It's the best time of year!
Posted by Erika Schnure Labels: 2012 Trade Deadline
The trade deadline was relatively quiet, considering the biggest names (Rick Nash, Derek Roy and Steve Ott) stayed put with their respective teams. But there were a few teams that were winners and losers on the day.
General manager David Poile let the league know that he's serious about the playoffs, grabbing several of the biggest names of the day. Poile started last week, acquiring shot-blocking machine Hal Gill. On trade deadline day, the first trade of the day belonged to Nashville, acquiring Andrei Kostitsyn from Montreal for the Predators' second round pick in 2013 and the Canadiens' own conditional 2013 fifth-rounder that had come to the Preds in the Gill trade.
Kostitsyn rejoins his brother Sergei, who has greatly benefitted from his own move to Nashville, scoring 50 points in the 2010-2011 season with the Predators, in contrast to his 18 in 2009-2010 with Montreal. Andrei has been inconsistent during his time with the Canadiens, and could similarly benefit from the structure of Nashville's system.
Before deadline day, the price for Paul Gaustad of Buffalo was predicted be high, and the Predators paid a first round pick to nab Gaustad at the last minute, but did get a fourth-rounder from Buffalo along with the player. The large, scrappy center can win a lot of face-offs (56.8%) and pitch in a physical presence on the forecheck.
The Predators had to give up some high picks for the players, but the additions of Kostitsyn and Gaustad show that Poile wants a deep run in this year's postseason.
Though the Sabres had to give up Gaustad, they received a first round pick in the 2012 draft, a high price for any player, but even more so for Gaustad. In addition, the Sabres made a big last-minute deal with the Vancouver Canucks, sending prospect Zack Kassian and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani to Vancouver for talented 22-year-old rookie Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer.
Hodgson was the biggest part of the move for the Sabres -- he currently ranks fifth among NHL rookies in scoring with 33 points in 63 games, putting him on the short list for this year's Calder Trophy. With the Canucks so deep in talented centers, Hodgson should enjoy more playing time in Buffalo, especially with Gaustad gone.
"I think with Cody coming in, he will give us a good boost in the offensive side," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said. "He brings very solid two-way play, contribute offensively. I think right now he’s sitting in Vancouver with 33 points, and at his age, and fitting in with (Tyler) Ennis and (Tyler) Myers, I think that bodes well with not only now, but in the future."
I'm hesitant to put the Canucks on the losers list, as their moves should pay off in the long-term, but for the short-term, that's what they are after trading their most promising rookie for some low-profile Sabres. An offensive defenseman, Marc-Andre Gragnani led all AHL defensemen in points last season (60), and won the Eddie Shore award, given to the AHL's top defenseman. However, his first full season as a Sabre has been underwhelming thus far, with 12 points (including just one goal) on the season, and playing wildly inconsistent minutes when he's not a healthy scratch.
In a separate trade, the Canucks acquired Samuel Pahlsson from the Columbus Blue Jackets for two 2013 fourth-round draft picks. Pahlsson won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007, but has lost a lot of his luster since his Anaheim days. Though he is a defensive forward, he was essentially acquired to take over the third-line center spot from Hodgson. That's a lot of scoring out the window for an 11-point player like Pahlsson.
On the other hand, Zack Kassian is an excellent pick-up for the Canucks. He provides toughness and grit while also being able to score. Kassian has spent most of his first pro season in the AHL, but has enjoyed several call-ups to the big club, and has performed well when in the Sabres line-up. Kassian may not make the Canucks roster right away, and may be assigned to the AHL, but in the long-term, Kassian is a very highly-valued prospect in the league, and as early as next year, could be a big impact player for the Canucks.
Columbus Blue Jackets
General manager Scott Howson's post-deadline press conference was a bit of an eye-opener. Not only did Howson just about throw Rick Nash under the bus by telling the media that Nash had asked them for a trade, but he also failed to deal Nash despite a large list of interested parties.
One of the bigger players in the hunt for Nash was the New York Rangers, but Rangers manager Glen Sather insinuated that the Blue Jackets were asking an exorbitant price for Nash. "We talked to a lot of people today...the prices seemed very high," Sather said. "We weren't going to dismantle things...we like the chemistry we have."
Is Nash worth the high price tag? Yes. But Howson may have been expecting too much of teams like New York whose rosters are already poised for the postseason. Interest in Nash may rise again in the summer with teams that end up performing poorly in the playoffs, but airing that Nash wants out hurts a team that's already taken a recent image hit as a result of Jeff Carter's much-publicized disinterest in his now-former team.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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