Back on July 23 when the Toronto Maple Leafs announced they’d hired Lou Lamoriello to be their GM, it was fair to wonder whether or not they had made the right move. In a way, it actually seemed a little counterintuitive at the time. After all, Lamoriello was approaching his 74th birthday and had presided over a New Jersey Devils franchise that was in an on-ice decline. It was at least reasonable to debate whether he’d lost his touch or had the chops to oversee a painful rebuild.
Question answered, accompanied by a conga line of exclamation marks. The Maple Leafs, who have gotten very adept at trading untradeable players and contracts, did it again, moving a veteran, middling defenseman with five years and $35 million remaining on his deal in Dion Phaneuf in their division to the Ottawa Senators and getting back a young defenseman with a ton to prove in Jared Cowen, a second-round pick in 2017 and a 6-foot-3, 215 pound prospect who has been a pleasant surprise wherever he had played in Tobias Lindberg. Milan Michalek, who has one year left on his deal at $4 million, will be long gone by the time the Maple Leafs become a competitive team. Colin Greening has spent most of this season in the minors and carries a cap hit of $2.65 million, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to play on this NHL team as a bottom-six player until his contract runs out after next season.
Whoa. Whoa. A nine-player trade? Between two teams historically characterized as bitter divisional and geographical rivals? Involving one of the team’s captains? Let’s breathe and try to sort through the blockbuster between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.
Credit to Bob McKenzie for being first on the story. The official trade:
Toronto Maple Leafs receive…
Jared Cowen, D
Milan Michalek, LW
Colin Greening, LW
Tobias Lindberg, RW
2017 second-round pick
Ottawa Senators receive…
Dion Phaneuf, D
Matt Frattin, RW
Casey Bailey, C/RW
Ryan Rupert, C
Cody Donaghey, D
Before we dive into the specifics of each piece, let’s get to the point and examine what this trade is really about.
See Sidney Crosby’s natural hat trick against the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night? The telling thing about it was how little time the puck spent on his stick. It might’ve been a second and a half across all three goals combined. That’s the sign of a confident, aggressive player showing very little hesitation.
We wouldn’t have described Sid the Kid’s game that way over the first few months of 2015-16, which went so poorly by his lofty standards that he didn’t get an All-Star Game sniff, not even when Alex Ovechkin’s suspension opened up a Metropolitan Division berth. Evgeny Kuznetsov simply deserved the nod more. When have we ever been able to say that about a healthy Crosby? Never. The rocky start doomed him this season. He had one goal and five points over 11 October games and, by the end of November, five goals and 15 points through 23 games.
But the ugly first act is history as quickly as it arrived. Crosby stabilized with a reasonable December effort of four goals and 12 points in 13 games, then proceeded to douse himself in kerosene and become a human torch. Crosby since Jan. 1: 12 games, 11 goals, 18 points and a hilarious shooting percentage of 25.6. That’s what you call regressing to the ol’ mean. Crosby, a 14.4 percent career shooter, sat at 8.5 on Dec. 31. He’s now all the way back to 13.4. Per war-on-ice.com, Crosby’s score adjusted Corsi was 48.9 in the first three months and is a superb 62.4 during his white-hot 2016 calendar year.
The list of firsts keeps growing for the NWHL as the burgeoning women’s league announced the first trade in league history. The swap saw the New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale flip goaltenders ahead of this weekend’s action.
The deal sees Chelsea Laden head to the Riveters, while fellow netminder Shenae Lundberg is headed to the Whale. The swap won’t have a major impact on the either club and likely won’t play a part in the fate of either club down the line.
According to the league, some players in the NWHL do have no-trade clauses written into their contracts but neither Laden nor Lundberg had that as part of their deals. Laden is set to earn $14,000 this season, while Lundberg earns slightly more at $15,000. Read more
Welcome to the first ever edition of The Hockey News Podcast.
In our debut episode Associate Senior Writer Ryan Kennedy, Associate Editor Matt Larkin, and Web Editor Ian Denomme discuss all things All-Star Game. What should we expect from John Scott? Does the All-Star Game still matter? We have the answers.
We also answer some of your questions about the fast-approaching NHL trade deadline.
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[Music: Metz — Headache; Brass Bonzanza]
The strange thing about the tough decisions facing Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff all year: they’ve gradually become easier. Entering 2015-16, his team was fresh off a playoff appearance, with an elite farm system. The arrow pointed decidedly upward. Dealing with his two prominent unrestricted free agents, left winger Andrew Ladd and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, was a daunting proposition. Winnipeg needed both players if it wanted to remain a playoff contender, so Cheveldayoff would have to ponder retaining them through the trade deadline, even if he hadn’t re-signed them by then, which would risk losing them for nothing in July.
Flash forward to late January, and Winnipeg’s season looks grim. The Jets are closer to last overall in the NHL than they are to a playoff berth. They have games in hand on Western Conference wild-card occupiers Minnesota and Colorado, but a 10-point deficit will be difficult to overcome. Byfuglien and Ladd suddenly look like much more realistic trade options, especially when each would fetch a first-round pick and then some.
Ladd expressed interest in re-signing with the Jets earlier in the year, and negotiations with Big Buff were infrequent, but the tide recently reversed. Talks have broken off or at least stalled with Ladd and resumed with Byfuglien. Ladd, even as team captain, appears more likely to move by the Feb. 29 deadline. What teams are the best fits for his extremely valuable services? Consider these five.
It would be a little presumptuous to expect the Stanley Cup to take up permanent residence at 1901 West Madison in Chicago for the foreseeable future, but it might want to check out the schools and amenities in the area just in case.
With the signing of GM Stan Bowman to a three-year extension that will take him through the 2020-21 season, there is no franchise in the NHL set up better for long-term success than the one that is best set up for short-term success. It’s a great time to be a Chicago Blackhawks fan, an era which people will look back on as the golden age of this franchise. You’d have to think there are a handful of players on this team – Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith for sure – who will be the last ones to wear their sweater numbers before they’re hoisted to the rafters of the United Center. And those wonderful statues of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Michael Jordan outside the building will undoubtedly have company someday.
We know that Tampa Bay left winger Jonathan Drouin wants a trade – that has been made abundantly clear in recent days. But what is the value of the 20-year-old on the market? I surveyed a handful of NHL execs and posed this question: If Lightning GM Steve Yzerman called up and asked what he could get in exchange for Drouin, what would they offer? The answers may be a bit hard to swallow if you’re a Tampa fan.