Misfortune & Opportunity

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It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

Generally, when one NHL team experiences misfortune, it works as a positive for at least one opponent: for instance, when a star player is injured, other teams don’t have to face him.

The St. Louis Blues have seen their share of misfortune this season.  Between an ugly series of injuries and a ton of effort put in to finding replacements only to have them snatched away off the waiver wire, they’ve been short-changed by fortune and the NHL rule book.

Still, there’s no reason NHL teams other than San Jose and Nashville can’t benefit from the Blues’ troubles.

In this case, I’m thinking there’s an opportunity for bottom-feeder clubs (certainly the Devils, the Islanders and the Oilers, possibly others) to move some non-vital pieces in exchange for picks/prospects.  Some would argue that there’s no rush for these teams to move their players, but for St. Louis there is a rush: they’re four points out of eighth (with two games in hand on the Blackhawks).

Additionally, waiting until the trade deadline doesn’t serve the interests of a team like Edmonton, New Jersey or the New York Islanders.  Both the Islanders and Devils are well out of the playoff race at this point, but both teams have seen their share of success over the last 10 games – New Jersey going 4-5-1 and the Islanders going 5-4-1.  Those sorts of performances have allowed the slumping Oilers to move back into the race for the first overall pick.

‘Tanking’ is an ugly word for the fans of any team, but it does make sense at this point in the season for the worst teams in the league.  They have no incentive to win, and less incentive to keep players who aren’t part of the long-term plans on their roster until the trade deadline. 

And St. Louis isn’t the only destination for these players.  San Jose paid up a perfectly good draft pick for Ben Eager, and had room on their roster for the undistinguished Kyle Wellwood, while Nashville found time for pint-sized KHL disappointment Marek Svatos.  There’s a market for depth forwards out there, and it’s in the interest of bottom feeders to move sooner rather than later.