The Trades Not MadeSaturday, March 03, 2012
The fact that there are only a handful of teams legitimately out of the playoff race contributed to the 2012 NHL trade deadline being a pretty uneventful one.
There were flurries of activity, but for the most part it was a snoozer, as many of the expected movers stayed put.
Let's take a look at a few of the big-name players we thought could change addresses but didn't. I've also picked one team from each conference that I thought would be active but instead decided to stand pat.
Dustin Brown: The Los Angeles Kings’ General Manager name dangled the team's captain in the days leading up to the deadline, but no rumors seemed to gain any traction, and it was unclear whether he was really serious about moving him. The two-way physical forward has underperformed this season with 17 goals, and 35 points and the Kings have the league's worst offense, so there was no harm in seeing what the market would yield, but it seemed like a short-sighted idea to begin with. Brown has an affordable two years left on his deal and has been a 50-60 point scorer four years straight, so the price would have been significant if he moved.
Evgeni Nabokov: The 36-year-old with a 15-15-0 record, a 2.32 goals-against average, and a .922 save percentage wants to re-sign with the New York Islanders, who have a pool of netminders to choose from but no clear go-to guy at this point. It will be interesting to see how the Isles’ goalie situation unfolds this off-season given that Nabokov wants to return to the Island and Rick DiPietro is brittle and signed for another decade.
Rick Nash: The Columbus Blue Jackets power forward with 21 goals and 43 assists was the one star player available who could be a difference maker during the stretch run and playoffs. The New York Rangers appeared to be the frontrunners the entire time, but the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Philadelphia Flyers were also in play. In the end -- even after New York made a late push with a hefty package -- general manger Scott Howson's asking price was too rich. Howson throwing Nash under the bus in his post-deadline press conference reaffirms that there's close to no chance the 27-year-old is with Columbus next season.
Steve Ott: ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported at the end of the day that 12-14 teams had shown interest in the Stars' gritty forward, and for good reason. Ott is slightly more than just a depth forward. He is extremely valuable because he's good on faceoffs, he's hard-nosed and not averse to dropping the gloves and he can also generate offense. He has 10 goals, 20 points and 117 penalty minutes this season. The problem here is that Dallas currently occupies the Western Conference's final playoff spot, and Ott is more than just a rental with two years--$3 million per-- left on his contract.
Derek Roy: Center depth is highly sought after, but it's not often that a number one center becomes available so interest had to be high for the underperforming Roy. He has 13 goals and 35 points this year, but has put up 60-plus points in four seasons and once had 81. The playmaker is owed $5.5 million for one more year, has a $4 million cap hit and is a bit of an injury risk, so perhaps general manager Darcy Regier tests the trade waters again next season if Buffalo is in the same situation. The Sabres were active Monday, and they are still in the playoff race (six points out), which leads me to believe their asking price was significant.
Jaroslav Spacek: When you're in the league's basement, there isn't a lot of good that can come from holding on to your senior unrestricted free agents. The 'Canes are teetering on the brink of being the East's worst team, yet they kept 38-year-old Spacek (three goals, 12 points) in the fold. Spacek's game has faded a bit with age, but he's still a serviceable third-pairing blueliner. Playoff teams are always looking for experience on the back end, so I'm a bit puzzled as to why the ‘Canes didn't let him loose. A late pick is better than losing the player for nothing next season.
Calgary Flames: In the ultra-competitive dogfight for the final Western Conference playoff positions, it was almost imperative that the fringe teams did something to improve. The Flames acquired Michael Cammalleri in mid-January, but the offense is still dreadful, as it ranks 26th in the league. Add in the fact that the team has one regulation win (1-1-3) over their last five games, and any marginal upgrade could have helped and would’ve at least shown the players that management was serious about making a push.
Washington Capitals: The Capitals, one point out of a playoff spot and three from the Southeast Division lead, had the market perfectly set up for them -- whether they wanted to be buyers or sell off a few excess pieces. After putting Nicklas Backstrom on long-term injured reserve, they had about $7.6 million in cap space to play with if they wanted to be buyers. They also had two disgruntled veterans on the last year of their respective contracts in defenseman Roman Hamrlik and forward Mike Knuble -- both of whom had been healthy scratches recently. With all these factors in play, what does Washington do to set itself apart in a weak division? Nothing.