February 27, 2012

Breaking Down Deadline Day

The 2012 NHL trade deadline passed at 3pm eastern, and it was a relatively quiet day. Deals were made on a hockey basis and the usual dumping of salary did not happen. Some interesting moves were made as both Stanley Cup finalists from last year made deals and Nashville was clearly a buyer.

Starting with the Vancouver Canucks, who made the most interesting deal with the Buffalo Sabres. The Canucks sent Cody Hodgson and prospect Alexander Sulzer to Buffalo in exchange for Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani. This deal has the potential to be good for both sides. Hodgson is having a good year with 16 goals and 33 points in 63 games and is the #1 or #2 center the Sabres so desperately need. Hodgson was stuck behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler on the depth chart and he is not a checking center. The Canucks received a big winger in Kassian, who was one of Buffalo's top prospects. Kassian plays with an edge and has good hands. With skill and the willingness to be physical, Kassian will mix it up and even drop the gloves once in awhile. Vancouver didn't have a player in their system with those unique attributes.

The Canucks also picked up Sami Pahlsson from Columbus for a prospect and a couple picks. Pahlsson makes sense now that Cody Hodgson has been traded and he is a typical 3rd line checking center. Everyone remembers the job Pahlsson did in the playoffs of 07 for Anaheim, if he can get close to that level for the Canucks, they became the favorite to win the cup.

The Boston Bruins picked up some blue line depth by acquiring Greg Zanon From Minnesota for Steven Kampfer, as well as Mike Mottau and forward Brian Rolston from the Islanders for a couple of minor leaguer's. It never hurts to have blue line depth in the playoffs and GM Peter Chiarelli commented that he wanted 8 NHL caliber defenders going into the playoffs.

The Nashville Predators added a couple of forwards for draft picks. The first trade of the day was acquiring Adrei Kostitsyn from Montreal for a 2nd round pick in 2013. This reunites the 2 Kostitsyn brothers and if Andrei can improve like Sergei did when he left Montreal, he could turn out to be a 30 goal scorer in this league. Paul Gaustad was also picked up from Buffalo for a 1st round pick in this summers draft. The Predators are clearly sending a message to defenceman Ryan Suter and Shea Weber that they are serious about contending and want to resign Suter (UFA) and Weber (RFA) to contract extensions before July 1st.

The only other trade worth mentioning is the Chicago Blackhawks acquiring defenceman Johnny Oduya from Winnipeg for a 2nd and 3rd round pick in 2013. This gives the Hawks a little more depth on their blueline, however their playoff chances lie with the injured Jonathan Toews and when he can return to the line up.

In all 15 trades were completed, the lowest number since the lockout, involving 31 players and 11 draft picks. The fact that Rick Nash is still a Columbus Blue Jacket, and GM Scott Howson threw him under the bus after the deadline passed, will be an interesting saga between now and the NHL entry draft. Scott Howson told the media in a press conference that Rick Nash asked for the Jackets to explore trade options. Howson said he would try to accommodate the request only if he could get cornerstone pieces in return that will help the club win a championship. There rest of the season was already going to be a bit of a distraction in Columbus and now it will be a little worse after Howson's comments.

- Mike Lord

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