Read Corey Abbott's Eastern Conference analysis here.
Sometimes the best trade is the one you don’t make. That’s certainly the philosophy many general managers took this season. While some teams, like Los Angeles, decided to make a big splash, others added just complementary players or stuck with what they had. Were they right to do so? We’re going to break down what each Western Conference team did over the month of February to see who were the trade deadline’s winners and losers.
Added: Sebastian Erixon, Dale Mitchell, Ryan O'Marra, and Riley Holzapfel
Lost: Andrew Gordon, Mark Fraser, Bryan Rodney, and Maxime Macenauer
If the trade deadline was in December, Anaheim might have been a big seller, but they’ve been red hot lately and have risen to the cusp of relevancy in the battle for the eighth seed. If that sounds like an unimpressive accomplishment, it’s only because, in the grand scheme of things, it is. While they deserve credit for their play over the last two months, their odds of making the playoffs are still very slim.
Still, their recent rise has filled the front office with enough hope to hold onto what they have and only make minor trades over the last month. We can forgive them for their inaction because their core is relatively young and we recognize that there is no way they could stomach trading their icon, Teemu Selanne.
The Calgary Flames set the bar for what it means to be stuck in limbo. They aren’t a terrible team – aging stars Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff see to that – but they are neither a Stanley Cup contender nor are they moving close to that ultimate goal. They are a team that’s content to fight for the fool’s gold that is the eighth seed rather than admit defeat and start the desperately needed rebuilding process.
A team like the Anaheim Ducks can hide behind their young core as justification for keeping their team largely intact, but the Flames have no such excuse.
Added: A 2012 fifth round pick and Matt Fornataro, Johnny Oduya
Lost: John Scott and Brandon Segal, second and third round picks in 2013
The Blackhawks’ post-All-Star Game struggles have highlighted serious problems the team has to address if they want to even make the playoffs this season, let alone still be playing into May and June. However, if they are to turn their season around, it will be with largely the same core they entered the 2011-12 campaign with. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as, despite their current struggles, they do have the pieces in place to compete.
The acquisition of Johnny Oduya adds depth to the blueline, especially with the injuries to Steve Montador and Niklas Hjalmarsson. He will be eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of the season so this is likely a rental player.
Added: Steve Downie, Danny Richmond, Jamie McGinn, Mike Connolly, and Michael Sgarbossa
Lost: Kyle Quincey, Mike Carman, Daniel Winnik, T.J. Galiardi, and a 2013 seventh round pick
Colorado made their biggest move before the deadline, acquiring Downie in exchange for Quincey. They had blueliners to spare and Downie has proven to be a great fit in Colorado. He already has two goals and five points in three games, going into Monday’s contest. Although we don’t expect Downie to maintain anything close to a point-per-game pace, the trade makes a lot from Colorado’s perspective. They had a surplus of defensemen, but could use an aggressive forward with enough offensive talent to not look out of place on the first or second line.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Added: Jack Johnson, Taylor Ellington, Curtis McElhinney, a conditional first round pick, a 2012 second round pick, two 2012 fourth round picks, and a conditional 2013 fifth round pick
Lost: Jeff Carter, Antoine Vermette, and Sami Pahlsson
Columbus began their rebuilding process over the past month, but they didn’t address the issue of Rick Nash. Their captain wants out of Columbus, but they weren’t able to find a buyer who would satisfy their high demands. They’ll try again around the 2012 NHL entry draft and it won’t be until then or the summer that we’ll know if they were wise to hold onto Nash for a little longer.
As far as the trades they did over the last month, adequate is the word that comes to mind. They didn’t get as much for Carter as they gave up, but given the kind of season Carter is having, that is to be expected. Jack Johnson is a piece that can help them and while the draft picks might pay off in a few years, they aren’t a Stanley Cup contender yet nor are they clearly on the path towards becoming one. Still, after disappointment after disappointment, the first step towards turning things around is to start making bold moves.
In a way, that process began with the decision to go after Carter and while that ultimately proved to be a misstep, every move they’ve made over the last year or so suggests they are actively trying to find their footing and figure out what they need to do to get out of this franchise-long rut.
Added: A 2013 second round pick, and a 2013 third round pick
Lost: Nicklas Grossman
It’s rare and refreshing to see a team battling for one of the bottom playoff spots, choose to put their team’s future firmly ahead of its present. It is worth noting that the Stars’ chances of making the playoff have significantly improved in the week and a half since they traded Grossman.
The Stars could have done more if they wanted to be major sellers, such as trade Steve Ott, but they didn’t have to because Ott and the core of their team is either locked up or at least under their control as a potential restricted free agent. Grossman was probably the biggest trade chip amongst their crop of upcoming unrestricted free agents. None of their other potential summer of 2012 UFAs were likely to fetch them much, so even if you want to look at the Stars as pure sellers, they more or less fulfilled their goal.
The Dallas Stars aren’t a young team, but they do have some key players who are either young or in their prime and they have enough cap space to grow if the ownership is willing to put in the money. The Stars as they are don’t warrant a blowup nor were they in a position to be a major buyer, so their actions come off as both reasonable and disciplined.
Detroit Red Wings
Added: Kyle Quincey and a conditional seventh round pick
Lost: Mike Commodore, Sebastien Piche, and a 2012 first round pick
Quincey is yet another example of the Detroit Red Wings’ late round picks paying off. The only problem is, he didn’t pay off for Detroit, at least not the first time around. Detroit took Quincey with the 132nd pick in the 2003 NHL entry draft and kept him in their organization for the next five years. He played in all of 13 games with Detroit before he got his big break with Los Angeles in 2008-09. Since then he’s established himself as a solid all-around blueliner.
Detroit was one of the few teams to surrender a first overall pick this season, but it’s worth keeping in mind that Quincey will be a restricted free agent this summer, so this wasn’t a rental addition. He bolsters their defense, which will not only help Detroit in their upcoming playoff run, but will also serve to soften the blow, should Nicklas Lidstrom decide to retire this summer.