Analyzing the offseason trades


Since free agency has begun, there have been some blockbuster trades made around the league that have the potential to drastically change not only the league, but specifically the Metropolitan Division.

Shifts in teams are commonplace, and some of the trades were foreseen due mostly to cap space, but some of these will undoubtedly ensure the Rangers have some preparation to do during training camp. The trades of Phil Kessel, Brandon Saad, TJ Oshie, and, last night, Patrick Sharp are all NHL-News-Alert-on-your-phone worthy. The first three are now menacing the Metro and will be familiar foes against the Rangers come October.

Saad was traded from Chicago to Columbus on June 30 for Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano and two prospects. Saad, who was third on the team in playoff scoring (8-3-11, ranking only behind the Hawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane) was considered, at 22 years old, to be a key piece of the future of the Hawks. He was a pending RFA and, with three seasons and two Cups under his belt, was looking for a long term deal.

So what’ll Saad bring to Columbus? He’ll most certainly make that cannon more active, but aside from that, he plays with a work ethic that borders on desperation, except that he doesn’t let it cloud his judgment. He plays much older than his age. He’s a big body (6’1, 202) who goes all out to make the play. He tallied 52 points last year and, shortly after the trade, signed a six year, $64M extension with Columbus. Short of something happening, he looks to be a thorn in the Rangers side as far as we can see.

There’s no question that cap space was the reason for Saad’s departure, despite the forward openly saying he would take a hometown discount to stay with the winning team. The threat of an offer sheet, along with the two sides not coming close to a deal, proved to be opportunistic for the Blue Jackets.

The next day, Toronto traded elusive winger Phil Kessel (plus, including Tim Erixon who has been around the past couple of years) to Pittsburgh for two prospects and two picks… oh and the Leafs will eat 15% of Kessel’s cap hit over the remainder of his contract, which ends in 2022. It wasn’t Kessel’s cap hit that was ailing Toronto, it was his personality. It was also this massive overhaul that Brendan Shanahan seems to be creating with no particular end in sight.

Toronto tanked hard last year, yet another disappointing season that led to so many jerseys on the ice and just about everyone getting fired (as per my favorite spoof). Kessel had been vocal against the often-harsh Toronto media, specifically angry at their blaming Dion Phaneuf for being a poor captain. Entering a rebuild mode with Mike Babcock now at the helm, perhaps he thought that Kessel would be less “coachable” under a new system. Maybe Kessel was all that the team thought they could get a good return on.

Regardless of the reason why he was traded, he makes the Penguins a much better team. The Pens that the Rangers faced in the first round of the playoffs this year are not the Pens that we should grow accustomed to. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are elite talent, Kris Letang will be back next year, and with 3-on-3 overtime beginning next year, the thought of Kessel playing with Crosby and Malkin should scare you. Kessel has the 4th most goals over the last five years in the entire league, and the three other guys (Alexander Ovechkin, Corey Perry, Steven Stamkos) weren’t stuck on a line with Tyler Bozak. I’m preemptively shaking.

The very next day — July 2, for those keeping track — TJ Oshie was traded to the Washington Capitals for Troy Brouwer, a goalie prospect, and a third round pick. By the time this trade showed up on my phone, I’m pretty sure I screamed (which actually happened when Carl Hagelin got traded, but I digress). It was pretty clear that the Blues were shopping, and it makes all the sense in the world when you look at the hefty extension they gave Vladimir Tarasenko shortly afterwards. Someone would have to be moved for cap space.

It seemed as though nobody was safe on the roster, with rampant trade rumors surrounding Oshie, David Backes, and Alexander Steen. The Blues chose to not re-sign veteran defenseman Barret Jackman, who’s spent his entire 13-year career in St. Louis. After so many first round playoff exits, the Blues need a new identity.

We all know Oshie from Sochi and the epic shootout win early on that Saturday morning in February against Russia. He’s got lightning quick hands and an amazing release. Goalies don’t see him shoot the puck, and it makes him very dangerous. He’s racked up 50 or more points in 3 of his 7 seasons, including the lockout shortened season in which he only played 30 games. For a team that needs consistent secondary scoring, Oshie will fit in nicely. Hopefully, he will be ineffective against King Henrik, but we’ll have to wait and see.

