Evaluating The NHL Trade Deadline: 30 Trades, 52 Players, Somehow Uneventful

SB Nation takes a look at the winners and losers of the 2010 NHL Trade Deadline, the busiest, yet somehow still the most boring, in recent memory.

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Evaluating The NHL Trade Deadline: 30 Trades, 52 Players, Somehow Boring

The 2010 version of the NHL trade deadline has come and gone, and believe it or not, 30 trades involving 52 players and 25 draft picks is a light day compared to deadlines in previous years. Still, some teams improved big time, while others fell flat on their face, did absolutely nothing (which also comes with consequences) or solidified their rebuilding status. 

It's a bit of an odd deadline day, of course, because it comes just about 50 hours after the Olympic trade freeze was lifted around the league. Some deals were done before that freeze was put into effect last week, so the proceedings were kind of scattered this year. Still, it was certainly quantity over quality on this Wednesday.

Let's run down the winners and losers, shall we?


Phoenix Coyotes - winner!

Well, hey, we didn't really see that coming, did we? The financially struggling Coyotes are currently under NHL ownership, but they must've been doing a good job staying within their budget, because they had plenty of flexibility and plenty of autonomy in making moves.

What did they do?

Overall, the Coyotes lost one roster player, a decent prospect, a few not so strong prospects, and a bunch of late round draft picks that don't hold much value for at least four players that will step into their lineup immediately and have a solid impact. They're already in the top tier of the Western Conference playoff race and these moves today solidified that status.

Most importantly, though, Phoenix needs a deep playoff run to help rally that fan base. The moves today were a clear indication that the Coyotes are serious and that they're going to make a run at things this year in the postseason. For financial reasons alone and the stability of the franchise, these moves go a long way. Phoenix is the major winner today.

Ryan Whitney - loser!

The USA Olympian moves from warm, sunny Anaheim, where the Ducks are just three points out of the playoffs in the West, to Edmonton, where his Oilers are the worst team in the entire NHL. Should we go any further, here? Because they're not going to be good for a while, either, and there are several years left on his contract.

After all, look no further than this post from The Copper & Blue on Monday. It's a few days old, yes, but nothing has changed really. Steve Tambellini is general manager still, at least.

I was never inclined to give Steve Tambellini the benefit of the doubt. When the organization that knew him best passed him up as general manager in favour of a mediocre agent, well, that said something to me. But I'm always happy to be proven wrong.

So far, though, I look like a genius. What can't this guy screw up? What can Steve Tambellini possibly get right in this world? The catastrophically imbecilic Nikolai Khabibulin signing? The complete clusterbeep that was the Oilers' roster from day one? The closest things we've had to pleasant surprises - Ryan Potulny, Sam Gagner, and Gilbert Brule - were all Kevin Lowe moves.

Remember when we panned Kevin Lowe? I wake up in the middle of the night dreaming of Kevin Lowe these days.

And the latest. Denis Grebeshkov for a second-round pick. To the Nashville Predators, a team rocketing up the NHL standings. It's inconceivable that this pick will be earlier than fifty-fifth overall in the shallowest draft year for some time. Essentially, we gave Denis Grebeshkov away. Gave him away.

With that at the helm, it could be some time before Whitney sees the playoffs again. Cherish that silver medal, bud. Oh, and Edmonton is really cold and just the exact opposite of Southern California's awesomeness. That's not fun.


Pittsburgh Penguins winner!

No, Pittsburgh didn't actually do anything on deadline day, but their movement on Tuesday night came close enough. The Penguins didn't really have to do anything to make themselves better. As defending Stanley Cup Champions and one of the best teams in the East again, the Penguins are just a solid team from top to bottom. Ray Shero is clearly thinking about another run, though, and on Tuesday night he went out and grabbed a winger for Sidney Crosby, one thing that has seemed to elude Sid for his entire career thus far.

That's a terrifying proposition for the rest of the league. Alexei Ponikarovsky will be a free agent at the end of the year, and the Pens gave up a nice young prospect in Luca Caputi to get him, but that doesn't matter when they've also put themselves in the position to win a Stanley Cup again this season. Besides, it's not like there are no prospects in the system.

Here's SBN's Pensburgh:

Caputi has been a point per game player in the AHL and was in the Top 10 league wide in goals.  At 21 years old and 6'3, 190 pound frame, he was shaping up to be a steal of a 4th round pick from 2007 and a guy who could have contributed to Pittsburgh full-time as soon as next season.  Shero felt he needed to sacrifice that to get a guy in Ponikarovsky.

The cupboard isn't bare: Dustin Jeffrey is young and a terrific AHL talent, Mark Letestu has shown he can fit in during limited NHL minutes and Eric Tangradi is still the prized budding jewel of the organization.  Long term there's hopes that guys like Nick Petersen or Ben Hanowski could add skill, but they're still hockey light years away from making an impact.

Shero has shown great balance in sacrificing young talent in order to set his NHL team up for immediate success.  On paper that's what he's done with the acquistion of Ponikarovsky.  But there's only so many future chips that can be traded away, have we crossed that line yet?  That might be an issue in the years to come, but for now one has to credit Shero and the scouts in turning a 4th round pick into a viable NHL Top 6 contributor.

Martin Skoula - winner!

