by PuckStopsHere on 02/27/09 at 02:44 AM ET
In a salary capped NHL there are few periods where teams will trade with one another. One is at the trade deadline, which is coming on Wednesday. As a result of the trade deadline approaching we are starting to see some deals.
Last week was the first deal with the Ottawa Senators acquiring Mike Comrie and Chris Campoli from the New York Islanders for Dean McAmmond and San Jose’s first round draft pick in 2009 (which the Sens had previously acquired from Tampa Bay in the Andrej Meszaros deal - Tampa had acquired it in the Dan Boyle trade). Both Comrie and McAmmond are free agents to be this summer, so they don’t fit into long-term plans. Comrie is the better of the two, but this distinction is probably lost when both Ottawa and the Islanders should miss the playoffs. The portion of the deal that will last beyond this season is Chris Campoli for a first round draft pick. The pick is in the later part of the first round (depending upon San Jose’s playoff success). That is a big price to pay for a player like Chris Campoli. I am sure that similar defencemen will be traded before the deadline for less.
It appears that this move is a desperation move from Ottawa GM Bryan Murray. Ottawa has to finish strong in order to save his job. Mike Comrie could help them do that. He is a very talented player who can get on a hot streak and help provide Ottawa with some offensive depth.
Yesterday, we saw another couple trades. Anaheim acquired Ryan Whitney from Pittsburgh for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi. Pittsburgh made a mistake in this deal. It is sensible for teams to buy players at low values and sell them at high values. Ryan Whitney’s value is low. He missed the start of the season due to injury and never really got on track this season. Chris Kunitz will provide some more depth to Pittsburgh’s offence, but they would be better served adding to their defence. Tangradi is an OHL player who was Anaheim’s second round pick in 2007. He is a prospect. Both Pittsburgh and Anaheim are teams that most expected to make playoffs, who are on the bubble. They are trying to give their teams the boost needed for a playoff berth. It is more likely that Anaheim received the bigger boost. It is more likely that Whitney will outplay Kunitz.
A lot of people looked at this deal and immediately imagined that Anaheim is about to move Chris Pronger in a future deal since this adds to their defence. That is not so obvious to me. During the Randy Carlyle years in Anaheim, the Ducks have liked to have three defencemen play a significant number of minutes. These defencemen have been Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin. Beauchemin is out this season due to knee surgery. Whitney is the replacement for his minutes. It does not signify that Pronger is definitely moving.
In a final deal so far, Montreal traded extra forward Steve Begin to Dallas for spare defenceman Doug Janik. This deal is minor and is likely being made to better fit the expected positional needs of both teams moving toward the playoffs.
More trades will happen before the trade deadline. I expect a lot of them to be players approaching free agency traded to contenders for draft picks. So far, the biggest short-term winner appears to be the Anaheim Ducks and the biggest long-term winner the New York Islanders.
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