Wednesday, March 7th, 2002
Now that the three-week Olympic break has come to a close, teams will be
looking to shape up their teams for the start of the playoffs, which is only
a mere six weeks away.
Prior to the Olympic break, many GMs possessed the opportunity to notify
teams of their interest in players and the makings of a deal went underway.
Now that the break is over, trading can officially begin for three weeks
until March 19. Because of the Olympic break, many of the teams will be dealing
with fatigued players that will take time to fully recover, which many teams
ended up learning the hard way when a slew of injuries deferred the recover
of a team to full strength even more so.
Although these minor injuries only affect the short term (with the exception
of Toronto's Curtis Joseph and Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux) and have a negligible
effect upon a team's success in the playoffs in April, they do serve as a
wakeup call for GMs looking to make the playoffs, prepare for the coming
seasons, or obviously, preparing for a long run within the playoffs.
This year's market, like last year's, possesses its heavily rumored players
like Bobby Holik, Tony Amonte, and Bill Guerin. Although many of these players
possess the ability to change whole teams, it is unknown just how quickly
they are capable of meshing with their new team and just how much the team
fits their style of play. These two points determine just how successful
the team was in its wheeling and dealing.
Take, for example, the deal the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings
made two seasons ago involving Rob Blake and Steve Reinprecht for Adam Deadmarsh
and Aaron Miller. One can argue that both teams benefited from the deal.
This was because Blake molded quickly with Ray Bourque and also because the
Colorado offensive strategy put its defensemen on the point often - allowing
Blake to do what he does best, score and controlling the offense.
Los Angeles was also lucky to see the versatile forward Adam Deadmarsh take
control as a leader during their upset playoff victory against Detroit. This
made Glen Murray and Josef Stumpel available in a deal for Jason Allison,
who now gives the team two solid leaders and two-sided star hockey players.
There are teams that are in a similar position that Colorado and Los Angeles
were two seasons ago - a team with all of the pieces of the puzzle, but just
one player short of the big picture - as well as those who will trade for
cap purposes and unhappiness in the locker room.
Teams short on finances like the Rangers, Bruins, and Blackhawks have made
the all-star likes of Mike Richter, Bill Guerin, and Tony Amonte available
to injury-plagued teams like Detroit, Dallas, and other top guns.
Others will be looking to clear away dissidents at the home front - the locker
room. Among the most voiced and rumored players since the start of the season,
Bobby Holik has suitors in Colorado and San Jose and the Devils will be looking
to grab up and coming players like defenseman Martin Skoula and possibly
forwards Marco Sturm or Patrick Marleau, respectively.
Expect others like Adam Oates, whose trade out of Washington has been delayed,
and Teemu Selanne, who doesn't seem to be the best fit for the rough and
tough San Jose team. Since hockey in Pittsburgh has officially ceased for
the season due to Lemuiex's injury, unrestricted free agent to-be Darius
Kasparitis could be made available. His superb checking make him an ideal
fit on almost any team.
Many of the playoff contenders will be getting better on paper, but the results
will only show if the trade only strengthens the chemical balance of leadership
within the team.