Oct 022008
 

Much ado has been made about the Canucks making Roberto Luongo their captain. The move was very surprising, considering goalies are not allowed to wear the traditional ‘C’ on their jersey and there hasn’t been a goalie captain since Bill Durnan in the 1940s. One of the reasons it became illegal was because of the inefficiency of being both a captain and a goalie. Captains are designated by their respective teams to provide an on-ice voice for the team with the refs, and because the game is so fluid and the refs are constantly moving, it made it very difficult for goalies to talk to them, in part because of the very small area on the ice the goalie patrols. They can’t wander the length of the ice as most players do, and if the referee was at the other end of the rink it would be impossible to talk to them, since goalies cannot cross the red line.

I can’t help but think this move by the Canucks is a ploy to show Luongo that this is his team. Willie Mitchell has been named as the guy who would talk to the refs on a nightly basis, but the Canucks still elected to give Mitchell an ‘A’, even though he would be fulfilling the traditional duties of a player wearing the ‘C’. It goes without question that this is Luongo’s team – no one else in the league is as crucial to their team’s success as Luongo. By officially naming him captain is a mere formality that really doesn’t carry much substance, other than re-affirm the fact that Vancouver wants Luongo to stay, and will do anything to please him and accomodate his needs. But it also means that no one in the Vancouver locker room has really stepped into the captain’s void left by Markus Naslund, which has led to a committee of three players wearing A’s on a nightly basis: Mitchell, Ryan Kesler, and Mattias Ohlund.

Perhaps at the end of the day the letters don’t quite mean anything – Mitchell will talk to the refs and Luongo continues to stop the pucks. The world keeps spinning.

EDIT: The Lightning have named Martin St. Louis and, surprisingly, Andrej Meszaros as their alternate captains for this year. The Rangers have yet to name a captain, although all signs point towards Chris Drury and Mike Richards is the front-runner in Philadelphia. The Wild and Sabres are expected to continue their rotating captaincy. The Panthers, Kings, Thrashers, and Leafs have yet to name their captains for the upcoming season.

EDIT #2: The Rangers have officially named Drury their captain, while Markus Naslund and Scott Gomez will serve as the alternates. May I also add that all three players may potentially play on the same line?

Sep 272008
 

Old news, but Mathieu Schneider is now a Thrasher, pending physicals on Brad Larsen and Ken Klee, the players going the other way. Klee and Larsen are in the last years of their contracts and were not part of the Thrashers’ plans going forward. Schneider makes the Thrashers defense better, but they won’t be making the playoffs anytime soon. It also means that perhaps Atlanta isn’t too interested in finish first in the draft sweepstakes. Don Waddell was not interested in Schneider through waivers saying he was too expensive and wasn’t the right fit. The Thrashers’ payroll increased by about $4m in the deal. So much for Waddell’s explanation.

It looks like David Bolland has an uphill battle to get the coveted second line centre spot behind Jonathan Toews, and coach Denis Savard has noted his current top six are Toews, Patrick Kane, Andrew Ladd, Martin Havlat, Dustin Byfuglien, and Patrick Sharp. Savard put Kane at centre for a couple shifts but didn’t like what he saw, and the Hawks may end up with either Ladd or Sharp at centre. Kyle Beach made a good impression in his pro debut, but the hot-headed junior star will be hard-pressed to stick around. Keith Carney might also make the team.

Ken Hitchcock
is really liking what he sees from Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard. The Jackets were absolutely dangerous offensively against the Predators last night, and more impressive were the plays of Fedor Tyutin and Kris Russell. Russell, still listed at a paltry 165 lbs., needs to put on more bulk to play in a tougher West. Courtesy of Michael Arace, the Jackets’ strategy for the season. Nothing too special, but have a gander anyway:
1. Keep the tempo high
– short shifts
– fast changes
2. Make the goalie work
– funnel the puck
– real traffic
3. Outwork the opposition
– on contact, our 2nd before their 2nd
4. Manage the puck the right way
5. Pack mentality
– 5 up, 5 back
6. Check to score
– the harder we check, the more we score

In Florida, on a radio poll Peter DeBoer was voted as the coach who would do the best job this season. Todd McLellan of San Jose finished second, Scott Gordon on Long Island third, and Jon Anderson in Atlanta fourth. There’s definitely a hometown bias there, McLellan will be blowing the other three out of the water by virtue of having a very good team.

