Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ten thoughts from the NHL trade deadline

The NHL’s trade deadline passed Wednesday, and as always, it was capped off by a hectic few days. There were 20 deals made yesterday, and a total of 33 in the week leading up to the deadline.

Some teams, like the Sabres, were very busy. Others, like the Maple Leafs, were … uh, not especially busy. And some teams probably wish they’d just sat the whole thing out.

Here are 10 thoughts on some of the biggest moves and non-moves from the past few days.

Luongo Unchained

It took two years, but Roberto Luongo finally got his wish: a trade out of Vancouver. He even wound up going to what had long been reported as his preferred destination, the Florida Panthers, in exchange for Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias.

At last season’s deadline, Luongo was devastated over not moving and infamously told reporters, “My contract sucks.” The contract didn’t get any better, but apparently the Canucks’ asking price came down enough that new ownership in Florida was willing to pull the trigger.

The deal is risky for the Panthers, but it offers a clear upgrade in goal for a team that has been seeking stability at the position for some time. The bigger spotlight is on the Canucks and general manager Mike Gillis, who spent the last year turning one of the league’s best goaltending duos in Luongo and Cory Schneider into some spare parts and future pieces. They alienated Luongo, traded the other guy instead, made up with Luongo, and then incomprehensibly alienated him again. The entire scenario would have seemed impossible 12 months ago, but here we are.

But while it’s tempting to point and laugh in the direction of Vancouver, it’s worth remembering that the Canucks still got out from under a bad contract that was supposed to be untradable. (Well, mostly out from under it — they could still get burned by recapture penalties down the road.) As others have pointed out, if a new GM had come in and made this deal, the perception might be different. When it’s Gillis cleaning up his own problem, though, the standards change, and this isn’t playing well in Vancouver.

But hey, if Canuck fans were disappointed, at least they could look forward to reaping a windfall for Ryan Kesler. More on that in a second.

Martin St. Louis Turns Heel

Let’s get this out of the way: Martin St. Louis screwed the Tampa Bay Lightning.

St. Louis was reportedly upset about being snubbed from Team Canada when the selections were first announced. That roster was picked by Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, and it opened a rift that apparently couldn’t be healed, even though St. Louis eventually made the team after all, as an injury replacement.

We don’t know exactly what happened behind closed doors between the parties — St. Louis has implied that there’s more to the story than just the Olympic snub — but it’s hard to think of a scenario where the player ends up looking good here. He didn’t just demand a trade; he also gave Yzerman only one destination to work with. That was the Rangers, and under the circumstances, Yzerman did reasonably well. He picked up Ryan Callahan, a 2015 first-round pick, and a conditional pick that could become a 2014 first. Callahan is likely a rental, but with the Lightning headed to the playoffs, he’ll help soften the loss of St. Louis a little bit.

But only a little bit, because this is a major loss for the Lightning. St. Louis is the reigning Art Ross winner, and despite his age, he’s still an elite offensive player. He’s also been one of the league’s most respected and popular players. But that reputation will take a well-deserved beating now, and all the apology letters in the world won’t help.

>> Read the full post on Grantland

1 comment:

  1. I still can't believe the Canucks let Luongo go for next to nothing AND are still picking up part of the tab on his contract. A definite win for the Florida Panthers. We'll see how they move forward next season.