Sunday, March 24th, 2002
All that's left to do now is play. The conclusion of the trading deadline
has given what each team needs to successfully do well in the playoffs or,
in the case of the not-so-fortunate, look forward to a better future in the
coming seasons. Just as every other trading deadline, there are a few good
trades that ultimately determine how well each team fares at the big dance.
Last year, the acquisitions of soon-to-be legendary defenseman Ray Bourque
and Calder Cup winner Rob Blake to shore up a weak defensive line ultimately
gave them an edge over anyone that attempted to hinder their path to
The underlying factor in any impacting trade is the brevity of downtime for
a player to learn the game plan, bond with his teammates and coaches, and
adapt to the city. If the player is slow to pick up the culture of the locker
room, his skills will be wasted and so will the team's hopes for a successful
Knowing this, let's look at the four most impacting trades and determine
how much better each contending team actually gets. By an impacting trade,
I mean one involving the best players from any team - players capable of
making an impact upon the team's success.
1. RW Pavel Bure and second round pick in 2002 to the New York Rangers;
D Igor Ulanov, D Filip Novak, first round pick 2002, second round pick 2002,
and fourth round pick 2003 to the Flordia Panthers
Chemistry-wise, Bure has never been traded midseason so the locker room
transition from a team with no chance at the playoffs to one considering
a strong run at the Cup could lessen his presence for the first couple weeks.
But how much better? Enough to make the playoffs, but not good enough for
the long run that Glen Sather had in mind.
There's only one man of any importance in the first trade and that's undoubtedly
Pavel Bure. But just how effective can the one-dimensional Russian Rocket
be on a team that's second worst in the league in goals allowed, a.k.a. defense
and in the top ten in scoring? What is clear, though, is that injecting all-star
caliber blood like Bure's into any team will make them a better one.
2. D Tom Poti and C Rem Murray to the New York Rangers; C Mike York
and fourth round pick 2002 to the Edmonton Oilers
Trading the versatile Mike York will turn out to be a mistake on a team that's
both defensively handicapped like I mentioned before and also weak down the
middle where there was no adequate center behind Eric Lindros and York. Now,
it's just Lindros. Although Poti gives them an extra defenseman, he has more
potential than skill right now and keeping Mike York would probably have
been more beneficial to the team this year. Looks like another busy offseason
for the Rangers.
3. C Jason Arnott, RW Randy McKay , and first round pick 2002 to the
Dallas Stars; C Joe Nieuwendyk and RW Jamie Langenbrunner to the New Jersey
No doubt the most star-studded trade of the deadline, this trade makes both
teams better for their respective goals, which in this case is different.
Let's begin in Dallas, where the early change in management is a signal that
they've begun to plan for next season (with Eddie Belfour still in between
the pipes). The Devils, on the other hand, still have their eyes set on this
season despite a horrific year and a change in management like Dallas.
The differences, though, end there. Dallas acquires a future MVP in Jason
Arnott and will likely learn to improve his scoring from offensive guru Mike
Modano, something he will appreciate leaving Jersey for. How much better?
With a busy offseason, this team will be back and bustling for a Cup in two
years or less. Jersey will likely see the centerpiece of the trade, Joe
Nieuwendyk, rejuvenating the offensive touch for the Devils, especially their
almost-dead power play.
Like Dallas, New Jersey got a little back for the future. Jamie Langenbrunner's
potential and style of play, which is gritty and defense-minded with a burst
of offensive talent, gives them a younger version of Randy McKay. He's a
prototype Devil and could complement Scott Gomez on the scoring line if all
the right buttons are pushed in the coming years.
New Jersey's priority was offensive talent for the playoffs this year, and
that goal had not been entirely accomplished by adding an aged Nieuwendyk.
So, how much better? Their chances are anything but slim in sneaking past
either Philly or Boston in the first round, and if they do, they will likely
not have enough energy to win after that since with all the aged defensemen
(Daneyko and Stevens turn 38 in April).
4. C Adam Oates to the Philadelphia Flyers; G Maxime Ouellet, first
round 2002, second round 2002, and third round 2002 to the Washington Capitals
Reminiscing of the trade that sent Jaromir Jagr to the Washington Capitals
in last year's offseason, this is one of those trades that will bring results
quickly and effectively because no usable talent was lost. What also helps
is that Oates was a former teammate of Rick Tocchet's in both Boston and
Washington and also that there are other players on the team that play at
his level, such as Simon Gagne, Jeremy Roenick, and John LeClair.
Bobby Clarke couldn't have made a better trade for his team and although
it won't impact the team as much the Blake and Bourque trades affected Colorado
last year, it will definitely be the most impacting trade of the deadline.
How much better does Philly improve by? If it can get by Boston, they have
the East locked up.
As for the Stanley Cup Finals then? If their whole system is working as a
unit, they can compete for the crown. Whether it's Colorado or Detroit, it
yearns to be a good matchup.