Trade deadline day has come and gone and the Phoenix Coyotes, riding high off of their current 4-game point streak, did fairly little on the day. In truth, there wasn't all that much going on at all around the league for most of the day, but there were a few head scratchers, a flurry at the end, and one surprise team that finally gave their fans something to cheer about on a deadline. You can track the comments on our open thread to get a feel for how the day went down.
Coyotes Moves (and Non-Moves)
The day started with some interesting news about the value that the 'Yotes were placing on their most coveted player, and the fan base's favorite whipping boy, Keith Yandle. Elliotte Friedman tweeted this out early in the morning, pretty much guaranteeing that Yandle was staying:
Yandle price is steep. Two impact forwards, including someone who can be No.1 centre. Not getting traded unless offer PHO can't refuse.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 3, 2013
Now, while some of the twitterati were frustrated by this, I cheered the reluctance that GM Don Maloney (who gets our condolences on the death of his father) has for trading away a two-time All-Star offensive defenseman that is tied for the team lead in scoring. Does Yandle make the occasional boneheaded decision in his own end that leads to a scoring chance, and even a goal...absolutely. Does every d-man that sees the ice for 20+ minutes a night do the same....yes. Can all of those d-men lead a rush up the ice and jump into the offensive plays as effectively as Yandle....hells no. So I'm happy that Yandle isn't going anywhere and I hope he continues to improve his defensive play so that the fan base can get over their collective fixation on his turnovers.
After that, it was goalie Mike Smith that got a lot of "attention", especially after the Coyotes were linked to the Senators' Ben Bishop:
PHX one of 5 teams in on OTT G Ben Bishop. Better than 50-50 chance he's moved today.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 3, 2013
Considering that Ottawa was able to get Cory Conacher from Tampa Bay along with a 4th round draft pick, I'm perfectly happy not to be making any deal there. Now, the Coyotes certainly need to address the goalie position, with Smith, Jason LaBarbera, and Chad Johnson all being UFAs at the end of the season, but the market for Smith shouldn't be too high and the Coyotes should be able to find talent on the bargain bin if things can't work out. Keep in mind that Mark Visentin, Louis Domingue, and Mike Lee are all moving through the system and may be ready for the NHL within a year or two.
From that point until pretty much the deadline, it was radio silence as far as the Coyotes were concerned. But right before the end of the day, the Desert Dogs moved three of their pending UFAs that have underperformed. As we have extensively reported, first Raffi Torres was shipped to the San Jose Sharks for a 3rd round draft pick. Shortly thereafter, the Coyotes exchanged Matthew Lombardi with Brandon McMillan of the Anaheim Ducks. Finally, Steve Sullivan was dealt for a bag of pucks...er, a 2014 7th round draft pick, to the New Jersey Devils. At this point, the doom and gloom from some of the fan base was almost comical as folks lamented how the Coyotes, only 2 points out of a playoff spot, were "throwing in the towel" on the season. Amazingly, Raffi Torres was the player whose loss was being most lamented, despite the fact that the Sharks fan base felt as if they had traded for Satan himself.
Here's my brief take on the three moves - the Coyotes moved players that they were either unlikely to re-sign or didn't see as part of their future plans, and got assets for them. Not great assets, but assets. It's not like these guys are world beaters regardless of the energy they bring or the revisionist history we may attribute to their possible impact on a series that the Coyotes were completely dominated throughout. For the season, here are the combined numbers for Torres, Lombardi, and Sullivan: 82 games, 14 goals, 17 assists, -9, averaging around 14 minutes per game each. I'm sorry, but that's just not a lot of production from three guys. As assistant GM Brad Treliving said when he addressed the media: "We’re losing three players off our roster. Having said that, the core of our team is still intact, … In all honesty this is not surrendering a white flag. This is doing what we have to do from a management level to maximize the assets that we need to maximize moving forward."
