More NHL Trades and Moves
It is more difficult in a salary cap world to make player personnel moves, but somehow NHL general managers are finding ways to try to improve their teams.
With cap space available, the Dallas Stars helped out the New Jersey Devils by welcoming a familiar face back to the franchise. Jamie Langenbrunner, originally drafted by Dallas in 1993, was reacquired after spending parts of 9 seasons with the Devils. He has won a Stanley Cup once with each franchise. Though he’d put up 60+ point seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10, the now former Devils captain managed only 14 points in 31 games with this season’s underachieving squad. He’ll provide a little veteran presence and good two-way play to a playoff hopeful Stars team. New Jersey gets back a conditional 2011 third round draft choice, which could become a second round choice if Langenbrunner re-signs with the Stars, or Dallas wins a playoff round.
The injury plagued New York Rangers swung a deal with the Phoenix Coyotes, sending Wojtek Wolski to Broadway while Michal Rozsival hits the desert. Wolski had put up nice numbers in his time in Colorado, and posted 18 points in 18 games after being traded to Phoenix last season. This season had been a different story, as his production fell to 16 points through 36 games with the Coyotes. The Rangers hope he can return to the form that saw him with 211 points through 320 NHL games up to the start of the 2010-11 campaign. In Roszival, the ‘yotes get a veteran defenceman who had become expendable due to the Rangers depth at that position. Further, Don Maloney is already familiar with this player from his time spent with NYR. On pace for another solid 30 point season, he joins a veteran blueline group that the Coyotes hope will help them challenge for home-ice in the playoffs.
In Toronto, the Leafs have not performed as GM Brian Burke had hoped. And while Burke says he is looking to make some big deals, he had to settle for what is a minor one. Sending Mikhail Stefanovich, a 2008 4th round choice who was playing in the KHL to Dallas, Burke acquired Fabian Brunnstrom, once a highly sought after free agent who had a good rookie season in the NHL, but has since been toiling in the AHL. Stefanovich came from the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, but played only 6 games split between Toronto’s ECHL and AHL farm teams. It seemed obvious he was not going to be a part of the future with the Maple Leaf organization. Brunnstrom had fallen out of favor with Stars management, though he was producing fairly well with the Texas Stars. He was assigned directly to the Marlies, where he posted 3 points in his first 2 games. Time will tell if he manages to make an impact, enough to see him back in the NHL, or if he will be able to help the Marlies into the playoffs in the AHL.
The San Jose Sharks, a team desperate to improve in the standings, made a couple of moves. One for a somewhat controversial player, and one simply controversial.
In the first move, San Jose sent a 5th round draft choice to Atlanta for currently suspended forward Ben Eager. Eager (out for sucker punching Colby Armstrong) is an agitator and sometime tough guy, who joins his 4th NHL team. Drafted by Phoenix, he played for Philadelphia before being traded in ’07 to Chicago. He won a Cup with the Hawks, but was included in the Dustin Byfuglien trade in the off season. In 289 games he has 62 points, but 698 penalty minutes. He can be a sparkplug player, and that may be something the Sharks need to climb back into the race.
In the second move, the Sharks victimized St. Louis via the waiver wire, the second such occurance for the Blues. Still hurting with injuries, and having lost Marek Svatos to Nashville via waivers after having signed him to a contract, the Blues signed former Leaf and Canuck Kyle Wellwood, who was recently released from his KHL team. Wellwood has struggled to stick in the NHL since being released by Toronto, but has shown flashes of brilliant playmaking, despite inconsistent play. Seeing the opportunity, Sharks GM Doug Wilson used the waiver rule to snag Wellwood from St Louis, prompting Blues president John Davidson to call for an examination of the waiver process. His point is well made, as in 2 instances, Blues management has gone to the effort and expense of signing a player available, and in both instances, teams above St Louis in the standings have simply been able to claim the player away. JD acknowledges no rule was broken here, but that the process is unfair and archaic, and that some changes need to be made, either in terms of limiting the number of teams allowed to make the waive claim, or by offering compensation, or both.
With only 40 or so days remaining until the trade deadline, it would seem that we may see quite a bit of activity if the past few weeks are any indication. If anything, it should be good for program sales in NHL rinks.