The Hawks made the move we were expecting to see on Friday, trading away Patrick Sharp to Dallas for Ryan Garbutt and Trevor Daley. The Stars will also retain half of Garbutt’s cap hit next year. This was an obvious move for Chicago, one that was expected before Saad was traded weeks before. Sharp, an alternate captain in Chicago, is 33 years old and making $6.5M a year. His production took a definitive dive last year, going from a consistent 60-(and even 70-)point scorer to a mere 43 points last year. Though this could be a slump, when you factor age in and the tremendous pressure that Chicago has on their cap space, it made a lot of sense to deal him. The Hawks now have space to breathe and still are yet to deal Bryan Bickell.

The Stars could benefit from having the veteran Sharp on the team. In the best case scenario, playing on an offense-loaded team (not that Chicago isn’t!) will spark his productivity and he could get back to the goal scorer he’s been his whole career. In reality, he will certainly be a positive veteran force for the locker room, having been an alternate captain for years and having been in the NHL for 13 seasons. Playing on a wing with either Jason Spezza or Tyler Seguin potentially at center… that could be fun to watch.

Of these trades, which are you most excited and/or afraid to see play with their new squad?

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  • The capitals were a good team with basically one or two offensive threats. But now they have oshie and williams in the mix. This trade scares me the most. We’ve seen malkin and crosby play with great wingers before, maybe not of phil kessel caliber but still. That trade will hurt but not as much as the oshie and williams signings for the caps who have now added some more offensive punch to an extremely good defensive team with an incredible goalie.

    • Agree, but never discount the loss of Brower, he is a heart, and soul type player that Washington will miss dearly!!!!!!!!!

      • And they lost Joel Ward, he was big for them. I feel like they will be less of the kind of team we faced in the playoffs, and more skilled and offensive. Either way, we’re still better. Not worried about the Caps. Ovi is like Joe Thronton, he’s gonna go down as one of the best to play the game but will never win it all.

        Same with Pitt, not worried about them either. Kessel is trash.

        • Sure, losing Brower and Ward (he’s a beast) hurt them and switches those two for Oshie/Williams changes their dynamic a bit. I think most GMs would prefer secondary top 6 scoring over role players like that. Obviously, a healthy balance is required… and you could argue WAS is closer to achieving that balance now than they were at the end of last yr.

          My money is on them taking the metro. Honestly, who knows…. but if you tell me they don’t have as legit a shot as anyone, I’d strongly disagree.

          As far as Kessel = trash ……….. c’mon.

          • Kessel is trash. Toronto had a lot of talent on that roster, yet Kessel’s underwhelming performances and stark inability to take the pressure to succeed led to one of the most embarrassing seasons in Leafs history.

            He may rebound with Pittsburgh, but I doubt it. A guy with a history of blowing it under pressure joining a team who since winning it all has done nothing but buckle under pressure, I think it is safe to say that Kessel is bound to fail in Pittsburgh.

            When has Kessel ever been succesful in his career outside of his own stats?

            And I’m not scared of Washington for the same reason, they gave up grit and toughness for skill. They’ll be the new St. Louis, a superbly skilled team that can’t meet expectations. They even got one of the guys who has the experience in doing that.

          • I will say that the road will be tougher for the Rangers, but they are a proven team with experience, some great players and some great burgeoning young talent.

          • I don’t know what that even means, how can you identify an individual’s success when you take away his stats? Toronto didn’t have great talent whatsoever — he was anchored by Tyler Bozak who mustered up 49 points last year strictly because he was lifted up by Kessel and James van Riemsdyk. If you have a preemptive notion of what you think Kessel is, that’s fine, but don’t look at the stats and then tell me he’s trash. If he were a Ranger, you’d be celebrating his multiple 80 point seasons.

  • Oshie for sure! Love this kid! Admittedly, I have a soft spot for American players (up yours Don Cherry). That being said, his skill level is unarguably All-World. Keep in mind, Washington did give up the fast footed Brouwer and are also without Mike Green and Joel Ward (who I was hoping would have been wearing a Rangers jersey this season) Ward would have looked great on a line with Lindberg. Oshie will be a scary addition to this already dangerous powerplay. Note to our boys on broadway- stay out of the box against this team.

