NHL trade deadline update

roberto_luongo.jpg.size.xxlarge.originalWell if you didn’t know any better, you would probably think that today was the NHL’s trade deadline based on the number of moves that have been made. However, the deadline isn’t until tomorrow afternoon. With so many teams currently in a possible or definite playoff spot, over half the league is looking to make themselves better heading into the home stretch of the season. At the same time, because so many teams are battling for a playoff spot, that lowers the number of “sellers” at this year’s deadline.

We all know by now that the Blues got Ryan Miller and Steve Ott from Buffalo in exchange for Christ Stewart and Jaroslav Halak. This trade basically lit the fuse for the rest of the NHL, and now that fuse is reaching, or has reached its end. Here are some of the more notable acquisitions that have been made in advance of tomorrow’s deadline:

  • St. Louis: Ryan Miller and Steve Ott
  • Buffalo: Chris Stewart and Jaroslav Halak
  • Minnesota: Ilya Bryzgalov
  • Washington: Dustin Penner
  • Anaheim: Stephane Robidas
  • Edmonton: Viktor Fasth
  • Philadelphia: Andrew MacDonald
  • Florida: Roberto Luongo
  • Vancouver: Jacob Markstrom
  • Chicago: David Rundblad

Lots of names already on the move, and some of them big names. One move that has me intrigued is Dustin Penner leaving the Ducks. In return from Washington, the Ducks got a 4th round pick that they in turn used to acquire Stephane Robidas. I am left wondering though if they are done making deals. Penner was a useful winger for Anaheim, and they dLxi8wStraded him essentially for a defenseman. Are they in the process of trading for a winger to replace Penner? The name Thomas Vanek has been linked to Anaheim quite often today, so it will be interesting to see if anything transpires there. If the Ducks do get Vanek, then that may put them above and beyond the rest of the NHL.

Mike Gillis, Vancouver’s general manager, may be the biggest idiot in any NHL front office. Last year at this time, he had Corey Schneider and Roberto Luongo as the two goalies for the Canucks. After today’s deal with Florida, Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom are Vancouver’s number one and two goalies. Essentially, Gillis traded Schneider and Luongo, two number one goalies, for a first round pick, Jacob Markstrom, and a prospect. What is he trying to do? Why trade Schneider last summer if you weren’t going to keep Luongo as your number one? Now all Gillis has done is weaken his team substantially without really gaining much of an asset in return.

All eyes are now on players such as Vanek, Marian Gaborik, and Canucks’ center, Ryan Kesler. If Mike Gillis trades Kesler, I think its safe to say the Canucks are attempting a “rebuild.” If he doesn’t trade Kesler, well then I don’t know what Gillis is trying to do up there. The Penguins and Flyers are being mentioned as the two teams heavily pursuing Ryan Kesler, although some reports are indicating that Philadelphia is involved only to raise Kesler’s price for Pittsburgh.

Blackhawks update

7327531The Blackhawks have also come up in rumors regarding Ryan Kesler. This one puzzles me. The Blackhawks have about $52,000 in cap space right now according to Capgeek. Ryan Kesler is getting paid $5 million/year all the way through the 2015-2016 season. Currently, the Blackhawks do not have anywhere near the amount of money they would need in order to get Kesler, unless they trade someone like Bryan Bickell and someone else with a smaller contract. Plus, you add in the fact that the Hawks will be looking to extend Kane and Toews this summer (those will be significant pay raises), and they simply will have very little money to play with. Unless of course they trade some of their bigger contracts, which I don’t see them doing. Everyone wants to say “Chicago is in on Kesler,” only because the Hawks could use a true number two center at the moment. People forget about the money situation and the fact that Teuvo Teravainen could very well enter the NHL next season and be that long-lost number two center for the Hawks.

As I began writing this, the Hawks traded this year’s second round pick to Phoenix for David Rundblad and Mathieu Brisebois. Both are defensemen. Rundblad (23 years old) will join the Blackhawks, giving them eight defensemen on the roster, and Brisebois will david_rundblad_phx_030512head to Rockford. David Rundblad was the Blues’ first round pick in 2009 before being dealt to Phoenix. He has only appeared in 50 NHL games. Rundblad is more of an offensive-defenseman and has some decent potential upside. The problem he has faced up to this point is lack of playing time. In Phoenix, Dave Tippett likes his d-men to be defensive-minded. That didn’t bode well for Rundblad. Also, he was never really given a good chance in the NHL. I don’t know what will happen now that Rundblad is in Chicago, but my guess is he will be given a better opportunity to prove himself. Just look at how the Hawks handled Nick Leddy.

