Braydon Coburn, 23, is entering his second full season with the Flyers after being acquired in 2007. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
We’re halfway through October and every hockey fan knows what that benchmark means: Only 138 more days until the NHL trade deadline.
Don’t worry; we’re not looking to kick off the lunacy of deadline talk just yet. There will be no dreaming of Marian Gaborik in Pittsburgh or Jay Bouwmeester with his hometown Oilers.
Instead, let’s take a look at how some deadline deals from 2007 have benefited the “sellers” now that there’s been some time for the dust to settle.
Everybody tends to track the progress of the stars who get swapped, but some of the names that were initially meaningless to fans have become much more household in nature.
Braydon Coburn, Philadelphia
Oh Alexei Zhitnik, where have you gone? (The Kontinental League, if you’re actually wondering.) The Flyers were a really bad team in February 2007 and Atlanta was desperate to make the playoffs for the first time ever. To be fair, Zhitnik was a good player for the Thrashers down the stretch and they did, in fact, squeak into the East’s top eight.
But boy, you’d have to think making the playoffs year after year would have been easier for Atlanta if it had Coburn on the back end. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder is quickly becoming Philly’s best defenseman and he’s still only 23.
Josh Gorges, Montreal
Habs GM Bob Gainey isn’t short on fortitude and he showed it with a great deal at the 2007 deadline. With Montreal still very much in the playoff picture, Gainey sent assistant captain and longtime Hab Craig Rivet and a fifth round pick to San Jose for Gorges and a first-rounder.
It took a while, but Gorges has gone from front row in the press box to a top-four spot on the Canadiens’ blueline. It all seemed to click for him halfway through last season and while he’s not flashy, he’s extremely reliable and does wonders when it comes to lowering coach Guy Carbonneau’s blood pressure.
By the way, with the first round pick, Montreal plucked Max Pacioretty, a scoring left winger who nearly made the team as a 19-year-old this fall.
Daniel Carcillo, Phoenix
It was a tough-guy-for-younger-tough-guy swap when the Coyotes shipped Georges Laraque to Pittsburgh for Carcillo. But the 23-year-old Carcillo can play, too. He scored 13 goals last year, while leading the league with 324 penalty minutes – in just 57 games! – and many believe he’ll develop into an ice sheriff capable of kicking in 20-plus goals a season.
Denis Grebeshkov, Edmonton
The Oilers were on the verge of an epic tailspin in February of 2007 when they moved out power play specialist Marc-Andre Bergeron to the Isles for Grebeshkov. Now, Grebeshkov is an important blueline member on a young Edmonton team poised to make some noise. He just turned 25 last week and already has three assists through two games this year.
That same month, Edmonton dealt Ryan Smyth to Long Island for a package that included Robert Nilsson, the left winger on the Oilers’ ‘Kid Line’ with center Andrew Cogliano and right winger Sam Gagner.
Nice job, Kevin Lowe.
Shawn Matthias, Florida Panthers
Even the Detroit Red Wings make a mistake sometimes. The Wings picked up Todd Bertuzzi for their unsuccessful ’07 Cup run and surrendered Matthias in the process. While he failed to crack the Cats’ lineup from training camp, there’s no doubt the 20-year-old Matthias is a keeper. The center, currently in the American League, scored 79 points in 53 Ontario League games for Belleville last year and had two goals in four games for Florida during a late-season call-up.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog normally appears Thursdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears every Wednesday.
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