playoffs.
Phoenix Coyotes: Don Maloney sure was busy yesterday. The ‘Yotes picked up Alex Picard, Lee Stempniak, Mathieu Schneider, Derek Morris, and Wojtek Wolski. Leaving Phoenix are Peter Mueller, Kevin Porter, Matt Jones, and more than a few draft picks. Phoenix significantly upgraded their roster, and are going to make a serious push, not just for the playoffs, but for playoff success. Well done Maloney.
Washington Capitals: The Capitals picked up Eric Belanger, Joe Corvo, and reacquired Milan Jurcina. The Corvo and Jurcina additions significantly upgrades the Washington defense, which wasn’t exactly bad to begin with. The pickups also ensure that the Caps will not have to rely significantly on rookie John Carlsson.
New York Rangers: No, I’m not being biased. The Rangers did two things right here: they upgraded their roster, and did not overpay for any rentals. The Rangers acquired Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust for Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins. In doing so, the Rangers upgraded the depth at center and got tougher, while trading away spare parts and a bad contract. By not making any moves yesterday, the Rangers avoided overpaying for rentals to barely make the playoffs. Sometimes the best move you make is the move you DON’T make.
Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins added significant scoring depth and size with Alexei Ponikarovsky, and upgraded their defense with Jordan Leopold. The price was steep in Luca Caputi, but the Penguins are now deep enough to compete with the Caps after the moves they made.
Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers made some minor moves at the Olympics, but none at the deadline. With Ray Emery out for the season, the Flyers needed to shore up their goaltending situation, and did not do so.
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks need goal scoring help, and bad. So they acquired Lubomir Visnovsky? I don’t know.
Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens are, in short, a mess. Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak are RFAs, and only one will be in Montreal next year. Yet, neither was dealt. As for next year, the Habs have just 12 players on roster, and over $43 million committed to those players. How they get out of that mess is beyond me. Yesterday would have been a good start if they were looking to dump some salary.
New York Islanders: The Islanders are not going to make the playoffs, and had several role players with expiring contracts that other teams could have been interested in. Only Andy Sutton was dealt. Meanwhile, Marty Biron and Doug Weight, who could have fetched a decent return, remain on Long Island.
Overall, the trading season was the most active in NHL history, with 30 trades going down yesterday alone. Big names changed cities, and role players were brought in to shore up depth. The race for the postseason is officially underway.