After watching Martin St-Louis play his former teammates in Tampa Bay for the first time since the March trade that sent him to the New York Rangers for Ryan Callahan, and two draft picks, I’m pretty confident in saying this:
St-Louis made a huge mistake.
Yes, it’s only one game, but the Lightning’s thorough 5-1 pounding of the Blueshirts Monday was a demonstration of (a) all the things that make Tampa such a favorite of pundits this off-season, and (b) many of the things that make some of us question the Rangers as a serious Stanley Cup contender.
St-Louis did score the home side’s only goal at Madison Square Garden, but, in a sign from the hockey gods as to which side is likely to emerge over time as the ultimate winner of the trade, Callahan scored two goals for the Bolts. More importantly, the Lightning also got another banner night from Steven Stamkos, who scored once and added two assists while being the most dangerous player on the ice. Why St-Louis would want to leave a team with a young superstar for one that didn’t have anyone comparable is head-scratching, to say the least. Read more
If you’re a Minnesota Wild fan who also respects the value of the advanced statistic known as PDO, you’re likely a very concerned individual these days. Despite adding winger Thomas Vanek this summer and the marquee signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter a couple years back, the Wild currently sit 10th in the Western Conference. But even worse, in the PDO department, they’re near the bottom of the league; the only teams worse in that regard are the Sabres, Oilers and Coyotes, and ahead of them are such non-powerhouses as Carolina and Colorado.
Add to that a four-game losing streak that included a 3-1 loss to New Jersey Tuesday, and you have a fan base that’s starting to get a little restless. And it’s tough to blame them. The franchise has only won three playoff rounds since NHL hockey returned to Minnesota in the 2000-01 campaign, and although their 43-win season last year was their best showing since they posted 44 wins in 2007-08, there’s no sense they’re on the cusp of entering into that elite group of teams (including the Kings, Blackhawks, Ducks and Penguins) who genuinely put the fear of the hockey gods into the opposition.
With youngsters Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula and Jonas Brodin still developing, there was bound to be some growing pains for this group – and injuries have also been a factor for them. But if the Wild continue to struggle, GM Chuck Fletcher is going to face an intriguing dilemma: what changes do you make to a roster that, with few exceptions, is under contract at least until the end of next season? Clearly, not making the playoffs isn’t an option for team owner Craig Leipold – who said last season the organization needs to make it to the second round of the post-season in order to turn a profit – meaning Fletcher cannot simply sit back and wait for that youth development to take place. The pressure is real, and it could get spectacular if the ship isn’t righted. Read more
There are some hockey trades that just make sense at the time and others that require a little more thinking. When news hit that Montreal had acquired veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar from Dallas in exchange for sandpaper bottom-sixer Travis Moen, the initial motivations were cloudy.
After all, the Canadiens aren’t exactly a physically intimidating team and the Stars didn’t seem to be in a position to lose an experienced blueliner, but here we are. So what’s the context of this deal?
The moment Ryan Kesler slipped on an Anaheim Ducks jersey, he felt a rush of excitement. Beneath it all, however, was an undercurrent of anxiety.
Kesler’s time as a Vancouver Canuck was up. The team needed a fresh start and so did he. But a cross-conference trade, or at least one out of his division, would’ve been a bit less awkward. Instead, he ended up a Duck, where he’d join forces with some of his mortal Pacific Division enemies, like a picked-on kid paired off with the class bullies for a school project.
The Ducks belong to captain Ryan Getzlaf and sniper Corey Perry, both of whom have traded blows with Kesler in the past. The 6-foot-4, 218-pound Getzlaf rag-dolled the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Kesler in Dec. 2008, and Perry threw down with Kesler in 2009 and 2010. Both Perry-Kesler tilts happened in the pre-season. That’s when you know there’s bad blood. So Kesler, understandably, didn’t know what to expect after the trade. But the Ducks quickly let him know bygones were bygones – their leader in particular.
“Ryan Getzlaf, really great captain, really great guy,” Kesler said. “But, really, all the guys made me feel at home. They were all welcoming. That was my biggest thing, playing against those guys, being in a rivalry against those guys. You develop hate towards them. But off the ice, they’re all good dudes and we got over it.”
Kesler said he, Getzlaf and Perry reminisced about their fights and had some laughs. But washing away bad blood is just one hurdle a player must overcome after a trade. The simple change of scenery is life-altering.
Since Jeff Carter was moved out of Philadelphia in 2011, he’s been a critical component of two Stanley Cup winners, won an Olympic gold medal, banked tens of millions of dollars and gotten hitched. Life is indeed sweet for the 29-year-old center.
But the question we’re asking today is who won that deal between the Flyers and Blue Jackets three-plus years later, based on the results of that swap, and the subsequent package Columbus received for the then disgruntled Carter.
Here’s our re-assessment of the transaction in the latest installment in our series of re-opened cold-case files.
The respective trade statuses of Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal and Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers remain hot topics in the NHL rumor mill. In today’s salary cap era, it’s unusual to see two such notable players mentioned this early in the season as possible trade candidates.
On Wednesday, TSN analyst Bob McKenzie appeared on NBC to report on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ off-season interest in Staal, as well as the Detroit Red Wings apparent pursuit of Myers. His colleague Darren Dreger turned up the same night on NHL Network and commented on the Staal rumors, noting there’s a lot of “ifs” to this situation, the most notable being if Staal could agree to waive his no-trade clause. Read more
Everything written this time of the NHL’s regular season of is legally and morally bound to include the phrase “it’s early, but…”. And it is indeed early, but after seeing the Edmonton Oilers get rolled for the fourth straight game, I think I speak for their fan base – actually, I know I do, because their vocal cords are paralyzed with rage – when I say the following words:
Enough. No mas. Detener la locura.
That’s right – I’m so done watching these Oilers get humbled virtually every time they take the ice, I’m speaking in short bursts of Spanish. This is all affecting us in different ways. But as a writer who isn’t a fan of any team, I have no horse in this race, so I can only imagine how simultaneously furious and defeated Oilers fans must be feeling this morning. Is there a single barf bag available for purchase anywhere within the city limits right now?
This stopped being comically inept a long time ago. It is now tragically inept. And while you never want to make knee-jerk moves after a bad run, at some point you have to jerk the knee to prove you’re not a cadaver. The Oilers are at this stage. Read more
The Philadelphia Flyers suffered a scare last week when defenseman Braydon Coburn was sidelined by a lower-body injury. It raised speculation they might go shopping for blueline help if the injury was long term, but it appears he could return to action in a matter of days, rather than weeks.
For a defense corps still lacking a true top-two defenseman since Chris Pronger’s career was ended by injury three years ago, and with Kimmo Timonen sidelined with career-threatening blood clots, the possibility of losing Coburn long term was a genuine cause for concern. Read more