In a 24-hour span that kicked off with the trading of Jeff Carter to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night, those handful of NHL teams starving for offensive help watched three significant pieces apparently taken out of play.
First came the dealing of Carter out to Hollywood, where he’ll be reunite with former Philadelphia Flyer teammate Mike Richards. Columbus general manager Scott Howson didn’t fare too poorly in the swap, landing a No. 1 defenceman in Jack Johnson and a first-round draft pick.
On Friday afternoon, Kings captain Dustin Brown, whose apparent availability had peaked the interest of teams like the Maple Leafs and New York Rangers, reportedly was taken off the market by Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi. There were unconfirmed suggestions that Lombardi changed his mind about the possibility of trading Brown after the leaking of his supposed availability caused a media explosion of speculation throughout the hockey world.
We’ll see if Brown indeed does remain a King by the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
The final dagger to interested teams came on Friday evening when the Edmonton Oilers announced they had re-signed speedy winger Ales Hemsky to two-year, $10 million US contract extension. Hemsky was believed to be the third-ranked offensive player on many team’s lists of players who might be available at the deadline, trailing just Carter and Rick Nash.
If those three names are indeed off the board, where do goal-starved teams go from here?
It’s uncertain just how much Hemsky’s decision to stay with Edmonton will effect the Nash sweepstakes.
Teams interested in the Blue Jackets power forward were going to have to pay a king’s ransom anyway, with Howson said to be looking for a four-piece package that includes a significant roster player, a highly-regarded prospect and a high draft pick.
At the same time, Howson, who spent a lot of time in the Oilers organization, must enjoy the fact that Edmonton has taken Hemsky off the market. Maybe now there will be more teams willing to meet his asking price for Nash.
Teams like the Rangers and Leafs would like to know where Howson stands on the Nash situation by the end of the weekend, thereby allowing themselves enough time to make alternative deals if need be.
Either way, Nash still holds the hammer. No matter what deal might be put together on paper, only he has the final say in which team he goes to as per the no-movement clause in his contract.
Aside from Nash, who do teams now target in their quest for goals? James Van Riemsdyk? Andrei Kostitsyn? Ryan Malone? Derek Roy?
This much is certain: their respective GMs may have bumped up the price for those players now that Carter, Hemsky and, apparently, Brown, are no longer in play.
Our friends and respected colleagues at the Edmonton Sun might have a different take on the Hemsky signing, but it does seem to be a headscratcher on the surface.
With youngsters like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins oozing with offensive talent, coupled with serviceable veterans like Ryan (Captain Canada) Smyth and Shawn Horcoff, the forward position would seem to be the strongest and deepest for the Oil.
Would it not have been more logical to have moved Hemsky for a prominent blue liner, a spot where the Oil desperately need help? Or even between the pipes?
Maybe general manager Steve Tambellini didn’t get the interest in Hemsky he’d hoped for on the trade market. Maybe, by locking him up for two-years, the Oil figure Hemsky will bring a better return down the road than when he was just a rent-a-player. Or maybe, just maybe, Tambellini feels Hemsky is a key cog in the team’s goal of moving forward.
We certainly know where the Calgary Flames stand on the issue, as the team’s verified twitter account offered the following analysis:
“$10 million over two years for Hemsky is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long, long time. I hope it happens. #whatajoke”
The tweet subsequently was deleted, followed by a message by the Flames: “We apologize for a tweet that was sent out from our account inadvertently. We are looking into the matter.”
There are some, however, who agree with the Flames’ original tweet that Hemsky is being extremely overpaid.
Consider this: Hemsky has not scored 20-plus goals since 2008-09. While injuries have played a role with his lower production since then, he only has five goals in 46 games this season.
That’s worth $5 million US per season?
Leafs GM Brian Burke must be cringing when he looks at those numbers. After all, $5 million-plus is what pending UFA Mikhail Grabovski is seeking, and he’s been a much more productive player than Hemsky the past few seasons.
DEALING WITH THE DEVIL
Lou Lamoriello acquired the puck-moving defenceman he was looking for on Friday night, acquiring defenceman Marek Zidlicky from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for defenceman Kurtis Foster, forwards Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux, a second-round pick in 2012 (Washington’s pick) and a conditional choice in 2013.