    The Kessel trade doesn’t shake me like the Oshie trade does. It’s rare that Crosby, Malkin and Letang are in the lineup together, simply because of their history of injuries. Two top tier Defenseman would have made a bigger impact for Pitt. I’m not downplaying the firepower Kessel brings to the Pens, I’m just surprised they didn’t use cap space cash on a more pressing need……..Defenseman. I’m sure Marc-Andre Fleury might have similar feelings

    • Haha, not a fan of Don Cherry are you? His rock’em sock’em hockey videos were quite entertaining

  • Honestly, only the Saad trade worries me. The Blue Jackets are a tough group of forwards and they now have a guy that can ride shotgun with Johanssen and can put together a real first line. The one downside with the Saad trade is that Columbus now has some depth issues that they need to fix. Much like getting Nash gutted the Rangers 2nd and 3rd lines, acquiring Saad did the same to Columbus.

    TJ Oshie, I don’t get the infatuation with him. Never has one player benefited so much from an Olympic shootout. Looking at the numbers, he doesn’t really produce all that many points. Carl Hagelin annually posted similar goal totals, except Hagelin didn’t play on the PP and Oshie averaged about 2 minutes more of even strength ice time than Hags. Also, Oshie is 28, that’s old for a goal scorer, he’s at the end of his prime. Washington was better off keeping Brouwer, a big, physical forward with excellent hands. Oshie’s career high in goals is 21 and he posted that two years ago. I wouldn’t be completely shocked if we get to Christmas and Oshie is sitting on a single digit goal total.

    As for the Kessel deal, boy oh boy did Pittsburgh take themselves right out of playoff contention with that trade. Pittsburgh, despite the incessant mewling of their Boy Wonder (Crosby), does not need another goal scorer. With their extremely limited cap space they needed to focus on getting some top defensemen into the fold. Right now they are counting on two guys, Maatta and Letang, that are huge question marks. Maatta is young and only played 20 games last year due to cancer (thankfully he seems fully recovered!) and /neck issues. Letang is coming off of his healthiest season since the lockout but he still had a recurrence of concussion issues. A top pairing D with a history of concussions and a stroke in his recent past is a scary proposition for an alleged great team. Walt said it the other day, he’s scared for Letang, you made me think Walt, and I agree, I am scared for Letang too.

    Pitt still has a chance to fix things, they will need to shed two more salaries so they can acquire enough players ice an actual team. As of now, I have Pitt struggling to stay in the wildcard race. I see them losing a bunch of 5-3 games and their coach gets fired mid-December.

  • Chris

    Very good analysis, and also take into account the potential loss again, of Dupuee, and his issues with blood clots. He is a very sound player, plays the entire ice surface, and adds offense to that team. Kunitz is almost ready for a wheel chair, he’s long of tooth, and needs to be replaced with some youth. All said and don’t. Pitt will still be a tough team to play, especially with the introduction of 3 on 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks Walt. I think Pitt still has a chance to fix their mess. Like I said, they still need to create cap space to fill out their lineup. If they can find a taker for some of their expensive older players that would be a solid first step.

      The bigger issue is their blueline. When 2 of Rob Scuderi, Ben Lovejoy, and Ian Cole make up your second D pair, you are not a wildcard contender. I am not sure trading Chris Kunitz and/or David Perron is enough to get back a top 4 D.

  • Many excellent points made today, and I worry most about Columbus, they were hard as hell to play against last season, add Saad to the mx, we will struggle against that team !!!!!!!!!!

  • I think the Hawks panicked at little with Saad. If they had dealt Sharp to DAL, or whomever, for picks and prospects they could’ve still resigned Saad @ 6yrs 36mil (not 6yr $64… typo I guess lol… $10+m cap hit would be ludicrous). But that said it does hurt the Rangers having more talent finding it’s way to the Metro. Oshie is a nice piece but I don’t know if he really puts WAS over the top. And my only hope with PIT is that Kessel can become a cancer in the locker room and make that team completely fall apart.

