There was a lull in the trade activity for a while, but things didn’t take long to pick up again.
According to TSN, Chicago forward Ben Smith is heading to San Jose in return for forward Andrew Desjardins. Also, the Detroit Red Wings acquired defenceman Marek Zidlicky from the New Jersey Devils for a third round pick in the 2016 draft. That was according to The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell.
Some players fly under the radar, and they can provide a lot of value to a team down the stretch. Ben Smith had been a very effective forward for the Blackhawks in recent years.
In terms of shot suppression, Smith has been a very good penalty killer for the Blackhawks. Over the last two seasons, the team’s shot attempts allowed per minute with Smith on the ice compares somewhat favorably with names like Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. That’s one way that Smith can bring value to the Sharks.
As a whole, though, Smith doesn’t really drive a lot of possession for a bottom-six forward. That has been an issue for the Sharks over the last few years, but it doesn’t seem like Smith will do a lot for them at five-on-five. Smith’s value seems to rely on his penalty killing prowess, and ability to be passable as a fourth liner.
Desjardins may have once been a useful player, but it’s been a couple years now that he hasn’t been very good. For each of the last two seasons, Desjardins has been among the worst Sharks forwards in generating a positive shot differential for his team. That’s while playing very easy minutes for them. Desjardins won’t do a whole lot more than be a potential fourth liner for the Blackhawks as they make their charge for the playoffs.
It seems this trade is a salary dump for the ‘Hawks. Desjardins is an unrestricted free agent after this season, while Smith would count nearly $1.2-million against the cap, according to NHL Numbers. For a team that is going to see massive extensions kick in next year, Chicago needed to start shedding salary. This was a chance to do so.
While he’s certainly on the downside of his career, Zidlicky could still crack the 30-point plateau, and for a team like Detroit who has been looking for secondary defensive scoring past Niklas Kronwall, it seems ideal.
Zidlicky fits in perfectly for the Red Wings. They needed a second-pairing guy, and Zidlicky can fill that role. On top of that, he’s an unrestricted free agent after the season. The Wings just got a top-four defenceman that won’t hit their cap next year for a third round pick. Not a bad trade at all.
Zidlicky to Detroit would seem to slam the door on the Phaneuf-to-Detroit rumors. Different outlets had been reporting all day varying levels of interest in the deal, and now that the Wings have gotten Zidlicky, it would seem Phaneuf is not destined for Detroit.
**UPDATE: There have been a couple of additional deals of some importance.
The Penguins traded defenceman Robert Bortuzzo for Blues defenceman Ian Cole. Cole is a player who can thrive in driving possession in non-top pairing minutes. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Sabres are sending the tank effort into overdrive by trading goalie Michal Neuvirth to the New York Islanders for Chad Johnson and a third round pick. That leaves the Sabres with Chad Johnson and Anders Lindback as their two goalies. Just masterful tanking from the Sabres.
*Some stats courtesy of War On Ice, Hockey Reference, and Hockey Analysis.