On April 27th of this year the San Jose Sharks were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Finals after just six games. After a regular season that saw them win the President’s Trophy for having compiled the most points of any NHL team, after winning 53 of 82 regular season games, the Sharks season was over in the first round of the playoffs. It was only the fifth time since 1968 that the league’s top seed had been eliminated in the first round.

Fans in San Jose were justifiably outraged, as were members of the Sharks front office. Two days after their season had ended Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson had this to say to the media:

“The frustration is overwhelming. We owe an apology to our fans and our ownership. Everything will be evaluated. There’s nothing that’s off the table. This is going to be a tough, painful summer, and it should be. Every one of us should feel uncomfortable. There comes a time when this group needs to grow up and deal with what’s in front of them.”

Wilson did not go into specifics as to what he would do over the summer and mentioned that he would need time “to conduct the autopsy”. He did make it clear that while there was nothing “off the table” he had no intention of replacing head coach Todd McLellan.

With the head coach safe and with the GM apologizing and insinuating that his players were immature much of the focus fell onto the Sharks three marquee players – Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov. Even head coach Todd McLellan chimed in with criticism of the big three:

“The team hasn’t succeeded with them driving the bus. That doesn’t mean they can’t do it, but I think the questions grow every year that you don’t succeed.”

In the Sharks case that means that the questions are growing to giant proportions. In the last four years the Sharks have won two Pacific Division titles, averaged 107 points per season and compiled a regular season record of 197-94-37. Over that same time they’ve had a Hart Trophy winner (league MVP), an Art Ross Trophy winner (league scoring champ), a Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner (most goals) and a President’s Trophy. But in the playoffs following those four years they have been eliminated in the second round three times and eliminated in the first round once. Their combined record in the playoffs the last four years is 20-21.

Had this first round exit happened to any other NHL team the reaction might not have been so angry. But, in San Jose it’s become a case where regular season success receives very little fanfare because many fans are now waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s gotten to the point where the President’s Trophy means virtually nothing to the fans because it was followed almost immediately by another early exit from the postseason.

So after all this it was expected that we would see big changes made to the Sharks roster this summer. Many people guessed that team captain Patrick Marleau would be traded in order to give the team a new captain, new leadership and some much-needed cap space in order to pursue other players. Others guessed that goalie Evgeni Nabokov would be dealt in favor of a more proven playoff goalie like Nikolai Khabibulin. One thing everyone agreed on, though, was that changes were needed and changes were coming.

It is now July 14th and as of this writing, no significant changes have been made. The Sharks have not made one single trade since being eliminated by the Ducks and are one of just three NHL teams (Detroit and Nashville are the others) that have yet to sign a single free agent that was not already on their roster.

The only changes that have happened in San Jose thus far are departures of back-ups and role players. Back-up goalie Brian Boucher signed with Philadelphia and third line grinder Travis Moen signed with Montreal. In addition to that fourth line winger Claude Lemieux retired and fellow fourth line forward Jeremy Roenick is debating retirement. Meanwhile three players have been re-signed by the Sharks – defensemen Kent Huskins and Rob Blake and forward Ryan Clowe. At the draft the Sharks had no first round draft pick and made no trades of consequence.

So where are the changes? Where is the shake-up? Has Wilson finished his autopsy and concluded that his roster still has some life in it?

If the Sharks are to go into next season having made only minor changes to their roster, no changes to their teams leadership and no changes to the coaching staff…why would anyone expect different results? We all know that this Sharks team is capable of dominating the regular season. We also know that this Sharks team is capable of folding like a wet taco in the playoffs. When the eighth seeded team in the Conference, a team that barely made it into the postseason to begin with, can bounce you out in the first round despite the fact that you have home ice advantage and sported a 32-5-4 record on home ice in the regular season I believe you need to do more than change the back-up goalie and get a new forward for your third and fourth lines.

The NHL entry draft has come and gone. The free agency period is concluding its second full week tomorrow and all impact players are long gone. The window of opportunity for Wilson to make dramatic and meaningful changes to his roster has all but closed.

