Jokinen, Guerin, Recchi Among Big Names Moved At NHL Trade Deadline
Total Pro Sports – Yet another NHL trade deadline has come and gone and amidst the overworked cell phones and fax machines around the league, we’re left to sift through the remains of all the wheeling and dealing. None of the big-ticket names that had been speculated the past several weeks were moved before today’s 3 PM deadline. Jay Bouwmeester is still in Florida. Marian Gaborik is still in Minnesota. Heck, Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer are both still in Anaheim even after the Ducks made a deal with Pittsburgh that seemed to signal the departure of at least one of the blueliners. But there were still some notable names that switched clubs as organization’s around the league looked to stockpile for their respective playoff runs.
The first big transaction of the day involved the Calgary Flames – a team looking to keep up with Western Conference giants, Detroit and San Jose. The Flames sent speedy forward Matthew Lombardi along with Brandon Prust and their 1st round draft pick in 2009 to the Phoenix Coyotes for center Olli Jokinen. The 30-year-old pivot comes to Calgary after 42 points in 57 games in his first (and only) season in Phoenix and joins a Flames roster that already boasts 5 skaters with or on pace for 20 goals this season.
Analysis: Jokinen, who still has one year remaining on his current deal, heads north at a time when the Flames are 3rd in the Western Conference and 8 standings points up on Vancouver for the Northwest Division title. Calgary has sent its salary cap to the max with this one and clearly feels this is a move that can lead to a long and prosperous playoff run. Jokinen will certainly give the Flames more scoring depth and it should be interesting to see how the Finnish product performs on the first competitive team of his career. Ultimately, however, Calgary’s playoff hopes still seem to rest on the shoulders of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.
The Bill Guerin saga, which began Saturday with a deal that appeared to be complete, finally ended Wednesday when the 38-year-old winger was shipped to Pittsburgh from Long Island for a conditional draft pick in 2009. Guerin tallied a team-leading 16 goals and 36 points for the Islanders in 61 games this season and will bring 105 games of playoff experience to a Penguins roster hoping for a repeat run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Analysis: Kudos to Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero. His roster clearly needed scoring depth at the wings along side All-Star centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. With the acquisitions of Chris Kunitz last week and Guerin yesterday, it’s mission accomplished for the Pens. Pittsburgh currently sits 8th in the Eastern Conference just 1 point up on 9th place Carolina but the Penguins clearly seem situated now for another long playoff run. The healthy return of Crosby is obviously essential but as long as Evgeni Malkin continues his MVP campaign, the reloaded Penguins are once again threats in the East.
As the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins didn’t need a great deal of help at the deadline, but made some minor improvements in adding veteran winger Mark Recchi from Tampa Bay and defenseman Steve Montador from Anaheim. Recchi, now with his 8th different NHL team, leaves the Lightning with 13 goals and 45 points in 62 games and heads to Beantown in exchange for defensive prospect Matt Lashoff. Montador, meanwhile, adds grit and depth to the Bruins blue line.
Analysis: The Bruins were rumored to be interested in bigger defensive names like Pronger and Derek Morris but in the end weren’t willing to part with the valuable pieces to get such a deal done. GM Peter Chiarelli instead settled for Montador on the back side and Recchi for scoring support up front. While he’s no Pronger, the back end depth Montador brings could prove invaluable in the grind of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Recchi, meanwhile, gives Boston one more scoring threat for the opposition to fear. The 41-year-old winger knows what it takes to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup and his winning experience with Carolina in 2006 could seriously benefit a Boston team that likely will be favored in the East.
Finally, it wasn’t much of a surprise that Derek Morris was on the move but it was a little surprising how long it took for the deal to materialize. After front-runners Boston, Washington and Philadelphia couldn’t finalize a deal with Phoenix, the New York Rangers stepped to the plate and wrapped up the 30-year-old Morris in the final minute before the 3 PM deadline. The Blue Shirts needed to part with 3 players (Dmitri Kalinin, Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes) to get the deal done but the addition of Morris greatly improves a New York blue line that has already surrendered the 4th fewest goals-against in the Eastern Conference.
Analysis: The Rangers entered the deadline reeling having dropped 8 of their last 10 games overall and while the addition of Morris won’t help a New York team that’s averaging less than 2.5 goals per game, his defensive presence will certainly help keep the goals out. The only way the Rangers can succeed this season is through their defense and goaltending and so by adding Morris to a defense corps that already includes Wade Redden, Marc Rozsival and Marc Staal, New York is ready to help support superstar netminder Henrik Lundqvist.