Chicago Blackhawks\' Patrick Sharp, left, celebrates his overtime goal with teammates Jonathan Toews (19) and Duncan Keith (2) during an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008, in Los Angeles. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Gus Ruelas
Author: The Hockey News
Biggest crowd of season anticipated Friday as young Hawks refuse to go away
One of the biggest Chicago hockey crowds in recent years is expected Friday night as the red-hot Blackhawks continue to cultivate a fan base that's been eroded for a decade.
"Tomorrow night is going to be phenomenal," Hawks GM Dale Tallon told The Canadian Press on Thursday. "The fans are excited again and they should be - these kids play an entertaining game. It's fun to watch them."
With former greats Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita slated to be honoured before the game, some 22,000 fans are expected to cram into the cavernous United Center as the young-and-gun Hawks take on the mighty San Jose Sharks - winners of seven straight.
"Tomorrow night we're sold out and supposedly we're going to have the biggest crowd in a long time," said Hawks head coach Denis Savard. "It's a great feeling. The credit goes to the players, they're the ones who changed this around here."
The Hawks moved to within four points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a 3-0 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night before 16,666 fans at a rocking United Center.
Savard couldn't wipe away a smile as the final seconds ticked away and his young squad won for the ninth time in 12 games.
"Youth brings you a lots of excitement and enthusiasm - no question about that," said Savard. "But they want it. The culture has changed here. They're really a tight bunch, they'll go to war for each other."
The Hawks have missed the playoffs four straight years and eight of the past nine seasons - a decade of decay that's eaten away at a once-proud hockey market.
But that pride is slowly returning this season as Hawks fans see the irresistible upside of a team led by rookies Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane as well as youngsters Dustin Byfuglien, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, James Wisniewski and Cam Barker, among others.
"The present is really good but the fact they're really competing hard now, it really bodes well for the future," said Tallon. "It's a special group of young kids that really cares for each other."
The Hawks were 29th in NHL attendance in 2005-06 and 2006-07 but have risen to 21st so far this season. And the best is yet to come.
"It's fun, boy," said Tallon. "These guys have a lot of character."
Despite massive injuries to key players such as star winger Martin Havlat, goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and veteran defenceman Brent Sopel, the Hawks have soldiered on with their young stars and their AHL call-ups.
Tallon says 18 different call-ups from AHL Rockford have played for Chicago this season.
"It's really good to see these kids come up and play so hard for each other," he said.
The Hawks have 15 games left and realize it'll be hard to beat out Colorado, Nashville, Vancouver, Phoenix and Columbus for one of those two last playoff spots in the West.
But it's trying to do so that will pay dividends down the road.
"Whether we make it or not, those games here down the stretch are so important for young players to be part of," said Savard. "It's so important to learn what it takes - because it's playoff hockey right now. Last night, our organization hadn't been involved in a game like that in 7-8 years."
The inspired victory over the Ducks comes after a 4-2 win the night before in Minnesota and a 4-1 home win over the Canucks on Sunday.
"For our kids to respond the way they have, they're refusing to lose right now," said Savard. "They'll find every way they can to get it done.
Frederik Andersen netted a first- and second-round pick for the Ducks and Brian Elliott was worth a second and third to pry away from the Blues. So why was the Lightning’s return for Ben Bishop so much less?
The Ben Bishop trade was months in the making. From the time the Stanley Cup was handed to the Pittsburgh Penguins, speculation was running rampant about what the Tampa Bay Lightning were going to do with a logjam in the crease and a cap situation that needed to be alleviated in one way or another. The easy answer was trading Bishop, and it seemed Tampa Bay would be in line to land quite the package in return for a goaltender who is a two-time Vezina finalist and had led the Lightning to consecutive Eastern Conference finals.
So, as shocking as it was that Bishop landed with the Kings of all teams, it’s as puzzling that the package that came back the other way was nowhere near what one would have expected the Lightning would haul in for the netminder. In all, Tampa Bay landed a backup goaltender, Peter Budaj, 19-year-old defenseman Erik Cernak, who was selected 43rd overall at the 2015 draft, and a seventh-round pick. There’s no top pick, no top prospect and, truthfully, the package is somewhat underwhelming. That’s especially true when you consider the recent price teams have paid for help in goal.
