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There is a certain mug's game element to sifting through the winners and losers or teams that achieved what they set out to do by the deadline and those who fell short. But it won't stop us from tackling the assignment.
TEAMS THAT GOT IT DONE
The best team in the NHL added a nice bit of defensive depth in Stephane Robidas, and the Ducks also streamlined their offensive group by sending Dustin Penner to Washington. Robidas is coming off a broken leg, so there is definitely a risk factor involved in this acquisition, but, with Sheldon Souray gone for the season with a wrist injury, Robidas has the chance to be a difference-maker on a club that has definite Stanley Cup aspirations.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues got out ahead of the pack with the blockbuster deal that saw Ryan Miller (undefeated as a Blue) and Steve Ott come over from Buffalo for Jaroslav Halak and Chris Stewart. The move addresses key flaws in the Blues' lineup the past couple of playoff seasons. Does the move make them the favorite to emerge from the West come playoff tournament time? Well, they're a lot closer than they were a week ago.
What's not to like about acquiring an elite, veteran goaltender who will be highly motivated and very happy in Roberto Luongo? Especially given that Vancouver is going to pay a big chunk (15 percent) of Luongo's salary and the team won't be on the hook for salary-cap penalties if Luongo retires before the end of the deal. The Panthers gave up a forward in Shawn Matthias, who has been a disappointment, and Jacob Markstrom, who has simply never lived up to his billing as the franchise goaltender of the future. Throw in the fact that GM Dale Tallon also received two draft picks (a third-rounder and a fifth-rounder) for depth forward Marcel Goc, who was dealt to Pittsburgh; unloaded Tim Thomas to Dallas for Dan Ellis; and signed Brad Boyes to a two-year deal, this was a pretty productive week for the Florida GM.
GM Marc Bergevin managed to land the top rental player on the market in Thomas Vanek without mortgaging too much -- or frankly very much -- of the Canadiens' future. Lots of teams cooled on Vanek, but he's a big body, talented and loves to play against Boston, which may or may not happen in the coming weeks.
Hey, owner Eugene Melnyk can say the Sens are "buyers" as much as he wants, but a glance at the standings and the fact they couldn't even beat the lowly Oilers on Tuesday night suggests the Sens are just not that good. So good for GM Bryan Murray for bolstering his offense with Ales Hemsky, who has shown 20-goal skill with Edmonton but was buried by the Oilers' other high-end offensive talent and became expendable, without breaking the bank. Hemsky, who will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, played well at the Olympics and has a chance to remake himself with a Sens team looking for an offensive jolt in the arm. Giving up a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick is an acceptable expenditure for a rental player for a team that more often than not doesn't look like a playoff team to begin with.
This is looking like another spring without the playoffs for the Hurricanes, who haven't been to the postseason dance since 2009, but credit GM Jim Rutherford for somehow offloading Tuomo Ruutu, who has two more years left on a contract with a $4.75 annual cap hit, for a conditional third-round pick in 2017 and potentially useful forward Andrei Loktionov. Ruutu has just five goals this season, which makes you wonder just where or how he fits into the New Jersey Devils' lineup.
We actually moved the Wild from the "not so much" list to the winners' list based on the late-afternoon announcement that they acquired Matt Moulson from the Buffalo Sabres. Moulson will add to an offense that will likely face Anaheim, St. Louis or Chicago in the first round of the playoffs -- all of whom will challenge the Wild on both sides of the puck. We're still not sold on the acquisition of Ilya Bryzgalov as a backup to rookie Darcy Kuemper. Maybe Kuemper is "the man" and it doesn't matter who backs him up when the playoffs start. But if he falters -- and he is a rookie after all -- and the Wild's Plan B is Bryzgalov, sorry, but the confidence factor there is just north of zero. Remember Bryzgalov stumbling his way through the first two rounds of the 2012 playoffs? Flyers owner Ed Snider does, hence the buyout of Bryzgalov's whopper contract. Yes, he cost only a fourth-round pick, but as is often the case in life, you get what you pay for.
Detroit Red Wings
With the Red Wings battling all kinds of injuries, we like the idea of Michigan native David Legwand coming home in a way to help shore up the Red Wings' forward group. The Wings gave up a lot in Patrick Eaves, Calle Jarnkrok and a third-round pick that becomes a second if Detroit makes the playoffs. But with Pavel Datsyuk still on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Legwand suddenly becomes an important factor in extending the Wings' formidable playoff streak.
Tim Murray will be due for a nap. After getting good-to-great return for Ryan Miller and Steve Ott last week, the new Buffalo GM managed to move Matt Moulson and Jaroslav Halak before the bell rang on Wednesday's deadline period. He didn't necessarily hit any home runs, but managed to bring in a goaltender with some upside in Michal Neuvirth, veteran defenseman Rostislav Klesla (who has been in the minors) and Torrey Mitchell, along with a couple of second-round picks for Moulson and Cody McCormick. The interesting times won't end for the Sabres, but Murray left no stone unturned in his first trade deadline as a GM.
