Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Oh how the tradewinds blow

Post #47 Topic: NHL Trade Deadline

I’m kind of surprised that I’ve been doing “this” for this long. I guess that speaks volumes as to law schools failure to “consume” me, as so many of my peers had promised me was beyond inevitable. Or perhaps my incessant meaningless hammering at my keyboard can be attributed to my adoration for the written word. Then again, its probably just that I have strong opinions, am steadfast in sticking to them and feel that it is my duty to inform the world of the rights, and protect said world from its oh so many wrongs.

Either way, this is my 47th post and all I have to show for it is a missing “F” key and an extra-sensitive “K” key. Extra-sensitive? Yes indeed. With most keys, seeing a letter appear on your monitor requires at least a little physical pressure. But not with my “K” key. My “K” key has feelings; and a whole lot of them. That gosh darn key is so sensitive that I can add a K to any document simply by brushing my finger over it. Sure its not as sensitive as the new Mac’s which require being “thought” on, but imagine my professor’s shagrin when they see the following: “In International Shoe kkk the plaintiff feared that the kkk defendant would enter a motion for a kkk summary judgment”. Needless to say racism has no place in law school; rather, it is solely reserved for schools of Public Policy (Maxwell throw ya hands up k).

The reason that I’m so thrilled that I’ve lasted so long in an overly-saturated game with millions of illiterate high schoolers trying to become the next Bill Simmons or Rick Reilly is that by lasting, I have allowed myself a chance to analyze and critique the NHL trade deadline, which I consider to be one of the most exciting days in sports, bar only the coup de final in the yearly steroid competition – Le Tour De France.

Unfortunately for my dedicated readership, there were far too many moves for me to cover all of them. SO… the following are some of the better, worse and more surprising deals from yesterday’s (2/26) deadline.

Tampa Bay trades Brad Richards and Johan Holmqvist to the Stars for Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Halpern

Tampa: Tampa accomplished several of their most important objectives of this deadline. As of now it appears that Tampa will not make the playoffs, meaning the rest of the season can be used to determine whether Mike Smith can be a #1 goaltender, which Tampa has been lacking since the Bulin Wall left post cup run.

Prior to the trade, Tampa was very strong up front; Lecavalier, Richards, St. Louis…But after those three the only threat was Vaclav Prospal (who is now also gone). With this trade Tampa has addressed a serious need… cheap depth. Jeff Halpern is well traveled, but his value has never been disputed. From Washington to Dallas, Halpern is a career 40 point guy who backchecks and has leadership qualities… a nice fit for any rebuilding team’s 3rd line. In Jussi Jokinen, Tampa adds a 24 year old shoot out specialist who is on pace to reach 50 points for the 3rd time in his young career… Jokinen will fill the 2nd line RW spot nicely.

Dallas: Dallas gets what Dallas needs, a marquis player who can take the weight off of Mike Modano. With Modano likely leaning towards retirement, Richards becomes the young face of an otherwise aging franchise. His 2-way play, 90 point potential and Conn Smythe trophy past will serve Dallas nicely in their attempts to compete with the pride of the conference: Detroit and Anaheim.

Washington trades a bag of coffee beans (in the shape of a freshman defenseman at Notre Dame, a non-hockey powerhouse school) for Sergei Fedorov.

Washington: I am almost at the point where I take back what I said earlier in the year about Sidney Crosby. Sure he is the Most valuable player in the league. But if the question is who is most dominant, the answer is undoubtedly Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin has turned into a 1 man wrecking crew with the potential to score 60 goals before he even turns 21 – impressive. Ovechkin is surrounded by great players too; Mike Green, Alex Semin, Niklas Backstrom and now… Cristobal Huet (the #1 goalie Wash. needed to replace fan favorite but aging Olaf Kolzig). Only problem is that none of these guys have playoff experience. None know how to grind out wins in game 7’s. None know the intensity that is, although now a cliché, required to win a cup championship. In comes Sergei Fedorov. Sure Sergei can’t pocket ‘em like he used to, but he can still skate. Sergei should do wonders to educate fellow countrymen (the two Alex’s) on the recipe for playoff success. Fedorov is also solid defensively and can be used as a shutdown shadower on some of the other Eastern Conference big boys… Fedorov at this price can only be considered a phenomenal deal, and one that immediately propels the Caps to the position of Southeast Division favorites. Plus, with the attention in Washington being on the young nucleus, Fedorov gets one more chance to rejuvenate his career.