Frederik Andersen, for instance, cost the Toronto Maple Leafs first- and second-round picks and Brian Elliott cost the Calgary Flames second- and third-round selections. Heck, even the Jonathan Bernier acquisition cost the Anaheim Ducks a conditional pick. All three make the return the Lightning received for Bishop look worse. But maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised that Bishop didn’t fetch a similar package.
If Bishop was traded before the start of the campaign, it’s likely Tampa Bay would have received something that mirrored the price the Maple Leafs paid for Andersen. That’s all the more likely given Bishop was coming off of a season in which he finished second in Vezina voting and posted career-bests in goals-against average and save percentage. But as this season has worn on, Bishop has shown some holes. In fact, with how he’s playing right now, he’s on pace to have one of the worst statistical seasons of his career as a full-time NHLer.
Through 32 games this season, Bishop has turned in a .911 SP and 2.55 GAA. No full season has seen him post a worse SP and he’s only had a worse GAA in one campaign, all the way back in 2012-13 when he was dealt from the Ottawa Senators to the Lightning. Bishop had played his way out of the starting job with the Lightning, giving way to youngster Andrei Vasilveskiy more frequently as the campaign has worn on. Bishop's numbers and struggles alone were destined to lessen the return Tampa Bay was going to get. When they were talking trade before the start of the year, teams would have been paying for the promise of a first-rate starting netminder. That was no longer the case.
There also happens to be the matter of the market for goaltenders. A number of teams looking for upgrades in goal were looking to do so before the season began, but as the year has gone on, some of those clubs have fallen out of contention to the point where dealing away assets for a solution in goal doesn’t make all that much sense. Take the Dallas Stars, who are in a position to be a seller at the deadline. Spending to improve their goaltending wouldn’t be all that smart. They need the young assets to build for the future. Likewise, teams who have had stumbles in goal have seen their issues right themselves, which has lessened their need for a fix. The Flames have gotten better goaltending out of Elliott of late, and the St. Louis Blues, once in dire need of anyone who could make a stop, are finally starting to get favorable results from Jake Allen and Carter Hutton. As that happened, the market for Bishop almost certainly weakened.
The Lightning’s position also took a hit because those same teams who could be interested in an upgrade in goal — the Stars, Flames and Carolina Hurricanes could all potentially benefit from having Bishop — are now in a position where waiting for the off-season makes the most sense. Right now, acquiring Bishop would have cost a team a few assets, as we saw with what will end up being a three player package from the Kings. And while the ask obviously wasn’t as high as it was previously given the return the Lightning got, teams who are interested in Bishop’s services were able to hold onto a prospect, pick and roster player now with an eye on the summer signing season. At that time, Bishop can be had for the cost of his contract and nothing more.
Sure, trading for him now would have opened up an avenue for an earlier negotiation, but Bishop is going to go where he’s going to go. There’s nothing saying Bishop has to re-up with whichever team went after him at the deadline. It’s just an example, but say Dallas made a move to land Bishop, he could have gone and signed with Calgary come July 1. Then the Stars would be out the assets and the player they acquired. In that sense, there’s more value in taking a shot at Bishop come July 1 rather than spending at the deadline for a player who isn’t guaranteed to stick around.
And, even still, if there is interest in landing Bishop before the signing season kicks off, that’s not out of the question. The price for him could go down come the days leading up to July 1, a time when he might be able to be had from the Kings for as little as a late-round pick. With teams already willing to shop first-round picks due to the lack of top prospects in the upcoming draft, it’s hard to fathom some team wouldn’t be willing to ship out a mid-round selection just for the rights to Bishop if they really want the inside track.
All those factors combined resulted in a return for the Lightning that was much weaker than one would have expected. We’ll never know what Bishop would have been worth if he would have been traded before the season began. That was nearly a reality, too. Bishop himself said he was a contract extension away from ending up a Flame. The one thing that’s almost for certain, though, is Calgary was going to pay a higher price than the one the Kings did on Sunday. But that’s the risk the Lightning took by holding on to Bishop. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, it didn’t pay big.
