The NHL Trade Dudline

Nashville GM David Poile's moves were made in an attempt to show the Predators can win now so they can keep their top players in town, including captain Shea Weber. (Paul Nicholson/Flickr).

Tim Kolupanowich: Welcome to the first segment of Two For Roughing in which two of our writers will discuss hot topics in the game of hockey. I’m excited to get this going, what about you Jeff?

Jeff Blay: Touché, Tim. Lots to talk about after yesterday’s trade deadline; although it was relatively low-key for a second consecutive year, a few surprising deals did occur later in the afternoon. You had a chance to closely follow the action yesterday, any story-lines you thought stuck out?

TK: I really like what the Nashville Predators did, addressing a few key needs. The acquisition of Paul Gaustad from Buffalo gives them even better depth on the bottom lines and he adds a some elements they have been missing. His faceoff percentage of 56.8 this season is better than anyone on Nashville who has taken a significant amount of draws and his 98 hits are more than any Predators forward other than Jordin Tootoo. Acquiring Hal Gill from Montreal on Feb. 17 was a solid acquisition as well. In his first five game, the Preds have gone 4-0-1 with a 1.57 team goals-against average and killed off all eight penalties. He bring playoff experience and a Stanley Cup ring and makes an already spectacular defensive team even harder to score against.

JB: The Preds are definitely looking solid. Gaustad is the big name here; I love his gritty style and we saw what his leadership abilities did in Buffalo. Having him and Mike Fisher down the middle now is pretty deadly, not to mention defensively sound, which fits Nashville’s mould perfectly. We’ve heard everyone saying how this deal shows captain Shea Weber and fellow defenseman Ryan Suter the team’s commitment to win, and although I think they still may need to target another offensive juggernaut this summer, it’s definitely a big step in the right direction in that regard. One of the more surprising trades that stuck out to me, and obviously many others, was another Buffalo deal involving Cody Hodgson. The Sabres sent top prospect Zack Kassian to Vancouver, and he’s playing his first game as a Canuck against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight.

TK: That was definitely a shocker, no question. It works well on both fronts though. Buffalo needs a young player with the ability to put up big numbers and Hodgson certainly has the potential to do that. Ville Leino isn’t working out at all while Hodgson is seven years younger and on pace to record 20 goals as a rookie. Kassian, meanwhile, gives the Canucks the power forward they desperately need. At 6-foot-3 and roughly 220 pounds, Kassian immediately becomes their biggest forward. He can have the physical impact that would have helped them a lot in the Stanley Cup final against Boston last season. They were one win away from winning it all with few crash-and-bang forwards, so it will be interesting to see if he can help them out in that regard.

JB: The other semi big deal came between the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. The Sharks acquired TJ Galiardi and Daniel Winnik, two defensively responsible forwards that should fit in somewhere on the third or fourth line. They made their debuts with the Sharks Tuesday night against Philly, and were given a fair share of ice time. Both even occasionally played on a line with Patrick Marleau when things had to be juggled around a bit, and created a few decent scoring chances. San Jose gives up Mike Connolly,  Michael Sgarbossa (who I had the privilege of watching throughout his junior career and was probably my favourite Sharks prospect) and Jamie McGinn, who’s has had a breakout season, scoring 12 goals and 12 assists while also leading San Jose in hits. Colorado acquires some very promising future, while San Jose adds depth players who could pay off in the post-season.

TK: While not a major deal, this trade worked out well for both sides. McGinn goes a long way towards replacing some of the size lost by trading away Winnik and Galiardi. The Avalanche also get two young offensive prospects in Mike Connolly and Michael Sgarbossa. They should get every oppostunity to develop their game with Colorado, a more offensively-inclined team than the Sharks. Connolly has 30 points in 40 games for Worcester in the American League in his first professional season and Sgarbossa is ripping it up for the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario League; he’s second in league scoring with 41 goals and 84 points in 57 games, and he’s no stranger to notching those type of numbers. They should develop nicely along Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny.

But I think for the second straight year, the big story is the lack of trades. Is the salary cap making it too difficult for GMs to go out there and get that coveted player they really want? Or are they just being more patient and waiting for the summer? Last year there were 17 moves made on deadline day and nine made in the week leading up to it. Meanwhile there were 20 trades made during the draft, including the day before, so we may be looking at the summer as the new time when most of the major deals go down.

JB: That’s a very good theory… It’s obvious something has slowed down the deadline day, and the salary cap could very well be a contributing factor. As for teams tending to hold deals off until the summer  – it does seem to me the NHL Draft is sort of taking over what was the trade deadline. Think about some of the blockbuster deals completed at last year’s draft in Minnesota; it was a much more exciting and action-packed event than either of the previous two trade deadline days. Looking ahead, it seems that Rick Nash is likely to be moved over the summer, and that’s not the only big name floating around that could be dealt at that time. We heard what Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke had to say about the trade deadline… Could we be seeing some changes from the league in the near future?

TK: It certainly seems that way. At last year’s trade deadline, the biggest name moved was Dustin Penner. Then the draft comes and all of a sudden the major blockbusters happened; Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were jettisoned from Philadelphia, Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi were traded from San Jose to Minnesota and Brian Campbell was shipped to Florida from Chicago. I believe that is when you’ll see Rick Nash traded. Columbus can stockpile picks and prospects and begin rebuilding the team properly. Teams are allowed to go over the salary cap by as much as 10% in the off-season, so making moves becomes easier in the off-season when they can take on a big contract without having to shed salary right away. And Burke was right, teams can’t rely on just one day to get everything accomplished. He said the Leafs were preparing for trades eight weeks ago and now they have the remainder of the season to assess the team and make sure they make the smart moves instead of the spontaneous ones. The salary cap makes it too hard to overcome bad moves and teams around the league are showing caution now more than ever before.

That does it for our first segment of Two For Roughing. We hope you enjoyed it.

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