Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Updated: February 28, 3:50 PM ET
How trades impact playoff picture
By Scott Burnside
So, what does all the trade deadline to-ing and fro-ing mean to those teams who still harbor Stanley Cup dreams or playoff pipedreams? Here's the post-deadline look at playoff-hopeful teams and whether they're trending up, trending down or merely treading water.
• Buffalo Sabres: Got underrated Dainius Zubrus from Washington to bolster the team's crippled forward unit, but it ultimately cost them goaltending depth. Still, a pretty good trade-off. Trending up.
• New Jersey Devils: Traded surplus defenseman David Hale to Calgary for a third-round draft pick. Treading water.
• Tampa Bay Lightning: You might not recognize the names, but the Bolts managed to shore up a couple of problem areas, most notably defensive depth and toughness by adding Jason Ward, Karl Stewart and Shane O'Brien. Trending up.
• Ottawa Senators: Did their shopping early by bringing in center Mike Comrie, and then added Oleg Saprykin for offensive depth Tuesday. Interesting acquisition of defenseman Lawrence Nycholat from Washington after he had an impressive few games with the Caps earlier this season. Treading water.
• Pittsburgh Penguins: Rookie GM Ray Shero saw his stock shoot up by adding Gary Roberts for veteran stability and Georges Laraque for, well, Sidney Crosby security detail. Trending up.
• Atlanta Thrashers: Trying to stabilize his reeling team, GM Don Waddell went wild adding Alexei Zhitnik and Keith Tkachuk before Tuesday. He then quietly brought in some more offensive depth with former Wild winger Pascal Dupuis, who didn't quite fit in New York with the Rangers. Trending up.
• Montreal Canadiens: GM Bob Gainey's biggest move was in resisting the temptation to deal power-play specialist and potential free-agent defenseman Sheldon Souray. The deal to bring in Josh Gorges and a first-round pick for potential unrestricted free-agent defenseman Craig Rivet was a good "down-the-road" move. Still, down the road isn't what Habs fans want to see. Trending down.
• Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes were surprisingly quiet on deadline day given the feeling GM Jim Rutherford was looking to move some defensive depth for some more offensive depth. But having stolen Anson Carter from Columbus for a fifth-round pick and getting Cory Stillman back from injury, Rutherford decided to stand pat. Treading water.
• New York Islanders: Of all the teams in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders made perhaps the biggest statement, at least late in the going, with the shocking acquisition of Edmonton star Ryan Smyth. GM Garth Snow also added Richard Zednik to help jazz up the offense and resisted the temptation to trade leading scorer Jason Blake. Trending up.
• Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs are hoping to get Darcy Tucker and Kyle Wellwood and maybe even Michael Peca back in the lineup before the start of the playoffs. But that might be too late, even with the pick-up of good guy faceoff specialist Yanic Perreault. The soft-spoken center is a complimentary piece not meant to be a game-breaker or a difference-maker. Treading water.
• Boston Bruins: Some interesting moves by a team on the outer fringes of the playoff race, adding three-time Cup-winner Aaron Ward from the Rangers for Paul Mara and swapping underachieving forward Brad Boyes for promising young St. Louis defenseman Dennis Wideman. Still, it all looks like "look-ahead" work. Treading water.
• New York Rangers: Other than bringing in Paul Mara, who is an offensive upgrade on the back end but may prove to be more of a liability than Aaron Ward, the Rangers did little to improve themselves either short term or for the future. Trending down.
• Nashville Predators: The Predators couldn't really be expected to do much Tuesday given their whopper acquisition of Peter Forsberg. That, along with the addition of hard-hitting defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski, still makes the Preds a Cup contender. Trending up.
• Anaheim Ducks: GM Brian Burke didn't dip his toe in the rental-player market, saying it was just too high. Whether that will come back to haunt him remains to be seen. Treading water.
• Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks needed to add some depth up front and along the blue line. They did so, although in small letters, as opposed to the capital letters employed by most of the conference contenders. Brent Sopel is serviceable and familiar and Bryan Smolinski will eat up some minutes, but not much else. Treading water.
• Detroit Red Wings: The Wings have the great unknown in Todd Bertuzzi and a great underachiever in Kyle Calder, who never has had the opportunity to play for a winning team, until now. Bertuzzi's the wild card that could mean the difference in a conference final or Cup final; or he could just become a poisonous cloud hanging over the dressing room. Trending up (maybe).
• Dallas Stars: After adding the offensive piece he believed the Stars needed in Ladislav Nagy, GM Doug Armstrong deftly added a superior defensive piece to an already solid defensive corps late Tuesday in the form of Kings captain Mattias Norstrom. Can they score enough? They might not need to. Trending up.
• San Jose Sharks: The Sharks seem to be adrift of late (not to mix our metaphors or anything). But adding veteran defenseman Craig Rivet should help stabilize the back end, while Bill Guerin will bring some instant offense to a team already well-stocked with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Milan Michalek. Trending up.
• Minnesota Wild: To be fair, GM Doug Risebrough did most of his shopping in the offseason, and having Marian Gaborik back healthy after missing the first three months of the season is almost like getting a new player. But it was nonetheless surprising the Wild didn't add some offense given they're likely to face Anaheim, Nashville or Detroit in the first round. Treading water.
• Calgary Flames: GM Darryl Sutter filled his deadline shopping bag early with the addition of Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau from Boston and Craig Conroy from Los Angeles. Still, Sutter managed to wade into the action Tuesday by bringing in defenseman David Hale, who grew up in the New Jersey system, but couldn't find a place in Lou Lamoriello's world. Trending up.
• Edmonton Oilers: Well, what do you think? The Oilers were nine points out of the last playoff berth before Tuesday and traded the team's most important player, Ryan Smyth, to the New York Islanders. Trending down (way down).
Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.