The Blackhawks are No. 1 in our power rankings for the second week in a row, and went out and added a familiar face for some depth on defense.
It’s safe to say the last time the Chicago Blackhawks acquired Johnny Oduya at the trade deadline, things worked out pretty well. But this time around, the Blackhawks will not have the luxury of time they had when they traded for Oduya in 2012.
The Blackhawks did not win the Stanley Cup that year, but Oduya stuck around to help the Blackhawks to Cups in 2013 and 2015, logging valuable minutes in 2015. But at the age of 35 and at the end of his contract, Oduya is not seen as a long-term fix for the Blackhawks.
This time around, Oduya is an insurance policy and not a workhorse. You can never have enough NHL defenseman for a long playoff run, which is exactly what the Blackhawks are expecting again this spring. And with a second straight week atop THN.com’s weekly Power Rankings, they’re rounding into form at the right time. )Last week’s rankings in parentheses.):
CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Chicago Blackhawks (1) 2. Minnesota Wild (7) 3. Washington Capitals (3) 4. Nashville Predators (23) 5. Montreal Canadiens (15) 6. Boston Bruins (6) 7. Calgary Flames (19) 8. Columbus Blue Jackets (12) 9. Pittsburgh Penguins (4) 10. San Jose Sharks (10)
The Blackhawks quietly signed Michal Rozsival and Jordin Tootoo to one-year extensions, likely to expose them in the expansion draft…These are not your father’s Wild. With 209, Minnesota is second in the NHL in goals scored…Kevin Shattenkirk logged 17:18 in ice time and had four shots on goal in his first game with the Capitals, a 4-1 win over the Rangers Tuesday night…Anyone who thinks it will be “just another game” when P.K. Subban returns to Montreal for the first time Thursday night is kidding himself…After losing five of six starts, Carey Price has gone 3-1-0 with a 1.45 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in his past four…The Bruins have gone 7-0-1 and have outscored their opponents 33-17 under interim coach Bruce Cassidy…Since playing perhaps their worst game of the season in a 5-0 loss to Arizona, the Flames have gone 6-0-1 with three of those wins coming in overtime…Lip readers did not like what they saw from John Tortorella after the Blue Jackets lost 1-0 in overtime in Montreal on a power-play goal…The Penguins’ 3-2 loss to Dallas Tuesday night marked the first time in 66 games the Penguins had lost a game when leading after two periods…The Sharks’ 3-1 win over Toronto Tuesday night was the 300th of coach Peter DeBoer’s NHL career.
THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Edmonton Oilers (16) 12. New York Rangers (3) 13. New York Islanders (8) 14. Florida Panthers (2) 15. Anaheim Ducks (17) 16. Ottawa Senators (13) 17. Toronto Maple Leafs (10) 18. Philadelphia Flyers (20) 19. Tampa Bay Lightning (11) 20. Los Angeles Kings (18)
Take a wild guess at which player has the most game-winning goals for the Oilers this season. If you guessed Mark Letestu, who has six, go to the head of the class and collect your gold star…It did not make much sense for the Rangers to pay a king’s ransom for Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline when there’s a good chance they’re going to get him for nothing this summer as an unrestricted free agent…Here’s a red flag. The Islanders gave up seven goals twice in an 11-day span…Jaromir Jagr, after the Panthers registered a rather uninspiring 3-2 shootout win over Carolina Tuesday night to snap a three-game losing streak: “If we play like this, we’re not going to win in Philly (Thursday night). I can guarantee you that. We have to be a lot better than this.”…Patrick Eaves had five shots and drew two penalties in just over 16 minutes of ice time in his first game with the Ducks, a 4-1 loss to Los Angeles Sunday afternoon…The Senators gave up a really good prospect for Alex Burrows, then signed him to a two-year contract extension. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a head-scratcher…Rookie Auston Matthews leads the league with 12 first goals of the game…The Flyers’ 4-0 win over Colorado Tuesday night marked the first time this season they’ve won a game by more than three goals…The Lightning have won three of four, but it’s pretty clear with their moves that they know their season is over…The Kings had posted eight overtime victories against no losses (shootouts not included), then went out and lost two straight in OT to Minnesota and Calgary.
VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. St. Louis Blues (14) 22. Dallas Stars (24) 23. New Jersey Devils (26) 24. Detroit Red Wings (27) 25. Arizona Coyotes (25) 26. Buffalo Sabres (22) 27. Winnipeg Jets (21) 28. Vancouver Canucks (28) 29. Colorado Avalanche (29) 30. Carolina Hurricanes (30)
After winning six in a row, the Blues have not scored more than two goals in their past four games, all losses…A good reason why Jason Spezza, who has just nine goals for the Stars this season, will undoubtedly finish this season with his lowest goal total since becoming a full-time NHLer: His shooting percentage is just 8.4 percent…The Devils are 13-12-6 at home and 12-13-6 on the road. How’s that for mediocrity?...Ken Holland, trade deadline seller. Man, that sounds weird, doesn’t it?...Alexander Burmistrov was released from hospital Tuesday night after being carried off on a stretcher in Arizona’s 4-1 loss to Boston Tuesday night…The Sabres are leaky. They gave up five goals in three of four straight losses…After missing five games with a lower-body injury that required surgery, Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom returned for Winnipeg’s 5-4 overtime loss to Minnesota Tuesday night…The Canucks will get San Jose’s first-round pick if the Sharks win the Stanley Cup, which would make it the 31st overall choice, as part of the Jannik Hansen trade…The Avs have won just five games in the past two months…Jeff Skinner was scratched with what was called an upper-body injury for Carolina’s 3-2 shootout loss to Florida Tuesday night and has already been ruled out of the game against Tampa Bay Wednesday.
Back before basement-dwelling teams spent trade deadline day dealing away futures, picks, and rentals to the contenders, some teams managed to get together to make hockey trades.
Today is trade deadline day, which means you can expect to hear certain words repeated over and over. "Buyers." "Sellers." "Rentals." Those are the key terms on a day filled with bad teams flipping players to good teams in return for future assets.
But back in the old days, there used to be a different term that showed up occasionally on days like today: "Hockey trades."
To be honest, back then we pretty much just called them "trades," and they went something like this: Two teams exchanged players in a deal where both sides were trying to get better. Nobody was throwing in the towel and rebuilding, and nobody was sacrificing future assets for a short-term boost. Just two teams, both trying to improve their rosters right now, and using a trade to do it.
I know. Crazy stuff.
But it did happen. And we even sort of got one Tuesday night -- the Brandon Davidson/David Desharnais deal, while not anyone's idea of a blockbuster, was at least kind of hockey-ish. So today, while we wait for the rental market to heat up, let's look back at five true hockey trades from deadline history where there were no clear buyers and no sellers, just two teams trying to get the best end of a deal.
1989 – Mike Gartner and Larry Murphy for Dino Ciccarelli and Bob Rouse
Let's start back in 1989 with a classic hockey deal. No picks, no prospects, just a forward and a defenseman on each side of the trade.
Oh, and 75% of the deal ended up in the Hall of Fame. That's not bad for a day's work.
The deal saw Capitals GM David Poile trade away Gartner, at the time the franchise's all-time leading scorer, and Murphy, who'd been a Norris finalist less than two years ago. In exchange, the North Stars gave up their top goal-scorer in Ciccarelli and a hard-nosed blueliner in Rouse.
As it turned out, none of the players stuck around in their new homes all that long. Gartner was traded again at the 1990 deadline, and by the time Ciccarelli was dealt to Detroit in 1992, all four players had moved on. Still, at the time this was an impressive blockbuster, and in hindsight it's probably the most star-studded four-player deal in league history.