In a very un-Nashville like move, the Preds may be giving the second line right wing spot to Patrick Hornqvist, who has spent the last three years in the Swedish leagues. Alexander Radulov‘s defection and Steve Sullivan‘s injury history means that there are a lot of holes to fill up front.

Forget about having two all-star centres on separate lines. Like the Sharks who are putting Patrick Marleau on Joe Thornton‘s wing, the Rangers have followed suit and have lined up Chris Drury on Scott Gomez‘s right wing, despite the fact that Drury had a better face-off winning percentage. Markus Naslund is the third of the trio. This means that Brandon Dubinsky, who had a lot of success last year on spot shifts with Jaromir Jagr, will have to step up after being pegged as the team’s number two. He will have Nikolai Zherdev and Nigel Dawes as linemates.

The Blues absolutely destroyed the Thrashers, scoring 9 goals. The Blues aren’t supposed to a high-scoring team this year, but they got production from all four lines. This might be a preview of what’s to come this season:
Stempniak – McDonald – Boyes
Kariya – Berglund – Perron
Tkachuk – Oshie – Backes
King – McClement – Porter
As noted before, Patrick Berglund is set to centre Paul Kariya and the pair has looked good. Keith Tkachuk seems to have moved back to his original left wing position and Jay McClement may be ill-suited for a fourth line role considering his offensive game is better than his defensive game.

Barry Melrose likes what he’s seeing from Evgeny Artyukhin (I think it was a mistake letting him go in the beginning) and may see himself on Steve Stamkos‘ line. Jussi Jokinen, who has been the subject of many trade rumours this summer, has moved to centre on the third line and is making it hard for management to cut him. Radim Vrbata has apparently been invisible and is dropping on the depth charts.

Sep 222008
 

Training camp’s all about establishing chemistry and figuring out which players go where. ESPN’s Sean Allen provides some insight and here are the highlights:

Zach Bogosian seems to be penciled in to make the team, and Allen figures him to hit the 40-point mark, but I highly doubt it. I think their top powerplay quarterbacks are going to be Ron Hainsey and Tobias Enstrom.

With Justin Williams out for most of the season it means a spot has opened up beside Eric Staal. The likely candidate is Patrick Eaves, although Sergei Samsonov, who has rejuvenated his career in Carolina, may get a call too. I also think that perhaps Tuomo Ruutu or AHL standout Ryan Bayda may get some looks.

Even with Joe Sakic‘s return, the Avs are pegging Paul Stastny as their number one centre, who will most likely have Milan Hejduk and Wojtek Wolski on his wings. Sakic will get Ryan Smyth and Marek Svatos, although given Hejduk and Sakic’s chemistry together I would think they would stay on the same line, with Smyth and Wolski switching spots.

The Wings want balance and they have publicly stated that Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk will start on different lines. This means that Marian Hossa is definitely getting first-line minutes. Allen notes that Valtteri Filppula may drop to the number three centre slot, but I think that spot is still Kris Draper‘s and Filppula may just end up on Zetterberg’s left wing. Dan Cleary was Allen’s choice as Zetterberg’s left wing but I think he’s better suited for the bottom two lines.

With the addition of Robert Lang, it looks like Saku Koivu will be starting the season on the third line, potentially with Guillaume Latendresse and Chris Higgins, giving them one of the most talented third lines in the league. Andrei Kostitsyn and Sergei Kostitsyn may find themselves on the same line with top centre Tomas Plekanec, allowing the enigmatic Alexei Kovalev to lineup with former Penguins teammate Lang.

Craig Hartsburg wants to break up the Big Three (again) and see where it takes them (again). John Paddock tried that last year with mediocre results and with no significant changes up front it remains to be seen what Hartsburg will do, but it’s almost a sure bet that captain Daniel Alfredsson will start on a separate line. The coveted spot beside Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley will be up for grabs, but it looks like the leading contender is little-known Jesse Winchester. Allen notes that Alfredsson may get Nick Foligno and Chris Kelly as linemates, but I would think the speedy Antoine Vermette and/or Mike Fisher would be better fits.

