Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Deadline Day 2007

While I was flipping between TSN and Rogers Sportsnet for the first two minutes, I knew that Sportsnet would be a gongshow. William Houston of the Globe and Mail confirmed my assumption.

Anyway, onto the day; I was a little disappointed at the moves....but at the end of the day, the last deal will be the one anyone talks about. So, we start with it.

Unable to get him signed to a new contract, the Edmonton Oilers (on Mark Messier night) traded the face of the franchise, Ryan Smyth, to the New York Islanders. In return, the Oilers get a 1st round pick, Robert Nilsson, and Ryan O'Marra. The Oilers and Smyth were working on terms of a contract, but couldn't come to an agreement. Smyth said he wouldn't take a "hometown discount" and was asking for a multi-year deal at $5.5M.

Now, this could signal the possible white flag of the Oilers. They gave up M-A Bergeron a week earlier and now with Smyth-- you have to wonder if they are giving up on the season. It should take the wind out of the sails of the team just because Smyth was the guy in Edmonton. Now, we'll see where this takes the Oilers, as they are seven points out of a playoff spot in 9th place.

The Buffalo Sabres were busy, but also made some questionable deals. First off, the Sabres finally traded Martin Biron, but not to a contender and not out West. Biron went to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2nd-round pick. To compensate that, the Sabres picked up Ty Conklin from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fifth round pick. To compensate for front line injuries, the Sabres got Dainius Zubrus and Timo Helbling from the Washington Capitals for Jiri Novotny and a 1st round pick.

You can't blame the Sabres for trying to get a forward, but Zubrus has really benefited from having Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin on his wings. Plus, Zubrus is only a rental with his asking price being too high and the Sabres having to sign Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.

Now, for the Biron/Conklin swap.....WHAAAAAAA?!? Now, this doesn't make sense at all. That's like trading a Porsche for a Gremlin. If Ryan Miller goes down, do the Sabres think that Conklin will be the guy to carry the load?? I understand they needed to get something for Biron, but that's not the way to go about it all.

The big name that went was Bill Guerin, who went to the San Jose Sharks for Ville Nieminen, Jay Barriball, and a 1st round pick. Guerin will bring even more depth to the Sharks offense, but defense may be the question. We'll see how it comes around with a little slump the Sharks are going through, but their offense is scary good on paper-- now they need to come through on the ice.

As much as I hate to admit it, the Pittsburgh Penguins did pretty well during this deadline. They added muscle to the team and while it may not be enough to win a Stanley Cup, it will be enough to get their stars into the playoffs for a big run.

The Pens picked up Gary Roberts from the Florida Panthers for Noah Welch, while Georges Laraque got picked up from Phoenix for Dan Carcillo and a 3rd round pick in '08. Both Laraque and Roberts had to waive their no trade clause.

While Roberts is a great vet and Laraque the muscle; the issue with Laraque is that he has a no-movement contract. That means Laraque can't be traded, sent down or bought out unless he approves. Laraque has another season on his contract making just over a million bucks, which is a little much for a fighter.

The Pens also picked up Nolan Schaefer as a goalie for Wilkes-Barre Scranton.

One of the interesting moves is the Detroit Red Wings taking a big chance on Todd Bertuzzi , but they didn't give up much-- just a conditional draft pick and prospect Shawn Matthias. Bertuzzi hasn't played since October and has had to deal with some back surgeries in order to get better.

That said, if Bertuzzi is healthy, he'll bring some much needed grit to the Red Wings roster and will be the muscle if he can hold out on his health.

There were plenty of other deals to talk about, but you can check out Face Off Hockey Show for the analysis from us and Spector's Hockey's Lyle Richardson. We'll do all we can to break down the deals made, not made, the winners and the losers.

If you need all the round-up for the Trade Deadline, check out TSN's trade page for all the deals big or small.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Overpaying In Atlanta

It didn't take long before the dominos started to fall, and it looks like those in the ATL are ready to make a serious playoff run. First, the Thrashers picked-up defenseman Alexei Zhitnik from Philadelphia and then this morning, they finalized a deal to get Keith Tkachuk.

The Zhitnik deal was announced after the early games last night. It sent Zhitnik to his third team this year, while Philadelphia got defensive prospect Braydon Coburn. Zhitnik has 23 points this season with the Isles and Flyers, but we basically picked-up to help the awful puck moving defense in Atlanta and bring some veteran leadership to the fold. The Flyers will enjoy Coburn, who never found his nitch in the Atlanta organization. Coburn is a definite upgrade over Freddy Meyer IV who was traded to the Islanders to get Zhitnik.

