Monday, February 25, 2008

Trade Deadline Deals Make Fools of Us All

I've got to admit, I'm a sucker for trade deadline day. There's so much possibility; for a better team now, for a better team in the future. It's such a meat market you can't help but be taken in. When I think of a great trade deadline day, I think Chris Drury for Rhett Warrener and Steve Reinprecht. Several years later I think we can say Drury was the best player in that deal, but I don't believe he was helping the team in a significant way, and Warrener and Reinprecht both had key roles in changing the Flames from pretenders to contenders.

On the Oilers side of things, I was pretty happy with the Dwayne Roloson trade. The Oilers desperately needed a steady veteran goalie and Roloson got them through at least one playoff round with his play. He was then arguably the Oilers best player the season after, and although his play has dropped off, I believe he still has value, whether in a trade or in a mentoring/leadership role or simply by playing better.

But the fact is the deals on or near trade deadline day rarely seem to work out.

I remember coming home one year from school on deadline day to discover the Flames had aquired...Sergei (He's actually still playing in Russia if anyone cares). I think last year's deal for Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart is the perfect example of a deal gone bad. I praised it at the time and still do for the simple fact that I can accept going all in, given you have a good hand. However, the Flames lost that bet and they basically mortgaged the future for a gain of nothing. Brad Stuart bolted for warmer weather as we all knew he would, and we were stuck with Wayne Primeau (actually we stuck with him rather than the other way around). Andrew Ference would be mighty welcome on this team today.

Of course, I don't even have to mention the nightmare of last year's deadline for Edmonton. In my opinion that's a deal that will negatively impact the Oilers for years to come.

Those are some personal examples, but I honestly believe that trade deadline deals tend to be a mistake for playoff bound teams. First of all, if you're heading into the playoffs anyway, why mess with a good thing? If there's one thing fans should take away from international competitions, it's that often a good team concept (including chemistry and camaraderie) can overcome talent.

Taking that philosophy a bit further, why would you take a willing team with roles and chemistry already sussed out, then add a guy who is used to playing 20 minutes a night and try and slot him in on the first line? It's a mistake.

When Carolina won in 2006 they acquired Doug Weight on the deadline, but he was utilized as a third line center, not as a centerpiece of the team. In 2007 Brian "Big Head" Burke acquired Brad May to fill in as a 4th line agitator. Before that, the Lightning acquired Darryl Sydor about a month before the trade deadline. None of these guys are marquee players, they were brought on board to fill a small role.

Apparently Brad Richards is available, and it sounds like he will be traded, if not in the next 24 hours then in the off-season. I think he's expensive but I think any team would be lucky to have the 2004 Conn Smythe winner, especially since he's not a typical rental. That said, if I were a team that was top 8 in my conference, I wouldn't be going for him.

I'm not going to make a list of players I think will be traded (away or for), because it's far too speculative a game. Trades rarely make sense for both teams, sometimes make sense for one, and often make no sense for either. That said, here is a list of guys I wouldn't mind see hitting the old dusty trail. Nothing personal guys, this list is all business.

Wayne Primeau - big contract, no role,

Mark Smith - just a pointless player

Marcus Nilson/Stephane Yelle - one or the other has to go, they're duplicate roles and neither of them are doing a particularly good job

Eric Godard - what's the point?

Anders Ericksson - he's not worth keeping around long term so we might as well get something for him

Rhett Warrener - just too damn injured

Cory Sarich - not good enough

Adrian Aucoin - not worth the money

Kris Chucko - throw this go nowhere draft to 'sweeten the deal'

Geoff Sanderson - just not good enough to keep around long term

Robert Nilsson/Robbie Schremp - we're only going to be able to develop one of them, get something useful for the other

Sheldon Souray - god awful contract, ok player

Marc-Antoine Pouliot - he's obviously going nowhere with the franchise, might still have some value

Mathieu Garon/Dwayne Roloson - I agree with Andy Grabia, Garon could fetch some value, while Roloson could rebound. On the other hand, Roloson's contract is worth dumping and Garon is worth keeping. It might be prudent to get rid of one though

One defenceman not named Staios or Gilbert - Holy crap, we got a lot of guys! If we aren't going to be able to retain Pitkanen, trade him. If Lowe thinks he can send Greene or Smid or Grebeshkov out and get a legitimate 2nd pairing guy then do it (assuming Souray is gone). Not enough veterans on the blueline makes for a disaster for developing any kids. We're either going to screw up all of them or sacrifice a couple to ensure the survival of the remainders.

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