A lot has happened over the last 12 hours or so, and a lot more may still happen. In fact, it was literally just announced that Thomas Vanek is not dressing for tonight’s game in Winnipeg. Clearly, the Islanders are trying to trade him. Whether or not a deal gets done, we shall see.

I’ll try to add more as it happens.

 

 

On the Brink of History

161923285_slideWith Sunday’s 3-2 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings, the Blackhawks made it 15 straight games to start the season without a regulation loss. The 2006-2007 Anaheim Ducks set the all-time record for consecutive games to start a season without a regulation loss at 16 games. If the Blackhawks can avoid losing to the Canucks in regulation tomorrow night, they will tie that record.

The only 2 teams in NHL history to make it at least 15 games without a regulation loss (1984-1985 Oilers and the Ducks) both won the Stanley Cup. While that is an interesting statistic and one that bodes well for the Hawks, it really means nothing. There is a lot of season left and then the playoffs, so a lot can still happen.

Right now, the Blackhawks are 3 games into their 7-game homestand and are 2-0-1 in those 3 games. In their first home game of this 7-game stretch, last Tuesday against the Ducks, the Hawks lost 3-2 in a shootout. They had a 2-1 lead heading into the third, but then allowed the Ducks to score with only a few minutes left in regulation, which sent the game to OT.

Friday night against San Jose, the Blackhawks dominated from start to finish and won 4-1. Even though the Sharks were, and still are in the midst of a free fall, that was a good win for the Hawks against a Sharks team that started the season 7-0. Jonathan Toews really helped to set the tone in that game by fighting a much bigger and much tougher Joe Thornton.

Yesterday, the Hawks continued their winning ways by defeating the Kings 3-2. The Blackhawks looked great through the first 40 minutes of the game, but then let their guard down in the third period and allowed L.A. 2 powerplay goals.

If there has been a weakness of the Blackhawks this season, it has been their recent trend of letting teams back into the game in the third period. Last Tuesday against the Ducks, the Blackhawks really controlled much of the first 2 periods. Then came the third period, and the Hawks seemed to resort to strictly playing defense and clearing the puck out of their own zone. It looked as though they had no interest in burying the Ducks with a huge third goal, and instead were intent on defending their own net for the last 20 minutes. As a result, the Ducks tied the game and won in a shootout. Yesterday was the same story.

After absolutely dominating the defending champs through the first 2 periods and leading by a score of 3-0, the Hawks backed off again in the third, took a couple bad penalties, and before you knew it were only up by 1 goal. If it wasn’t for the clock running out at the end of the game, I am sure that L.A. would have tied it had they had another 2 minutes to play. The Hawks were lucky to get out of there with a win, and only because the Kings ran out of time at the end of the game.

Moving forward, the Blackhawks are going to need to develop and consistently display that “killer” instinct of putting away their opponents when they have a late lead. They cannot continue to let other teams gain momentum in the third period and steal games from them that the Hawks should have won.

Having said all of that, the Blackhawks are still 12-0-3 and lead the NHL with 27 points. They have beaten many good teams already this year and are showing no signs of slowing down. Their powerplay has picked up a couple of goals now over the last few games, which is encouraging, but their penalty kill gave up 2 third period goals yesterday to the Kings. I guess you can’t always be perfect.

keslerTomorrow night will be another big game for the Hawks as they welcome Vancouver to town for the first time this season. The Canucks have played pretty well lately and just got Ryan Kesler back from injury. On top of that, their whole goalie “controversy” seems to have evaporated as both Luongo and Schneider are playing very good as of late. Although the last meeting between these two teams wasn’t as physical as most fans would have expected, all it takes is one little spark to set off the always-present hatred between the two sides.

Interesting stat: Since acquiring Johnny Oduya at last year’s trade deadline, the Blackhawks’ record is 24-2-7 with him in the lineup.