Four Southeast Division teams are in action tonight, with two of them facing each other, after a trade deadline day that was significantly less frantic than in recent years but still had plenty of movement as far as this particular division was concerned.
Let’s kick things off today with a pair of clubs who dealt with each other yesterday, getting the awkwardness of swapping dressing rooms for the first time out of the way immediately for a couple of players…
Panthers at Hurricanes
Florida was busy early and often yesterday, making four separate deals, including three with other Southeast teams. General manager Dale Tallon hooked up with his Hurricanes counterpart, Jim Rutherford, for a second deal in five days, sending defenseman Bryan Allen Raleigh-way in exchange for forward Sergei Samsonov after last week’s swap of Cory Stillman for Ryan Carter and a fifth-round pick.
In Allen, the ‘Canes get the defensive help they’d sought as they try to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Carolina, as of this morning, is just two points up on Buffalo for the eighth seed and the Sabres have two games in hand.
[Update: As per Mike Vogel via Twitter, that team Florida was talking d-man with was the Caps indeed. Florida sends Dennis Wideman to Washington for Jake Hauswirth and a third-round pick.]
Southeast Division counterparts Rick Dudley and Dale Tallon hook up to get this trade deadline day going finally, with Niclas Bergfors and Patrick Rissmiller going from Atlanta to Florida and Radek Dvorak and a fifth-round pick headed back the other way.
Dvorak brings a wealth of experience to the Atlanta lineup, including that of four post-season berths in his 15 NHL campaigns. Bergfors, a key component in last year’s Ilya Kovalchuk deal, never really worked out for the Thrashers and was in and out of the lineup and reportedly on the trade block all year. Rissmiller made his Atlanta debut last week after splitting time this season between AHL Chicago and Lake Erie.
I suspect that Florida is just getting started today and this might not be the only time two GMs from the Southeast Division get together on a deal. Rumors of Tampa Bay and Carolina working on a deal involving defenseman Randy Jones have been tossed about today, though nothing there has been completed and well-traveled broadcaster Billy Jaffe tweeted word of Florida talking with another Southeast club about moving a defenseman. (Might that team be Washington? Just a hunch.)
The fun begins…
Seize the day, right?
Several NHL GMs will look to pounce on the opportunities that present themselves today but it remains to be seen what, if any, affect the steady stream of deals leading up to this year’s deadline will have on today’s action.
I have a few questions to answer from yesterday’s mailbag post but we’ll get to those in a moment.
First, a spattering of thoughts running through my head this morning:
*For starters, I’m expecting (though not betting too heavily either way) that the Tampa Bay Lightning will be relatively quiet today. The additions of Dwayne Roloson, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Eric Brewer have filled some specific needs already and, though some veteran forward depth would be nice, the question of which of the Lightning’s very effective, very consistent role players would be pulled from the lineup to make room for an import has always stood in the way. Point being, while some depth for injury protection would be nice, it isn’t necessary. And, with Ryan Malone now expected back in early April, as per the St. Pete Times, the Bolts can look at his return as a late-season addition as well.
Filed in: Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink
Thanks to those that hung out today and chatted a bit. The (modest) crowd has motivated me to solicit emails/comments/tweets to be answered in the first edition of JJ’s Mailbag since coming aboard here at KK and now’s a good time for that sort of thing.
So, fire away (via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @JonJordan or comment) with questions/comments/theories/suggestions on anything related to the deadline, Southeast Division or otherwise. I’ll publish and answer as many as possible tomorrow morning before zeroing in on the madness that will surely ensue as the day progresses.
Speaking of Twitter, naturally, I’ll be all over that tomorrow with any news that lands in my lap and reaction to the day’s maneuvers…
All five Southeast clubs are in action tonight, with four games on the docket, including a division matchup between the Panthers and Thrashers. All Southeasterners, save for Washington, have been busy already in the trade market and I don’t expect that will cease any time before it has to on Monday afternoon.
Now then, to tonight’s schedule…
Pittsburgh at Carolina
They’re gettin’ the band back together in Raleigh (again), as GM Jim Rutherford hooked up with his Florida Panthers counterpart, Dale Tallon, to bring Cory Stillman back to Carolina. Heading Florida-way is forward Ryan Carter and a fifth round draft pick for the Panthers, who most expect are only getting started on the trade front.
Stillman managed seven goals and 23 points in 44 games for Florida this year and the Hurricane hope is that he’ll give a lift to the power play and provide an overall spark to the offense.
