James Neal has yet to score a point with the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)
Although most people know you can never really judge an NHL trade until months, if not years, after a deal is consummated, it is always fun to try and pinpoint which teams did well in their swap shop business.
There were only 16 deals made on the NHL’s trade deadline day, so for this week’s Top 10, I’m including the deals that were made during the “deadline season” – i.e. the weeks leading up to Feb. 28 – in choosing my favorite 10 deadline trades.
10. Al Montoya to the Islanders; a sixth round pick to Phoenix
Thanks to an unbelievable rash of injuries, Isles GM Garth Snow was in dire need of a goalie when he acquired Montoya from the Coyotes Feb. 9. For the low cost of a sixth-rounder, Montoya has been more than a bargain, posting a 3-2-1 record, 2.07 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.
9. Cory Stillman to Carolina; Ryan Carter and a fifth round draft pick to Florida
Stillman will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and is near the end of his career, but was a vital member of the Canes during their 2006 Stanley Cup run and has 19 goals and 51 points in 82 career playoff games. Surrendering a journeyman forward (Carter) and a low pick seems to be somewhat of a steal.
8. Alex Kovalev to Pittsburgh; a conditional seventh round draft pick to Ottawa
Speaking of steals, Kovalev had stolen most of the $10 million he made over nearly two seasons with the Senators, who clearly were happy to jettison him for any small return. A seventh-rounder definitely qualifies as such - and since Kovalev has already scored a goal in his second go-around in Pittsburgh, the Penguins might already feel as if the trade has paid off.
7. Eric Brewer to Tampa Bay; Brock Beukeboom and a third round draft pick to St. Louis
Brewer played with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman on Canada’s 2002 Olympic gold medal-winning team, so ‘Stevie Y’ knew Brewer could help improve Tampa’s mediocre blueline. To land him, Yzerman had to move 18-year-old Beukeboom – a blueliner with NHL lineage, but who wasn’t ranked among the top 10 Bolts prospects in the 2011 edition of THN’s Future Watch.
6. Jason Arnott to Washington; David Steckel and a second round draft pick to New Jersey
Arnott is a soon-to-be UFA who will turn 37 in October, but he still can help a Capitals team that needed a boost of size and experience as it focused on a deep playoff run. The deal also works for the Devils, who convert a declining asset into a solid worker bee in Steckel and a high draft pick.
5. Rostislav Klesla and Dane Byers to Phoenix; Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto to Columbus
Like the Arnott-to-Washington deal, this swap works for both sides; the Yotes get a D-man who can play big minutes - and almost as importantly, who is under contract through 2013-14 - and the Jackets improve their group of forwards with Upshall, but at the same time commit no salary to him (or Lepisto) beyond this season.
4. Dustin Penner to Los Angeles; Colten Teubert, a 2011 first round draft pick and a conditional 2012 second-rounder to Edmonton
There is no guarantee Penner will pan out in L.A. or that Teubert and any of the draft picks will wind up blossoming in Edmonton. But both teams had specific needs and both wound up addressing them without digging too deep into their current NHL rosters. That’s a win-win.
3. Kris Versteeg to Philadelphia; a first round draft pick and a third-rounder to Toronto
Leafs GM Brian Burke made this deal two weeks in advance of the deadline - and for good reason: very few other teams would have been prepared to fork over a first-rounder and a third-rounder for a player who (a) didn’t fit in where he was; and (b) was destined for his new team’s third line.
2. Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a conditional second round draft pick to St. Louis; Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a conditional first round draft pick to Colorado
One of the biggest blockbusters in recent memory was agreed to in the wee hours of Feb. 19; it is notable not just for that, but for the willingness on the parts of Blues GM Doug Armstrong and Avs counterpart Greg Sherman to roll the dice and gamble on trading away young players and high draft picks. But this deal has the potential to benefit both sides, which is why it was made.
1. James Neal and Matt Niskanen to Pittsburgh; Alex Goligoski to Dallas
The first inclination is to think that Penguins GM Ray Shero got the better of this trade in landing the big and talented Neal; the second inclination is to think that as well. But in defense of Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk, Goligoski fits a specific need and could blossom in Dallas in a way he simply couldn’t behind Kris Letang in Pittsburgh.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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