NHL Deadline dissection

Brad Richards has 63 points in just 56 games.

One of the most highly anticipated days in the National Hockey League season turned out to be more bust than bombshell, as only 16 deals involving 24 players and 10 draft picks were consummated in Monday’s trade deadline.

The biggest deal of the day was Dustin Penner leaving Edmonton for Los Angeles. In return, the Oilers received a first round and third round pick at this June’s draft along with prospect Colten Teubert.

With 24 of the league’s 30 teams in playoff contention, and myriad trades having been made in the last six-to-eight weeks, perhaps the lack of last minute deal-making should have been expected.

The biggest acquisition made by the three local NHL franchises was the Rangers landing Bryan McCabe from Florida for Tim Kennedy and a third round pick on Saturday. The 35-year-old McCabe is the heavy power play point shot that John Tortorella had publicly stumped for.   McCabe has 143 goals and 522 points in 1,117 NHL games.

“Bryan McCabe adds an established veteran presence to our young defensive corps. He can help provide offense with his strong shot on the power play, and his versatility allows him to play either the left or right side effectively,” GM Glen Sather said in a statement.  “Bryan also brings outstanding leadership qualities, having served as team captain for Florida for the past two seasons.”

McCabe met with the media before Sunday’s 2-1 home loss to Tampa Bay, in which he played 17:35, was credited with two shots on goal while having another three blocked, and displayed good puck-moving ability that has been one of the hallmarks of his career.

“They are a hard working team. They come to play every night. They have one of the best goalies in the league, so that always helps. They have some big forwards that can get to the net and pay the price. Hopefully I can get some pucks there for them,” McCabe said of his new team before analyzing what he brings to the Rangers. “Obviously, I’m a shooter. They have some big bodies—(Brian) Boyle, (Brandon) Dubinsky and (Artem) Anisimov—who get to the net. My job will be just to get the puck there for them and let them do what they have to do.”

Despite myriad rumors linking the Rangers to Dallas UFA center Brad Richards, Sather held firm to his belief that youth is vital to the franchise’s future and did not pull the trigger on the blockbuster trade. Recent reports stated that Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk had demanded Dubinsky, All-Star defenseman Marc Staal and rookie center Derek Stepan in a package for Richards. Instead, Sather dealt a seventh-round pick to Toronto for 26-year old utility forward John Mitchell. Mitchell has three points (2-1) and 12 penalty minutes in 23 games this season. He has played 159 NHL games over three seasons, having recorded 55 points (20-35) and 76 penalty minutes.

The Devils did the expected and traded center Jason Arnott. The UFA-to-be was sent to Washington for David Steckel and a second round pick. Arnott totaled 13 goals and 24 points in 62 games with New Jersey. Steckel has found fame for having shouldered Sidney Crosby in the head at the Winter Classic.

Atlanta claimed Rob Schremp off waivers from the Islanders. 

WINNERS

New York Rangers
The deal
» Added a young scoring forward (Wojtek Wolski), a power-play defenseman (Bryan McCabe) and a utility forward (John Mitchell) for Michal Rozsival, AHLer Tim Kennedy and picks.
Impact
» They desperately needed special teams scoring.
» Glen Sather did not mortgage the future for Brad Richards, who he will have every opportunity to sign as a free agent July 1.

Philadelphia Flyers
The deal

» Acquired Kris Versteeg, a legitimate top-nine forward, for a first- and third-round pick in June.
» Improved NHL-best back end by grabbing Nick Boynton off waivers from Chicago.
Impact
» Coming up short last season, Philly could have folded to the pressure and reached for big-name guys to throw off chemistry.
» Instead, it added nice complementary pieces.

Pittsburgh Penguins
The deal

» Landing burgeoning power forward James Neal and solid defenseman Matt Niskanen from Dallas for Alex Goligoski was a coup.
» Gave up a seventh-rounder to Ottawa for Alex Kovalev.
Impact
» When Sidney Crosby returns from a concussion—whether this season or next — the world’s best player will have a presence in front of the net to swat rebounds in Neal.

Vancouver Canucks
The deal

» Picked up forwards Chris Higgins from Florida and Maxim Lapierre from Anaheim, along with Ducks’ minor leaguer MacGregor Sharp, for two prospects and two third-round picks.
Impact
» GM Mike Gillis found a weakness and upgraded his fourth line, which has used 11 different forwards. The minor pieces bring energy to a club coasting to the playoffs.

LOSERS

Washington Capitals
The deal

» Fading Caps added veteran forward Jason Arnott from the Devils for David Steckel and second-round pick in next year’s draft.
» Also picked up defenseman Dennis Wideman.
Impact
» Arnott has recorded 66 points in 106 postseason games, but he’s not the final piece of the puzzle for a team that is championship or bust.
» Needed an upgrade in net.

Dallas Stars
The deal

» GM Joe Nieuwendyk on keeping center Brad Richards:?“I wasn’t going to move him unless someone really knocked our socks off with something we couldn’t refuse.”
Impact
» Plain and simple, Nieuwendyk overplayed his hand. Now he’ll watch Richards sign with the Rangers or Kings in July.
» You had to get some value back for a top-15 player.

Ottawa Senators
The deal

» They aren’t contending for anything but the No. 1 pick.
» Forward Chris Neil, defensemen Matt Carkner and Filip Kuba, and goaltender Craig Anderson all stayed put.
Impact
» Missed out on stockpiling a ton of draft picks.
» The Sens are to the NHL what the Nets are to the NBA. Only the Nets showed up on deadline day.


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