Yeah, yeah, we know that it’s far too early to know who really won
the trade deadline. Still, a team’s moves (or lack of moves) can tell
you a lot about their aggressiveness, confidence and overall plan. With
that in mind, let’s discuss some of the deadline’s winners and losers in
the Western Conference.
I was on the fence about the Ducks — they still have a ways to go to reach the playoffs — but one trade changed all that. Anaheim traded away the underperforming Ryan Whitney for Lubomir Visnovsky, a defensemen who will add some much needed firepower and stability to their blue line. They also added two goalies who will have the chance to battle out for the title of Jonas Hiller’s backup.
Yep, the Pacific Division got even stronger today. The Coyotes made a number of moves to improve their team, most notably adding Wojtek Wolski to the mix; he’s a guy that should really thrive under Dave Tippett’s tutelage. And I think the Coyotes were the only team that had any clue Mathieu Schneider still existed; he’s spent this season down in the AHL, so who knows what happens there. Derek Morris get’s another shot in Phoenix, and Jean-Luc Picard is playing hockey apparently.
Sorry, Alexandre. I won’t do that again.
The Avs and Coyotes swapped two players who are nearly the same but should do better in their new homes. If Peter Mueller can find a way to live up to his potential in Colorado, then a good team certainly improved immediately. They also added Stephane Yelle, who was merely a salary dump by the Hurricanes but will certainly help the Avs come playoff time.
Whether it was by design, by financial insecurity or the right deal just never came along, but the Dallas Stars stood pat while the Pacific Division improved around them. The Stars are in a tough spot — sell now and rebuild or try for the playoffs this season — and did nothing to help either case.
Just as we expected, the Oilers made traded away some major players and received little in return. Dennis Grebeshkov was gift-wrapped and handed to Nashville and Lubomir Visnovsky was given up for Ryan Whitney. Nothing more is needed to be said.
Jyrki Jokipakka was one of the three Finnish d-men added to the World Cup roster last week but, according to Calgary president Brian Burke, Jokipakka isn’t a lock to play this fall.
“He had hip surgery after the season, and it’s not 100 percent that he’s going to be able to compete in this tournament,” Burke told Sportsnet’s Fan 960. “But the fact he was named recognizes his accomplishments to date, and we’re very proud of [him].”
Jokipakka, acquired in the Kris Russell-to-Dallas deadline trade, appeared in 58 games last year — 18 for the Flames, 40 for the Stars. He finished with two goals and 12 points.
Still only 24 years old, Jokipakka could be a nice piece for the Flames moving forward. He’s 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and was rated highly enough to crack the Finnish roster (granted, the country isn’t overwhelmingly deep on the blueline).
So it’s understandable why the club might be wary of letting him play in the World Cup. In addition to coming off major surgery, Jokipakka is headed into the last of a two-year, $1.8 million deal with a $900,000 average annual cap hit.
Once that expires, he’ll become a restricted free agent.
PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang will play tonight. He confirmed it this morning, albeit in rather unusual circumstances.
Letang did not participate in yesterday’s Media Day at the Stanley Cup Final. He didn’t practice either. The Penguins said it was simply a “maintenance day” for their best defensemen, but when it was learned he would hold a press conference this morning, all of a sudden people started to wonder about his status for Game 1 against the Sharks.
He was asked if he was playing.
So, no problems?
And that was that.
No explanation was provided about yesterday, but Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said a few minutes later that he was confident that Letang would be able to log his usual amount of minutes.
“Very confident,” said Sullivan.
Penguins center Nick Bonino also confirmed that he’ll be able to go tonight. He didn’t skate Saturday or Sunday, but was on the ice this morning.
Jan Bulis, who appeared in 552 games with the Capitals, Canadiens and Canucks, announced his retirement from professional hockey today, per Czech news outlet Ceske Noviny.
Bulis, 38, last played in North America with Vancouver during the 2006-07 campaign, and has since carved out a pretty lengthy career in the KHL, playing for both Mytishchi Atlant and Chelyabinsk Traktor.
Picked 43rd overall by Washington at the 1996 draft, Bulis’ best years came with the Habs. He posted a career-high 20 goals and 40 points in 2005-06 — that year, he also represented the Czechs at the Winter Olympics in Turin (capturing bronze) and at the World Hockey Championships (capturing silver).
It seems there will be no NHL comeback attempt by Alex Semin. At least not in 2016-17.
Instead, Semin has inked a one-year extension with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, according to Sport-Express writer Igor Eronko.
At 32 years old, Semin still could have a lot of years left in him as a professional hockey player, but at this point it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played in his last NHL game. Early in his career his talent was clear and demonstrated by some great showings offensively, but he was plagued by inconsistency. In recent years though, he wasn’t so much inconsistent as he was underwhelming.
After being limited to six goals and 19 points in 57 games with Carolina in 2014-15, the one-time 40-goal scorer was bought out of his five-year, $35 million contract just two seasons into it. Montreal took a chance on him for 2015-16, but he only appeared in 15 games with the Canadiens before they put him on unconditional waivers on Dec. 9.
He’s fared better in the KHL though, with five goals and 14 points in 20 regular season games followed by another seven markers and 15 points in 23 playoff contests.