The Leafs may experiment with former Hab Mikhail Grabovski on the top line, but I would think that a combination of Jason Blake and Nik Antropov, along with either Alex Steen or Alexei Ponikarovsky would be it.

Sep 202008
 

The Thrashers were interested in Mathieu Schneider, but felt that given the veteran’s price tag and current skill set it was just too expensive. Don Waddell claims that Schneider’s age was not a factor in the decision.

Nikolai Khabibulin is looking forward to the start of the season, but admits he was surprised when the Hawks signed Cristobal Huet to a multi-year deal. He also admits that even though he hasn’t been at his best, he didn’t have a “championship calibre” team in front of him either. Not exactly the words management wants to hear, but Khabibulin has to make do with what he’s got in front of him (and it’s not bad) and hope to land another fat contract. Meanwhile, veteran Keith Carney has been invited to camp.

The Jackets are prepared to possibly enter the season with rookie Derick Brassard as their new number one centre. Ken Hitchcock reportedly liked Brassard and Kristian Huselius on the top line with Rick Nash, while the second line consisted of rookie Jakub Voracek, RJ Umberger, and Fredrik Modin.

The Stars have also tinkered with their lineup, with Mike Modano lining up to the left of Brad Richards and Sean Avery. It gives Modano some playing time in the top six and getting him away from the checking line role that’s better suited for someone else.

Marian Gaborik certainly isn’t helping his own case after being listed as day-to-day with a pulled right quad. The sniping winger is expected to land a lucrative contract this summer – whether it’s with the Wild or someone else remains to be seen. The injury-prone winger has to have another healthy season if he wants to cash in big time.

It’s obvious, so don’t expect Martin Brodeur to play 77 games like he did last year. Both Brodeur and Brent Sutter admitted that the games took a toll on the veteran goalie, and that Avery didn’t help in that department either. Look for Kevin Weekes to do a little more than usual last year to collect his six-figure paycheque.

Tom Renney and the Rangers remain mum on Brendan Shanahan, and says that his focus is now on training camp.

Derian Hatcher‘s career seems to be in jeopardy due to a bum knee, and Wayne Fish believes that it’ll really hurt the team’s chances this year (I beg to differ), but claims that with the addition of Ossi Vaananen and camp invite Bryan Berard it should lessen the pain (Fish is comparing the “irreplaceable” Hatcher to two journeymen? Okay.)

The Sharks are ready to open up their camp with the following lines:
Marleau – Thornton – Clowe
Michalek – Pavelski – Cheechoo
Goc – Mitchell – Grier
Plihal – Roenick – Setoguchi
Ron Wilson also had Patrick Marleau on Joe Thornton‘s wing in order to get his game going last year, but it didn’t last.

The Blues kicked off their training camp with a snooze, and I daresay that the rest of the season wouldn’t be too different. Coach Andy Murray suggested that the Blues could start the season with rookie Patrick Berglund on the top line with Paul Kariya. Murray also acknowledged that the losses of Ryan Johnson, Jamal Mayers, and Bryce Salvador, all three great locker room guys, means that veterans Kariya and Keith Tkachuk, neither been known as vocal captains, will need to step up.

Move aside “Seen Stamkos.” It’s time for “WWGRD?” in Tampa. Now that wunderkind Steve Stamkos is officially signed the focus moves to training camp. For the Lightning, who had a major overhaul in its front office staff and approach to the new season, it’s a chance to capitalize on a resurgence of interest in Lightning hockey. Just ask yourself, What Would Gary Roberts Do?

The Caps are excited and raring to go. So much so that they had to ask sophomore Nicklas Backstrom, who was early and the first on the ice, to get off after half an hour for precautionary reasons. When your rookies are that excited, you know your team is in good spirits, and for the Caps, why shouldn’t they?

Sep 042008
 

Two years ago, the Thrashers’ future looked bright. A final push made by Don Waddell when he acquired Keith Tkachuk, that year’s biggest deadline day catch, and the Thrashers’ first ever playoff appearance meant the team was going in the right direction. The people of Atlanta had high hopes the following season, but the team sputtered all season and it cost them Marian Hossa at the deadline. The team, once again, was back to square one.

