The pre-deadline dealing has dawned, and despite the Oilers' position on the sidelines, there are some interesting things going down. When the day began, the Senators traded young goaltender Brian Elliott to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Craig "Last Year's Fad" Anderson. Shortly thereafter, Toronto sent Tomas Kaberle to the Boston Bruins for former Camrose Kodiak (I imagine this means Ben hates him) Joe Colborne and Boston's first round pick in this year's draft. The Bruins then continued to deal by sending Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler to the Atlanta Thrashers for Rich Peverley and AHL defender Boris Valabik. Then late in the day, two more traditional "deadline" deals were made as Eric Brewer and Ian White were both moved for picks and prospects. After the jump, I'll take a more detailed look at each of the day's trades.
I think this trade makes a great deal of sense for Ottawa and not much sense at all for the Avalanche. Over the last four seasons, Craig Anderson has posted a .926 save EV save percentage over 3,858 shots and an .882 PK save percentage over 940 shots, an indication that Anderson is a very good goaltender. On top of that, he's struggled so far this season, both with injury and performance (his EV Sv% this season is only .908), and while that's been very bad for the Avalanche this season, you'd think it would help them to sign Anderson to a value contract going forward. With this trade, that opportunity now rests with Bryan Murray and the Senators who have been plagued with bad goaltending for the last several seasons. The best part for the Senators is that they gave up nothing for this opportunity. Brian Elliott has demonstrated that he's a below average NHL goalie. Over the last four seasons, he's put up an EV Sv% of .906 on 2727 shots and a PK Sv% of .870 on 640 shots. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and in order to retain his rights the Avalanche will need to give him a qualifying offer of $945,000 on a one year deal. I think they can get better performance for that money in free agency. It is of course possible that Elliott turns into a decent goaltender (I don't think it's likely), and it seems the Avs had already decided that Anderson wasn't in the plans, so it's not as though this is a big loss for them. It's just that they didn't really get anything. I'll call this one a win for the Senators and a missed opportunity for the Avalanche.
The Toronto Maple Leafs trade Tomas Kaberle to the Boston Bruins for Joe Colborne, the Bruins' first round pick in 2011, and a conditional pick (2nd round pick in 2012 if the Bruins re-sign Kaberle or make it to the Stanley Cup Finals this season)
This is a solid deal for the Leafs who now have two late first rounders, which gives them a lot of flexibility at this year's draft. Brian Burke also managed to snag Colborne, who was a monster for two seasons in the NCAA, but has struggled in his first year of pro hockey (12-14-26 in 55 games, along with the worst +/- among Providence forwards at -16). Colborne just turned 21 at the end of January, so I can see both why the Bruins were concerned (you'd expect more from a blue-chipper), and why the Leafs think they're getting something good (it's only his first year pro and he's been very highly regarded since his draft year). As for the Bruins, giving up two strong assets to acquire Kaberle is tough, but they did manage to hold on to their most valuable young assets and picked up a very talented defenseman to help them compete for the Stanley Cup. I can see the rationale for this deal on both sides, and ultimately think this trade ends up as a win-win.
The Boston Bruins trade Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler to the Atlanta Thrashers for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik.
In this deal, the Thrashers take on some extra salary and get a clear upgrade on defense for the rest of the season - Stuart will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year - as they try to push toward the playoffs. They also add Wheeler, a big man (I think we've found Rick Dudley's cowbell) who also has some nice scoring touch. Over the last three seasons, Wheeler has played behind some very talented players in Boston, which has helped to provide him shelter (he's always taken more OZ than DZ starts and his QC has generally been middle of the pack), but has also limited his opportunity. Over the last three regular seasons Wheeler has averaged 1:22 per game on the power play and 11:51 at even strength, and while the circumstances have been friendly, he's provided good results, particularly at even strength where he's recorded 2.07 points per sixty minutes. Wheeler might be mildly overpaid as a soft minutes man, but Atlanta is no doubt betting that he can provide them much better production with an increased role.
Wheeler had better deliver too, because Rich Peverley is a valuable player for any team, mostly because of his contract. Peverley will earn just $1.325M against the cap next year, which is peanuts considering the production he's capable of. Peverley has taken the tough minutes this year with the Thrashers and has done so while starting much of the time in his own end. Although the results haven't been great (he's -16 and has scored just 34 points), the coach continues to play him a lot (he's second among Atlanta's forwards in both EV TOI and PP TOI per game). In a smaller, more protected role with the Bruins, I expect Peverley to provide similar production to Wheeler for less cost. In the end, I think this is a deal that makes some sense for both teams, but Atlanta is taking on a lot more risk by betting on potential rather than sticking with a relatively sure thing in Peverley.
This deal surprises me because the Hurricanes are currently ninth in the Eastern Conference by points percentage and very close to overtaking the Sabres for eighth. Ian White may not be a fantastic player, but he was one of Carolina's top four defensemen in terms of ice time at even strength, and has a decent history of results. Given that the Sharks' pick can be no better than thirty-first overall (which is something around a 14% chance of becoming a very good NHL player), I don't really like what the Hurricanes have done here, especially since the pick isn't even in this year's draft, which pushes the realization of any value the Hurricanes get back an extra year. Derek Joslin is putting up decent numbers in the AHL, but he's just turned twenty-four, and has already cleared waivers earlier this season - it's hard to imagine he was a key to this deal for Carolina. The Hurricanes, then, likely would have been better off waiting until closer to the deadline in order to get more information about their own situation and field more offers. For the Sharks, this deal makes all kinds of sense. The defense has been a weakness all season, and White will be able to provide some stability as they push for a playoff spot. I'm calling this one a good trade for San Jose, and a poor one by the Hurricanes.
The Blues have correctly discerned that they ought to be sellers at this deadline and have put the lie to the idea that there won't be as many sellers this year as usual. The return from Tampa, however, is decidedly underwhelming. Just as with the Hurricanes, I'm surprised that the Blues were willing to trade Brewer ten days ahead of the deadline. The third-rounder only has something close to a 7% chance of turning out and Brock Beukeboom is a defensive defender drafted in the third round of last year's draft, which means he's years away from helping in the unlikely event that he ever does. Brewer has been largely healthy this year, and has taken the tough matchups and tough Zone Starts for the Blues. He's not exactly a premiere shut-down defender, but he's very good and will really help the Lightning on the back end. This is a beauty trade for Steve Yzerman, who got a better player than the Sharks and paid less too.