by Christopher Wenrich
As usual, there is a blizzard of activity in the NHL’s trade deadline week. The St. Louis Blues made a big splash by acquiring goaltender Ryan Miller from the Buffalo Sabres, thus opening the floodgates of goalie movement. Hours before the upcoming deadline, the Tampa Bay Lightning traded star forward Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers in exchange for forward Ryan Callahan, a 2015 1st-round selection, a 2014 2nd-round selection (conditional) and a 2015 7th-round selection (conditional).
St. Louis is one of the best wingers in the NHL, possessing excellent skating and play-making ability. St. Louis was the Lightning’s leading scorer this season with 61 points in 62 games, despite missing teammate Steven Stamkos for most of the season with a broken leg (Stamkos is cleared to return Thursday). Without a doubt, St. Louis will be on the Rangers’ top line and power play unit. St. Louis brings more pure offensive skill to the Rangers lineup than Callahan and should be a boon to their power play.
It would be no surprise to see Callahan on the Lightning’s top line, playing right wing alongside superstar center Stamkos. Playing alongside Stamkos should give Callahan ample opportunity to pad his statistics and land a big payday. Callahan will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. In an open market, Callahan could conceivably command as much as $5 million per season.
Although the Callahan/St. Louis exchange is the biggest deadline day deal at this time, there is still time for other movements to occur. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak – traded from the Blues in the Ryan Miller deal – could be traded again today. It is believed that the Sabres have no interest in keeping Halak, with plans to make Jhonas Enroth the full-time starter. The Minnesota Wild may be interested in Halak, as Josh Harding is out indefinitely due to an ongoing battle with MS and Niklas Backstrom’s performance has not been satisfactory. The Wild did acquire Ilya Bryzgalov recently; however, they may conceivably want Halak as insurance in goal.
Other big names yet to be moved include Thomas Vanek (New York Islanders) and Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks). Earlier this season, the Islanders acquired Vanek from the Sabres in exchange for forward Matt Moulson and draft picks. With franchise player John Tavares out for the season, the Islanders’ playoff hopes took a big hit and will likely move Vanek (UFA this summer) today.
There has reportedly been a lot of interest in Kesler this week, with the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins both pursuing him. Kesler is an excellent two-way center who would improve any playoff team’s chances of winning the Stanley Cup. Kesler would most likely be willing to waive his no-trade clause to land with the Penguins. According to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Penguins apparently were willing to offer forward Brandon Sutter, several draft picks, and the Canucks’ choice of two defensemen: Simon Despres or Brian Dumoulin. Recently, Rossi stated that the Penguins may be willing to offer their top prospect, Derrick Pouliot.
With less than an hour in the looming trade deadline, NHL fans eagerly await for more moves. Kesler and Vanek are expected to be traded, and Halak may be traded again as well. Could the Florida Panthers surprise everybody and make a big move for Vanek? The acquisition of goaltender Roberto Luongo and re-signing of forward Brad Boyes indicate they may be serious about attempting to build a winning team.
* The Los Angeles Kings acquired forward Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Matt Frattin, a 2nd-round pick and a conditional 3rd-round pick. The oft-injured Gaborik has one of the best wrist shots in the game and should increase the Kings’ scoring.
* The Ottawa Senators acquired forward Ales Hemsky from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a 2014 5th-round pick and a 2015 3rd-round pick. This deal is a salary dump for the Oilers, who possess a plethora of young offensive talent. This deal does nothing to improve the Senators’ woeful defense; however, Hemsky’s offensive ability may be used as an effort to offset their defensive ineptness.
* The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired forward Marcel Goc from the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2014 5th-round pick and a 2015 3rd-round pick. Goc is an excellent defensive center whose acquisition could possibly mean the Penguins may be dropping out of the hunt for Kesler.
* The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired forward Lee Stempniak from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2014 3rd-round pick. Stempniak will most likely play on Sidney Crosby’s line as the replacement for the injured Pascal Dupuis.
* The Florida Panthers traded goaltender Tim Thomas to the Dallas Stars in exchange for goaltender Dan Ellis. With Lehtonen and Thomas, the Stars should have quite the 1-2 punch in goal.
* The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired defenseman Nick Schultz from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a 5th-round pick.
* The New Jersey Devils traded forward Andrei Loktionov and a 2017 3rd-round pick (conditional) to the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Tuomo Ruutu. Ruutu is a skilled physical winger who brings more grit to the Devils’ lineup.
* The Montreal Canadiens acquired goaltender Devan Dubnyk from the Nashville Predators in exchange for future considerations. The acquisition of Dubnyk may cause speculation that goaltender Carey Price’s injuries are more serious than initially thought.
* The Montreal Canadiens acquired forward Thomas Vanek and a 2014 5th-round pick (conditional) from the New York Islanders in exchange for forward Sebastien Collberg and a 2014 2nd-round pick (conditional). Vanek should greatly improve the Canadiens’ offense on the top line. Vanek will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but the Canadiens did not give up any significant value in this deal.
* The Colorado Avalanche acquired goaltender Reto Berra from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2014 2nd-round pick. With Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastian Giguere in goal for the Avalanche, this seems to be nothing more than an insurance move in goal for the Avalanche.
* The Detroit Red Wings acquired forward David Legwand from the Nashville Predators in exchange for forward Patrick Eaves, forward Calle Jarnkrok and a 2014 3rd-round pick. Legwand was the first draft pick in Predators history and is a speedy two-way center.
* The New York Rangers acquired defenseman Raphael Diaz from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2015 5th-round pick. A good addition to the Rangers’ blue line.
* Washington Capitals acquired goaltender Jaroslav Halak and a 2015 3rd-round pick (conditional) from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for goaltender Michal Neuvirth and defenseman Rostislav Klesla. Acquiring Halak as insurance in goal for the Capitals makes sense; however, if they have plans to start him over Holtby, this could rattle the young goaltender’s confidence and development. Halak will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Sabres made a solid trade here in acquiring Klesla to improve their defense and acquiring a solid young backup goaltender in Neuvirth.
Christopher Wenrich is a contributor for Designated For Assignment. Follow him on Twitter (@DuggerSports).