The Thrashers are once again by Russian sniper Ilya Kovalchuk, who may very well be considered one of the best snipers of his generation. However, for the first time in a long time, Kovalchuk will not have a 30+ goal scorer on his line, which means that the Thrashers are counting on him even more to provide the majority of the offense. In the past, Dany Heatley or Hossa had been able to take some pressure off Kovalchuk, but heading into this season only Slava Kozlov (17) has more than 15 goals. He will also once again be without a premier set-up centre, but don’t expect the Russian to fire any less pucks or score any less goals. Jason Williams was signed to help out in that department and realistically he can only be viewed as a band-aid solution. The spot to centre Kovalchuk will be his to lose, and new coach John Anderson can elect to go with more smarts (Todd White), more size (Erik Christensen), more speed (Bryan Little), or more skill (Eric Perrin). After that Kozlov will be expected to provide some secondary offense. With no significant changes up front, don’t expect them to finish higher than 20th in GF. However, should the Thrashers finish near the cellar once again, it could be the last they ever see of their star.

The Thrashers’ defensive corps should also not be underrated. Although they had the league’s worst shots for-shots against ratio and the second-worst defense, they aren’t expected to repeat this horrific numbers. They’re aided by their biggest free agent splash this year in Ron Hainsey, who left Columbus for greener pastures. Hainsey is coming off a productive season in Columbus and will no doubt help Atlanta in the offensive department. Niclas Havelid also has the ability to shut-down the opponents’ top scoreres, while the surprising Tobias Enstrom will once again be the puck-moving specialist. Look for him to man the other point on the PP with Kovalchuk. Veteran Ken Klee and Garnet Exelby will round out the top 5, while the sixth spot is Boris Valabik‘s to lose. Valabik was drafted 10th overall in 2004, and with his 6’7″ frame has been compared to Zdeno Chara, but has yet to play up to those comparisons. The player with the most intrigue this season will be Zach Bogosian and his quest to make the team. The recent draftee has the NHL skills and smarts, but Waddell has to decide if Bogosian would be better off playing 25 minutes a night in Peterborough or 6 minutes a night in the NHL.

The biggest enigma in the Thrashers’ locker room isn’t the direction of the team or leadership, but Kari Lehtonen. The Finnish netminder was drafted 2nd overall in 2002 and was tagged as the goalie of the future, and had the skills and talent, but never the body or consistency. The 25 year old had posted a career-high 34 wins the season before and made the playoffs and managed to play 68 games. However, the injury bug would bite again and limit him to 48 games, the least posting the worst win total (17) in his North American pro career. Johan Hedberg is back to back up Lehtonen and could see plenty of playing time should Lehtonen go down with injury yet again. The talented Ondrej Pavelec will start on the farm, but don’t be surprised to see him as a mid-season call-up and perhaps steal a few games and play spoiler down the stretch.

Atlanta still has a little more work to do before reaching the cap floor, and once they do, there’s no sign that they’ll go any higher. They have re-signed all of their key RFAs, but with the team not expected to do well Atlanta Spirit (the owners) will not be looking to potentially lose more money. The Thrashers’ biggest concern this year isn’t worried about the quality of product on the ice, but rather trying to convince Kovalchuk to stay, although the two should be related. Kovalchuk has two years remaining on his contract, including this year, but management doesn’t want to wait to get Kovalchuk on board for the next 6-8 years. To do so they have to win some games, and that may be the biggest challenge facing them. With a stronger Southeast Division they won’t be a player in the last season playoff hunt, which means perhaps a shot at the number one pick in 2009.

With Hossa’s departure Hainsey is expected to alleviate some of the holes, along with Enstrom who is expected to improve on his impressive 38-point NHL debut season. Havelid is one of the premier shot-blockers in the league and was sixth among defensemen with 184, but will expected to step it up a notch along with Exelby. The success of Atlanta doesn’t hinge so much on the players this year, but the coach. If Anderson, who has had success with Atlanta’s AHL affiliate, can infuse a new system that Kovalchuk can buy into, perhaps it may convince him to stay. Anderson has coached many of the young players coming up through Chicago and his familiarity with them will no doubt aid him. Waddell is hoping that Anderson could become the next Bruce Boudreau, although to be fair to Anderson, Boudreau did have the better roster.