While it is still possible for Wilson to make a trade to ship out a veteran or bring in a key player the market for such trades is drying up. Most teams have already made trades or signed free agents to fill in their rosters and no longer have the need, or the room under the cap, to take on a large salary. Even fewer teams are looking to shed talent right now so the Sharks could be hard pressed to find players worth trading for.

Making life even tougher for Wilson is the salary cap, but that’s a problem he brought on himself. As it stands right now the Sharks have already got 16 skaters and one goalie under contract for $55.5 million and only have $1.6 million left under the salary cap. Perhaps most baffling is the defensive corps where Wilson has mysteriously signed seven veterans to deals of $1.7 million per year or more. With only six defensive spots to fill the Sharks are assuring themselves of having one of the highest paid healthy scratches in the league every single night unless they make a trade but again, few teams have the cap space or the need to take on a high priced defenseman right now.

Doug Wilson is obviously a very smart man when it comes to running a hockey team and there’s no doubt that he has a plan for this franchise. However, if going into this season with the same cast of characters that failed on such an epic level last season is his plan then I cannot see how he expects to enjoy any more success the second time around. Maybe they get past the first round this year, maybe they even make it into the Conference Finals. But after four years of dominating in the regular season and flopping in the postseason, would that be enough? Would anything other than a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals be enough to call the Sharks season a success? And if this group was unable to beat the eighth seeded Ducks three months ago what makes anyone think that they would be capable of making a run to the Finals the following season?

As it stands now Doug Wilson has simply picked up where his players left off in late April. He is dropping the ball and letting down the fans, and ownership, of the Sharks. I simply see no reason to believe that this Sharks team will suddenly find the ability to win in the postseason and realize their potential. Unless Wilson is able to make some meaningful changes to the roster before opening night I believe that he will either apologize once again for an early playoff exit or he will be dusting off his resume and packing his office.

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Puck Podcast fans,

Thanks for logging on to my 2008 trading deadline blog. This is the place where I will post analysis and opinions on the trades made on Tuesday, February 26th as they happen. All updates will be in this blog so check back often to see if anything has been added.

Monday, February 25th – 6:42pm PT

FORSBERG TO AVALANCHE 

The Avalanche have signed Peter Forsberg to a one-year, $5 million deal. Since there are only 19 games left for the Avalanche he will actually only be paid about $1.1 million which will also be what his cap hit will be.

To me this signing is like a Frilled Lizard – it seems bigger than it is.

The Frilled Lizard, like the Peter Forsberg signing, seems bigger than it is

Forsberg was reportedly not healthy enough to return to the NHL just a week ago, but now he’s ready to comeback and expects to be a factor in Colorado’s attempt to make the playoffs? I don’t think so. It’s nice that he’s returning to the franchise that he started his NHL career with but how much of a difference will he really make? I don’t think it’ll be much. The Avalanche were already getting back Joe Sakic so offense was most likely not going to be a problem for them. Defense and goaltending, on the other hand, are still question marks for Colorado and Forsberg will do nothing to solve that.

Assuming that Forsberg is even able to play in every game once he does return I’d be surprised if he gets 10 points this season. He’s good but he’s not what he once was.

Now, if the Avalanche are to make the playoffs (they are currently 10th in the Western Conference – four points behind the 8th place Predators) then I think Forsberg will be a factor for them in the postseason. This signing, and the fact that it’s only for one year, seems more like a chance for Forsberg to retire as a member of the Avalanche and less like a chance for Forsberg to get one more Stanley Cup. Either way, I can’t wait to watch the first home game he plays as the environment should be incredible.

Monday, February 25th – 7:13pm PT

PROSPAL TO FLYERS 

Philadelphia Flyers get: Vaclav Prospal

Tampa Bay Lightning get: Alexandre Picard, 2nd or 3rd round pick in 2009

At first glance you would think that the Flyers are getting the better end of this deal but upon further review I think this is a great trade for the Lightning. Prospal has had a very quiet 29 goals and 28 assists this season (57 points – I do the math so you don’t have to) and the Flyers are getting a good player for the remainder of the season. However, I’ve watched enough of the Lightning games this year to know that Prospal was the benefactor of being on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. I don’t think he will be nearly as productive in Philadelphia where he is now in a playoff race playing pressure filled games with linemates who are NOT as dominant as Lecavalier and St. Louis are.

