Antoine Vermette

PHT List: Rating this year’s trade deadline acquisitions

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With just five teams left in the Stanley Cup playoffs — and if New York does the business tonight, that number will drop to four — now’s a good time to look back at the flurry of action on (and leading up to) February’s NHL trade deadline.

Which deals paid off most handsomely? Which didn’t?

The Good

To Phoenix: C Antoine Vermette
To Columbus: 2012 2nd-round pick, 2013 5th-round pick, G Curtis McElhinney (link)

Vermette leads Phoenix in playoff scoring (5G-4A-9PTS — 11th overall) and the Coyotes are in their first ever conference final. This one’s a no-brainer, probably the best deal made.

To Los Angeles: C Jeff Carter
To Columbus: D Jack Johnson, Cond. 1st-round pick (link)

Carter’s numbers hardly jump off the page (1G-3A-4PTS) but Los Angeles’ numbers since acquiring him sure do. Including the playoffs, the Kings are 21-6-3 since the Feb. 23 trade. Oh yeah, they’re also going to their first Western Conference finals since 1993.

To New Jersey: D Marek Zidlicky
To Minnesota: D Kurtis Foster, RW Nick Palmieri, LW Stephane Veilleux, 2012 2nd-round pick, Cond. 2013 3rd-round pick (link)

The Devils gave up plenty to land Zidlicky but, like Carter, you can’t argue with the numbers. New Jersey’s 21-11-2 since getting him; Zidlicky leads all Devils in postseason ice-time (24:39) and has six points in 12 games thus far.

To Philadelphia: D Nicklas Grossmann
To Dallas: 2012 2nd-round pick (link)

The Flyers really liked Grossmann and inked him to a four-year, $14 million deal. His postseason was abbreviated by a concussion but overall, he was solid on the Flyers blueline.

The Average

To Boston: RW Brian Rolston, D Mike Mottau
To New York Islanders: RW Yannick Riendeau, D Marc Cantin (link)

Rolston put up 15 points in 21 regular season games and started the postseason well, scoring a point in each of the first three games. He faded at the end, probably because he’s 39 years old, but considering they gave up nothing to get him and Mottau, the Bruins did okay.

To Chicago: D Johnny Oduya
To Winnipeg: 2013 2nd- and 3rd-round picks (link)

Chicago liked him and he played well, but Oduya didn’t change the ‘Hawks’ fortunes any. They were bounced in the opening round again, and now he’s a UFA that Chicago might not be able to retain.

The Bad

To Philadelphia: D Pavel Kubina
To Tampa Bay: LW Jon Kalinski, 2013 2nd-round pick, Cond. 2013 4th-round pick (link)

The Flyers realized Kubina was too slow to play regularly. He ended up a frequent healthy scratch.

To Detroit: D Kyle Quincey
To Tampa Bay: 2012 1st-round pick, D Sebastien Piche (link)

Quincey’s minutes decreased to the point where he was barely playing 16 per game in the first round. Detroit’s early exit also means the Lightning now get a pretty decent pick.

To Nashville: C Paul Gaustad, 2012 4th-round pick
To Buffalo: 2012 1st-round pick (link)

David Poile — recently named one of the three GM of the year finalists — dealt away a first-rounder for a guy that was often Nashville’s fourth-line center. In the Phoenix series, Gaustad averaged 10:33 per game.

To San Jose: C Dominic Moore, 2012 7th-round pick
To Tampa Bay: 2012 2nd-round pick (link)

To San Jose: C Daniel Winnik, C T.J. Galiardi, 2012 7th-round pick
To Colorado: LW Jamie McGinn (link)

Lumping these in together. Winnik, Galiardi and Moore combined for a measly 12 points in the regular season and one in the playoffs (Galiardi and Moore only dressed for three of the five games.)

Trade we can’t really evaluate yet

To Vancouver: RW Zack Kassian
To Buffalo: C Cody Hodgson (link)

Since this trade wasn’t a prototypical deadline deal — it’s safe to say Vancouver made this one with an eye on the future — it can’t be graded. If you did want to grade it as a trade deadline deal, though, it would be classified as “bad, very very bad” for Vancouver.

The Canucks shipped out an offensively talented player (then proceeded to score eight goals in five games against the Kings) in exchange for Kassian, who was supposed to bring physicality but ended up only playing four of five playoff games (4:51 of ice per) and recording exactly five hits.

Other trades I don’t feel especially compelled to analyze, but feel free to debate them thoroughly in the comments section

To Nashville: RW Andrei Kostitsyn
To Montreal: 2013 2nd-round pick, Cond. 2013 5th-round pick (link)

To Nashville: D Hal Gill, 2013 5th-round pick
To Montreal: C Blake Geoffrion, LW Robert Slaney, 2012 2nd-round pick (link)

To Florida: LW Wojtek Wolski
To New York Rangers: D Mike Vernace, 2013 3rd-round pick (link)

To Vancouver: C Samuel Pahlsson
To Columbus: D Taylor Ellinlgton, Two 2012 4th-round picks (link)

To Ottawa: G Ben Bishop
To St. Louis: 2013 2nd-round pick (link)

Robin Lehner certainly has swagger

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 24:  Robin Lehner #40 of the Buffalo Sabres stretches during the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on February 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Robin Lehner is a big goalie, and barring possible language barrier issues, sure seems to have a pretty big personality.

That at least seems to be the case with the Buffalo Sabres’ top guy, who provided the Buffalo News’ John Vogl with a great quote:

“There’s a lot of pressure on me, and that’s fine. … I know I’m a good goaltender,” Lehner said.