Projected Lineup:
Ilya Kovalchuk – Jason Williams – Colby Armstrong
Slava Kozlov – Todd White – Eric Perrin
Brett Sterling – Erik Christensen – Chris Thorburn
Brad Larsen – Bryan Little – Eric Boulton

Tobias Enstrom – Niclas Havelid
Ron Hainsey – Garnet Exelby
Ken Klee – Zach Bogosian

Kari Lehtonen – Johan Hedberg

scratches: Marty Reasoner, Jim Slater, Boris Valabik

Head Coach: John Anderson
GM: Don Waddell

Projected Finish: 5th Southeast, 14th East

Aug 212008
 

Bryan McCabe‘s move to the sunshine state is generating a lot of buzz lately, and the Palm Beach Post has suggested that McCabe’s acquisition is Jacques Martin‘s way of saying “we’re serious about winning” in the hopes that Jay Bouwmeester would bite.

I say that’s wishful thinking, Jacques. I say the only way they can get Bouwmeester to stay is if they reach the playoffs and put up a fight in the first round, but the former seems unlikely already. While McCabe is a huge step up over Mike Van Ryn, who is rumoured to be going the other way, he’s not exactly a guy that can just turn around the fortunes of an underachieving team. The Panthers still have a shoddy offense and have yet to replace Olli Jokinen, and even with McCabe’s offensive abilities they’re still lacking bite.

On a semi-related topic, the Panthers are one of 8 teams who still have not named a captain, and James Mirtle has brought up some names.

For the record, I don’t think anyone on the Thrashers, Panthers, Kings, Leafs, or Canucks roster is captain material, but if I had to pick it’d be Ilya Kovalchuk, Nathan Horton, Dustin Brown, Tomas Kaberle, and Willie Mitchell, respectively. But my picks were Chris Drury for the Rangers, Mike Richards for Philadelphia, and Vincent Lecavalier for Tampa.

Aug 172008
 

1 Montreal Canadiens
2 Pittsburgh Penguins
3 Washington Capitals
4 Philadelphia Flyers
5 Ottawa Senators
6 NY Rangers
7 New Jersey Devils
8 Carolina Hurricanes
9 Tampa Bay Lightning
10 Boston Bruins
11 Buffalo Sabres
12 Florida Panthers
13 Atlanta Thrashers
14 Toronto Maple Leafs
15 NY Islanders

Again, I’m going to have to disagree with THN over this. If the Pens had managed to keep Ryan Malone and/or Marian Hossa I’d be inclined to agree that they would finish atop their division, but they won’t. When you potentially have Miroslav Satan as your top scoring winger you’re not going to go anywhere fast. The rest of the team remains largely the same.

I have a hard time believing the Sens will finish ahead of the Rangers and Devils. Despite the fact that Wade Redden‘s game is in decline, losing him will hurt because they didn’t replace him. The Sens are still looking for ways to fill out the rest of their roster, but like so many other teams in the East, goaltending is their primary concern. If Martin Gerber doesn’t hold up, they’re slightly above average at best by virtue of their incredible top line.

The Bruins are going to make some noise this year, especially with a completely healed Patrice Bergeron. Michael Ryder will head into camp as the favourite to land the first line right winger slot, and considering the success Claude Julien had with Ryder, along with an elite playmaking centre in Marc Savard, he could be a very nice surprise. Once again, however, they head into training camp with a 1A-1B tandem of fan favourite Tim Thomas and the disgruntled Manny Fernandez.

The East is much more clear cut than the West because so many teams have holes. The Habs, arguably the best team in the East, also has a shaky goaltending situation considering how Carey Price fell apart last year. These goaltending problems also plague at least 3 of the playoff teams listed. It’ll be interesting to see how this season plays out – a lot of teams have areas to improve, and considering the mass exodus of players from the East heading West, this year could be rather different.

Aug 102008
 

For Garth Snow and the Islanders, their search for a new head coach to replace Ted Nolan has come down to three candidates: Bob Hartley, Paul Maurice, or the AHL’s Scott Gordon.

