James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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A trade of actual substance

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It’s a shame that the hockey version of the Daily Dose didn’t exist in 2010-11 – let alone even busier seasons – because it would have been an awful lot of fun to mull over seemingly tide-changing deals like the swap that sent Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk to the St. Louis Blues and Erik Johnson to the Colorado Avalanche.


Honestly, I was at least semi-wrong in thinking that Colorado got the best of that deal on my gut instinct, but perhaps one could blame the imaginary ceiling for Johnson. After all, a guy who was drafted in front of the likes of Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews, Phil Kessel and Nicklas Backstrom had to be pretty darn good, right? (Johnson also is the eternal “guy who becomes a superstar in NHL video games based on his potential rating,” which certainly helped his stature. Hey, stop looking at me like that; he’s a galloping skater with a mean streak, hard shot and great size – he’s supposed to be really good!)


Anyway, I complain about past trade deadline situations because this year’s version seems like it has high potential to disappoint. Perhaps I’m letting previous scarring experiences cloud my judgment, however, as I’m still a little bummed that the Dallas Stars didn’t trade Brad Richards last year. (I imagine Joe Nieuwendyk would admit he should have done it if you shot him with “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” truth serum after the talented center left for nothing, by the way.)


Rick Nash is 2012’s answer to Richards in 2011, then. It’s interestingly different in a few ways, though:


1. If you ask me, Richards is the better player.

2. That being said, Nash is a better scorer while Richards is more of a playmaker, which makes Nash more enticing because goals are generally tougher to come by than assists.

3. Richards was an impending unrestricted free agent while Nash is locked up in a situation that some might equate to hockey imprisonment.


While Nieuwendyk had a playoff race to worry about, the bigger worry in Columbus is simply that Scott Howson might not be adequately competent for the job. I hate to be harsh, but what has happened in his stay that makes you think he’s capable of pulling off a trade that would get the most out of the one Blue Jackets project everyone whose goodness – generally, I mean – cannot be questioned? Considering the hurricanes created by his whiffs with Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, I’m not so sure I’d want him to be the one who pulls that trigger.



With that rousing run of negativity in mind, we might not get a deal that’s demonstratively better than the one that happened between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning – and then the Detroit Red Wings – on Tuesday. Let’s take a look at it from the three perspectives – but mostly the teams who actually got a roster player.

Colorado: + Steve Downie, - Kyle Quincey: To my surprise, the Avalanche’s sporadic successes this seaosn have been derived from goaltending – primarily the impressive work of Jean-Sebastien Giguere – rather than what was once an impressively wide-open offense this season. Downie won’t make this group more dynamic, but he’ll easily fill the physical role that Chris Stewart once did – and then some. His offensive ceiling is a little lower than Stewart's - especially since the former 22-goal scorer will be without Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis on his line - but he’s likely to open up space for the youngsters he’s likely to line up with. To be honest, I’m not totally sure if he’ll spend more time with Paul Stastny or Matt Duchene, but he’s likely to be a pain to deal with for Colorado’s opponents either way. To be totally honest, I’m a little surprised that GM Steve Yzerman was willing to give up Downie, even amidst a wildly disappointing season. Downie is a great source of PIM and can be a great source of offense when his hand is screwed on straight. We'll see if Joe Sacco can make that the case more often than not going forward.

Tampa Bay: + Detroit’s first-rounder, - Downie: Speaking of Yzerman, the former Red Wings captain made a deal with his old pals to get their first-round pick. Let’s be honest, though; Detroit’s first round is basically a second-round pick with some tasteful makeup. The point is pretty clear for the Bolts, then: they better hope that the 2012 draft is as bountiful and deep as its loudest proponents will claim.


Either that or Yzerman hopes to turn those picks into one helluva roster player …

Detroit: + Kyle Quincey, - first-round pick: I must say, there was always a part of me that thought the Red Wings brain trust wanted a “mulligan” on Quincey once he flourished initially with the Los Angeles Kings. In fact, I’d say they probably wanted a do-over for him more than Ville Leino (a player they’ll almost certainly never grab again, unless the Buffalo Sabres cut ties with him if the NHL’s next CBA provides an amnesty clause).


My guess is that Quincey fits into a middle or bottom pairing for the Red Wings right now, so his fantasy impact might be minimal. That being said, Quincey’s ceiling has shown flashes of brilliance in his career and Detroit gave up a first-rounder for him, so it’s wise to keep an eye on where exactly he fits in on a talented team who simply cannot seem to win on the road …



Seriously, a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks moved the Red Wings to 15-16-1 on the road. Of the NHL’s legitimate Cup contenders, Detroit needs home ice advantage the most … The Lightning are in fire sale mode, but Steven Stamkos doesn’t seem to care. He scored two goals and an assist in another impressive performance … Speaking of 2G, 1A’s, Radim Vrbata did the same to hit the 30-goal mark with the streaking Phoenix Coyotes, who might just have a shot at winning the Pacific if San Jose keeps stumbling … Speaking of the Sharks’ stumbles (transition mania!), the road warriors are turning road-weary as they lost to the lowly Blue Jackets in Columbus. The most intriguing element was Jeff Carter’s hat trick, which underscores my belief that he might provide more bang-for-the-buck in a trade than Rick NashMike Fisher scored three points of his own Tuesday, once again increasing the chances of his name not being mentioned without a Carrie Underwood’s. Unfortunately, the trick is in on him because any number times zero equals zero so it’ll just keep happening. On the bright side, he’s married to Carrie Underwood … Marc-Andre Fleury shut out the Rangers last night, although I’m not sure why NHL.com insists that it was the Penguins’ first win against New York (they beat them 4-1 in January, unless my eyes are deceiving me) … Ondrej Pavelec made 50 saves in the Jets’ OT defeat to Philly. I emphatically believe that he’s a good goalie to have until mid-March considering Winnipeg’s schedule … Kari Lehtonen shut out the Canadiens behind a downright skeletal Stars roster … Sam Gagner’s magic might not be out; he had three points last night.



Here’s your latest depressing Nathan Horton update: he’s not close to returning … Jamie Langenbrunner will be sidelined about a month with a broken foot which totally would have been a huge deal 2-3 years ago … Jonathan Toews is day-to-day and missed Tuesday’s action … Pavel Datsyuk will (supposedly) miss just a couple weeks with knee surgery. Beware though, because it’s a freaking knee injury and all … Vincent Lecavalier is out indefinitely with being injured on a team going nowhere … Jimmy Howard and Danny Cleary returned for the Red Wings last night … Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been cleared for contact as he rehabs his shoulder injury. (Click here for the full injury list.)

James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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