Buffalo trades Brian Campbell to the Sharks for Steve Bernier and a 1st rounder

Buffalo: I say Buffalo wins this one. In a market full of NTC’s (no trade clauses) and only 2nd tier defenseman being available, Campbell may in fact appear as the #1 PP QB that teams drool over. But don’t be fooled. Here is a guy that can put up the points, but can not avoid the repetitive defensive lapses. While he might help the San Jose blue-line, Campbell emerged out of nowhere as a powerhouse last year, and as so many have before him, he may in fact be poised to recede into obscurity on what happens to be a stacked San Jose team. Take into consideration that there was NO WAY that Buffalo would resign Campbell and you see how Darcy Regier (Buffalo GM) was acting in his team’s best interest.

While I don’t know much about Bernier, all reports from the West say approximately the same thing – that Bernier is a young power forward, defensively responsible with 35 goal potential and 1st line written all over him. Bernier will look great on a line with Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly, and if the Sabres can get their finances together, this line has the chance to truly grow together.

Also, scouts say this is one of the deepest drafts ever (although it seems as if this analysis is levied every year). A 1st rounder in a deep draft is nearly invaluable, especially with the Shark’s current record slating Buffalo for a 16th-18th pick courtesy of the cartilage monsters.

Colorado trades a 1st rounder and a conditional pick for Adam Foote.

Colorado: Foote’s prior success in Colorado can’t be ignored, and with the recent addition of Foppa (Forsberg), this team looks like the one that took the cup in ’01. Only problem is that ’01 was nearly a decade ago and other than the additions of Peter Stastny and Wojtek Wolski, the parts have aged accordingly. With an inconsistent netminder (Theodore/Budaj), the Avs aren’t even promised to make the playoffs (currently they sit outside the frame). Mortgaging your future for a cup run is one thing. Doing so (again in a deep draft) just to make the playoffs is another, far less wise one.

Rangers trade Al Montoya and Marcel Hossa for Fred Sjostrom, Josh Gratton and David Lenevue:

Pheonix: Not quite sure to be honest. Hossa is a grinder but Sjostrom is a younger, faster, more offensively inclined version… not sure how this works out. Al Montoya has potential to be a #1 goalie and its sad that the Rangers gave him up for a lot less than his original worth, but the truth is that the Rangers have king Henrik in net for the next 6 years, making Al expendable. Strangely, Phoenix has their own #1 Ilya Bryzgalov who appears to have the starting position on lock.

Rangers: Lenevue is a favorite of Rangers’ goaltending coach Benoit Allaire, and according to pro scouts, can be groomed to be a solid backup netminder. With Henrik in the crease, Leneveu will see limited action in the future, a role perfect for his recent inconsistencies. Sjostrom will for now assume Hossa’s spot on the 4th line. Gratton will be fighting in Hartford (see previous post) until his contract expires.

Detroit trades a 2nd and a 4th for Brad Stuart

Detroit: Detroit just got a lot deeper. Brad Stuart has never amounted to the star he was expected to be when he started in San Jose, but he’s solid. Although he’s a glaring minus this year, he plays on one of the league’s worst teams. That -16 should turn around quickly in Detroit where he will not be forced to face opposing team’s top lines (hello Mr. Lidstrom). Throw in his 21 pts and his 21 minutes per night and Detroit looks a lot stronger in a fiercely competitive West.

Pittsburgh trades Erik Christensen, Colby Armstrong, Angelo Esposito and a 1st to Atlanta for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis

Pittsburgh: This trade is curious. Hossa serves as a SEVERE upgrade on Crosby’s left wing over Colby Armstrong, who was struggling to find the net despite being paired with the game’s most creative setup man. Pascal Dupuis is not as rough as Christensen but is quicker, has a better nose for the net and is GREAT on the PK – two significant upgrades. Seems like Pittsburgh won this, but depending on Hossa’s off-season decision and Esposito’s progress in juniors… this could easily tilt in favor of Atlanta.

