Another NHL trade deadline has come and gone. The Flyers, like many teams, were quiet on Monday, as only fifteen deals were consummated across the league.
Then again, GM Paul Holmgren did his work in the week leading up to the deadline, acquiring veteran defensemen Niklas Grossman and Pavel Kubina to solidify his defensive corps.
Thus, the Flyers will hope that their deep and explosive group of forwards and their tweaked top six on defense will excel, while looking for improvement from their goaltenders down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Here are five other trade deadline developments that caught my attention:
What ever happened to the frenzy?
In Canada, trade deadline day is treated almost like a national holiday. The media coverage begins early in the morning and carries well past the actual deadline itself. The rumors swirling in the weeks leading up to the deadline come fast and furious. Hockey fans expect trades and lots of them. The last two years, however, there just has not been the flurry of moves to meet those expectations.
It appears a couple of factors are involved this season. Parity is the most important one. Only two teams found themselves more than ten points out of a playoff position when Monday dawned. Thats right, just two! Thus, almost all of the clubs had to feel at least some responsibility to prevent their fan bases from getting the message that the season was lost. It cut down on the supply of available players and drove up the cost of acquiring the ones that were in play.
Many teams appeared to decide those asking prices were too rich for their blood. When first-round picks are being asked in return for soon-to-be-unrestricted free agent, third-line forwards or middle-of-the-road defensemen, you can understand that reaction.
Furthermore, there is a degree of uncertainty over what the ground rules will be in the very near future for putting teams together. A new collective bargaining agreement will be negotiated before next season, and no one can be sure how the salary cap or even the payroll system will be affected. This lack of clarity makes it difficult for general managers to make bold moves for players who have contracts that stretch past this season.
Nash stays put for now
I suppose with such limitations existing on the overall trade market, it should come as no surprise that the biggest story emanating from Monday's deadline has to do with a player that did NOT get moved.
Rick Nash is still a Columbus Blue Jacket. Despite rumors that had him headed to Toronto, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, or most recently New York, no deal was made. Columbus General Manager Scott Howson drove a hard bargain and despite reports that the Rangers, in particular, were determined to get a deal done, it never happened.
The Rangers and Flyers are probably fortunate it turned out that way. The Rangers would be risking an alteration in what is an outstanding team chemistry in their room right now. Im not sure Nash could fit in right away with the defense-first, get down and dirty approach the Broadway Blue Shirts are executing to near-perfection these days. They are on top of their conference as currently constituted. As they say, if it aint broke, dont fix it.
The Flyers were said to be interested as well. But Nash doesnt fill a need for them. They already feature the highest-scoring team in the NHL. Their area of need is in preventing goals not scoring them. Why break up an exciting young nucleus to add to an already strong area?
So, Nash will finish the season in Columbus. Then, the rumors will crank up again in June during the off-season. Its clear from Howsons comments on Monday, Nash wants out and the Blue Jackets are ready to oblige him. But they have to get quite a haul in return to keep what fans they have left even mildly interested in the future.
Carter, Richards reunited
Some deals actually were made in and around the deadline. Jeff Carter fetched the Blue Jackets Jack Johnson and a first round draft pick from the Kings. Considering the Jackets gave up Jake Voracek, a draft pick that became Sean Couturier, and a 3rd round pick to the Flyers to get Carter, its obvious Carters value has depreciated some in six months.
Still, he gets his wish and becomes a teammate of Mike Richards out on the west coast. It will be fascinating to see if it all comes together. The Kings need offense and Carter can certainly supply that as long as he stays healthy. The initial plan was to play him on the wing. That might be short lived. Carter has always seemed more comfortable in the middle. We shall see if "Flyers West" can get in the playoffs and make a run.
Canucks roll the dice
While many of the top contenders only made minor deals for small adjustments, the Vancouver Canucks were bolder. They gambled and dealt Cody Hodgson, a rookie who some consider in the Calder Trophy mix, to Buffalo for unproven power forward Zack Kassian and inconsistent young defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani.
Seldom do you see a Stanley Cup finalist from the year before getting less experienced at the deadline, but thats what the Canucks did. Their rationale is understandable. They wanted to get bigger and stronger up front after getting out-muscled at times by the Bruins in the Finals last year.
However, its difficult to change the identity of your team at this point and to do so with an unproven commodity like Kassian at the expense of a guy like Hodgson, who has already proven he can contribute at the NHL Level, is risky on more than one front. Unlike, the Rangers, the Canucks messed with a formula that had been extremely successful (the team is first overall in the NHL to start the week) in attempting to find what they perceived to be that final piece to the puzzle.
Preds on the prowl
Speaking of going for it, take notice of the Nashville Predators. For so long victims of being in a smaller market, the Predators were forced to sell at the deadline.
Not this time.
With the Preds hanging with the big boys near the top of the standings and some potential free agents set to head elsewhere in the near future, general manager David Poile decided to go all in.
Nashville acquired defenseman Hal Gill, forward Andrei Kostitsyn, and center Paul Gaustad in recent days to fortify an already excellent club. He paid top value in picks. Some would say he overpaid. But, the time had come for the Predators to try and fill some final holes and try to make a run instead of selling off assets.
The fans have been supporting the Predators in Nashville in big numbers recently. They deserve a chance to see if their hometown club can go to a new level and bring a Cup to Music City.
In general, too much is usually made of the trade deadline. f you go case by case, more teams that remained quiet or only made minor alterations at the deadline have gone on to post-season glory than have teams that make big splashes. Once in a while, a deadline deal can prove the catalyst to something big. More often, though, a team has already been built to make a run long before that day in late February or early March arrives.
As it turns out, this years deadline lacked a lot of sizzle. Well soon find out if any of the moves that were made, or maybe even the ones that werent, impact this springs Stanley Cup chase in any significant way.