Monday, February 26, 2007

Thoughts on the NHL and NBA Trade Deadlines

I think the NBA Trade Deadline this year was the sports equivalent of Y2K. Before the deadline we were hearing about all these names that were going to be moved: Bibby to Cleveland, Kidd to LA, Carter to Orlando, Gasol or Garnett to Chicago, Mike James to the Pistons. ESPN had a trade applet on their website so you could make your own trades and see if the salaries would match. They had an hour long chat with Chad Ford about the trade deadline.....and then the only move is Fred Jones for Juan Dixon. Kind of a let-down, because I was expecting to see something—even though I didn't seriously think any of the BIG names (like Kidd) were going anywhere. Bill Simmons had fun article about how stupid most of the teams in the league were for not making a move.

Both Detroit papers talked today about how the Pistons came out winners because no one in the East made a move. I'd agree with that. Detroit is clearly the team to beat, they made their big move when they signed Webber (who has been simply outstanding), and every other team seems to have a fatal flaw, be it lack of scoring (Chicago), lack of defense (Washington), general lack of supporting cast (Cleveland, Washington, Toronto), felonies (Indiana), or age and injuries (Miami). We could've used a guy like Mike James for sure, but I think it was pretty wise of Dumars to hang on to those first round picks this year since the draft is so deep. With Orlando slumping the way they are, that pick could actually be pretty good (maybe even a lottery pick—I think it's only top 5 protected).

The teams in the West are still ahead of Detroit, obviously, but I feel like we've played them all pretty tough this year for the most part. If we make the Finals, no doubt we're the underdog. But I don't think there's a team out there that would absolutely slaughter us.

As for the Wings, I'm trying to not be a pessimist. We've got the best record in the West, we're within sniffing distance of another President's Trophy. But they scare me. Over the last few weeks, the Wings have turned completely into a one-line team. The Williams/Lang/Cleary line has gone ice cold. The top line is the only one getting it done, but thankfully we've got one of the best in the league carrying us right now. The numbers that Zetterberg has put up lately are absolutely staggering. 13 goals, 25 points in his last ten games. 6 GWGs in the Wings' last 8 wins. 10 GWGs for the year, which leads the league.

But if they don't get any production from their other lines, they are going to be hurting to score come playoff time, because I still fully expect another tank-job out of Datsyuk. The game against Philly was just a preview of what will happen when teams start to get physical with him again.

The prices are reportedly very steep for players via the trade route at the moment. My preference would be for us to land Guerin, as I feel that he could bring a lot of what we've been missing since Shanahan left. But I don't want him for a 1st round pick and a prospect. That's too steep for a FA to be.

A guy whose name has been thrown around that I do like and would be willing to pay for is Ryan Smyth. 30 goal scorer, point a game guy, agitator, great on the power play. He'd cost a pretty penny I'm sure but if Edmonton is willing to deal him, he's the guy I would pony up for. I'd have an interest in Torres as well.

(Edit: The announcers were talking during the Wings/Oilers game Friday that Edmonton is looking to get Smyth signed by the deadline, so they may not be looking to deal him. Since they probably won't get in, however, I'd be looking to see if they'd move him, pick up an extra pick, and then have the compensation be conditional upon what he does in the offseason)

Tkachuk and Bertuzzi have been brought up. I can't stand either of them. I think Tkachuk is a complete idiot and I think it's just as likely that he'd pull a Martin Lapointe 2001 and blow the series as it is that he'd contribute to a Cup run.

(Edit: He has since been traded for an absolute mint to Atlanta. A first, a second, a third, and a player for Tkachuk? With an extra first rounder if he resigns? Yikes. If that's the going rate for St. Louis's players, then we'd be wise to stay far, far away from Guerin. This trade could end up being a complete disaster for Atlanta. They're right on the playoff bubble as it is…if they don't get in, this trade is going to look really bad. Scott Burnside had a great column about how it's a nice gamble for them, however. I still think they overpaid big-time.)

Bertuzzi I could live with, as long as the price isn't too high. He's a major, major injury question mark at this point. That worries me more than the thing between his ears does. If the price is low, since he's been out most of the year and likely won't play before the deadline, I could play ball with him.

Guys like Gelinas, Roberts, and Nolan intrigue me. They've had pretty decent years and the price might be significantly lower than what Tkachuk fetched.

One name that completely doesn't intrigue me is the aforementioned Lapointe. His name has come up in some discussions and I hate the idea of him coming back. He just doesn’t do anything anymore. Didn't like him when he was here, and he's not nearly as decent now. Plus he's got another year on his contract.

It's too bad Knuble ended up injured. I don't know if Philly would've been open to trading him, but if they ended up having a fire sale, he would've been right at the top of my list.

This is definitely one of those times that I'm glad I'm not a General Manager. My fears about this team have—for the most part—proven to be pretty accurate I think. We're in a position right now where we NEED another scorer—at least in my opinion—to have any shot of making a run. But the price of acquiring that scorer is extremely, extremely high. It's tough to balance making a run at the Cup this year with being responsible and looking toward the future.

I would also like to comment on my disappointment with Nik Kronwall. Maybe I was expecting too much with all the Baby Lidstrom comparisons (unfair as they may be), but he has been pretty bad this year. All I've really seen is a guy that sells out to make the big hit at the expense of defensive responsibility, someone who really isn't that great in his own end, and is remarkably unproductive on the offensive end for someone who was touted as an offensive defenseman. He is willing to hit—and he does it well—he just needs to get a lot smarter about when he does it. He's talented, but at this point, he scares the begeezus out of me. And I can't help but think we could've landed Jack Johnson for him…

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