Alexandre Picard is a defenseman who was taken in the first round (8th overall) by the Blue Jackets in 2004. He’s 22-years old and gives the Lightning a good defensive prospect for the future. He’ll be a RFA after this year but he’s almost assuredly going to be re-signed by the Lightning in the offseason and if there’s one thing they need it’s defense. The conditional pick is almost certainly based on whether or not the Flyers re-sign Vaclav Prospal who will be a UFA after this year. If Philadelphia re-signs Prospal (doubtful) then it will be a 2nd round pick. If not it will be a 3rd round pick. Plus, the Lightning will have a chance to re-sign Prospal in the offseason if the Flyers do let him test free agency.

And just how many 3rd round picks do the Flyers have? They sent one to the Kings for Jaroslav Modry, then they got one in exchange for Jim Vandermeer and now they’ve sent one to Tampa Bay. Third round picks in Philadelphia last about as long as a Twinkie at a fat camp.

Monday, February 25th – 8:34pm PT

BOYLE STAYING IN TAMPA 

Not a trade, but the Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Dan Boyle to a six-year, $40 million deal. Good for the Lightning to lock him up long-term, but that’s a lot of money and a lot of years to give him. Boyle will be 37 years old when this contract expires, so barring injury he should be productive throughout the contract. It averages out to $6.66 million a year (again, I do the math so you don’t have to) which is a very unfortunate average salary. Couldn’t they have bumped it up or down a notch so that it would average either $6.65 or $6.67 million a year?

Boyle is a very good defenseman and this deal gives the Lightning some stability on the blue line for years to come. However, it could hamstring them from making moves in the future. Boyle now makes more than Chris Pronger, Mathieu Schneider, Ed Jovanovski, Sergei Gonchar, Sheldon Souray and Dion Phaneuf. Boyle’s good, but I don’t think he’s $6.66 million a year good.

Tuesday, February 26th – 7:35am PT

JANSSEN TO BLUES, SALVADOR TO DEVILS 

I just woke up and turned on the NHL Network and it’s as if they were waiting for me! The first trade of the day is announced as the New Jersey Devils send Cam Janssen to the Blues in exchange for Bryce Salvador. Salvador was one of the many names I mentioned on the show this past week as a guy who could be traded to a team looking for defensive depth. Salvador will be an UFA after this year so it’s a rental for the Devils but he should give them more depth in the postseason and that always helps.

As for Cam Janssen, I’m surprised that’s all they got in return. He’s a 24-year old goon with no scoring ability at all (he has one point and 205 penalty minutes in 95 NHL games) but he is from St. Louis so at least it’s a homecoming for him. I like goons, but do you really need to trade for one? Wouldn’t a draft pick had better?

Tuesday, February 26th – 8:15am PT

BELAK TO PANTHERS 

Speaking of draft picks, the Florida Panthers sent a 5th round draft pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Wade Belak. Belak is a lot like Janssen, only older. He has 29 points and 1,096 penalty minutes in 425 career games so the Panthers are not getting anything that will help them put the puck in the net. However, Florida is not the toughest team in the league so Belak will help them in that regard. The 5th round pick is a good price to pay for a goon so this looks like a good deal for both teams.

Tuesday, February 26th – 9:19am PT

CAMPBELL TO SHARKS 

Wow! Quite a bit has happened in the hour it took me to get to work! Let’s start with the Sabres trading Brian Campbell and a 7th round draft pick in 2008 to the Sharks in exchange for Steve Bernier and the Sharks 1st round pick in 2008. This is a great trade for Buffalo who was going to lose Campbell as a UFA this summer and it’s also a good trade for San Jose.

Campbell is a good defenseman and I think he immediately becomes their best defenseman. As Eddie and I talked about on the show this past week the Sharks needed to get some defense and Campbell definitely fills that hole. Whether or not he’s the piece that puts the Sharks over the top in the Western Conference – I doubt it. He’s an offensive defenseman and I think the Sharks need a more dominant stay-at-home guy. There’s still time, though, and more deals to come.

