Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Teams: How They All Did On DD13

As we sit here as Habs fans watching teams around us improve and bail out of a season, let's consider how each outfit did and how it might affect our team.

Eastern Conference

1) Pittsburgh Penguins - Buyers

Big additions: Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Jussi Jokinen
Price paid: Prospects

These are big-time additions. What's more, they do address one of the Penguins perennial weaknesses: wingers to play with their stallion centres. With all respect to Pascal Dupuis, he cannot hold a candle to what Jarome Iginla has done.This makes Pittsburgh big winners.

Impact for Montreal:
Pittsburgh was hard to defend before, and they'll be hard now. A team can only score a finite number of goals, and in the playoffs all teams will tend to back off with a big enough lead. Not that anyone would be happy to face a tougher Pittsburgh arsenal, but for the Habs, there must be satisfaction in knowing that the strong offensive team sucked up so many of the strong offensive pieces and have still left their defence as it was before.

2) Boston Bruins - Buyers

Big additions: Jaromir Jagr, Wade Redden
Price paid: Prospects, picks

Jagr is a big piece for a team like Boston to add, and Redden could be a nice addition too given their system and depth. To get away with these moves with such a low price tag is a bit scary. Winners for sure

Impact for Montreal:
What makes Boston hard to deal with has usually been their defensive mastery. It remains to be seen, but these moves don't seem to add to that. What the Jagr move does especially is add a further dimension to worry about, and that sometimes anemic Boston PP will have another potential avenue to explore. The Habs won't welcome these moves.

3) New York Rangers - Buyers

Big additions: Ryan Clowe, Derek Dorsett, John Moore, Derick Brassard
Price paid: Marian Gaborik, prospects

The Rangers have changed the focus a bit. Gaborik wasn't working out (slumping), so they went another direction. The other direction, incidentally was Rick Nash, not Ryan Clowe. Nash has become their top scorer and focus and it marginalized Gaborik. For me this was a case of Sather messing with a good thing. The Rangers were effective because they could defend and hit on the counter attack. Now they are searching for identity again. I can see how some of the guys brought in might help, but losing Gaborik is a big hit. He was a 40-goal certainty for a few years there.

Impact for Montreal:
The Rangers haven't given up. That's news for the Habs. Further, they are probably going to change the way they play (or seem to play) in the next little while. This isn't something the Habs want to hear, as they have been having their way with the wayward Nash-led outfit. Plus, more big forwards who prefer to bang in goals than shoot from tight angles is not Carey Price's favourite playoff preview.

4) Montreal Canadiens - Buyers

Big additions: Michael Ryder
Price paid: Erik Cole

I've settled now on the idea that Ryder was the target. Having not seen Ryder play much on his way to 35 goal campaigns, I perhaps did not at first blush understand, but I do now, he's a more effective player than when he departed this city. The Habs did their shopping early and got likely the biggest piece that would have been available to them (except perhaps Jagr). I think they win on that trade (and we have evidence of games to show they did so far. A proven playoff up-gear as well makes Ryder one of the more important acquisitions of the season.

5) Washington Capitals - Buyers

Big additions: Martin Erat
Price paid: Filip Forsberg

Someone get out of the way because the Caps have decided that playoffs are on the horizon. Erat is one of the most underrated players in the league and has been under the shadow of Barry Trotz system for some time. Will be interesting to see how he might flourish in Washington.

Impact for Montreal:
One more team to worry about, though the Caps have been beatable for the Canadiens in recent years. Obviously we'd like every team to ship all their stars out west and hollow out the talent in the East, but as that was never going to happen, the Caps will just be another playoff team (all of which are always dangerous)

6) Toronto Maple Leafs - Standstill

Big additions: None

Trying and failing to get Kiprusoff and Luongo is something you wish the media didn't know. But the impact here for Toronto is great. The previous administrations would have acquired one of those two and at great cost. Their restraint is fitting, and a small victory for long-suffering Leafs fans.

Impact for Montreal:
Frankly, these Leafs are not the biggest looming threat, and they would have had to make more than a few additions to become that. The impact here for Montreal is that Toronto didn't re-mortgage the future and the Habs might have to get used to those Leafs right on their heels (or in front of them) again for some time.

