One of the fill-in-the-blank insults for the San Jose Sharks is that they’re too easy to play against. (Surely Ryane Clowe loves to hear that.)
The Sharks just became more irritating to deal with as they acquired agitating center Dominic Moore from the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts received a 2012 second-round pick (originally Minnesota’s, which likely makes it more valuable) and sent a seventh rounder to San Jose to complete the deal.
With 19 points on the season, Moore won’t add a ton of firepower, but that’s OK because the Sharks are ludicrously explosive at center right now. (Seriously, their top-six forwards are crazy heavy on pivot talent.)
Moore is a good faceoff guy (an impressive 55.7 winning percentage this season) and averaged an even two minutes of penalty kill time per game with Tampa Bay, so his role should be fairly obvious.
This isn’t the kind of move that will push the Sharks over the playoff hump on its own, but we might look back at this as a subtle move that gives the team much-needed depth and a spicy note of irritation.
The Chicago Blackhawks are gearing up for a tough month by adding a little depth at center. GM Stan Bowman acquired veteran center Brendan Morrison from the Calgary Flames for defensemen Brian Connelly.
With Jonathan Toews and sometimes-center Patrick Sharp on the mend – not to mention Dave Bolland’s frequent tendency to get hurt – it makes plenty of sense to add Morrison to the mix, especially at a minimal cost. It’s unclear if this is a sign that Toews might need more than the All-Star break to heal up, though.
My first instinct was to think that Morrison might help on the PK merely because of where he’d fit into the depth chart, but he certainly wasn’t piling up much shorthanded time in Calgary (less than nine minutes overall this season). He’s a decent faceoff guy (50.3 percent success rate) and scored 40+ points in each of the 2009-10 and 10-11 seasons.
It’s not a big move by any means, but I’d bet Bowman thinks of Morrison as another John Madden (although, again, Morrison doesn’t bring the same defensive game to the table). The Blackhawks can’t afford to go into February with a threadbare roster as they start a brutal eight-game road trip in Vancouver on Tuesday.
The best part for Chicago is that they have plenty of cap room left after having little breathing room the past two seasons. They’ll have a little under $13 million remaining under the ceiling even with Morrison in the fold.
Connelly is a 25-year-old minor league defenseman with some offensive skills – at least at the AHL level – so the Flames can say that they got younger. The real question is if they’ll make more veteran-for-prospect-type moves as the trade deadline approaches.
Are the Carolina Hurricanes already in “everything must go” mode?
That’s a bigger picture discussion, but however you slice it, GM Jim Rutherford just traded forward Alexei Ponikarovsky to the New Jersey Devils, according to Chip Alexander. It’s tough to see this as much more than a money dump since Carolina only gets defenseman Joe Sova and a 2012 fourth-rounder for its troubles.
After spending most of nine seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ponikarovsky has bounced around the NHL after the Buds traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009-10. Ponikarovsky played for the Los Angeles Kings in 2010-11 before Carolina signed him on the cheap last summer. With just 15 points and a -12 rating in 48 games this season, the Hurricanes basically got what they paid for, so he likely won’t be missed.
The Devils’ perspective is reasonable enough, though. New Jersey needs depth scoring and Ponikarovsky at least has the potential to provide that. If not, they just gave up a middling draft choice and a marginal prospect to give it a try.
It’s a solid low-risk, medium-at-best reward move for Lou Lamoriello … but then again, that’s pretty much how you’d describe Carolina signing him, too.
In case you’re wondering about that marginal prospect, Sova had been playing for the AHL’s Albany Devils after New Jersey scooped him up as an undrafted free agent from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
The holiday season brings one bummer for imaginative fans: their hypothetical trade ideas cannot (even potentially) become a reality until midnight on Dec. 27. The NHL is currently in a “roster freeze” period which means that teams aren’t allowed to make trades or waiver moves during this time.
It’s a nice thing that fringe players cannot utter the Step Brothers line: “You know what I got for Christmas? A crushed soul.”
Those worried about injuries can relax, though, as teams are allowed to recall minor league players on an “emergency basis.”
(H/T to Kukla’s Korner for the reminder.)
Columbus Blue Jackets fans had to be calling for blood on the heels of the team falling to a ridiculous 2-12-1 after an embarrassing loss to the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. It only makes sense, then, that (somehow still employed) GM Scott Howson … made another marginal trade.
In this case, the Blue Jackets sent offensive defenseman Kris Russell to the St. Louis Blues for hilariously named blueliner Nikita Nikitin. (If I ever have a child and name it Bryan O’Brien, I’ll have to buy him a Nikitin jersey.)
The Blue Jackets have “traded” with the Blue Jackets a couple times already if you count Ken Hitchcock’s surprising St. Louis hiring, but they don’t seem to be learning the lesson that the Blues should have imparted. That franchise sent a lightning bolt through their ranks with that coaching move while the Blue Jackets are trying to patch up the Titanic’s leaks with Band-Aids.
Want more abuse for this decision? Instead of being a lateral move, it might actually be a slight step back. Russell is a third-round pick from the 2005 NHL Entry Draft who has played in 12 games this season. Nikitin is a fifth-round pick from 2004 who only appeared in seven contests.
Here’s the only real silver lining, then: Howson isn’t making huge decisions while his career hangs on the line. People want big moves, but what if he made a blockbuster that saddles the franchise with another bad contract or inferior talent?
Who knows how long this sad little ordeal will go on, but one thing seems to be clear: it might just be a tragicomedy until the end.