For the Sabres they are getting a good young player in Steve Bernier and a very valuable draft pick in the Sharks 1st round pick this year. Bernier was a 1st round pick of the Sharks back in 2003 and already has 42 goals and 81 points in 160 NHL games. He’s only 22-years old and should be a good player for Buffalo for years to come.

This is reportedly a very deep draft and even though the Sharks pick will most likely be 20th or lower it should still get the Sabres a good prospect to add depth to their organization. They could also trade that pick, or their own 1st round pick, to get some other assets. I think it’s a good return for the Sabres and their fans should be very happy with this trade.

BRAD RICHARDS TO STARS

The big trade of the morning is the Tampa Bay Lightning sending Brad Richards and Johan Holmqvist to the Dallas Stars for Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Halpern. Now that’s a great trade! The Stars are getting an extremely high-priced center that won the Conn Smythe Trophy back in 2004. Richards makes $7.8 million a year and is under contract through 2010-2011. Johan Holmqvist is certainly the back-up to Marty Turco for the playoffs and the immediate future and that’s a big drop off from Mike Smith who is a very good goalie.

I’m not sure how good Richards will be in Dallas, but he’s a good player who can score, hit and is a proven playoff commodity. The Stars are better with Brad Richards than they were with Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Halpern. However, the salary is so big I wonder how much of an impact this will have on them down the road.

Tampa Bay got a good return and addressed some needs. They got a good young goalie in Mike Smith who is 24-14-2 in his NHL career with a 2.34 GAA and .909 SV%. Granted, those numbers come behind a good team defense in Dallas and he’s now going to be playing for a traditionally weak defense in Tampa Bay but it’s still a big upgrade in net for the Lightning. I’m not entirely convinced that Mike Smith can’t go down there and help the Lightning win the Southeast Division! They are 12 points back of first-place Carolina but they have three games in hand and it’s not like Carolina is slump-proof at this point. It’s a longshot, certainly, but it’s not impossible.

This deal makes both teams better immediately and in the future so what a great deal for both teams.

CRISTOBAL HUET TO CAPITALS

This trade baffles me. The Montreal Canadiens sent Cristobal Huet to the Washington Capitals for a 2nd round draft pick in 2009. Montreal, who I thought was a sleeper team to win the Stanley Cup this year, just gave up their starting goalie for a 2nd round draft pick. Huet is 21-12-6 with a 2.56 GAA and .916 SV% this season and now the Canadiens, barring another move, will turn the reins over to Carey Price who is 20-years old! Price is 12-9-3 with a 2.83 GAA and .909 SV% this season and he’s now the man in net for Montreal. This is a shocking move to me and, taken by itself, makes no sense whatsoever. I have to believe that the Canadiens are working on another trade or else they are taking a huge gamble with a rookie goalie.

SALEI TO AVALANCHE, SKRASTINS TO PANTHERS 

There were two other trades while I was on my way to work – first was the Florida Panthers sending Ruslan Salei to the Colorado Avalanche for Karlis Skrastins and a 3rd round pick in the 2008 draft. I watched Salei play many years in Anaheim and I know that Colorado is getting a good stay-at-home defenseman that is very responsible in his own end. He will make the Avalanche defense better immediately.

The Panthers are getting a serviceable defenseman in Skrastins (he’s not as good as Salei) and a decent draft pick for the future. I’m not thrilled with what the Panthers got, but they didn’t give up a cornerstone piece of their future either.

RUUTU TO HURRICANES, LADD TO BLACKHAWKS 

The other trade was Tuomo Ruutu going from the Blackhawks to the Hurricanes for Andrew Ladd. Ruutu is a former first round pick back in 2001 and is a good forward while Ladd is a former first round pick back in 2004 who is only 22-years old and who won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes. The Blackhawks get a younger version of Ruutu and a guy with playoff experience. I’m not sure why the Hurricanes made this trade but Ruutu is not going to embarass himself out there so it’s not too big a risk either way.

