Deadline Winner and Losers
Today’s trade deadline came and went, and several teams made moves. There weren’t many earth-shattering, league-altering trades, but we rarely see those on the deadline. Instead, several teams made small moves to sure up roster spots or dump salary. Remember, several big names moved before the deadline, with Jean-Sebastian Giguere, Dion Phaneuf and Ilya Kovalchuk all moving.
There were some winners and losers at the deadline, and I’ll highlight them here:
1. Washington Capitals
The Capitals didn’t make many big names moves today, but they picked up some solid talent on the deadline. Their biggest acquisition, Joe Corvo, brings an offensive presence to the Caps blue line. The veteran doesn’t have impressive stats (four goals, eight assists, -6), but he routinely puts up above 20 points per season. The Capitals already have talented defenseman Mike Green, and Corvo could compliment him well on another defensive pairing.
The Caps also picked up gritty forwards Scott Walker (Carolina) and Eric Belanger (Minnesota Wild). Belanger brings some offensive prowess, and Walker brings toughness to the lineup. The team also re-acquired Milan Jurcina from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Washington didn’t do anything drastic, but the team added some nice pieces for the playoff run.
2. Phoenix Coyotes
For an NHL-run team, the Coyotes made a lot of noise at the deadline. Phoenix sits fifth in the Western Conference standings, but they’re only one point back from falling into a three-way tie for third place. With a young team desperate for some life, the Coyotes were the most aggressive team during the deadline. The team acquired Wojtek Wolski from Colorado, who posted 17 goals and 47 points for the Avalanche this season. He should add scoring punch to a team that only scored 169 goals this season.
Looking for help on the blue line, Phoenix acquired Derek Morris and Mathieu Schneider in separate deals. Phoenix, who ranks 29th in the league with the powerplay, can use both players to help move that ranking up. Schneider was a bit of a curious pick, as he hasn’t played much for Vancouver this season.
The team also added forwards Petteri Nokelainen and Lee Stempniak for depth.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
The team didn’t do much, but they filled some holes with two acquisitions. They first acquired defenseman Jordan Leopold from the Florida Panthers for a second-round pick. The defenseman can log big minutes and brings an expiring contract.
The team’s better trade came late yesterday, when they traded for Alex Ponikarovsky. The left-winger can finish around the net, but he’s also there to set teammates up for the score. He can easily slide into the top two lines for the Penguins and produce. Like Leopold, his contract expires after the season.
4. New Jersey Devils
While today’s acquisition of Martin Skoula didn’t address their glaring issue on the blue-line, the trade for Kovalchuk puts them on this list. While Kovalchuk didn’t immediate click with the team, he seems to be settling in to the second-line with Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus. The left-winger scored his second goal last night, but he also looked comfortable with the team and his linemates. Look for this deal to pay off as the Devils push towards the playoffs continues.
I only saw one clear-cut loser today, and here they are. Drumroll, please:
1. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers, who lost goalie Ray Emery for the year with a hip injury, could have bolstered their depth in net. Remember, Michael Leighton wasn’t a starter to begin the season, and Brian Boucher is a below-average goalie. A quality backup like Vesa Toskala came cheap, and the Flyers could have immediately made an impact for Philadelphia. Instead, they stand still, and now have to hope Leighton can carry them into the playoffs.
There are my winners and losers from today’s trade deadline. It’ll be interesting to see what teams moves will pay off for the remainder of the season.