Added: Nick Schultz and Bryan Rodney
Lost: Tom Gilbert and Ryan O'Marra
The Edmonton Oilers had a very quiet February, which, frankly, is to be expected. The selling portion of their rebuilding effort is behind them, but they’re certainly not ready to compete for a playoff spot just yet. For now, their focus is on developing their talented youngsters like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall and supplementing them with more draft selections and free agent acquisitions.
They still have some veterans on their team and a few names that came up in the rumor mill, but there is a benefit to having some veterans surround their up-and-coming stars. Besides, they’re on the right track and it seems unlikely that any of the upcoming unrestricted free agents they could have traded would have provided them with a significant return.
Los Angeles Kings
Added: Jeff Carter
Lost: Jack Johnson and a conditional first round pick
The Kings got the biggest prize in February and that means, for better or worse, they took the biggest risk. While they didn’t pay – if you’ll excuse the pun – a King’s ransom to get Carter, given his potential, if things go south in Los Angeles as they did in Columbus, then he might be very difficult to trade. Additionally, with Carter and Mike Richards both signed to long-term deals, the Kings have adopted part of the core that the Philadelphia Flyers ultimately felt would not win them a Stanley Cup.
That being said, if Carter lives up to his potential, then his $5,272,727 million annual cap hit starts to look pretty reasonable, especially when you look at some of the contracts that have been handed out recently. Reuniting Richards and Carter is an experiment that could backfire, but it could also turn an offensively starved team with an elite goaltender into a legitimate and long-term Stanley Cup contender.
Added: Kurtis Foster, Nick Palmieri, Casey Wellman, Stephane Veilleux, Steve Kampfer, Tom Gilbert, a 2012 second round pick, a conditional 2013 third round pick, and a 2013 seventh round pick
Lost: Marek Zidlicky, Erik Christensen, Greg Zanon, and Nick Schultz
The Minnesota Wild’s hand was forced by Marek Zidlicky, who wanted out, despite the fact that he was signed through 2012-13. Still, the Wild made the best of the situation and managed to get an impressive haul from New Jersey despite Zidlicky’s struggles this season. Given that Zidlicky turned 35 on Feb. 3, this trade probably helped the franchise in the long run.
In the meantime, though, the Wild are likely to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Added: Andrei Kostitsyn, Hal Gill, Paul Gaustad, 2013 fourth round pick, 2012 sixth round pick
Lost: Jerred Smithson, Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney, 2012 first round pick, 2012 second round pick, 2013 second round pick
The Predators gave up three high end prospects and a so-so prospect in Geoffrion for a solid defensive defenseman in Gill, a fixer upper in Kostitsyn, and a bottom-six forward in Gaustad. All three of which are going to become unrestricted free agents this season, so I guess Nashville must be thinking that this is the season they have to make a big playoff push.
To an extent, I can see where the Predators are coming from. Ryan Suter is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent and Shea Weber won’t be under their control for much longer. Although they have managed to lock up Pekka Rinne to a long-term contract, if they don’t go deep into the playoffs this season, Suter might walk and Weber might not be far behind them. Personally I think that problem is mitigated by the fact that they have some very appealing prospects in blueliners Ryan Ellis and Jonathan Blum, who could both be major contributors in the not too distant future.
I can understand why having Ellis and Blum in their organization isn’t reason enough to just shrug off the possible loss of two all-star caliber defensemen and I can’t even say I disagree with the Predators considering themselves buyers. Still, for what they gave up, they don’t really look like that much better of a team. They did add more grit, I’ll give them that, and given the results they got out of Sergei Kostitsyn, it should be interesting to see what they can do with his struggling older brother. It just doesn’t add up to being enough to warrant surrendering a first rounder and two second rounders, especially given the fact that all three can just walk this summer.
That’s a big factor because they don’t actually need to prove to Suter they can make a push this season. They need to prove to Suter that if he signs a long-term contract with them, they will be a serious Stanley Cup contender for years to come. They didn’t do that with these moves; all they did was show their willingness to mortgage the future without getting a lot in return.
Added: Antoine Vermette
Lost: Curtis McElhinney, a 2012 second round pick, and a conditional 2013 fifth round pick
It’s worth noting that while the trade didn’t make the cutoff, they got a second round pick from Kyle Turris, which in a way makes this deal an extension of that one. Vermette is having a terrible season with just eight goals and 27 points in 62 games, but the change of scenery might help him in the long run. At his best, Vermette is a solid second line center or even a passable first liner.
He’s signed through 2014-15 and comes with an annual cap hit of $3.75 million. That’s not bad if he bounces back, but it will look like an albatross of a deal if he continues to decline, which isn’t entirely out of the question. The Coyotes are definitely taking a risk with Vermette, but to their credit it’s a calculated one and it’s one where the upside outweighs the worst case scenario.
San Jose Sharks
Added: Daniel Winnik, T.J. Galiardi, Dominic Moore, a 2012 seventh round pick, and a 2013 seventh round pick
Lost: Jamie McGinn, Mike Connolly, Michael Sgarbossa, and a 2012 second round pick
The San Jose Sharks are fading fast and were reportedly in the mix for Rick Nash. A Nash to San Jose move would have made a lot of sense, given the presence of playmaker Joe Thornton and would have certainly made the Sharks the team to watch for the final month of the regular season. Still, if the Blue Jackets’ price included Logan Couture, as was rumored, then we can understand why they passed on his services.
Instead, San Jose focused on filling some holes in their depth in the hopes that it will help them snap out of their slump in time to retake the Pacific Division. That’s a tall order, given that they’ll have to contend with the new Kings following the Jeff Carter trade and two surging squads in the Phoenix Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks.
Ultimately, this isn’t looking like San Jose’s year and that will probably lead to another sizeable shakeup – and the possible acquisition of Nash – but we will have to wait until the summer to know for sure.
St. Louis Blues
Added: A 2013 second round pick
Lost: Ben Bishop
They got a second round pick for a 25-year-old AHL goaltender who would have become an unrestricted free agent anyways. Yes, Bishop has been pretty good in the minors, but they weren’t about to use him ahead of Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott. There’s nothing to dislike about this move from the Blues’ perspective. Overall it would have been nice to see them add something as they are a darkhorse contender to win the Stanley Cup.
Still, relative to what we saw from the rest of the Western Conference squads over the course of February, they were very successful.
Added: Zack Kassian, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Sami Pahlsson, and Andrew Gordon
Lost: Cody Hodgson, Alexander Sulzer, Sebastian Erixon, and two 2012 fourth round picks
Although Vancouver was actually pretty active in February, what this month will be remembered for in Canucks history is the moment it was announced they sent Hodgson to the Buffalo Sabres and got Kassian. The winner and loser of that deal won’t be known for years, but Kassian is more a physical presence and that will probably make him a better fit for Vancouver. Still, it’s hard to trade away one of your best secondary scorers – and one who has excelled despite averaging just 12:43 minutes per game – just before what could be a lengthy playoff run.