Tuesday, February 26th – 10:05am PT

FOOTE TO AVALANCHE 

The Colorado Avalanche continue to completely rebuild their team by trading for Adam Foote. Foote joins Ruslan Salei as new defenseman in Colorado and with Peter Forsberg the Avalanche will certainly look different in the weeks to come. Foote’s best years were in Colorado, but they were also behind him. Perhaps this will spark him to play well and give them a boost if they are to make the playoffs, but for a team that is out of the playoffs right now and in the Western Conference it seems like they are pushing awfully hard to lose in the first couple of rounds at best. Do they really think that these trades will be enough to get them past the Ducks, Stars, Sharks or Red Wings? I don’t.

Turns out the Blue Jackets are getting a 1st round pick in either 2008 or 2009 and a conditional pick. If the Avalanche make the playoffs this year the Blue Jackets get their 2008 first round pick. If they don’t Columbus will get their 2009 first round pick. The conditional pick is based on whether or not the Avalanche re-sign Foote in the offeseason and how long of a deal it is. That’s a huge return for Foote. Good for Columbus and as for the Avalanche – wow. In what is being called a very deep draft to potentially give up your first round pick for Adam Foote is shocking to me. That’s a bad deal for Colorado, especially since Foote had made it clear that he would only go to the Avalanche. I’m not sure who the Avalanche think they are but adding Forsberg, Foote and Salei is not enough to get you past the Big Four of Dallas, Detroit, Anaheim and San Jose and they’ve given up some good draft picks in the process.

LAPOINTE TO OTTAWA

The Ottawa Senators traded a 6th round pick in the 2008 draft to the Blackhawks for Martin Lapointe. This trade reminds me a lot of the Ducks trade for Brad May last year as Lapointe will bring the Senators grit and experience. He’s won two Stanley Cups as well so will bring that experience with him to a team that should be a strong Cup contender in the Eastern Conference. The return the Blackhawks get is better than nothing, and since Lapointe was going to be a UFA this summer it’s not a bad move.

Tuesday, February 26th – 10:20am PT

FEDOROV TO CAPITALS 

The Washington Capitals have traded for Sergei Fedorov. The Capitals are getting a big name with very little left in the tank. It will be interesting to see if the Capitals put Fedorov on the same line as Alexander Ovechkin – I have to think that Fedorov was a hero of Ovechkin when Alexander was growing up and it would be fun to watch those two play together. The Capitals have added a new goalie and a new center – clearly they are making a push at the Southeast Division title. I don’t think it’ll be enough, but at least they are trying and not giving up a lot to it.

The Blue Jackets are getting Ted Ruth, a defensive prospect that is a former second round pick of the Capitals. Amazing how little a guy like Fedorov can get, isn’t it? I wouldn’t have believed that Ruslan Salei would get a bigger return than Fedorov at the deadline.

Tuesday, February 26th – 10:40am PT

DAVISON TO ISLANDERS 

Two more minor deals have come through. First, the San Jose Sharks sent defenseman Rob Davison to the New York Islanders for a 7th round pick in the 2008 draft. Clearly Davison was no longer needed in San Jose now that the Sharks have Brian Campbell and while a 7th round pick is not much it’s better than nothing. I’m not sure how much of a chance Davison will get on the Island but he’s a serviceable defenseman. He’s not going to be a difference maker but he will give them better depth on the blue line.

COOKE TO CAPITALS, PETTINGER TO CANUCKS 

The other deal was the Washington Capitals getting Matt Cooke for Matt Pettinger. The Capitals continue to reload their roster and Cooke has decent offensive skills though he is having a miserable season offensively with just seven goals and 16 points in 61 games. Pettinger is a former 20-goal scorer that is having an equally bad year with just two goals and seven points in 57 games this season. Perhaps a change of scenery will do both men some good. It couldn’t hurt.

Tuesday, February 26th – 11:52am PT

GILL TO PENGUINS 

After more than an hour of no trades the Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired Hal Gill from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs get a 2nd round and a 5th round draft pick in the 2008 draft. Gill is very big and very slow and I don’t think he’ll fit in well with the Penguins fast-paced style of play. If he stays back and does nothing more than clear the crease he’ll be fine. That’s good return for Gill as far as Toronto is concerned.

