A selling team mired in the NHL’s basement is primarily looking to accomplish one of three main goals, or all of them if they really want to go wild. Expiring contracts are shipped before the player is allowed to walk away in July, generating nothing in return. And when the right opportunity presents itself, cap space is cleared to acquired assets through free agency.
Oh, and stock-piling draft picks is never a bad idea.
It’s a formula that sounds simple enough, but one that can be difficult to execute in the fickle trade market as the clock ticks down to the deadline. This year, there were some serious yard sales down in the NHL’s basement.
Additions: Ryan Potulny, Craig Anderson, 1st round pick and a conditional pick (from Nashville), 2nd round pick (from Boston), 6th round pick (from Anaheim), conditional 7th round pick (from Pittsburgh), 2nd round pick (from Chicago)
Subtractions: Brian Elliot, Mike Fisher, Jarko Ruutu, Chris Kelly, Chris Campoli, Alex Kovalev
Bryan Murray has furrowed a few brows during his tenure as general manager in Ottawa. His signing of an aging Alex Kovalev to two-year contract worth $10 million certainly had that effect.
But for a self-destructing team, this deadline wasn’t necessarily all about moving dead weight for the Senators. It was the opening chapter of a re-build through a youth movement, with veterans like Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, and the recently re-signed Chris Phillips hanging around to lay the foundation. Including their own pick–which would have Ottawa slotted at second overall if the season ended today–the Senators will now step to the podium five times in the draft’s first 60 picks.
Overall the Sens have 12 picks, allowing for plenty of opportunity to mine for gold in the early rounds and hidden gems later on.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Additions: Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner, Aaron Voros, Joe Colborne, 4th round pick (from Anaheim), 7th round pick (from the Rangers), 1st and a conditional pick (from Boston), 1st and third round picks (from Philadelphia)
Subtractions: Tomas Kaberle, Kris Versteeg, John Mitchell, Francois Beauchemin, conditional 7th round pick (to Anaheim)
Aside from the necessity of shipping Kaberle with his expiring contract, this deadline presented two hurdles for GM Brian Burke, one of which was unique, and the other was unexpected. Firstly, the Leafs started winning, going 14-8-5 since the beginning of January. That’s not a torrid pace, but it was more than enough to get the long-suffering club back into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. Burke used Burke-speak to say the playoff push wouldn’t impact his maneuvering, but somewhere hidden from the cameras in the Leafs boardroom he was crunching an infinite amount of playoff scenarios.
Then there was that pesky Boston deal for some guy named Kessel that saw the Leafs initially without a first-round pick this year. Burke acquired two picks that will likely be late in the first round from Boston and Philadelphia, but the usual strategy of selling off nearly all talent to plummet for a higher draft slot (see: Ottawa) wasn’t available.
Additions: Jack Skille, Hugh Jessiman, David Pacan, Ryan Carter, Tim Kennedy, Alex Sulzer, Niclas Berfors, Patrick Rissmiller, Sergei Samsonov, Evan Oberg 3rd round pick (from New York), 5th round pick (from Carolina)
Subtractions: Michael Frolik, Alexander Salak, Cory Stillman, Bryan McCabe, Radek Dvorak, Bryan Allen, Chris Higgins conditional pick (to Nashville), 5th round pick (to Atlanta)
Once the carnage stopped steaming and Dale Tallon put down the knife he used to slice up his roster, the Panthers went from a struggling team with little future, to a struggling team with a hint of a future and $12.7 million in cap space.
Along with their new-found cash, the Panthers also become younger. Gone are Bryan McCabe (35), Bryan Allen (30), Radek Dvorak (33), and Cory Stillman (37). Replacing them is a younger crowd with potential featuring Jack Skille (23), Niclas Bergfors (23), and Hugh Jessiman (26).