1991 – Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings for John Cullen, Zarley Zalapski and Jeff Parker
This may be not just the biggest pure hockey trade in deadline history, but the biggest trade of any kind, period. It was a monster blockbuster, one that left fans in Hartford perplexed and fans around the league worrying that a good Penguins team had just added the final piece.
As it turns out, both of those reactions were on the nose. The deal was a major win for the Penguins; the 28-year-old Francis was a perfect fit behind Mario Lemieux, giving Pittsburgh one of the best one-two punches down the middle in a generation. Today, the deal is often described as a heist, one that may even have contributed to the Whalers' eventual move to Carolina.
But at the time, it wasn't all that hard to see what Hartford was doing. They got a little younger and added a player in Zalapski who became their best offensive blueliner. More importantly, while it's been all but forgotten now, the 26-year-old Cullen was in the middle of an absolute monster year, and had 94 points through just 65 games when the deal went down. He finished the season ranked fifth in the Art Ross race with 110 points; that wasn't just more than Francis would manage that year, it was more than the Whalers' star had ever had during any season in his career.
Still, there's no doubt that in hindsight, the Penguins won the deal. Cullen never hit those heights again, while the move rejuvenated Francis. And the grizzled (and occasionally outright dirty) Samuelsson was the perfect fit for a skilled Pittsburgh team looking to make a long run through the postseason grinder.
1991 – Geoff Courtnall, Sergio Momesso, Cliff Ronning and Robert Dirk for Garth Butcher and Dan Quinn
Our second entry from 1991 was the biggest of the actual deadline day (the Francis deal came the day before). The Blues and Canucks hooked up on a six-player trade, and it's another one that looks lopsided in hindsight.
At the time, the Blues looked like a team that was ready to make a run at the Stanley Cup. They battled division rival Chicago all the way to the wire for the Presidents' Trophy, ultimately ending the season sitting second overall with 105 points. Like so many contenders before and after, they wanted more toughness on defense, and Butcher certainly fit that description. Adding him to a blueline that already featured Scott Stevens left the Blues with two guys who could eat big minutes and still beat you in the alley. Quinn was a nice add as well, 25 years old and just two years removed from a 94-point season.
But in hindsight, the Canucks made off with a haul, adding four veterans in the deal (as well as the deal's only draft pick, a fifth-round choice). The best of those turned out to be Ronning, who had 85 points two years later. Along with Momesso and Courtnall, he was a key piece of the Canucks' team that made a run to within one win of a Stanley Cup in 1994.
The Leafs threw in a fourth-round pick and the rights to a prospect who never made the NHL, but this was essentially a one-for-one deal. And it even featured two players who were virtual clones of each other: Old but speedy right-wingers who ended up in the Hall of Fame based on their offense.
So why make the swap at all? For the Rangers, the move came as part of a massive deadline day shakeup by GM Neil Smith that saw them make five trades involving nine players. The day was all about reshaping a team that was challenging for the Presidents' Trophy, but had its eye firmly on the bigger prize of ending a 54-year Cup drought. Anderson didn't have Gartner's numbers, but he had five Cup rings, and Smith was betting that he could make it six in New York.
That bet ultimately paid off. Anderson's time in New York was underwhelming, as he managed just twelve points combined in the regular season and playoffs before bolting as a free agent. But the Rangers did win their Cup, so Smith's long day of deadline work can't be viewed as anything other than a win.
As for Gartner, he spent two seasons in Toronto, scoring 35 goals in 1995-96 at 36.
2006 – Jose Theodore for David Aebischer
We'll close with the only entry from the cap era on our list. One year into the new CBA, the deadline was a busy one, and one of the most interesting deals was a good old-fashioned one-for-one goalie trade.
It was a rare case of two teams making a mid-season trade of guys who were at least ostensibly their starters. The two players were roughly the same age – Theodore was 29, while Aebischer was 28 – and both had put up similar career numbers. Theodore's peak had been far higher, including a Hart Trophy in 2002, while Aebischer was having the better season. Theodore was also more expensive and was recovering from a heel injury.
