The NHL trade deadline has come and gone. The true winners and losers will be determined over the course of the remainder of the regular season, the Stanley Cup playoffs and of course the future with the draft picks and prospects that were moved. But until then, here’s one hockey scribe’s immediate but hopefully calculated reaction to arguably the two biggest of the 20 trades involving 38 players made Tuesday prior to the 3 PM ET deadline.
Hockey wise, this was a good deal for both teams. Martin St. Louis held all the cards here really. He utilized his no-movement clause with his insistence that he only could be dealt to the Rangers and also used his iconic status with the Lightning to likely prove he deserved to have his trade request granted. So with that in play, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was hamstrung as far as getting the best value for a player that a season ago was the Art Ross Trophy winner with 60 points in 48 games and this season had 61 points in 62 games prior to this trade.
All along the reports were that the Rangers were only offering unrestricted free agent to be Ryan Callahan and that the now former Rangers captain was asking upwards of $6 million per season for seven seasons. Like Rangers GM Glen Sather, there is likely no way Yzerman would or will sign Callahan to that deal and according to many insiders, Callahan is intent on testing the market on July 1 with the Buffalo Sabres being a very possible landing spot.
So for Yzerman to get at least 20 regular season games from Callahan, a second round pick in 2014 (it becomes a first round selection if the Rangers advance to the Eastern Conference finals) and a first round pick and what promises to be a very deep 2015 draft, was a lot better than first expected.
Meanwhile the Rangers get a proven winner and some much-needed scoring depth for what they hope will be a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs where once you’re in, anything can happen.
But now to the off-ice part of this deal, that from all accounts seems to be a result of a another case where a professional athlete let his stubborn pride and greed get in the way and in effect left his teammates and an organization that gave him a real shot to be what he is, in the dust.
Since January 7 — when whispers started that St. Louis was so angry over Lightning GM Steve Yzerman not ensuring him a spot on Team Canada for a second straight time that St. Louis actually requested a trade — it still just never seemed possible Yzerman and St. Louis couldn’t find a way to patch things up. Here was the captain, the heart and soul of the team and last remaining member of the 2004 Stanley Cup champions and a by all accounts straightforward, smart and very reasonable GM who was himself, a longtime captain and three-time Stanley Cup Champion. Not to mention that Yzerman played with the same brazen, do whatever it takes passion that St. Louis displays in every game he plays. How this future hall of famer and a current one who in so many ways plays for and runs the team the same way, not make amends?
Some who know both St. Louis and Yzerman will tell you that their passion for the game and to win is immense but at times a detriment as well. They say this because with that passion comes stubborn pride and it appears that was the case in what can be only described as a sad day in the history of a Lightning franchise trying to become relevant again in non-hockey market. St. Louis feeling slighted and angry that his GM couldn’t find a way to get him on the Team Canada roster before adding him as an injury replacement for his Lightning teammate Steven Stamkos was more than understandable. But what’s hard to comprehend here is how a player and a man who one former teammate described to Murph’s Musings Monday night as “the perfect teammate and role model” could suddenly be the opposite. There has to be — and hopefully for St. Louis’ case — more than meets the eye here because after watching the post trade reaction of Stamkos, Yzerman and head coach Jon Cooper it’s difficult not to feel for them and the Lightning and not vilify St. Louis.
Montreal trades RW Sebastian Collberg and a conditional second round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft to the NY Islanders for LW Thomas Vanek and a fifth round conditional pick in 2014:
Make no mistake that Montreal and Toronto are probably the two best hockey markets in the world. But at the same time, they’re two of the most impatient. In the case of Canadiens fans, their impatience does not mesh well with what the usually very patient Montreal GM Marc Bergevin. In fact this impatience had many Canadiens fans stooping as low as to criticize Bergevin for attending the funeral services of his mother-in-law in Chicago on trade deadline. Classless.
But it was the classy and smart Bergevin who ended up stealing the headlines on deadline day as he landed arguably the biggest fish out there in sniper Thomas Vanek. He also did so without surrendering the first round pick that was constantly being reported as part of the asking price Islanders GM Garth Snow had set leading into the deadline. There’s a case to be made that part of the reason Snow couldn’t get a first rounder was Vanek’s underachieving play this season and that he could very well walk as an unrestricted free agent on July 1 since he has made it known to those close to him that he would like to sign with the Wild and return to the state of Minnesota where his wife is from and where he played college hockey at the University of Minnesota. But now there is no denying what Bergevin has promised to be since being hired in June, 2012 and that is a general manager who lives in the present and the future.
By all accounts Sebastian Collberg is a marginal prospect at best and the fact that Bergevin didn’t have to surrender a 2015 second round pick is a positive as well. The Canadiens have been a difficult team to figure out and while the addition of Vanek doesn’t make them a Stanley Cup contender, adding a player who hit the 30-goal plateau four times and the 40-goal mark twice in eight seasons coming into this one can’t hurt. It also doesn’t hurt that Vanek has his most success against Eastern Conference teams, specifically his new team’s archrival the Boston Bruins. Let’s just say that despite their team picking up some solid depth on defense in Corey Potter and Andrej Meszaros Tuesday Bruins fans were more focused on the fact the Habs got Vanek “The Bruins Killah”!
On the other end of this deal it might have been a case of impatience and too much patience that prevented Snow and the Islanders from getting more for Vanek and continued to send this team in a backward spiral. Coming off a surprise playoff appearance last season in which they forced the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins to six games in the first round, hope sprung eternal for the Islanders and their fans heading into this season. They had Hart Trophy candidate John Tavares, a sniper in Matt Moulson and emerging young players like Kyle Okposo.
Snow apparently got too carried away in the excitement over his team and decided he could get a better scorer in Vanek whom he acquired from Buffalo last October in exchange for Moulson, a 2014 first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick. Besides the fact that he completely overpaid for a player so many believed had already decided to hit the free agent market this July, he broke the team’s dynamic duo of Taveres and Moulson who have since shown and admitted how much they miss playing together.
After showing impatience in October, Snow seemingly was too patient waiting until just last month to realize what the rest of the NHL realized, that Vanek wasn’t re-signing with the Islanders and then watched as the price went down on a player who could’ve netted him a first rounder and likely a better prospect than Collberg. Now he has a mid-grade prospect in Collberg and a second round pick for Moulson, Vanek, a 2014 first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick. And let’s not forget he was unable to get a first round pick for one of the most coveted free agent defenseman on the trade market in Andrew MacDonald whom he sent to the Flyers for prospect Matt Mangene, a 2014 3rd-round pick and a 2015 2nd-round pick. If Snow is still the Islanders GM after this season, it just proves the rumors that he is too cozy with team owner Charles Wang.