7) Ottawa Senators - Buyers

Big additions: Cory Conacher
Price paid: Ben Bishop

The Senators dealt from a position of strength and came back with a nifty return. The NHL rookie is showing solid form this season and he should fit nicely into a Paul MacLean counterattack. Scoring has been an issue in Ottawa this season, and this low cost move is a sensible way to address it. Ottawa are not in the position to pay high to make their run (not with Karlsson out), so they'll see if Conacher fits. If he does, they win.

Impact for Montreal:
I don't think this changes the face of the Senators for the Montreal Canadiens. They will still be a tea that gives the Habs fits (and OT games).

8) Buffalo Sabres - Sellers

Big sales: Jason Pominville, Robyn Regehr
Return: Matt Hackett, Johan Larsson

The Sabres fought the good fight, but after firing Lindy Ruff, you always got the feeling they'd accepted it was time for a retool. This is a nice start.

Impact for Montreal:
It would be better if Buffalo were run by JFJ and not a guy that can get prospects like these for his wingers on the outs. Buffalo will rise again, and it won't be fun for Montreal, it never is, never was.

9) New Jersey Devils - Standstill

Big additions: None

The Devils quietly acquire players out of the limelight and quietly go about qualifying for the playoffs. They are a year removed from a Cup final, but have yet to feel the loss of Zach Parise in pressure games. I think their acquisitions are smart as always, but it looks like they are trying patience over desperation in finding their way back to games in June.

Impact for Montreal:
It's probably good news for the Habs that the Devils didn't also decide to bring in a load of big talent. The Habs are starting to show they can manage a Devils team that doesn't always score first and early, so I think everyone in Montreal will be pleased that certain of the big names did not end up making another heavy contender out of the Atlantic division.

10) New York Islanders - Standstill

Big additions: None

This is great from the standpoint of the Islanders fanbase. The team has a few very exciting young players and a decent complement to them in support. It is nice to see some patience and restraint as the management wait to see if the current outfit has the goods to proceed.

Impact for Montreal:
Firesales around the East have been kind to the Habs in that hollowed out lineups are nice to play. The Isles look to be off that tack now, and the Habs will have to look elsewhere for the easy points of the past. As it affects the immediate future, I'm sure the Canadiens are relatively pleased that the Islanders didn't do major contender building.

11) Carolina Hurricanes - Undecided

Big additions: None

It looks like the Canes will be happy to play out the stretch and take what comes to them. It's a little bit puzzling in some respects as they are not far from being a Southeast champion hat could do some damage. At the same time, one could be puzzled that they don't take advantage of the fact everyone will be watching Nascar anyway and take a run for Seth Jones.

Impact for Montreal:
Little to none.

12) Winnipeg Jets - Standstill

Big additions: None

The Jets probably needed to commit a bit more to the effort in my view if they wished to get over the hump. It's the funny position of knowing that you're in a playoff hunt you didn't expect to be in. Handcuffed them a bit, I suspect.

Impact for Montreal:
Little to none.

13) Philadelphia Flyers - Buyers?

Big additions: None

WTF? This team is a total disaster run by AD/HD sufferers. I understand what happened with the goalies in the past year, and that Bryzgalov's contract will be a victim of the enormous cap mess they have on their hands, but Steve Mason? Wow.

Impact for Montreal:
Philadelphia going down another goaltending wormhole is good for everyone. Let's just hope we don't go down the road of making whoever it is they dress in that orange look like a hero for the ages again (a la Biron/Leighton)

14) Tampa Bay Lightning - Sellers?

Big sales: None

Another messy situation. No team with Steven Stamkos should reasonably end up in this situation, not even with a rookie goalie. Tampa could have pulled the plug and added to their rather enviable stable this draft, but in another puzzling move, didn't do that either. Huh.

Impact for Montreal:
A team going down the road of Ben Bishop, starting goalie might be a good thing for the next few seasons of Habs players.

15) Florida Panthers - Standstill

Big sales: None

This disaster outfit needed to try and get more picks without losing any of their own. They needed to peddle their middle of the road contracts if they could. Nothing. What a mess.

Impact for Montreal:
They'll continue to be bad for the next while.

Western Conference

Note: If we are concerned about a Western conference team's 2013 UFA acquisition at any time in the future, it means that we are in a very heady situation. Still, it's worth looking.

1) Columbus Bluejackets - Buyers

Big additions: Marian Gaborik
Price paid: Derek Dorsett, John Moore, Derick Brassard

Very slick maneuvering from the GM to watch. I don't know if this takes the Columbus Bluejackets to the playoffs or not, but it moves them in the right direction for future attempts. I think a clear win for a franchise that is beginning to get out from under some very mediocre management decisions.