Here though, lies the real problem. Sidney reupped for 10 a year. With Malkin leading the league in scoring in Sid’s absence, his RFA status this coming summer will command him a similar pay-day. Jordan Staal will also require a new contract, and despite his sophomore slump, there is no doubt that the enormous potential is there. Throw in rookie D-man Kris Letang (future Norris trophy candidate) and M.A. Fleury, and questions arise as to whether the Pens have enough to make a competitive offer to Hossa this summer when he becomes a UFA? Seems as if the answer is no, in which case, the last-ditch attempt at this year’s cup may in fact come back to haunt these suddenly relevant Pens.

Atlanta: Hossa was not going to re-sign – so good riddance. Besides this is Ilya Kovalchuk’s team – beyond any reasonable doubt. In return they receive 2 scrappy players who can look out for Kovalchuk when Holik retires (hopefully sooner rather than later for Atlanta). These two will fill valuable 3rd line roles on a rebuilding team, not the 1st line minutes they were negligently assigned in the Igloo. Given their low price-tag, this was clearly a value-laden trade that enables the Thrashers to be competitive in the approaching off-season.

Esposito is an enigma. Two years ago, prior to his draft, he was considered the most dangerous offensive weapon (behind Rangers’ Alex Cherapanov). Bad attitude and bad numbers have lead to a serious dip in his stock. However, with a little discipline and a little improvement in the work ethic department, Esposito could be the perfect sniper compliment to play on Ilya’s opposite wing. See earlier discussion for 1st rounder value.

So where does this leave us? Well… I’m not sure it leaves us any where other than we already were. Yes the Penguins got stronger in the east, but Marian Hossa has a history (albeit a brief one) of disappearing in the playoffs – case in point, the rangers 4 game sweep of the Thrashers in last year’s first round. The other big team in the east, the Senators, made a minor move adding Martin Lapointe. While Lapointe should address Ottawa’s toughness concern, his impact will be marginal at most. Elsewhere in the East, the Devils remained essentially the same and the flyers picked up Prospal but again, impact TBD.

If anything, the Capitals truly established themselves as a contender in the east, ironically leaving the Canes behind in what became their own trade deadline storm. Montreal… whom many expected to be the forerunners for the other Hossa brother remained quiet, executing only one deal in which they awkwardly traded away their #1 goalie – perhaps their hopes are that Carey Price can be the next Patrick Roy, or Ken Dryden.

As for the good old broadway blueshirts… Things seem ok, and as far as the season has gone, just ok is just fine with me. Despite a wrenching loss to Les Habs last week, the rangers have won 3 out of 4, picking up a total of 7 points over that stretch. According to Glen Sather, rangers’ GM… the Rangers were happy with their position, and felt the need to address only minor issues.

And I’ll take it. Chemistry is important when it comes time for the playoffs. Last year, prior to acquiring Sean Avery (who I increasingly believe the Rangers need to resign), the locker room was a mess. The Avery injection worked wonders in uniting the locker room and propelling the Rangers to what was nearly a historical Cup run. Assuming Renney and Sather know their stuff, the Rangers chemistry is peaking as we speak, and the rags should be ready to roll come the beginning of April.

Other Notes

Not to boast but DAMN I look good in a suit.

The only thing sadder than when your fallback shirt is no longer wearable is when your two fallback shirts both become unwearable at the same time. RIP “So many fish so little time” and “Delt Fall Rush 2003”. May you both rest eternally in our minds next to “I am Tiger Woods”.

If you have a cleaning lady, and she doesn’t clean… is she just a lady? I recommend to Webster’s collegiate dictionary the adoption of “lady of the mop” to describe shitty cleaning people.

Going to a candy store really is fun. However old you are, when you step foot into a house of confectionaries, the rest of the world (and its Fed Tax assignments) seems to disappear. Which got me thinking, wouldn’t it be smart if Dentists sold candy in their offices?

Independence day is an amazing movie. Sure the effects are slightly out of date but seriously, go back and watch it. After all, Will Smith don’t have to cuss to sell records.

Real playas don’t eat pasta. Only fuck with the shrimp and the lobsta – you know who.

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