Northwest deadline winners, losers
Calgary Flames: Losers
Barely. Give GM Jay Feaster credit for being a man of his word. He said last week that he believes the pieces are in place for a playoff run, and thus took no action at the trade deadline.
"We like this team. We like this group. We think the answers are within that locker room," he reiterated Monday. “We weren’t gonna be sellers, we weren’t gonna be tearing this thing apart.”
Calgary already had its big moves when it acquired Blair Jones and Mike Cammalleri in January and claimed Blake Comeau in November. Plus RW David Moss, out since November, should be back soon. Still, some kind of shakeup was needed to spark a team that has lost four straight — all at home — and is outside the top eight in the conference. The Flames did resign RW Tim Jackman to a two-year extension worth $612,500 per season. It’ll be interesting to see what happens after the season because Calgary has plenty of potentially unrestricted free agents, including D Scott Hannan and Cory Sarich along with forwards Olli Jokinen, Tom Kostopoulos, Lee Stempniak and Moss. The Flames' restricted free agents include forwards Mikael Backlund, Comeau and Jones.
Colorado Avalanche: Push
Is this the start of a rebuild or a push for the playoffs? Nobody is quite sure. The Avs traded C Daniel Winnik and LW T.J. Galiardi to San Jose for physical F Jamie McGinn and a pair of minor leaguers: LW Mike Connelly and C Michael Sgarbossa, who is second in the Ontario Hockey League with 41-43-84 in 57 games. GM Greg Sherman told KOA 850 that the plan was to make the Avalanche a better team now and in the future.
“We feel we have a better hockey team today with Jamie McGinn. … It’s going to set us up for a better future with the prospects,” Sherman said.
McGinn (12 goals this season) has shown to be good at even strength and on the power play. Winnik is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end; Galiardi and McGinn are restricted free agents. Getting F Steve Downie from Tampa Bay might add some grit and goals up front. Deemed by some as a dirty player, Downie can also chip in offensively, as his 17 goals per year average attest. Playing with Ryan O'Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog, Downie, 24, had seven points and was a plus-7 in his first four games as an Av.
Edmonton Oilers: Winners
The Oilers need a stay-at-home defenseman and got that in Nick Schultz — with the added bonus of a great locker-room guy. Tom Gilbert’s offensive production should be picked up by guys like Ryan Whitney and Jeff Petry. Re-signing RW Ales Hemsky to a two-year, $10 million deal ensures he’ll be part of a promising group of forwards, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, that should be key cogs as the Oil look to ascend in the conference standings in the near future. Best known as a set-up man rather than a sniper, Hemsky has five goals and 21 assists in 47 games this season.
“I haven't had the season like I wanted and maybe I could have gone to free agency, but in the end I wanted to stay here and the numbers were pretty solid for me," he said. "I'm comfortable here. I've been here for a long time. Lately we've been playing really good, too, and I want to be part of it. The future is looking really good."
Hemsky has been nearly a point-per-game player throughout his career when he’s healthy. Since the start of the 2006-07 campaign, the 28-year-old has missed 131 regular-season games.
"We have an elite, skilled player in his prime that's going to be a big part of continuing to grow this hockey team,” said general manager Steve Tambellini.
Minnesota Wild: Push
The Wild needed to find some scoring from the back end, and Tom Gilbert and Kurtis Foster should help in that department; however, Minnesota gave up a solid stay-at-home defenseman in Nick Schultz.
"Our ability to transition the puck from the defensive zone to the offensive zone is an area we wanted to improve," said general manager Chuck Fletcher. "We feel we are better at that today."
The trading away of Schultz and shot-blocking D Greg Zanon, who likely wasn’t going to be re-signed after the season, means goaltenders Nick Backstrom and Josh Harding should see more odd-man rushes. Getting rid of Marek Zidlicky is a plus from a chemistry standpoint because he didn’t want to stay in the State of Hockey.
Puck-moving D Steve Kampfer, sent to AHL Houston, appears to be another one of those young defensemen that Fletcher hopes will develop into a solid player. At 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, F Nick Palmieri should bring some needed toughness to the team, and a proven ability to put the puck away. The 22-year-old will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season. The Wild also brought back F Stephane Veilleux whose best days may be behind him. Foster and Veilleux will both be unrestricted free agents.
Vancouver Canucks: Winners
It’s tough to give up on C Cody Hodgson, who has blossomed this season, but to get quality you have to give up quality. RW Zach Kassian provides toughness for the Canucks — arguably the biggest weakness on Vancouver’s roster — while also proving he can put the puck in the net. The acquisition of Sami Pahlsson, a 2007 Cup winner with Anaheim, allowed Vancouver to move Hodgson, because the former will provide depth in the middle on each line for a team that could be the favorite in the Western Conference. The 34-year-old, a free agent after this season, likely won’t add much scoring punch, but he has proven to be a difficult player to play against. Marc-Andre Gragnani should provide defensive depth.
“I think we got more balance in our lineup, more diversified. If you look at center ice, we’ve got a lot of strength with a lot of veteran players there and the only real power forward we have on our team with that kind of size and speed would be David Booth and we now have a younger player, who's 21, who has that. With Marc-Andre we got a puck-moving defenseman who can play on the power play and he’s got really good offensive skills,” said GM Mike Gillis. “It’s about balance and it’s about being able to play in any situation and I think we’re better able to play in any situation today then we were.”