We're putting the Pens on this side of the winners/losers line because, while subtle, we like the addition of Marcel Goc from Florida and Lee Stempniak from Calgary. They don't have the profile of guys like Mike Cammalleri, who went untraded, or Moulson or Vanek, who might have been fits for the Pens. But we think Stempniak, a one-time 27-goal scorer, will be a pleasant surprise for Pens fans. And while GM Ray Shero opted not to add a veteran backup (Tomas Vokoun is just back skating and his availability for the playoffs remains unknown), we like the idea that this spring it's going to be Marc-Andre Fleury or bust -- even though we've seen the "bust" part the past few seasons. Interesting times ahead for the Eastern Conference's top team.
People will be critical of Washington GM George McPhee, but he did move a player who was unhappy in Martin Erat and then turned part of that return (Klesla) into a proven netminder in Halak. McPhee also helped clear up the crowded goaltending situation by moving Neuvirth in the Halak deal. Halak is familiar to Caps fans, having upended the then Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals in the 2010 playoffs. He will provide a nice counterbalance to Braden Holtby and could end up being the starter for the Caps come playoff time. He'll be an unrestricted free agent in July, so he won't add to the logjam in goal beyond this season. The other addition was Penner, who came from Anaheim for a fourth-round pick and will bring some size and playoff experience (he has won two Stanley Cups) to a forward group that is hungry for experience.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Not too many options for the Lightning as captain Martin St. Louis wanted out and got his wish with a deal that sent him to New York for Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. The Lightning could end up with two first-round picks out of the deal too. In Callahan, they get a tough-as-nails player built for the playoffs. They'll miss the skill and leadership of St. Louis, but it's not as big a drop-off as might have been the case.
New York Rangers
The Rangers are quietly closing the gap on Boston and Pittsburgh, and St. Louis brings with him a ton of experience and skill.
TEAMS THAT DIDN'T GET THERE
Actually moved the Bruins up and down on this list a couple of times but ultimately settled with a "didn't quite get there" ranking. The top team in the Atlantic Division didn't get the guy it wanted in Andrew MacDonald, who went to Philadelphia on Tuesday. So GM Peter Chiarelli went to Plan B and added Andrej Meszaros, trading a third-round pick to the Flyers in the deal. Meszaros, a member of the Slovak Olympic team, was expendable based on the MacDonald trade but will get a chance to play somewhere in the top six for a Bruins team that should provide a nice fit for him. He won't necessarily replace Dennis Seidenberg, who is out for the season, but he helps fill a hole. The question is whether he fills enough of that hole.
When you give up your starting goaltender in Roberto Luongo (the second in less than a year) for very little, you're going to continue to pay some of Luongo's salary, and you're still on the hook for the penalty when/if Luongo retires before the end of the deal, that's not good. Then when you fail to deal the top player available at the deadline in Ryan Kesler to immediately stunt whatever rebuild is underway in Vancouver, well, that's pretty disappointing. Kesler may still yield a pirates' treasure trove of assets at the draft, but it's been a disappointing and in some ways embarrassing few days for a Vancouver team that is life and death to make the playoffs.
New York Islanders
The hits just keep on coming for a team that has mishandled its assets from the moment last season ended. Instead of hitting the home run that he needed to in dealing Thomas Vanek, GM Garth Snow got hit by a pitch. Whatever he was asking and however the asking price was altered during the day, there is a chance the Islanders will have dealt the top rental player on the market for a smallish prospect playing in Sweden. If Montreal makes the playoffs, they'll get a second-round pick but also have to send a fifth back to Montreal. After they traded away a first, a second and Matt Moulson to get Vanek earlier in the season, the move turned out to be a near disaster for the Isles. Credit Snow for getting good value for Andrew MacDonald from Philadelphia (a second, a third and a prospect) but the Vanek return qualifies as a fiasco.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings needed to shore up their offense as they did in 2012, but unlike the Jeff Carter addition then, it's hard to imagine the acquisition of Marian Gaborik on Wednesday will have a similar impact. Gaborik is coming off a broken collarbone, has one goal in his past 13 games, zero on the power play and has scored just six times in his past 31 postseason games (none on the power play). So, remind us again how Gaborik helps?
Not really critical of Jim Nill's deadline plan, just found it puzzling that after trading Robidas, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, the Stars held on to potential UFAs Ray Whitney and Vernon Fiddler. Then to complicate matters more, they added veteran netminder Thomas from Florida. How does Thomas fit with starter Kari Lehtonen, who has been pretty terrific for a Stars team looking to end a five-year playoff drought? Maybe Lehtonen pumps Thomas' tires or maybe it's the other way around, but it just seems to be a curious mix.