Tkachuk waited a little bit to give Atlanta an answer, considering his no-trade clause; but he eventually lifted it. In return, the St. Louis Blues got Glen Metropolit, a 1st and 3rd round pick in the 2007 Draft, and a 2nd round pick in the 2008 Draft. Tkachuk has done well with the Blues with 20 goals and 43 points on the season and will add much needed depth to the Thrashers front line. Metropolit was in his first year back from three years overseas, and didn't do too shabby with 12 goals and 28 points, including a +9.

Now, the Zhitnik trade may be mortgaging the future for the here and now, but I can understand what the Thrashers wanted to. They needed someone on defense who knows how to play the position and can move the puck around too.

The Tkachuk deal is leaving me scratching my head. Draft picks, nowadays, are just a goldmine of talent. And considering that the Thrashers could be fighting for a spot, the Blues could have two nicely positioned first-round spots. Not only that, but the Thrashers will probably only get Tkachuk's services for the remaining 18 games and whatever playoff games they have, since Tkachuk is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. This is a scenario where it is mortgaging the future.

Let's be honest, the Thrashers have been in free-fall mode for the past couple of weeks, and the odds of them making the playoffs on this pace is not really a guarantee. If they spent all this for nothing; then the ownership may have to question the future of GM Don Waddell and head coach Bob Hartley.

When all is said and done, you really can't fault the Thrashers for trying....even if they do fall flat on their face.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Around the Rink 02.24.07

Alright, let's get the Brawl in Buffalo out of the way. Now, it was an interesting piece to see, considering the history these two teams (Buffalo and Ottawa) have had in the past two seasons. However, the debate of "late hit" or "dirty hit" is really subjective. Looking at the video replay, you could make the case for Chris Neil's hit on Chris Drury as being a touch late, but no stride was made before impact and no elbow was up, which would have been obvious since they are the same size.

The aftermath of that, with Ray Emery going with Martin Biron and then Andrew Peters was bizarre; but the question on my mind is why put your top line out there after the hit?? Let's be honest, sure the Sabres have last change; but isn't that the point where you waste your time-out to put your third or fourth line guys in??

The result of the hit is Drury being placed on IR indefinitely for a concussion and a must-watch scenario for tonight.

Anson Carter is on the move again, as Carter was traded from Columbus to Carolina in exchange for a 5th Round Pick in '08. Carter has 27 points in 53 games and was brought in as a precautionary measure assuming that Nikolai Zherdev wasn't going to come over to North America.

Carter has had a season to forget, which is why most people are shocked that the Canes went out in got him. Sure, he's a depth player while Erik Cole is out, but Carter has only 24 games experience in the playoffs; which won't help the Canes out at all. We'll see if having some true talent on a line with him will help his cause, but this move is quite the odd one, for sure.

Georges Laraque could be on the move soon, as he was a healthy scratch on Thursday; sparking speculation of his departure. Pittsburgh radio stations were already saying Laraque to Pittsburgh was a done deal; which is going on 48 hours without it going down. This is due to Laraque's no-trade clause.

However, shouldn't the Penguins have gotten some muscle earlier in the season?? When you look at what has happened this season with Sidney Crosby; you would think that after the first time, they would get the picture and get right on it. Fact of the matter is, if they trade for muscle; the Pens will only use him for whatever is left of the regular season (may include some healthy scratches) and that's it, unless they can provide otherwise.

We'll see where Laraque goes, because he's sure he'll be heading somewhere come Tuesday.

We talked about some of the GM meetings during the last show, but it's interesting about the teams not wanting to deal with the three-point games. Some say that it wouldn't create much excitement and would water down the game or whatever other party line they were spouting off.

Look, are you trying to tell me that a divisional match-up, where you could get three points over a rival, wouldn't create more passion or parity?? My god, that could change the landscape of the game and really bring passion to it. Let's be honest, if you could get a three-point advantage over the other teams compared to the one-point if it goes to overtime....why wouldn't you do it; it just make sense.

Of course, you'll have the smart-ass Bettman bashers going, "Of course he wants to bring in three-points, he's a basketball guy." Shut up, stupids.