Hey now.

As much as the Sabres feel like a work in progress, acquiring Lehner was one of GM Tim Murray’s boldest moves. Murray was able to observe Lehner in Ottawa, and despite some struggles, the big Swede (6-foot-5, 240 lbs.) was sneaky-good in 2015-16.

Twenty-one games serves as a limited sample size, yet a .924 save percentage seems quite promising. His 107 career regular season games are spread over six seasons, so to some extent, the 25-year-old is still something of an unknown entity.

If nothing else, it looks like he could provide some Bryzgalovian entertainment.

Back in March, Ben Scrivens admitted he was happy to avoid a fight with a guy he called a “bit of a psycho.”

Sounds like a guy to watch.

Clarke MacArthur helped off ice during Sens scrimmage

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 8: Clarke MacArthur #16 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center on October 8, 2015 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Brenner/ Getty Images)
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Rough news for the Ottawa Senators on Sunday: forward Clarke MacArthur needed help off the ice following a big hit during a team scrimmage.

The hit was delivered by Patrick Sieloff, prompting an immediate response from Bobby Ryan, according to The Hockey News’ Murray Pam.

MacArthur has been hoping to return to NHL action after some serious concussion issues, so this is a troubling situation. More than a few people wonder if this might end his career.

Team Europe is happy to play underdog role

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TORONTO (AP) When the World Cup of Hockey started, Team Europe was not picked as a team to beat.

In fact, the unique team made up of eight nations outside of the continent’s traditional hockey powers was expected to be out of the best-on-best tournament.

Team Europe had other plans.

The blended group of players opened the tournament with a 3-0 win over the U.S. and then beat the Czech Republic in overtime to seal a spot in the semifinals before losing to Canada.

“I know nobody really expected us to be here right now,” Danish and Detroit Red Wings forward Frans Nielsen said Saturday. “But when you look in the room and go over the team, there’s not a lot of players better than (Anze) Kopitar in this tournament. We got (Marian) Hossa. We got some good guys on the backend and good goaltending.”

The Europeans will face Sweden on Sunday for a spot in the best-of-three finals against the winner of Saturday night’s Canada-Russia game.

When Team Europe players have faced Sweden for their countries – Switzerland, Denmark, Slovakia, France, Germany, Slovenia, Austria and Norway – in previous, they didn’t have a legitimate chance to win.

They do now.

A veteran group of skaters and a star in Kopitar along with Slovak and New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak give them a shot on any sheet of ice.

“He’s the kind of goalie that almost every night, he gives you a chance to win,” said Nielsen, who played with Halak in New York. “And, he’ll make that save when you need it.”

Team Europe coach Ralph Krueger said he’ll likely save his rah-rah speeches for another team because this one simply doesn’t need it.

Krueger began to sense something special was in store for Team Europe nearly a year ago when several candidates to be on the team met when Boston and the New York Islanders played. When the entire group gathered nearly three weeks ago in Quebec, Krueger got even more excited about the natural chemistry the team already had from their shared experiences.

“We didn’t have to do a lot of extra team-building,” Krueger said. “It just happened with a combination of leadership and personalities and character and will – of pure will – of these eight nations that are forever underdogs, forever going home when the final four is staged, forever watching other teams play in finals of best of best. That opportunity has fueled the fire that taken us here.”

Follow Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage and follow his work at http://www.bigstory.ap.org/content/larry-lage

Sadly, Crosby praise still comes at Ovechkin’s expense

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Alex Ovechkin #8 and Sidney Crosby #87 shake hands following Team Canada's  5-3 victory to move on to the finals during the World Cup of Hockey at the semifinal game during the World Cup of Hockey tournament at Air Canada Centre on September 24, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)
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Here’s a homework assignment for you: praise Sidney Crosby‘s incredible work without downgrading Alex Ovechkin.

Yes, it’s not easy.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun presented an interesting column that spotlighted an admittedly “tired narrative” while still ultimately pumping up Crosby at Ovechkin’s expense.

LeBrun quoted anonymous executives who, yes, trotted out tired narratives. One executive did the baseball thing in making it Crosby (“five-tool guy”) vs. Ovechkin (“home run hitter”) while another equated it to a full-court player vs. a “half-court” player.

It’s all … well, tiresome.

Ovechkin may not have had the greatest game of his life on Saturday, but watching that game, was the takeaway really that he let Russia down? That the difference between the two teams was, in any way, about Crosby over Ovechkin?

You can throw out all sorts of stats or lean on the eye test to note how over-matched Russia really was in that game. Or you can consider the defensemen Russia dressed in a best-on-best clash:

Dmitry Kulikov, Dmitry Orlov, Nikita Zaitsev, Alexey Marchenko, Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov and Nikita Nesterov.

Yikes.

Search your soul for a second and ask: how uneasy would an NHL team feel about that group of blueliners? Such a collection would struggle against one of the league’s 30 squads, let alone against a virtual All-Star team.

Is Crosby better than Ovechkin? There’s a strong chance that is the case, because of the whole “Crosby probably being the best player of his generation” thing.

How about this for a daring idea, though: why not enjoy the work of both players?

Ovechkin is easily the best sniper of his generation, and with 82 points in 84 career playoff games, sure seems like a strong big-game player. As we all know, hockey is a team sport, yet the blame falls on Ovechkin again and again.

Instead, let’s give Crosby and the rest of his brilliant teammates our attention, as we’ve seen here, here and here.