Tuesday, February 26th – 12:31pm PT

HOSSA TO PENGUINS, THRASHERS GET BIG RETURN 

I just got out of a meeting and the big news welcoming me back is that Marian Hossa is now on the Pittsburgh Penguins. He, along with Pascal Dupuis, are on their way to the Penguins in exchange for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and the Penguins 1st round draft pick in 2008. WOW!

Yes, the Penguins are getting a great player in Marian Hossa but they are giving up a LOT to get him and he’s going to be a UFA on July 1st. They had better re-sign him or else this could hurt them in the long run. I am a big fan of Colby Armstrong and think he’s a gritty power forward with untapped offensive potential. He’s been buried behind some really good players in Pittsburgh but could shine in Atlanta. They also get Erik Christensen who had 18 goals last year, Angelo Esposito who was the Penguins 1st round pick last year, and the Penguins 1st round in 2008! That’s an incredible return for a guy that was going to walk away as an UFA on July 1st. Good for the Thrashers to get three first round picks (Armstrong, Esposito & the 2008 pick) and Erik Christensen.

Clearly the Penguins are going after the Stanley Cup this season and Hossa will help them, but how much offense does a team need? Are the Penguins good enough on defense and in net to win the Cup? I have my doubts, especially since they just got rid of one of their best defensive forwards in Colby Armstrong. It’s a big gamble for the Penguins but I’m sure the Pittsburgh area is buzzing with the news that the biggest name moved at the trading deadline is coming to the Penguins.

Tuesday, February 26th – 12:52pm PT

I’m still trying to catch my breath after the flurry of deals right at the deadline. There were a lot so let me list them off and give a quick comment or two:

CHRIS SIMON TO WILD

Chris Simon, fresh off the longest suspension in NHL history, is on his way to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a 6th round draft pick. Why the Wild want him I’m not sure. They’ve got enough grit with Derek Boogaard and Todd Fedoruk but apparently they wanted to make sure they had enough. They are now a very nasty team on the fourth line and will be very tough to play against in the playoffs. For the Islanders, good for them to get rid of this guy and getting a 6th round pick is gravy. The best news for them is that if Simon snaps again he won’t be wearing an Islanders jersey when he does it. The Wild picked up Sean Hill from the Islanders after he got suspended for steroids and now they get Simon. Interesting.

STUART TO RED WINGS

Brad Stuart was traded from the Kings to the Red Wings in exchange for a 2nd round pick and a 4th round pick. Good move for both teams as the Red Wings get a defenseman to provide immediate relief while Brian Rafalski and Niklas Lidstrom are hurt and the Kings get a couple of more draft picks to build that championship caliber team in 2014.

AUBIN & BERGERON TO DUCKS

The Anaheim Ducks now have Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jean-Sebastien Aubin as they traded to get Aubin from the Kings in exchange for a 7th round draft pick. This move gives the Ducks some depth in net in case Giguere gets hurt but it’s not good depth. Aubin is average at best and awful at worst so it’s an interesting move to say the least.

The Ducks also got Marc-Andre Bergeron from the New York Islanders in exchange for a 3rd round draft pick. This is a great move because if there’s one thing the Ducks needed it was help on defense (yes, I’m kidding). The Ducks now have Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Mathieu Schneider, Francois Beauchemin, Sean O’Donnell and Marc-Andre Bergeron. Kent Huskins, a good defenseman, will most likely be sitting with me up in the press box the rest of the season. That’s a very odd move, though Bergeron is a power play specialist of sorts and in fact leads the NHL with power play goals among defenseman. Anaheim’s defense is the best the NHL has seen in a very, very long time and they have a variety of choices when it comes to match-ups with the opposing team and power play point men. I’ll be intersted to see if the 3rd round pick the Ducks gave up was their own or the Oilers pick that they got in the Penner deal.

BACKMAN TO RANGERS

The New York Rangers added a solid defenseman in getting Christian Backman from the Blues in exchange for a 4th round draft pick in 2008. Backman is not going to single-handedly turn the Rangers around but he’s good enough to help them play better defense and that’s the biggest problem the Rangers have had. The 4th round pick is a pittance to give up for defensive depth so I think this was a good trade for the Rangers.