That's my time, unless something big happens; I'll be back on Tuesday to maybe do some "live blogging" for the trade deadline. We'll see how well that goes over, though. Until then, check the message boards for the hilarity happening over there or if you missed a show, check out the Podcast.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Forsberg Deal

It finally happened. After month of build-up, meeting after meeting with Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, and countless Lyle Cherry appearances, Peter Forsberg was dealt to the Nashville Predators for Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent, and two picks. Forsberg is said to be suiting up for tonight's game against St. Louis.

Now, this deal can work one of two ways-- first, it can work out that the Preds get a healthy Forsberg which will help them get that much closer to the Cup. Or, it could mean that the Preds get an injured Forsberg after a couple of games, then lose him back to the Flyers due to the UFA deal he has going on.

There are plenty of people who think the Preds overpaid for a rent-a-wreck like Forsberg, and they could be right. However, Upshall really hasn't reached the potential that was build up for him and has been passed over numerous times during the camps. Secondly, the Preds are so deep in young defensemen, they needed to do something or else there would be a huge logjam that no team would want. They would have been traded off eventually, but to do it for someone who is considered to be the best player in the world when healthy-- you take the risk.

Even if Forsberg gets injured, what would it matter to how the Preds are doing now?? They are second in the entire league in points, they have forward depth coming out of everywhere (like a 3rd line center with 20 goals, right David Legwand??), and neither Parent nor Upshall really had much to do with their success. So, should this whole experience go flat, it's not really a loss in the grand scheme of things.

Another theory is that Forsberg's skate boot problems will magically disappear now that he's in Nashville. That's a decent one, but I don't think Forsberg was really holding out to play in Music City, USA-- he is legitimately hurt.

As it stands, the Predators are a better team now then they were 24 hours ago, on paper. The sad thing is-- Forsberg alone outscores the Predators roster in playoff points. If he can stay healthy throughout, the Preds could become the front-runners....more so.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Around the Rink 02.12.07

Oddly enough, the Calgary Flames are making the biggest splash, first with Craig Conroy; now they acquired Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau from the Boston Bruins for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew. This came as a surprise as it seemed that the Edmonton Oilers were the front runners for the services of Stuart, but the team from down the QE2 ended up being the big winners.

However, personally, I have to wonder if they gave up too much. Granted, Kobasew can't stay healthy and Primeau is decent as a 3rd or 4th liner-- that's a push. The thing that gets me is why trade a defensively solid player like Ference for a guy who had the third lowest plus/minus in the league before being traded?? They already have some two-way defensemen in Dion Phaneuf, Roman Hamrlik, and more recently, Mark Giordano. We'll see if this move pays off, but if it doesn't-- there will be plenty of angry fans.

As for the Bruins, they are continuing to re-build; but if you're scoring at home-- the deal last December is now Joe Thornton for Marco Sturm....not something you want to see.

Another move made is Ladislav Nagy being traded to the Dallas Stars for Mathias Tjarnqvist and a first-round pick. Nagy has eight goals and 41 points through 55 games and has been in Wayne Gretzky's doghouse for a good chunk of the season. Tjarnqvist had four points and averaged 10 minutes a game.

However, to trade away a first-round pick is what makes this deal a little bit crazy in my eyes. Nagy has all the tools to be a big star, but either rarely displays them or is injured most of the time. However, with the Stars "goals by committee", anything that seems like it could be an upgrade may help in the long run.

Some sources are now saying that the NHL will be playing in London, England to start off the 2007-08 game, as it is rumored that the LA will make the trek across the pond to debut the O2 Arena, one that was developed and created by Anschutz Entertainment Group, the same group that owns the Kings. Their rumored opponent is the Anaheim Ducks, who back in 1998, played the Vancouver Canucks in Japan.

This is not the worst idea in the world, though you'll have people yelling and screaming about taking a home game away from both teams-- but if you want to expand the game; this is the way. As many of you know, we have plenty of fans in the UK and their dedication to the game deserves to be rewarded and this could be the thing to do it.

The NHL is laying the wood to Ray Emery, who laid the wood to Maxim Lapierre. Emery was suspended three games by the NHL after a vicious slash to the head and face area of Lapierre. Lapierre was knocked into Emery, who took exception. When Lapierre and Emery were trying to get up, Emery took the heel of his stick and hit Lapierre at the top of his visor. Luckily, no serious injury occurred.