Hartley’s NHL coaching career started in 1998 in Colorado, whose strong QMJHL and AHL records had caught the eye of then-GM Pierre Lacroix. He enjoyed 4 very successful years in Denver, including a 52-16-10-4 record and a Stanley Cup win in 2001. He was fired the following season in 2002 after a slow start, and joined the Thrashers a month later. Although he had gone from a perennial contender to a basement dweller, it didn’t stop Hartley from winning. In 2007, the Thrashers set a franchise record with 41 wins and their first ever playoff birth. But once again, despite his success the previous season, his Thrashers were off to a cold start and he was fired by Don Waddell after going pointless in six straight games. Despite all this success, depending on who you ask, Hartley isn’t exactly an angel. In 2005, against the Lightning, Thrasher Eric Boulton elbowed Paul Ranger in the head, resulting in a concussion and a fractured jaw. Boulton was subsequently suspended for six games, but it didn’t stop John Tortorella from lambasting the enforcer, saying that “no one wants to see him on the ice.” After the suspension, Boulton pleaded innocence, and claimed that he was only doing what he was told to do, implying that a frustrated Hartley had told him to get out there and headhunt. After all, Boulton is an enforcer and that’s what he’s employed by NHL teams to do. It was never definite whether or not Hartley asked Boulton to headhunt, but Hartley was under fire for a short while and since then the Thrashers and Lightning have enjoyed quite the rivalry.

To be honest, I never liked Maurice. He did a great job in Carolina, but I thought from the beginning that he was a terrible choice for the Leafs. Despite his successes, it’s always been overlooked that he is a poor special teams tactician. Throughout his coaching career, Maurice’s teams have traditionally never been good at killing penalties. In 2001, the Hurricanes had the second-best PK% in the league, but it all went downhill from there. When the Hurricanes made the finals in 2002, they were tied with the Devils with the worst PK% for playoff-bound teams in the East, with 83.7%. In his next full years, Carolina would rank 24th on the PK. In his first season with the Leafs, they had a 17.7% PP (17th) and 78.5% PK (27th). This year, their PP was 17.8% (15th) and PK 78.1% (29th). It can be argued that Maurice didn’t have the right players to work with (Peter Laviolette hasn’t exactly gotten the Canes’ PK out of the basement yet either), but I don’t think it’s a valid excuse for a playoff contender to finish near dead last in the league. He was under a lot of scrutiny in Toronto, and perhaps a move to a less hockey-crazed city would be a good change of scenery and hopefully be able to repeat the successes he had while in Carolina.

Gordon is the least well-known of the three, but is apparently well-respected in hockey circles. The former netminder enjoyed three successful years at Boston College, and started his coaching career in the IHL before moving onto the ECHL then head coach for Providence in the AHL in 2003. The 45-year old was the winner of the Louis Pieri Memorial Award, annually given to the best coach in the AHL. Considering the recent success of promoting AHL coaches (ie. Bruce Boudreau), it could be a good idea to take Gordon over the other two.

Feb 262008
 

Here are a few of my thoughts about the trade deadline action.

Short Term Winners

Pittsburgh Penguins – Adding Hossa, Dupuis and Gill has the potential to make them a really scary team. Think about it. In recent weeks the top line of Malkin, Sykora and Malone have been one of the best lines in the NHL and over the next week or two you will add Crosby and Hossa to fill out a 1A line. Losing Armstrong and Christensen will hurt the third line but with a top 2 lines that good they may not need a third line. In Hal Gill they add a very big, physical, defense first defenseman that will make life for opposing forwards much less pleasant. If Conklin continues his stellar play it isn’t hard to conceive that the Penguins are now easily the best team in the East.

San Jose Sharks – Brian Campbell is exactly what the Sharks needed. They have the talent up front and they have some solid defensive defensemen but what they didn’t have was that top tier puck moving defensemen and PP quarterback. Campbell is that guy. They still need some of their other players to step up their games if they want to be true Cup contenders but the Sharks should be a lot better today than they were yesterday.

