Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A little bit of wheeling, but not much dealing.

So the original plan for this post was the 4th Annual NHL Deadline Running Diary. Yes, it’s a shameless rip-off of a Bill Simmons gimmick, but it is usually fun to write. The fact that it also killed a day at work was not a bad thing either. This year proved to be different. I was unusually busy at work, which is a good thing for my paycheck, but a bad thing for you my loyal reader…err readers. So instead I present to you…

1st Annual NHL Trade Deadline Wrap Up for the Lightning

Here is how it broke down

New Assets:

Richard Petiot - Defenseman
Noah Welch - Defenseman
3rd Round Pick
Matt Lashoff - Defenseman
Martins Karsums - Forward


Mark Recchi
2nd Round Pick in 2010
Steve Eminger
Olaf Kolzig
Jamie Heward
Andy Rogers
4th Round Pick

In case you were wondering how this stacked up to my Trade Deadline Preview Column the Lightning traded a:

Most Likely to be Moved - Recchi
Could help a Contender - Eminger
M*A*S*H - Kolzig (Heward would have been in this category as well if I thought someone would take him).

Not bad when it comes to my usual track record for predictions.

The first thing critics and commenters like to do is rate how the teams did after deadline deals. For me, it’s more about did the team improve itself. In the case of the Lightning, did they improve themselves for next year and the year beyond? The answer - not really.

On the same token they didn’t do anything to ruin the franchise either. Vincent is still here as is Marty St Louis. I heard a rumor that Tortorella wanted Marty in New York, but they couldn’t make it work. They saved some salary by getting Toronto to take Kolzig and Heward off of their hands for the rest of the season.

A lot of people are criticizing the move as a sign of financial trouble, and they could be right. However, and maybe this is the fact that I’ve spent the last decade working for a company that operates at a 2% profit margin, they got another team to pay for players that aren’t going to suit up for them this year. All it cost them was a 4th round pick. The money they save (TSN pegged it at about $500,000) on this deal could help them keep a player they may be forced to move later.

For me the most bizarre move was the Eminger deal. Noah Welch is older (by a year) and has been injured for most of his career. In the last 3 seasons he’s played a total of 29 games due to shoulder injuries. Meanwhile, Eminger was one of the steadiest players on a blue line that was ravaged by injuries this year. The move also leaves Paul Ranger and Andrej Meszaros as the only defensive players that have played significant time in the NHL with contracts for next year. Lukas the Farmer, Matt Smaby and Mike Lundin are Restricted Free Agents so it stands to reason that they will be on the team next season. Ty Wisert is signed through next year, but spent most of this year in the minors. All in all, it’s not exactly a rock solid foundation to build from.

It would have been nice for Recchi to stick around, but when he was scratched for last nights game it was a foregone conclusion that he would be moved. Was he going to bring a huge return? Of course not. Boston offered to decent prospects that can help replenish a farm system that still needs player. Could they cut it in the NHL? Maybe.

Normally I listen to TSN on draft day, but due to technical difficulties at work the best I could do was a Montreal sports station. It was fun listening to them bash the Canadians, basically writing this season off as a failure. I’m sure if the Lightning were in 5th place in the Eastern Conference everyone would be giddy as a proverbial school boy on his first date. Also amusing was the fact the former hockey pugilist PJ Stock has his own show. Maybe one of the local stations here should give Enrico Ciccone a shot.

On the station they spent most of the day lamenting the lack of action by the Canadians and debating the merits of a blockbuster trade. Lecavalier was brought up a few times as was Ilya Kovalchuck. The general consensus was one that I had expressed several times. With the salary cap as it is, bringing in a player of that caliber and cap hit would necessitate moving so many pieces that there wouldn’t be any high caliber players left for them to play with - or as Stock eloquently stated, “Who would be Lecavalier’s Marty St Louis?”

I was surprised that there wasn’t more interest in some of the Lightning’s veteran defenseman like Krajicek or Marek Malik. Early in the day it was announced the Chris Pronger was off the market and Filip Kuba had signed an extension with Ottawa. With two of the big name blue liners off of the market, it could have created a demand for players that could have been role players.

In the end it could have been better and it could have been worse. Most importantly, as night falls over the TBA Vincent Lecavalier is still a member of the Lightning. Despite the rumors and the fear mongering on the internet tubes the face of the franchise is still wearing the uniform. If he’ll still be wearing it after July 1st is a worry for another day.

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