One man's trash is another man's treasure. Really, it's true. In this case, the trash/treasure in question is 30-year-old defenseman Martin Skoula.

Here's the deal: he was a Penguin, and he basically played himself right off of the roster in Pittsburgh. He got to a point early in 2010 where the Penguins were scratching him without having a healthy blueline. Rough days for Mr. Skoula, indeed. When he was traded to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night as part of a package for Alexei Ponikarovsky, I'm sure he was happy to be going to a team where he'd be able to get some ice time.

But then, continuing with the trash theme, the Leafs quickly flipped him to New Jersey, where coach Jacques Lemaire is actually kind of high on him. Alas, the treasure part, kind of.

Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, via beat writer Tom Gulitti:

"What he does is he gives us a big body (6-3, 225) that can play in different situations," Lamoriello told me. "More importantly, he is used to our style because he played for Jacques (Lemaire) in Minnesota. Whether he plays the five, six or seven (defenseman), he give us depth and when Paul Martin comes back we’ll have eight defensemen."

No, it doesn't say he'll be playing every night. But he will be playing. On a Stanley Cup contender (favorite?). Skoula wins.

Boston Bruins -  loser!

The Bruins entered the deadline period with one major need: scoring. They're the worst offensive team in the NHL, and teams that don't score don't win hockey games. So what does Peter Chiarelli do on deadline day?

Logically, he makes a move on defense. Trading away Derek Morris early in the day, he replaced him by acquiring Dennis Seidenberg from the Panthers later in the day. It's not necessarily a bad move, and some may even say that Seidenberg is an upgrade that costs about a million dollars less. But it in no way fixes the major issue the Bruins have this season.

Our Bruins blog, Stanley Cup of Chowder, agrees:

For a team that is last in the league in goal scoring that is still in the playoff hunt not to land a goal scorer is inexcusable. Peter Chiarelli and the Bruins brass sent a clear message: this is not "the year to B here". A Cup run this year was a bit of a pipe dream but I figured the B's would still want to win a playoff series to line Jacobs' pocket with an extra couple games' worth of concession sales. Peter Chiarelli tried to spin it like they were trying to improve for this year, but it is clear that this deadline was all about the future, not the present.

Go Sox?


Philadelphia Flyers -  loser!

The Flyers really never had a chance to do anything significant at the deadline, even if they really wanted to do so. Why not? They completely tied their own hands by shipping out almost every draft pick they had, handing out no-trade clauses like candy to second-line forwards and by having only mid-level, mediocre prospects in the farm system.

Because of this complete lack of assets, the Flyers were unable to make a move for a goaltender, like Dwayne Roloson or Tomas Vokoun. They didn't have the parts to get Dan Hamhuis out of Nashville, either. They were out bid on Raffi Torres and Joe Corvo and Milan Jurcina, too. They did it to themselves, and now they'll enter the playoffs with Michael Leighton in net.

His 13-4-1 record with the team aside, can Leighton be the guy who leads the Flyers through a deep playoff run? It's at least a question mark; one that the Flyers couldn't improve.

San Jose Sharks - winner!

The Sharks didn't do anything, and that's why they win at the deadline. They're the best team in the Western Conference, after all. What do they need to do? At SBN's Fear The Fin, they're overlooking the deadline today and figuring out playoff line combinations.

How apropos.

At any rate, with the roster essentially set, composing playoff lines now heads to the forefront of the discussion. As I mentioned yesterday, I have advocated splitting HTML (the line of Heatley, Thornton, and Marleau) up throughout the course of this year, as it spreads out your scoring punch. Devin Setoguchi immediately begins to get better looks, and as we saw against New Jersey yesterday, it has the potential to pay off..

More of that sort of line combo discussion at FtF, of course.

New York Rangers - loser!

The Rangers made their splash before the deadline by getting rid of Ales Kotalik's contract and picking up Olli Jokinen, but they're another team that really couldn't afford to stand pat. They aren't in the playoffs, they aren't necessarily good on any side of the puck and they likely aren't going anywhere this season.

I guess in that light, it's fair to say that doing something at the deadline wouldn't really improve things either, but doing nothing at the deadline is pretty terrible.

Washington Capitals - winner!

If there is any legitimate criticism of the way the Washington Capitals are built, it's that a) they aren't tough enough and b) they aren't strong enough defensively. All four of their acquisitions at Wednesday's deadline help to fix at least one of those problems.  Belanger is an extremely responsible defensive forward, Walker is a gritty leader who adds a lot of toughness to the team and Corvo is a solid defenseman who can quarterback the Capitals struggling power play.

Are they the best pick ups? No, in fact, they're all depth players that won't have a ton of impact. During a playoff run, though, that's what helps most. Solid depth.

They didn't lose much for these guys, either. The second round picks can come back to bite them later, but Pothier, Osala and the late picks don't mean much. Japers' Rink agrees:

The "In" column is slightly underwhelming.  Four useful NHL caliber players to be sure, and an effort to generally address some of the team's needs both in style of play and on the depth chart, but not the shiny bauble some fans undoubtedly wanted.  The good news is on the "Out" side of the equation.  Second round picks have some value, but with a solid farm system in place the Capitals don't need them as much as some other teams, and only one NHL roster player was moved (and one who was replaced, on paper at least, by a comparable yet better player).


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