R.J. Umberger put up 26 goals and 46 points in his first year in Columbus. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Think back to last year’s draft in Ottawa and it’s easy to forget the lack of suspense and build-up surrounding the early goings of the first round.
It was a known fact Steven Stamkos was going to Tampa Bay and it was going to be a shock if the four defensemen who followed didn’t go in the exact order they ended up going in.
But the reason it’s so easy to forget that is because the 2008 draft will go down as one of the most memorable, from all the wheeling, dealing and prospect-stealing that made headlines on the Friday night.
If you like trades, draft night is for you. Trade fiends don’t have to take a sick day to follow earth-shattering roster moves anymore and employers can be thankful this new-age trade day falls on a weekend evening.
Forget Stamkos, Doughty and Bogosian; last year’s draft was about the Panthers, Blue Jackets, Flames and Kings…or, more specifically, Jokinen, Tanguay, Umberger and Cammalleri.
And don’t expect the flurry to let up in Montreal this year, either. The salary cap that restricts what GMs can do during the season acts as a catalyst for off-season maneuvering. And when the hockey world gathers at the draft – where futures are determined and plans laid – it’s the first and best opportunity for teams to set a course not only for the long-term, but also for the immediate future.
By looking at what moves teams make, we can start to see what kind of a squad they will be – or, at least, want to be – the following year. However, best laid plans go often awry and that altered idiom can be proven by looking back one year at all the big-name parts who were moved.
Philadelphia gets: Steve Eminger, D
Washington gets: John Carlson, D
Looking back: Over the following nine months, Eminger would find his way to two more teams via trade and Philadelphia ultimately ended up with an underwhelming, but blossoming Matt Carle to play an offensive role on the back end.
Washington dropped a player who wasn’t giving them anything they couldn’t immediately replace and Carlson could very well put up more points in his rookie season than Eminger had over five years with the club (43)…especially alongside Mike Green.
Columbus gets: R.J. Umberger, C
Philadelphia gets: Luca Sbisa, D
Looking back: You can imagine how much worse Philly’s cap trouble would have been this year if they didn’t move out Umberger, who now has a hit close to $4 million.
Columbus got exactly the type of physical, productive forward they needed to help fill out a weak group and they didn’t even need to give out their own first-rounder, instead handing the Flyers a pick they got months earlier from Colorado for a dastardly Adam Foote.
In Sbisa, the Flyers added a youngster they could immediately insert into the lineup, even though that’s not what they anticipated when they picked him. This was a fine deal for both teams.
Florida gets: Nick Boynton, D; Keith Ballard, D
Phoenix gets: Olli Jokinen, C
Looking back: At the time, I couldn’t believe the Panthers didn’t get more for their first-line, high-scoring forward than two depth defensemen who combined for 33 points the season before. Though I still find it hard to believe something better wouldn’t have come along eventually – why a deal like this, that didn’t involve any picks Florida used, had to happen at the draft is beyond me – it’s now apparent why Florida wanted Olli out.
With Jay Bouwmeester now set to leave, Boynton and Ballard – who combined for 55 points and a plus-21 rating this season – will keep this team from falling completely off the map. Jokinen didn’t even last one season in Phoenix and, after an initial surge in Calgary, fizzled when challenged by his first playoff appearance.
Calgary gets: Mike Cammalleri, C
Los Angeles gets: Colten Teubert, D
Looking back: The Flames were intent on taking a big step forward and had visions of playoff grandeur when they made this deal. Falling in the first round three years in a row, GM Darryl Sutter needed to add another scorer to help out perennial all-star Jarome Iginla get his team over the hump for the first time since the lockout.
The Kings didn’t directly get Teubert, but used the pick acquired from Calgary to swap with Anaheim and Buffalo, eventually landing the big defenseman with the 13th pick. Teubert’s hard-nosed defensive style, coupled with Drew Doughty’s all-around ability made L.A.’s first round the most complete, while Cammalleri scored 39 goals and was a point-per-game player. But Calgary was ousted in Round 1 yet again and the diminutive forward will likely end up somewhere else via the free agent market this summer.
Montreal gets: Alex Tanguay, LW
Calgary gets: Greg Nemisz, C
Looking back: The Flames upgraded their scoring with Cammalleri over Tanguay, who was coming off a miserable 40-point season in which he didn’t even hit 20 goals. They also ended up with a first round pick (25th overall) after dealing one away – a great bit of asset management by Sutter.
Tanguay never really got going in Montreal as he stumbled through an injury-riddled season, but put up respectable numbers when he did play, especially down the stretch when he posted 15 points in 16 games. However, Tanguay missed 32 regular season games and two out of four playoff games and that kind of an appearance does not make for a good trade.
The Canadiens imploded and Tanguay may not even be around next year as he is expected to test the UFA market, while the sturdy, 6-foot-3, 200-pound Nemisz won a Memorial Cup with Windsor and fits in perfectly down the middle in a Sutter-run system.
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