I am confident in stating that this past Tuesday/Wednesday were the most exciting 48 hours of NHL Trade Deadline news that I’ve ever witnessed. It had it all: deals that shocked you and made you think, deals that made you laugh (Vanek), and even a little musical comedy on TSN. More than anything though, I found myself asking more questions than gaining answers regarding a few player-swaps, so lets try and break them down one-by-one.
Marty St. Louis headed to Broadway
When the rumour first emerged that St. Louis could be headed to the Rangers, I and many others said, “not a chance that will happen.” Sure enough, I was served a big old slice of humble pie, as the Lightning captain was traded to NY for Ryan Callahan, a 1st round pick in 2015, and a conditional 2nd round pick in 2014. After the shock of realizing that I would no longer see St. Louis in a Tampa uniform wore off, a question immediately popped into my head. Who won this deal? In the short run, I believe the answer to be the Rangers. Adding the dynamic St. Louis to their lineup only increases their goal-scoring depth, and St. Louis was already creating scoring chances Wednesday against Toronto, looking perfectly in sync with linemates Carl Hagelin, and former Tampa teammate Brad Richards. St. Louis may be 38, but he scores at a near point-per-game pace, and has eluded Father Time (so far). With another year on his contract at a $5.25 million cap hit, the Rangers will not have to worry about the headache that could come with negotiating Callahan’s new deal, as he is believed to have been asking slightly more than what St. Louis is earning.
In the long-term though, the Lightning win the deal. Not only do they get a 1st round pick in next year’s deep draft, but they also receive someone of lasting value in Callahan. Sure, he may not put up the points that Tampa fans have been accustomed to seeing St. Louis rack up (Callahan’s career high is 54 PTS), but he is a young, bona fide leader, a trait that any team desires in a player, and if he clicks with Steven Stamkos, we could see Cally come close to St. Louis point production. The only snag could be if Callahan wants too much dough in the off-season and is let go/has his rights traded, but with plenty of cap space, GM Steve Yzerman should be able to make a deal work to keep this valuable asset in Tampa blue and white for years to come.
Luongo going back to FLA
I still cannot believe this deal actually happened. After all the talk over the better part of the last two years surrounding a potential Roberto Luongo trade, Canucks GM Mike Gillis finally said sayonara to ‘Bobby Lu,’ and shipped him to the Panthers for Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias. Once again, after the initial shock wore off, I was confused, finding myself asking, in what direction are both the Canucks and Panthers headed?
Does the Luongo trade signal the beginning of a rebuild in Vancouver? With two, young goalies in Markstrom and Eddie Lack, could this be Mike Gillis’ first step in breaking down a Canucks team that looks nothing like the squad that made a run to the Stanley cup in 2011? I would say it’s possible, but the Canucks still have many high-priced, long-term contracts that will be difficult to move if Gillis is seeking a rebuild. The Sedins are on the books at $7 million a year until 2018, Alex Burrows at $4.5 mil until 2016, Alex Edler at $5 mil until 2018, Jason Garrison at $4.6 mil until 2017, not to mention that all of these deals, as well as the contracts of Ryan Kesler, Chris Higgins, Dan Hamhuis, and Kevin Bieksa, have no-trade or no-movement clauses. Or maybe Gillis thought Luongo was too much of a pain to deal with so he moved him, thinks he has a solid core with the rest of the club, and that an end of year coaching change may reverse Vancouver’s fortunes?
Also, what’s the game-plan of Panthers GM Dale Tallon? All season I’ve been hearing that the team was trying to move its veterans, and though they did deal Marcel Goc to Pittsburgh, they’re appearing to stay the course of being a veteran team, with a few rookies sprinkled in. They gave up their top goaltending prospect in Markstrom for Luongo, who is no spring chicken, traded Tim Thomas to Dallas for another veteran backup in Dan Ellis, and then re-signed another vet in Brad Boyes. Where are you taking this team Mr. Tallon?
Vanek sports the bleu, blanc, et rouge
I’ll answer the obvious question first that everyone seems to be contemplating. Does Thomas Vanek make the Habs a contender in the East? Not a chance. He does not put them over the edge in terms of competing with either Boston or Pittsburgh.
What really boggles my mind though is, how does Garth Snow still have a job as Isles GM? Seriously, the Vanek debacle has been very Mike Milbury-esque in terms of sheer stupidity. I see his logic in making the original deal of Matt Moulson and two picks to Buffalo for Vanek. Instead of trading Moulson, he acquires an ever bigger asset in Vanek, and therefore can either sign him or trade him for a return that would be more than Moulson could fetch. Did he not realize that a) It would be doubtful Vanek would sign to stay on Long Island and b) once that got out, that other GM’s would have leverage, as they knew Snow would be forced to trade him? Combined between both deals, Snow gave up Vanek, Moulson, a 1st round pick, and a 2nd round pick for prospect Sebastian Collberg and a 2nd round pick. How Snow still has a job is beyond me.
Way to be Lester
Finally, major props to musician Lester McLean, who’s short, yet humorous songs brought life to TSN’s coverage when incoming trade news was slow. Here’s his song about Ilya Bryzgalov going to Minnesota: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY9LsbcPT9c
Photo credits to sportspyder.com, cbc.ca, and torontosun.com