    • Kessel has had issues everywhere he’s been, what’s to think he won’t in Pittsburgh??????????

      Can you see him, and Cindy going at each other, how do you unload Kessel again to another team??????????

      • Kessel never had issues with teammates, always with media, who are notoriously horrific in Toronto. Toronto IS hockey town, there is no more harsh media.

        • Becky

          How about his days in Boston, before Toronto???????

          He is an issue ready to happen!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I think they jumped the gun because they were afraid of an offer sheet, in which case they could’ve lost him. It was certainly a trade made in haste and their return wasn’t great.

  • I don’t worry about all the other trades in the Metro Division. Who cares if Pit Wash, and Columbus got stronger. We got Emerson Etem to pull us through! All we gave up was a top 9 forward…who can easily be replaced, by some of our highly touted(at least on this site), youth. And we still have our secret weapon—Dylan McIlraith!!!—–See how ridiculous it sounds when you say it out loud? Especially when you stack it up against what other teams have done this summer. Go ahead, flame away at me—but the team is still weaker than it was after Gm. 7 with TB. Its just a fact! I’m going to the beach!!

    • You do realize that our defense is the exact same as it was last year? So at this point why are you even talking about Mclrath?

      lets take an in depth look at what this team looks like compared to when they were eliminated in game 7 since you think this one is awful now

      First off, half of the defense was playing on one leg. So if they are healthy to start the season, that’s a giant step in the right direction. Secondly, they traded away a 3rd liner that kills penalty a and can be counted on to put in 35 points. But he was fast, so he was fun to watch. That sounds like a very replaceable commodity to me. They traded away their backup. Well they signed another one who I’m pretty sure can be counted on to start 20 games. MSL is gone and he was clearly a shell of his former self.

      So you take those 3 moves and add in that generally players under the age of 25 get better each year, I’m sure the progression of the youth on this team will offset the personnel that was moved.

      • RIGHT ON SPO, but I still feel too much is being made of us not getting to finals because of injury. Tampa was the better Team. Heck, THE BLACKHAWKS won the cup with basically using 4 defenseman, You never heard them complain!!

  • So all these other teams are stronger on paper. Who cares? Paper rips quite easily and as far as I can see we are still the best team in the Metro.

    • That’s exactly why I laughed at ESPN ranking the Rangers at 11 in their power rankings. They are a known commodity that is bringing back 18 of their 20 starters (pending any further trades). They had 3 rookies on their roster to end the season who all should be better this season. They lost a 3rd liner and a top 6 forward that was a non factor by the end of the season and throughout the playoffs. Their backup was only a factor because their iron man all world goaltender suffered a freak accident. But let’s be serious, if Talbot played .500 hockey once Hank got injured this team still makes the playoffs and then Hank returns. They don’t win the presidents trophy but they would have still made noise in the playoffs. I still stand by my assessment that if this team was healthy through the playoffs they beat Tampa and have a legit shot at beating the Hawks.

      Honestly I would rather them be considered underdogs. They always seem to do better when expectations are less.

      Let’s drop the puck!

      • Some good points but at the end of our run last year the consensus here was that we didn’t score and we dismissed Boyle and Klein and to some extent Yandle. Now everyone here is basically saying that we will be better because we will have healthy D but they are all the same that we bitched about trading. Columbus, Wash, and Pitt all improved with proven players that can have an impact. Rightly so, it remains to be seen. We are depending on the same group which is not a bad thing but it remains to be seen that the production remains the same from the regulars. Miller, Fast, Etem and whoever joins the team will have to provide a significant uptick in their offense and the PP must be feared and one of the best in the league. If that happens I would not be concerned with the other teams. However logically you can’t ignore what the other teams did with their acquisitions which gets them out of the gate and in front. The Rangers, Philly ,Islanders and Carolina were left at the gate. its a long race and it remains to be seen which is the concept that works. Big trades or developing what you have. I just wouldn’t be so dismissive towards Pitt, Wash and Columbus. Our division/conf just got a lot better and will be a dog fight. Even Buffalo and Toronto will be better.

  • Solid article… this kind of stuff makes for great summer time posts. Good banter too from everyone. Looking forward to puck drop this yr.

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