MONTOYA TO COYOTES

If you listened to the show this past week you’ll know that I thought the Rangers should trade Al Montoya and that whoever got him was going to be getting their goaltender of the future. Well, he was traded and he’s now a member of the Phoenix Coyotes! Al Montoya and Marcel Hossa go to the Coyotes in exchange for David LeNeveau, Fredrik Sjostrom, Josh Gratton and a conditional draft pick.

I’m very surprised to see this deal only because the Coyotes just signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a long-term deal and already have Mikael Tellqvist as his back-up for this season. Montoya could be moved again in the offseason or at next years deadline but I can’t see that he will be happy as the back-up to Bryzgalov for the next four years. Very interesting move, though good for the Coyotes to get him.

As for what the Rangers got for him I’m not really impressed. LeNeveau is average at best but they have already have Stephen Valiquette as the back-up to Henrik Lundqvist so I guess this is to replace Montoya in the AHL. Sjostrom was a first round pick of the Coyotes back in 2001 but he’s never really established himself as anything more than just a decent NHL player. He only has 32 goals and 73 points in 261 career games so he’s not an offensive threat and his career -19 +/- rating tells me he’s not great on defense either. Marcel Hossa was a 1st round pick by the Canadiens in 2000 and is pretty much the same as Sjostrom. Hossa has 31 goals and 61 points in 223 career NHL games. Sounds like they are trading two very similar players and hoping that each reacts positively to a change of scenery and teammates.

Gratton is a goon and the Rangers do need one of those so I guess that’s a good thing. I’m not sure what the conditional draft pick is based on but unless that turns into a 1st or 2nd round draft pick for the Rangers I think they lost out on this trade. To give up a former 1st round pick who has the potential to be a dominant goaltender for years to come I’d think you’d get better return. What did the Rangers get that they didn’t already have? They got an AHL goalie, a goon, an almost identical player to Marcel Hossa and a conditional pick. Good trade for the Coyotes in all.

KILGER TO PANTHERS

The Florida Panthers acquired Chad Kilger for a 3rd round draft pick in 2008. Kilger is very well travelled and he could just be coming to Florida to replace Richard Zednik for the remainder of the year. 3rd round picks appear to be a dime a dozen this year and for Toronto to get that in return for Kilger is adequate. Kilger, by the way, was a 1st round pick by the Ducks (4th overall) back in 1995. Remember that when this years draft comes around – for every Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin there are a lot of Chad Kilger’s.

MOTZKO TO THRASHERS

Joe Motzko won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks last year and now, after a few months with the Capitals, he’s on his way to Atlanta. In exchange the Capitals get Alexandre Giroux. If either of these players make any impact with either team I’ll be stunned. I’m not even sure what the point of trading 4th line/AHL forwards is. Maybe to help the AHL teams, but that’s just a guess.

Tuesday, February 26th – 1:22pm PT

HLAVAC TO PREDATORS

This trade just trickled in (the deadline was an hour and 22 minutes ago) and it sends Jan Hlavac to the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 7th round draft pick. Hlavac was drafted in the 2nd round by the Islanders back in 1995 and has since jumped all over the NHL. In his first two years with the Rangers he scored 47 goals and 59 assists. Since then he’s had 40 goals and 60 assists. It’s doubtful he’ll ever regain the scoring touch he had in New York and Nashville will be his sixth NHL team. The Predators didn’t give up much to get him so it’s a low risk move and if nothing else he gives them a veteran player to round out the bottom two lines.

Tuesday, February 26th – 1:41pm PT

BOCHENSKI TO PREDATORS

Just when I thought it was safe to go to lunch the Anaheim Ducks have traded Brandon Bochenski to the Predators for the always popular future considerations. Good for Bochenski who was absolutely buried in the Ducks depth chart. This is the third team this season for Bochenski (he started the year with the Bruins) and along with Jan Hlavac he should make the Predators third and fourth line very experienced and deep.

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