Peter Mueller of the Colorado Avalanche and Wojtek Wolski of the Phoenix Coyotes have each been great with their new teams. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The real impact of a trade isn’t truly known until many games, or even many years, of hindsight are in the books. So while it might be a touch premature to pass the final judgment of GMs work this campaign, it’s never too early for a personal ranking of the early returns and “can I returns?” of this season’s swaps.
BEST TRADES OF 2009-10
July 3, 2009: The Kings acquire Ryan Smyth from the Avalanche for Kyle Quincey, Tom Preissing and a ’10 fifth round pick.
Heads were scratched when L.A. gave up 24-year-old Quincey, who had a breakout season in 2008-09, for a not-getting-any-younger Smyth. But the 34-year-old, 14-season vet has provided much-needed experience on a young Kings team and been a boon playing on Anze Kopitar’s right side on the top line.
Nov. 23, 2009: The Wild acquire Guillaume Latendresse from the Canadiens for Benoit Pouliot.
One of those rare deals that instantly turns out boffo for both clubs, two struggling players found new homes and rediscovered their scoring touch. Latendresse improved his PPG from .13 to .73; Pouliot from .29 to .75.
Feb. 9, 2010: The Thrashers acquire Ivan Vishnevskiy and a ’10 fourth round pick from the Stars for Kari Lehtonen.
Atlanta GM Don Waddell is consistent, and justly, carved for his trade record, but this one gets a positive grade. Despite the fact Lehtonen was a top five pick (2002 No. 2 overall), he’d fallen to third on the goalie depth chart after showing no ability to stay healthy during his five seasons. Getting a quality prospect in 22-year-old Vishnevskiy (51st overall in Future Watch ’10) deserves credit.
March 3, 2010: The Coyotes acquire Wojtek Wolski from the Avalanche for Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter.
One of those rare deals that instantly turns out boffo for both clubs, the 24-year-old Wolski has five points in seven games for the surging Yotes while Mueller has 11 in eight Colorado contests. Most deadline pundits – including this one – gave the first-blush nod to Phoenix, but the Avs get the slight edge so far.
March 3, 2010: The Coyotes acquire Lee Stempniak from the Leafs for Matt Jones, and ‘10 fourth and seventh round picks.
In only seven games in the desert, Stempniak already has seven goals, which will very likely be more than any of the assets Toronto got in return will achieve in their entire career.
WORST TRADES OF 2009-10
June 30, 2009: The Canadiens acquire Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt and Michael Busto from the Rangers for Christopher Higgins, Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko and Doug Janik.
Although Gomez has certainly been better of late, cap space is as important as production in the new-CBA world and the 30-year-old will be eating up $7.3 million of the Habs room for the next four years.
Sept. 12, 2009: The Senators acquire Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and a ’10 second round pick from the Sharks for Dany Heatley and a ‘10 fifth round pick.
The 25-year-old Michalek has been OK this season and projects to get better over the next couple of seasons, but the gamble on Cheechoo, who, along with his $3 million salary for this year and next is currently toiling in the American League, was a huge miscalculation. To make matters worse, Heatley continues to score like a fiend on the West Coast.
Sep 18, 2009: The Maple Leafs acquire Phil Kessel from the Bruins for first round picks in ’10 and ’11 and a second round pick in ’10.
Though Kessel has been excellent, his purchase will likely cost the Buds a crack at a blue-chip future superstar in Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. And with little available to improve Toronto’s woeful forward corps this summer, Boston may get another lottery pick in 2011.
Feb. 1, 2010: The Flames acquire Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins from the Rangers for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust.
Jokinen was a bust, to be sure, but bringing in two underachievers ¬– one of whom (Kotalik) is owed $3 million for each of the next two seasons – in the hopes they will rediscover their scoring touch in a new locale is an unnecessary roll of the dice. Jokinen comes off the books this summer, so why not get a pick and keep the cap space?
March 3, 2010: The Capitals acquire Joe Corvo from the Hurricanes for defenseman Brian Pothier, Oskar Osala and a ’11 second round draft pick.
Washington GM George McPhee went on a deadline day shopping spree, but ended up overpaying for the high-risk Corvo to the tune of a serviceable blueliner, quality prospect (Osala was No. 10 on Washington’s list in Future Watch) and a moderately high draft choice. A steep price for a player who can walk this summer as a UFA.
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog appears weekly.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.