It seems like just yesterday that James Duthie and the gang were breaking down Team Canada’s 2014 Olympic team for six hours while we all waited for something–anything–to happen on trade deadline day.
Yes, the most overrated day on the NHL calendar was as exciting as watching a Golden Girls marathon. But that didn’t stop 2.6 million Canadians from tuning in. At the time as we grumbled and groaned following another late February yawn-fest, we lamented the Brad Richards trade that didn’t happen, or the Panthers shipping off everyone except Tomas Vokoun, their major piece that would have generated some considerable buzz.
With the huge splashes in the trading pool over prior to Feb. 27 (i.e. Tomas Kaberle), we scoffed at names like Chris Kelly, Maxim Lapierre, and Chris Higgins, who were the serviceable but not sexy table scraps.
Now we when look at the teams remaining in the playoffs, those same names are the top acquisitions at the deadline.
With its spectrum of buyers and sellers, the deadline annually features both short and long-term moves. But most are of the rental variety, with teams searching for that push during a hopefully long playoff run. The players have now had just over two months with their new teams, and when looking at the five teams remaining, it’s the grinders and secondary scorers that have made the greatest impact.
Detroit is the only remaining team that sat on its hands at the deadline because of their minimal room to maneuver against the salary cap.
Key additions: Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley
Kaberle has been a staggering disappointment, and has failed to be the powerplay quarterback the Bruins hoped he would become. He has only three playoff points, and the Bruins went nine playoff games without scoring a powerplay goal. Kaberle remains one of the many struggling stars this spring, and he has 11 points over 35 games in Boston.
But Kelly and Peverley have helped the Bruins to forget their deadline whiff on Kaberle. Kelly had 28 points throughout the entire regular season, and already has seven in the first two rounds. Peverley had his second-highest career point output this season, finishing with 41 points. He’s tallied six in the post-season, but his most important contribution has been in the faceoff circle, where he’s won 45.9 percent of his draws.
Key addition: Ian White
A rental acquired for a second-round pick, White bounced between Calgary and Carolina this season before finally landing in San Jose. Adding more scoring punch to a defensive unit in San Jose that already includes Dan Boyle, White had five points in the Sharks’ opening round series win over Los Angeles.
He’s also fourth among defenceman in the playoffs with seven hits.
Key additions: Chris Higgins, Maxim Lapierre
Two moves that were initially afterthoughts have now given the Canucks added backbone, the kind of backbone that pushed the Blackhawks to a championship last year with the contributions of players like Dave Bolland. Higgins has gelled nicely with Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond on Vancouver’s second line, while Lapierre has become Manny Malhotra-lite.
While replacing the injured Malhotra, Lapierre has played a solid two-way game while minimizing his trash talk and overall stupidity. But similar to Peverley, his greatest contribution has come at the faceoff dot, where he’s won 55 percent of his draws.
Key addition: Eric Brewer
An unrestricted free agent this summer, Brewer has never really been known for his scoring touch, and especially not in recent years. His highest single-season point total was 29 in 2006-07, and he’s struggled to crack the 20-point plateau since then due to injuries.
Now he’s become another example of a veteran performing at a higher level during the playoffs. After recording only two points in the 22 regular season games following his move to Tampa at the deadline, Brewer has six points in 11 playoff games.