2) Minnesota Wild - Buyers

Big additions: Jason Pominville
Price paid: Matt Hackett, Johan Larsson

Also nice to see the Wild transition from cautious build to commitment to winning. Pominville adds another very dangerous scoring winger to a lineup no coach would want to face. I like any team with a Koivu in the playoffs, and we should keep our eyes on the Wild.

3) Vancouver Canucks - Buyers

Big additions: Derek Roy
Price paid: Prospects

I like this move, and I like not trading Luongo for nothing (the reverse Huet?) in a season where contention is not out of the question. I'm sure no one in the West is going to relish the moment the Sedins get a streak going, but with that on the horizon for the Canucks, I think addition was the right call.

4) St Louis Blues - Buyers

Big additions: Jay Bouwmeester, Jordan Leopold
Price paid: Prospects

Interesting to see the Blues commit, particularly in light of their goaltending questions/injuries. I commend them for not forgetting what a good thing they had going last season, like the Rangers, that is still in them somewhere. Bouwmeester and Leopold are not their former selves, but on a blue line as deep as that in St. Louis, they will fill lesser roles ably. How many fewer shots can they possibly allow though?

5) Los Angeles Kings - Buyers?

Big additions: Robyn Regehr
Price paid: Prospects

The stacked Kings show their confidence going into this postseason, and why not?

5) Chicago Blackhawks - Buyers

Big additions: None

They got a nice piece in Handzus and must have held off paying too highly in their other enquiries. The Hawks have built a strong and deep outfit and didn't need this trade deadline to prove anything to anyone.

5) Anaheim Ducks - Buyers?

Big additions: None

The surprise of the West is going to take their run with a team they have seen success with in the past. Saku Koivu back in the playoffs. Can't wait.

8) Nashville Predators - Sellers?

Big sales: Martin Erat
Return: Filip Forsberg

A quick check before pressing publish revealed the Erat trade. On the surface, it looks like Nashville might be checking out, but though Erat has been a reliable option for this team for years, it seems like they are happy to get their two goals a night from anywhere. Filip Forsberg was and still is highly touted and any team prying this from another should feel like a winner.

9) Detroit Red Wings - Standstill

Big additions: None

What? Even Detroit wouldn't take Kaberle? What were you asking Bergevin? The day Detroit is happy enough not to make moves is the day the other teams in the league get a little shiver. I'm not surprised a good organization stood by on this day. I do wonder if they knew that Johan Larsson would be on the table.

10) Dallas Stars - Sellers

Big sales: Michael Ryder, Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy
Return: Erik Cole, prospects and draft picks

Joe Nieuwendyk seemed to commit in a big way to a season other than this one. I commend him for being the most decisive GM of the day/period. And while I can't say I like the returns he got for the players he had, it looks like addition by subtraction of winning potential (Seth Jones style) could justify this down the road. 13 other playoffless GMs will be wishing they had this idea very soon.

11) Calgary Flames - Sellers

Big sales: Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester
Return: Prospects

Like Dallas, the return on these trades will have to be judged by lottery result later. Calgary is a complete mess and has been for 20-odd years. I think the good conservatives of Cowtown deserve better.

12) San Jose Sharks - Undecided

Big sales: Ryan Clowe
Return: Draft picks

Did anyone else think the Sharks had a change of heart over the day. One minute dealing away, the next getting something back.I suppose it's fitting for a team on the very edge of playoff qualification, with the kind of star complement that they believe can win further into the playoffs. Personally, I think San Jose could use a rethink of its approach to things. but I suppose they'll wait for contracts to run out for that.

13) Edmonton Oilers - Undecided

Big additions: None

Nothing to be done but see if those buns in the oven are ready to rise. A big trade must probably come one day, however, to sort out the complete dearth of talent at evey position but scoring forward.

14) Phoenix Coyotes - Undecided

Big additions: None

Phoenix has been undecided for years, so this isn't surprising. This old Expos fan knows that the position of Arizona hockey fans isn't fun.

15) Colorado Avalanche - Sellers?

Big sales: None

I don't know if they think they have this whole last place thing sewn up or something, but they'd better be watching Dallas and Calgary with a close eye. Maybe O'Byrne was the lynchpin to whatever success they had at all. To hear Leafs fans today, it would seem that way.

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