There are a few days of the year that excite a sports fans as though it were Christmas morning: Draft Day, the start of Free Agency, championship games and the beloved Trade Deadline. The NHL TDL came and passed without much of a stir. Sixteen transactions occurred yesterday, but not one was enough to wake you from your half-comatose state in front of a television watching NHL Network’s mundane reporting.
Rick Nash Sweeps came and went without a move. Fans from as many as six teams who thought their hometown was about to receive Nash gift wrapped and ready to play were disappointed. The market was not ripe for big trades. Teams who are in desperate need of help to pull them from the lower ranks of their divisions didn’t have a chance. No one was available to help their cause and for many teams, like Columbus and Edmonton, their season is as good as over anyway short of a miracle and a swift decline of other teams in their respective divisions. Even if they manage a playoff birth, the chances of them making it out of the first round are virtually non-existent.
The biggest rumor talk was that CBJ wanted to trade Nash for the Shark’s Logan Couture. A Calder finalist in his rookie year last season, already a 30+ goal scorer and firt round draft pick, the Sharks weren’t budging and said Couture is not on the table. (Couture scored two goals against Columbus just last week.) He is a young player and will be the future of the Sharks. One must think that CBJ was playing games with Nash attempting such a preposterous trade, especially given the rumors that the Rangers had made a substantial offer to CBJ for Nash.
Nash had requested to be traded, but it seems that General Manager Scott Howson didn’t like this and made the move impossible. This is apparent from their thirst for Couture, who was not on the trading block. Yes, Nash is a talented player, but while he may be the most valuable player to Columbus, he is not worth trading for another team’s most valuable, especially when that player’s star power possibly exceeds that of Nash.
“We had significant discussions today but it didn’t happen,” Howson said. “We think we have a lot to offer here in Columbus. The first thing we have to do is have a winning culture to attract free agents.
“The price was high (for Nash) and I don’t apologize for that. It had to be high.”
Having a high price and expected high return does not guarantee wins. Columbus has solid players in Nash and RJ Umberger, among others. It does not always take a high value player to help your team’s stars produce. The Pens see this every day with players like Joe Vitale, Craig Adams and Pascal Dupuis, who add value not so much in scoring, but in strong skating, forechecking, faceoff wins and precision passing. Columbus needs to reexamine their mission, their strategy for success and the coaching before trying to piece together pricey talent.
The only move this season that was even remotely entertaining was Columbus sending Jeff Carter to Los Angeles in exchange for defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first round draft pick. While CBJ gave up essentially their first overall pick, they received a great player in Johnson and more than likely gave LA a headache, reuniting Carter with his party buddy Mike Richards in a city offering unlimited opportunities to get into trouble.
Other somewhat notable moves were the Canadien’s Andre Kostitsyn to Nashville (uniting him with brother Sergei, in exchange for draft picks, Mike Commodore joining Tampa Bay from Detroit for a pick, Vancouver sending rookie Cody Hodgson to Buffalo for Zack Kassian.
The Pens didn’t make any moves, despite one wild rumor that they were sending Paul Martin to Tampa in exchange for former Penguin and hometown guy Ryan Malone (which would have been a terrible trade, even if they were able to convince Mart to agree to those terms). One bloated salary for another. Honestly, the Pens didn’t need to make a move. So long as Fleury is in the zone and has time to rest in March, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal are motivated and Kris Letang is healthy, the Pens have a strong Cup contending team. This is without Sidney Crosby.
The team as it is has proven that they are built for long term success without the services of their Captain and star player. Secondary scoring must be stronger, but they are showing signs of life and the Pens will also have pieces of the puzzle that were absent last season: Matt Cooke on special teams, a completely healthy Staal, James Neal on like with Malkin, and Deryk Engelland playing a new and stronger game.
The Trade Deadline was a dud, but the final push for the Cup has arrived. The fun isn’t over yet.