However, I say good on the NHL for this one. I'm a Sens fan and I still think that Emery deserved something. You can't condone these sort of head shots. I understand that some goalies are complaining about being protected, but once martial law occurs, something has to be done-- which is what happened in this case.

There's a lot of people making a stink about what's going on with Gary Bettman after it was revealed that he's not looking to step down, despite rumors on the contrary. You know, I'm not the biggest fan of Bettman, but since his tenure-- he has given some relevance to the league in terms of expansion (maybe too much) and profit (373% raise since his coming in). However, people still hate Bettman, and some with good reason.

The problem I have with it is that no matter what happens-- it's all Bettman's fault. Penalties, no penalties, sky being blue-- all Bettman's fault. Hockey fans claim to be the most dedicated, which is true-- but they also seem to be the most fickle. No matter what happens, nothing is ever good enough. It's not just Bettman, but I'm sure whoever his successor is; he'll get the same scrutiny. Not even that, but people underestimate the power that the Board of Governors has over Bettman and the entire NHL, but that's for another day.

Bettman contract runs out at the end of the CBA term, which is after the 2010-11 season. As long as the money is rolling in-- Bettman will stay in power. Get used it and get over it.

That's all for now, but make sure you check out FOHS Wednesday from 9 PM ET to 11 PM ET live. There's always the Podcast if you can't make it or the Message Board for good waste of time.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Around the Rink 02.06.07

Sean Avery is on the move again, this time to the New York Rangers. Along with Avery, the LA Kings sent John Seymour to New York for Jason Ward, Marc-Andre Cliche, and Jan Marek. Avery had 28 points and 116 PIMs on the year, while Ward has 10 points.

Another move for the Kings to rebuild their team. Added to it, Avery will get a chance to play on a real contender and either show what he's got or fail miserably on the world's biggest stage. Aside from depth, Avery was probably brought in to be the agitator for the Rangers and maybe spark the Rangers a bit. One thing is for sure, if Avery tries anything stupid on or off the ice, you can bet guys like Brendan Shanahan will be all over him.

Also, good to see a Cliche on the move.

Obviously Sidney Crosby is going to be a target on the ice, to which he has been in the past month or so. With a spear from Jason Blake, a suspected butt-end from Maxim Lapierre, and an inadvertent high-stick from Francois Bouillon; Crosby has gotten attention both on a off the ice. Many feel that he goes down like a ton of bricks whenever he is touched. Granted, on the Blake and Lapierre happenings, they were in Mellon Arena; which could mean Jean-Claude Van-Damme is on the case.

However, a couple things need to be addressed in this situation: (1) The Pens need someone to protect Crosby before it's too late. One of these time, it won't be an embellishment and could destroy the Pens season. (2) If it's such an embellishment, why don't the refs call it or the NHL fine him?? I know Crosby is trying to get the calls with the Pens power-play being lethal; but still-- they shouldn't treat Crosby or Alex Ovechkin or Joe Thornton any differently than they treat Dominic Moore, Kris Beech, or Mike Grier.

Finally, for any reporters to read this (I doubt many, but still), stop giving him a free pass, like Bob McKenzie has. I don't care if he's 19 or 91, if you're going to play in this league, you should face the same amount of ridicule and scrutiny whether you're a rookie or in your final year. Sure, the maturing process will take longer, but the quicker you whip someone like Crosby into shape, the better player and person he'll become in the long run.

The Flames will retire Mike Vernon's #30 tonight. Vernon lead the Flames to their only Stanley Cup in 1989, going 16-5 in that run to the Cup. Vernon won the Cup and Conn Smythe while in Detroit in 1997, then pretty much faded into oblivion.

Now, the question is-- will the Flames be like other teams and take what seems to be two hours to raise the jersey to the rafters?? We'll find out tonight.

Brandon Bochenski is another player on the move again-- this time to Beantown. Bochenski was traded from Chicago for a conditional draft pick. Bochenski had 33 goals and 33 assists in the AHL this season. However, that's the knock on Bochenski; he does really well in the AHL, but when it comes time to perform in the show, he disappears. With the Bruins dealing with injuries, now is the time for Bochenski to make an impact.

That's all for now, but make sure you check out Face Off Hockey Show, every Wednesday at 9 PM ET. If you miss out, check out the FOHS Podcast or the FOHS Message Boards to see what you may have missed.