The thinking here is that the addition of Stillman also gives Carolina a little more flexibility, in terms of moving any one (or more) of his forwards on expiring contracts for a little help on the blueline, if they so choose (or, perhaps, something bigger?) Rutherford told the Raleigh News & Observer he may not be done indeed but that he was not planning on peddling any of his top prospects.
Filed in: Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink
[NOTE: This was originally about to be posted, quite literally, just as news broke of the Lightning dealing Dan Ellis to Anaheim in exchange for fellow goaltender Curtis McElhinney. Mike Smith has since been placed on re-entry waivers. We’ll know as of noon tomorrow whether he’s cleared and will rejoin the Bolts or he’s been claimed by another club.
One thing is certain, as you’ll see in the piece, Smith spoke in reminiscences of Tampa and gave no indication that he was expecting to be recalled. This, as of 5:00 PM, yesterday. Interesting.
All that being said, here’s the piece in its original state, with no editing upon today’s transaction news:]
For Mike Smith, this wasn’t how his tenure with the Tampa Bay Lightning was supposed to turn out.
Brought in from Dallas on February 26th, 2008 in the deal that sent away 2004 Conn Smythe winner and fan favorite, Brad Richards, Smith was supposed to be Tampa Bay’s goaltender of the present and future.
And, for a time, it appeared he was well on his way.
But amid coaching changes, ownership issues and unfortunate injuries at the most inopportune times, Mike Smith was never completely able to fulfill what was once considered his Lightning destiny.
Were it not for bad luck, his time in Tampa seems to have been marked by not having any luck at all.
“I’m not gonna lie to you,” Smith said by phone on Wednesday. “It does seem like that a little bit.”
Many of us were looking at tonight’s tilt with the visiting Phoenix Coyotes as a good measuring stick for the Tampa Bay Lightning after a winless week past at home.
I’d say a 7-0 start and an 8-3 finish gives them their latest in a season of consistent reminders that these boys measure up pretty darn well against just about anyone. (Score one for yourselves, of course, Detroit. Well-deserved.)
Here’s some of what was said in the winning locker room post-game Wednesday night:
Teddy Purcell, who scored his first career hat trick and was named the game’s first star:
“We weren’t happy with our last two efforts on home ice and, especially with those days off [spent as a team in Naples and Estero], we wanted to kind of reward the organization and ourselves and come out with a strong effort tonight.” - on what this win means after a relatively tough go of late.
“That was pretty cool, my first hat trick since street hockey when I was 10 or 12” - on his individual performance.
A look around at the Southeast Division teams in action tonight:
Atlanta at Buffalo
If Rick Dudley is deciding between buyer and seller mode, this might just be the game to shove him swiftly in one direction or the other.
Atlanta has been in a tailspin in the new year, with just three regulation wins since we said farewell to 2010. Currently, the Thrashers have lost seven out of their last eight and are just 2-10-4 in their last 16.
They sit five points behind eighth place Carolina and are tied, points-wise, with tonight’s opponent, though their meeting with Buffalo becomes is that much more pivotal with the Sabres having two games in hand on Atlanta.
New faces Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart, acquired last week from Boston, will each play in their second game as a Thrasher tonight. Both made an impact in their Atlanta debut in Edmonton Sunday, despite the team’s 5-3 loss, with Wheeler assisting on an Andrew Ladd tally and Stuart scrapping with J-F Jacques in the second period.
With the trade deadline approaching, might a Southeast team or two peddle one or more of their AHL prospects for some immediate help? We’ll know in five short days. For now, let’s take our latest look (a belated one this week – apologies…) at results and stats for the Southeast Division’s AHL affiliates from the week gone by:
Click for individual box scores
Tuesday, 2/15/11: Albany Devils 3, Charlotte Checkers 0
Charlotte goal-scorers: none
Charlotte goaltenders (saves/shots): Justin Pogge (25/28)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Dave Caruso, ALB; 2 – Adam Henrique, ALB; 3 – Brad Mills, ALB
NHL trade deadline fun is only a week away and the five Southeast Division teams have either joined the party already or will be late arrivals, taking part in the festivities before “last call” at 3:00 PM Eastern next Monday afternoon. None, I suspect, will sit idly by without at least some effort to tinker with their roster (further than they have already, in some cases) either for a playoff push or some more long-term planning.
With a week to go, today we’ll have a look around the division to try and gauge what each Southeast club might do, with an eye on where they sit in the standings currently, what they’ve done already and names that have been bantered about here and there.