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Friday, March 10, 2006

NHL Trades Roundup

Well, yesterday's trade deadline ended up be busy but less than exciting. A lot of players moved. Many that were expected. Some that weren't. But, there weren't many big blockbuster moves as we've seen in years past. Very understandable. I'm not sure they'll actually keep the trade deadline so far away from the end of the season. We shall see. Anyways, I decided to do a little trade roundup of all the deals that were done over the course of the past day and a half.

BLOCKBUSTER DEAL(S):
-Goali Swap- The Colorado Avalanche made the biggest splash and the most news by swapping his #1 goalie, David Aebischer with the Montreal Canadians for Hart and Vezina trophy winner, Jose Theodore. I believe that for this season, the Canadians are the really winner from this trade. They are fighting for the last playoff spot in the East, and Aebischer is a more than capable goalie to carry them into the playoffs. In this past Olympics, he almost single handedly carried a non-NHL laden Swiss team into the semi-finals. He can deliver the same goods for the Habs. He was also extremely surprised about this trade. And, in all the rumors and sites that I've read over the past month and a half, his name was never mentioned. Theodore has not been playing like his old award winning self this season. Actually, he's played horrible. He also just broke his heel and won't be back until the start of the playoffs. Can he just turn on the juice after a season of dismal play? I don't think so. I believe that the change of scenery will pay off starting next season. But, my prediction is that the Avs, for the first time in a long time, will be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
-The Edmonton Oilers nab Sergei Samsonov-In a last minute trade, the Oilers have really changed the outlook of their team. The Bruins, realizing that their playoff hopes are slim, looked to unload heavily priced players. The Oilers are trying to hold on to the last playoff spot in the West. In an effort to solidify their chances, the Oilers grabbed Dwayne Roloson from the Minnesota Wild to shore up their goalie situation and have now added a tenacious highly skilled forward that can score goals. Before yesterday, I would have said that if the Oilers met the Red Wings as the #8 seed that it would not really be much of a problem for the Wings. Now, that outlook has changed. Just by adding these two players, the Oilers have made their team more formidable and will be a hand-full for who-ever plays them in the first round.

Big Winners:
-Vancouver Canucks-By far, I believe they made the most amount of trades to solidify positions that they felt were week points for them. They nabbed Keith Carney, Eric Weinrich, and Mika Noronen, among other role players. Carney has been a stalwart on defense for his entire career, and he's a great leader in the locker-room. I think he'll do great for the Canucks. Weinrich is another excellent offensive defenseman that was traded by the St louis to drop some more salary from their cap in order to pretty up the team for their upcoming sale. The funny thing about it is that ever since the Blues have start unleashing some of their highest priced players, they've been playing pretty darn good. The Canucks' defense is now solid, and their goalie situation has now improved. Noronen hasn't played much in Buffalo because rookie sensation Ryan Miller and Martina Biron have played great. That doesn't mean Noronen is bad. He's the odd man out this season. He has a lot of potential, and I think he has the chance to prove himself in Vancouver. Can he or Alex Auld carry the Canucks through the playoffs? I'm not sure and leaning towards no, at least for the this season. But, again, they will be formidable for whoever faces them, but their goalie situation is still too shaky to prove dominating. The Canucks' goalie situation has also been the reason why even with the all-star filled line-up, the Canucks can't make it passed the second round.
-Again, the Oilers and the Canadians-See reasons above.
-Phoenix Coyotes-No, I don't think that their trades will get them into the playoffs, but they made some moves that I feel will help them next season. The biggest of which was landing Oleg Kvasha from the New York Islanders. They've landed another good scorer. Cujo was rumored to be on the trade block but didn't go. I think the Coyotes will be better next season.
-Carolina Hurricanes-OK, they only made one trade, but it was a big one. Mark Recchi has not worked out in Pittsburgh, but he's still a good scorer and role player. They added Doug Weight to their team last month. This trade really shows that the Hurricanes are preparing for a dominant Stanley Cup run. They want to show that this season is no fluke, and that they're in the race for real. Other teams better watch out. I believe that Carolina is the team to beat this season. Yes, even more than Ottawa. The Senators have showed their biggest weekness. They can't win tight games. They're only truely dominant in high scoring games. When they score under 5 goals in a game, they have a losing record. This might be prove to be their achilles heel when it comes to the tight checking style of the playoffs. They can't expect to win playoff games 7-3. Not going to happen.

Biggest Losers:
-The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim-Yes, they got role player, Jeff Friesen, from the Capitals and picked up another defenseman in Sean O'Donnell. But, they gave up Keith Carney and Sandis Ozolinsh. They have huge holes at defense now, which was their bread and butter in their Stanley Cup run in '03. I know they're nipping at the heals for the 8th playoff spot, but I don't think they're going to be able to get it now. If they do, they're going to be out pretty early. Bad move for the Ducks. Even if Jiggy does another super-human act in goal, he won't be able to stop the amount of shots that will now get through because of the weekness at defense.
-Colorado Avalanche-OK, I might be totally wrong here. Lemaire (**Correction: the Avs' GM is Pierre Lacroix**) is the GM best known for grabbing hall-of-fame goalie Patrick Roy from the Montreal Canadians for the measely price of Jocelyn Thibault. Thibault has realy defunked since then and has done terribly for the Penguins this season. But, Roy was playing bad because of the team in front of him, not because he was in a funk. Yes, the change of scenery was a key, and he was the ultimate piece in the Avs' puzzle to winning the Stanley Cup in 1996. However, he didn't just turn on a switch to play well. He had been playing well in Montreal. They just hung him out to dry. It is not the same case with Theodore. Lemaire is looking for another Patrick Roy kind of trade here, but I don't think he's going to get it here. Or at least, not in this season. This may be the Roy trade starting next season, and I have faith that Jose can get back in his old form because I really do think he's a great goalie. But, it's not happening this season. Lemaire should have made this trade in the off-season and get Jose for a lot less money and maybe for some more in return. He's going to regret making this deal now. He has just sealed the Avs' fate for this season.
-Nashville Predators-Yes, they also made only one move, but they did too much for it. Brenda Witt was requesting a trade from the Capitals. He was going to get it. The Predators didn't have to give up a first round draft pick for him. They paid too high of a price for him, and I don't think he was worth it. I think they were looking for another diamond in the rough trade reminiscent of the Steve Sullivan trade two years ago. But, I don't think that this is a repeat, and I think the Predators were so eager for that kind of trade that they basically gave a BMW for a Honda. This isn't the trade that will get Nashville past Detroit. Sorry.

In the last bit of news, Rico Fata, Andy Hilbert, and Mike Morrison were claimed off of waivers by the Capitals, Penguins, and the Senators respectively. I think I predicted that at least Fata and Hilbert would be claimed, so that turned out true. Also, one final note. I do think that the Philadelphia Flyers made some good moves, but I'm not calling them winners for one important reason. They're a great team were a great team before yesterday. However, they haven't been able to stay healthy and have lost hundreds of man games to injury. Even with the trades they made, they only way this struggling team is going to survive is by their health factor. They won't be winndes without it, but they did make some good moves.

And, that's what I think about this year's deadline trades. Stay tuned. In a few weaks, we'll be looking at this season possible playoff picture and my predictions.

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