As for the three players involved, they were all good team guys - seemed like they were good in the locker room and captain Shane Doan sounded legitimately upset to see them go when he was interviewed on XTRA910. That being said, Doaner probably feels that way about every player he has ever laced up the skates with including the adult men's rec team in Scottsdale that he played with that one game during the lockout. Lots of guys are good in the locker room; the Coyotes have been excellent at the deadline because they make smart moves and maximize their assets. I feel they accomplished that well today.
Another gripe was that two of the deals moved players within the division. While I agree that it is not how you generally look to make deals, with Philly standing mostly pat (more on this in a few minutes), and the Rangers now trading exclusively with Columbus (fleeced both these teams one too many times), there weren't a lot of ideal places to send players. I'm sure the Sharks and Ducks provided the best possible return for the players involved which is why the trades were made.
The core remains intact, and the unlikely playoff run remains a dim hope. As far as I'm concerned this was a perfect deadline for the Coyotes as they didn't do anything rash under the gun in a shortened season. There will be plenty of time to evaluate what to do to prepare for next year (hopefully with an owner) when this season is done.
Intrigue Around the League
While the Coyotes were fairly quiet on the day, it didn't stop other teams from making a big splash, or at least hitting the pool. Let's take a look at some of the winners, losers, and just odd things we observed.
We will take all the players, thank you...
One of the earliest trades of the day saw Jussi Jokinen picked up by the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional 7th rounder. Jokinen was recently put on waivers and the Hurricanes will be paying part of his remaining salary. Since trading for Brendan Morrow and Jarome Iginla in the build up to the deadline, the Pens lost Sidney Crosby for an indeterminate amount of time with a broken jaw, and I believe perhaps Chris Kunitz also got hurt. Whatever the case may be, it's a good thing the Pens were making all the trades early on.
We're not sellers this year...
Columbus Blue Jackets rookie GM Jarmo Kekalainen made perhaps the biggest moves of the day picking up Marian Gaborik from the Rangers, Blake Comeau from the Flames, and convincing the Flyers to take on Steve Mason. For a team that is usually dumping players, the BJs made quite the splash in bringing on Gaborik who will reunite with former teammates Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov.
The return for the Rangers wasn't too shabby either with Derek Dorsett, John Moore, Derick Brassard, and a 6th rounder heading back to Broadway. Speaking of those newest Rangers, Brassard, Moore, and Ryan Clowe each scored in the New York debut (twice for Clowe), with Brassard adding a trio of assists on the night - not too shabby.
The scratch your head and then laugh uproariously moment...
Unfortunately, this one was at the expense of my Philadelphia Flyers who, for reasons we may never know, traded for Steve Mason, sending Columbus back-up goalie Michael Leighton and a third round pick in 2015. The return isn't too great, but it's hard to imagine Mason being the answer in Philly even if the team cuts ties with Ilya Bryzgalov despite Ed Snider's vote of confidence in Bryz. In the end, Philly gave Columbus their #1 goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky to get a complete nut job and now get Bob's back up to do something...whatever.
Wade Redden sighting...
The much maligned Redden was seen being shipped from the Blues to the Bruins for a conditional 7th round pick in 2014. That contract has been the albatross of all albatrosses, but good on Redden for continuing on.
This one took forever to break...
The final big trade of the day was announced well after the 3:00 deadline and involves a big gamble for a team trying to win now despite the odds. The Washington Capitals traded highly touted forward prospect Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat and Michael Latta. It's a trade that could work out for both teams, but I think I like the Preds return on this one a bit more than the Caps because I don't see Washington having enough to win now to be selling the future.
Winner of the Night...
This one didn't involve a trade that happened, and I'm not sure any team is even happy about how it went down, but for my money, Roberto Luongo wins today. His good natured attitude towards his contract situation (admitting that it is a bad contract that makes things hard to work out) and his absolutely amazing tweets over the past few weeks have just completely changed the public perception of the goalie. He's still got a ton of talent and if the 'Yotes need a goalie at the end of the day, I'd be perfectly fine seeing LUUUUUUUU in the desert.