by PuckStopsHere on 03/01/11 at 02:38 AM ET
Every year after the trade deadline I like to pick the team that made the biggest positive and negative change to their team on both the long and short term. The trade deadline moves started earlier in February than they have in recent years past. For the sake of this post, I will assume the trade deadline refers to the entire month of February.
Biggest Long Term Improvement: Toronto Maple Leafs Toronto acquired a lot of young potential. Likely some of it will pay off in the future. It is hard to predict exactly which players will go on to be key parts of a Toronto core. Acquired was former first round draft picks Joe Colborne (Boston first rounder 2008), Jake Gardiner (Anaheim first rounder 2008), Philadelphia’s 2011 first round draft pick and Boston’s 2011 first round draft pick. It is unclear that they should be trading for first round picks given that they traded two first round picks to acquire Phil Kessel last summer. This doesn’t show a coherent plan in the way things are being run. Trading away younger players like Kris Versteeg for first round draft picks signifies a rebuild that is only now beginning and should take several years to complete. Nevertheless, it is quite likely that this group of first round draft picks will produce some core players in the future. The problem here is that future is many years away.
Biggest Long Term Dropoff: Colorado Avalanche Colorado traded two key young members of their core in Chris Stewart (their 2006 first round draft pick) who is well on his way to NHL stardom and Kevin Shattenkirk (their 2007 first round draft pick) who appears to be on a path to stardom as well. The received a first round draft pick (a player who might work out as good as the players they traded - but odds are will not) and Erik Johnson (first pick overall in 2006) a player who isn’t developing as quickly as Shattenkirk appears to be. Johnson has potential to be a star but I am less certain about him than the players given up for him. Colorado also made a poor trade sending out goaltender Craig Anderson for Ottawa goalie Brian Elliott. Anderson might not have fit in their longterm plans as he is an unrestricted free agent this summer - though it isn’t impossible he could have re-signed. Elliot however has not shown he is any better than a replacement level player and is not worth much of anything. I think Colorado took a big step backward. Stewart is likely the biggest star among players involved in their trades and I am not convinced Johnson is going to turn out any better than Shattenkirk.
Biggest Short Term Improvement: Boston Bruins Acquired was Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley, Boris Valabik and Chris Kelly. The biggest player shipped out was Blake Wheeler. There are some draft picks including their first rounder that are gone as payment, but this makes Boston a solid pick to come out of the East Conference in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Kaberle is an all star calibre defenceman who is going to look really good when he no longer has to be surrounded by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Rich Peverley is a solid forward who can fit in on the Bruins top two lines. In the short term, I think Boston has made themselves a solid playoff contender.
Biggest Short Term Dropoff: Toronto Maple Leafs Gone is Tomas Kaberle, Kris Versteeg and Francois Beauchemin. This is a significant part of their core this season. A new rebuild is underway. They got two first round draft picks in 2011 and two former 2008 first round picks and some of these guys will likely turn out to be worth the short term pain, but the long term gain is a long way away. The key player added was Joffrey Lupul, a one-time prospect who has not progressed since 2006 or so. Lupul has had his career derailed by injury for much of the last two years. Toronto appears to have given up any serious hope at winning this season.
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