Long Term Winners

Atlanta Thrashers – We knew they were going to trade Hossa but by getting two very solid young and cheap 3rd line players, a good prospect and a first round pick they got more than I thought they would. They now have some young depth role players that they very much needed and if they can add a nice centerman in the off season with the money they saved from Hossa they will have the makings of a nice core of players.

Losers

Montreal Canadiens – If you think you have a chance to make a run in the playoffs I don’t understand the thought process of trading your top and only established goalie for a second round pick. The Canadiens are now rushing Price to the NHL and while he has looked great at times he has looked mediocre at times too. Rushing goalies to the NHL is never a good thing. Just look at Marc-Andre Fleury as evidence. This move puts Price’s confidence and development at risk. On top of that GM Bob Gainey was talking for a couple weeks about wanting a big name player to add to the team but he came up empty here too. He wasn’t even able to add some needed size to the line up. Overall the Canadiens are not as good a team after this evening as they were this morning.

Vancouver Canucks – The Canucks aren’t losers because they made a bad trade but they are losers because they weren’t able to make a trade they desperately needed. That is to add some much needed offense to the lineup. With a bit more offensive punch they could have been a threat in the playoffs. Instead they may not make the playoffs.

Undetermined

Dallas Stars – I am partly surprised that they didn’t have to give up more to get Richards but Richards with his huge contract is also a significant long term risk. No doubt that Richards will help the Stars but will he help them to the tune of $7.8 million salary? Last year Richards got 70 points and he is on about the same pace this year. That’s not bad but that’s not $7.8 million value. People will say that it is largely due to the fact doesn’t play regularly with top level players which is partly true (he does play on the top PP unit) but he also plays in the horrific defensive southeast division. Richards has 28 points in 23 games against southeast division opponents and 29 points in 39 games against the rest of the league. That is 60 point pace against non-southeast opponents and I can assure you he isn’t going to a team in Dallas that is loaded with offensive players. Maybe this trade will invigorate Richards and he will return to his 90 point form but that is far from a certainty and until we see what Richards does we don’t know if Dallas does well in this trade or not.

Ottawa Senators – If you go by acquisition cost, Martin Lapointe’s value is somewhere between Wade Belak and Rob Davison. That would indicate that Lapointe won’t mean a whole lot to the Senators and he probably won’t. But the Senators have the talent to make a run in the playoffs regardless of what they did today but they are also in a downward spiral and if they can’t turn it around and they exit the playoffs early I am sure we will all look back at this trade deadline and say they should have done more.

Feb 112008
 

Today we saw the first significant trade leading up to this years trade deadline as the Ottawa Senators traded Patrick Eaves and Joe Corvo to Carolina for Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore. Although this trade should help the Sens this season, a word of caution has to be put out concerning the trading for players from the southeast division.

The southeast division is one horrible division and it could be argued that 5 of the worst 10 teams in the league play in the southeast division. A big reason for this is bad defenses and outright horrible goaltending (Tomas Vokoun aside). The three worst teams in terms of team save percentage are Tampa (.881), Washington (.889) and Carolina (.891) while Atlanta (.904) is a marginally more respectable 12th worst. Because of this weak goaltending offensive players who play in the southeast division often look better than they probably are. Cory Stillman is a perfect example.

Cory Stillman vs SE division: 18GP, 11G, 11A, 22PTS
Cory Stillman vs rest of league: 37GP, 10G, 14A, 25PTS

In double the games he has fewer goals and only slightly more points.

And it isn’t just Stillman. Here are a few other big name trade acquisition possibilities.

Marian Hossa vs SE: 19GP, 11G, 10A, 21PTS
Marian Hossa vs Others: 36GP, 13G, 14A, 27PTS

Olli Jokinen vs SE: 20GP, 9g, 15a, 24pts
Olli Jokinen vs others: 38GP, 20g, 14a, 34pts

Jokinen has actually done well in terms of scoring goals against the rest of the league but his overall point totals are still lower.

Vaclav Prospal vs SE: 22GP, 12g, 15a, 27pts
Vaclav Prospal vs others: 34GP, 11g, 13a, 24pts

When it comes to acquiring offensive players from the southeast division it is definitely a case of buyer beware. They may not be everything you hoped they would be.