In hindsight, the deal ended up being fairly even. While Theodore never regained his Hart Trophy form, he spent two full years in Colorado compared to Aebischer's one in Montreal. Theodore later resurrected his career with a good 2007-08 campaign and went on to play through 2013, while Aebischer never overtook Cristobel Huet for starter duties in Montreal and was out of the NHL for good by 2007.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008; you may know him from Twitter as @downgoesbrown. His e-book, The 100 Greatest Players in NHL History, is available now. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.
A “hockey trade” to help St. Louis compete for a playoff berth would’ve been nice, but it wasn’t available. The Blues did the next best thing: trade Shattenkirk without losing him for nothing.
The Kevin Shattenkirk trade obviously signalled a massive Stanley Cup push for the team acquiring him, the Washington Capitals. And it felt like a white flag wave for the team sending him away, the St. Louis Blues.
It’s not like the Blues received a high-impact roster player in exchange for their prized pending unrestricted free agent defenseman. St. Louis got Zach Sanford, Brad Malone, a 2017 first-round pick and a conditional 2019 second-rounder for Shattenkirk. That’s a classic sell-off package. St. Louis knew it couldn’t afford to retain Shattenkirk this summer as a UFA given he’d command something in the range of $7 million annually at a seven-or eight-year term. Defenseman Colton Parayko is a restricted free agent this summer, Robby Fabbri next summer, and the Blues just extended center Patrik Berglund last week for five seasons at a $3.85-milllion cap hit. Per capfriendly.com, GM Doug Armstrong has 20 players signed for next season already and only about $7 million in cap space remaining, with Parayko left to re-sign. Even if the expansion draft plucks away a piece, it likely won’t be an expensive one – say, Nail Yakupov or Dmitrij Jaskin – so there just wasn’t going to be money left to extend Parayko and re-up Shattenkirk.
We all knew it, as did Shattenkirk’s suitors, which likely hurt Armstrong’s leverage. The package he received from the Capitals is thus respectable. Still, it’s not like Sanford and Malone project as major difference makers for this franchise. Sanford, 22, possesses great size and flashed some scoring potential with Boston College and in the USHL. Malone, 27, is AHL depth and nothing more. At the very least, it’s clear nothing St. Louis received will help much now.
That would be fine if the trade followed typical seller parameters, with the Blues mining the depths of the standings hoping for a lottery pick. But, geez, they currently occupy a playoff position. They hold down the second Western Conference wild-card spot at 67 points and have a game in hand on the L.A. Kings, who sit two points back. St. Louis won seven of eight games after Mike Yeo assumed head coaching duties with Ken Hitchcock let go, but they’ve now lost three straight. Did that mini skid cause Armstrong to declare his team’s Cup hopes dead?
The Capitals are tired of playoff disappointments. Already the best team in the league, they decided overkill was the smart strategy. That's why they went out and got the best player on the trade market.
It’s more complicated than that. Ideally, the Blues would’ve found a “hockey trade” for Shattenkirk, one that would’ve helped them stay competitive, but it was likely difficult to achieve. What team would surrender an important roster player, especially one with term left on his deal, to rent Shattenkirk? An extension would’ve had to be worked out between Shattenkirk and his new team for that to work, and it may have proven too tall of an order.
That left Armstrong with the decision to either keep his asset for the playoffs knowing he’d lose him in the summer – or seek the type of return typically reserved for a team with no playoff hopes. The guess here is the organization decided the fan base could not stomach losing another prized UFA for nothing. David Backes and Troy Brouwer walked in the summer, and the Blues are not nearly as good a team as they were a year ago. Having Shattenkirk depart would’ve been a public relations disaster, especially if the Blues ended up missing the playoffs with him in the lineup. Hey, it was possible. They occupied the lowest seed with an outstanding player like Shattenkirk.
The trade Monday night, then, was about saving face. It wasn’t the sexy return Blues fans likely hoped they’d get for Shattenkirk. The first-round pick could well be 31st overall if the Caps win the Stanley Cup. But the one thing we know about what St. Louis acquired for Shattenkirk and goalie Pheonix Copley: it was not nothing. That’s what St. Louis needed to ensure after losing Backes and Brouwer.