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Koz: The Dust Settles

The Dust Settles – Reviewing the Eastern Conference after the NHL trade deadline

The trade deadline has passed. With everyone set for the playoff run, let's look where the Pens fit in with the rest of the Eastern Conference and I'll give my grades for deadline day.

The “Cellars” - Tampa (B), Atlanta (B), Florida (D), Toronto (C)

These teams all pretty much waved the white flag as of 3 pm on Tuesday and for good reason, they're already out of it. Tampa chose to keep Dan Boyle (smart) and dealt former Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards to Dallas in the West (good for us) in a multi-player deal. In return Tampa got the most prolific shootout scorer in NHL history, Jussi Jokinen, and Mike Smith, who has played well in Dallas and figures to be Tampa's number one goalie in the foreseeable future.

We are all pretty familiar with what Atlanta has coming their way. I hope Mark Recchi enjoys his early summer. Florida gave up picks (mostly to Toronto) and got little in return. Toronto fans can enjoy the reality of the no-trade clause and another year without the Cup. 1967! The Leafs have loaded up on draft picks - douchebags scattered among junior teams throughout Canada eagerly await their call to don the grammatically incorrect sweater.

Checking Out – Long Island (D), Manhattan (B), Boston (C), Carolina (C), Buffalo (C)

These teams are currently in the hunt, but didn't do anything significant to build for this year's playoff run, and are not strong contenders. The Islanders are finished, as shown by their 51 shot but only two goal performance last night. They didn't do anything on D-Day but give two guys a chance at a change of scenery. The Other Marc-Andre (Bergeron) that NYI acquired in at last year's deadline was a healthy scratch in 16 games this season is now headed to Disneyland. Known felon and all-around bad guy, Chris Simon was shipped to Minnesota. I don't have any idea why anyone would have interest in him – he's practically radioactive at this point in his career.

The Rangers went in a rare direction for them and got younger. The Blue Shirts never found a place for Michigan Wolverine Al Montoya in their goaltending rotation. The much hyped Montoya had not been able to usurp Swedish supermodel Henrik Lundqvist, so he might finally get his first crack at an NHL game in Phoenix backing up Bryzgalov.

How the mighty have fallen. Last year at this time, Buffalo was terrifying. Now the team has been gutted of its top stars. Buffalo = Pittsburgh circa 2001. The good news is they still have Pominville, Roy, Miller and in the current NHL, it shouldn't take them long to jump back to the top.

When you woke up Tuesday morning, did you think the Bruins or Hurricanes were Stanley Cup contenders? Me either. When you wake up Wednesday morning, nothing will have changed.

The Movers and Shakers – Washington (A), Philadelphia (C)

Things looked bleak at the beginning of the week, but these teams have made significant moves to put them in the hunt. The Caps are my pick to win the SouthLeast at this point. Huet adds depth at goal as it looks like Olie Kolzig has reached the end of the line. Fedorov could have good chemistry with Ovechkin and have a little resurgence now that he's back with a playoff bound team. Philadelphia's moves came prior to deadline day, officially, but Vaclav Prospal is a good pickup for them. The 10-game skid was as bad as it was going to get. They probably won't make a run for the finals, but I'd rather not face them in the playoffs. In fact, both of these teams could be dangerous in a seven game series.

The Contenders – New Jersey (B), Ottawa (B), Pittsburgh (A), Montreal (F)

Basically, it comes down to these four at the top of the East. Everyone did a good job to align themselves, except the puzzling Montreal move to go with a rookie goalie. Sure it worked for Dryden and Roy, but... is Carey Price of that caliber? I guess we'll find out. For a team with so much media attention and pressure, who has been out of the playoff limelight, I can't believe they've hamstrung themselves like this.

New Jersey just won't go away. Their addition of Bryce Salvador (was #1 in STL +/-) adds another solid defenseman. If Brodeur has it in him (and it seems that he does) they will be tough as ever.

Like the Flyers, Ottawa did their biggest dealing before deadline day. Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore add playoff character. D-Day acquisition Martin Lapointe is also in that style. But, are these guys enough to make up for the locker room plague that is Ray Emery???

On Tuesday morning, I thought about the Penguins roster and wondered if they could win the Cup with those guys. The Pens have been hot as ever lately, and all this without Crosby, but I still wasn't convinced. I was specifically concerned about Christensen's worth in a tough playoff series. You know that old saying, "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?" Don't forget that Marian Hossa was a #1 pick (12th overall). We gave up two unknown entities (Esposito and player to be drafted later) for a surefire sniper. So then, to adapt the old adage, "a reliable, goal scoring Penguin on the roster is worth two unknowns in the draft." Pascal Dupuis should be a good third liner, who had value for Minnesota in their playoff run. Tuesday evening, in the final segment of the Mark Madden radio show, Mike Lange suggested the Pens must have some confidence in signing Hossa to a long-term deal. The trade is probably okay for the chance at a Cup this year alone, and should rank with the "Francis-Samuelsson-Jennings" deal if Shero can tie him up for the future.



Koz said...

One analysis I left out among the contenders that you have to consider in the Hossa deal... when Pittsburgh got him, Montreal and Ottawa did not. Just about everyone was sure Hossa was heading to Montreal. This just solidifies their "F" for the deadline. It's like the guy who waits too long to ask the hottie to prom. Now Les Habitants and their fans are wondering what went wrong and Pittsburgh is a big favorite in the East.

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

I also like that this deal was made as close to 3pm as possible, thus ensuring that other Eastern Conference teams couldn't do anything to respond. HA!

okel dokel said...

Koz, excellent coverage, you have been all over this.

@ Hot Dog - I couldn't agree more

It is too early to tell but this trade may rank up there with the Rod Francis, Ulf Samuelsson, Grant Jennings for John Cullen, Zarley Zalapski and Jeff Parker deal pulled off by Craig Patrick. I remember alot of people felt giving up Cullen and Zalapski was too high a price.