Marian Gaborik scored 41 goals last season, but has only managed nine this year before the Rangers dealt him to the Blue Jackets. (Getty Images)
Not to sound cynical, but the biggest losers of this year’s trade deadline were the viewers, who sat through nothing for five hours before a flurry of deals shook up the landscape of the league. Is this the final year networks start their coverage early in the morning, only to kill time for hours before the deals start rolling in? I suppose that’s a question for another day, so let’s get to the teams who got better and worse this week.
The Penguins did most of their damage pre-deadline, grabbing several big names in Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray and finally on Wednesday, Jussi Jokinen. Sustaining little damage to the team’s prospect cupboard thanks to some fantastic building by GM Ray Shero, the Penguins are now even bigger favorites for the Stanley Cup than they had been, even if Sidney Crosby’s broken jaw throws a bit of doubt into the matter. This team is loaded for the present and still set for the future.
New GM Jarmo Kekalainen had himself a banner trade deadline, landing one of the biggest fishes of the day in Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik. With the Jackets vying for a playoff spot, the team gets a huge vote of confidence from management and didn’t lose anything they can’t cover for. Gaborik is an upgrade on Derick Brassard, John Moore was expendable thanks to David Savard and Ryan Murray (come next season) and Derek Dorsett is injured, while Jared Boll provides more than enough toughness anyway. In dealing Steve Mason, Kekalainen officially hands the keys in net to Sergei Bobrovsky, who had been driving the bus anyway.
Much like Pittsburgh, Minnesota reaped the rewards of a stocked cupboard when the Wild acquired Jason Pominville from Buffalo. While Johan Larsson and Matt Hackett are excellent prospects, youngsters such as Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund and netminders Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson more than cushion the blow. Minnesota came into the season with high expectations and with a divisional title well within reach, GM Chuck Fletcher stepped up to the plate.
The Jets have been in a tailspin (sorry), but a divisional title is still possible. Thing is, Washington is heating up and the Southeast may only send one team to the post-season again. The Jets needed a boost and they couldn’t get it done. Do they have the horses to hold off Ovechkin and crew? If not, it’s going to be a disappointing summer in the ‘Peg and things will only get worse when realignment kicks in next season and the Jets have to beat stiffer competition.
Goaltending has been a problem in Tampa for a couple years now and Anders Lindback hasn’t been getting the job done. Is Ben Bishop the answer? The former Ottawa keeper will give it a shot, but he’s still relatively green and the Bolts’ defense corps hasn’t been very strong of late. Cory Conacher had been slumping lately, but most rookies do. The fact is, when he was on, he was on, and the Sens have the talented linemates to get him back on track. Despite all the talent up top and some great young prospects, this team is trending downward.
The season started out with so much promise for the Stars, with Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy headlining the retooled roster. Now, they’re both gone, with just 64 games total contributed to the cause. In return, Dallas didn’t get a whole lot, though Kevin Connauton is a decent defense prospect. The Stars are now in that hellish tweener phase (much like Toronto and Calgary recently) where the playoffs are just out of reach, but they’re not bad enough to get a really good draft choice. Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson are the cornerstones up front, but what is the identity of this team?
Ryan Kennedy, the co-author of Young Guns II, is THN's associate senior writer and a regular contributor to THN.com. His column appears Wednesdays and The Hot List appears Tuesdays. Follow him on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy.