Eastern Conference

Trade Deadline Recap: Atlantic Division

Posted: March 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Casey Bryant

At first glance, it is hard to really pick out who was a “winner” and who was a “loser” in the Atlantic Division coming out of the trade deadline, since most every team in the devision appeared to make some sort of move to help their respective situation. Some moves were more savvy than others, but at the end of the day, the Atlantic division just got a lot more competitive.


So, let’s have at it:


Boston Bruins- Winners
bruinsThe Bruins took major steps towards shoring up their defensive deficiency, acquiring Andrej Meszaros from the Philadelphia Flyers for a third round draft pick (the pick becomes a second rounder if Boston makes the Conference Finals with Meszaros playing at least two-thirds of the games or if Meszaros resigns with Boston before the draft). Boston also claimed Corey Potter off waivers from Edmonton as a seventh defenseman. With key blueliners Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg on injured reserve, general manager Peter Chiarelli kicked the tires on Andy MacDonald before finally pulling the trigger on Meszaros. The fact is, the 28-year old Meszaros fits in perfectly with the Bruins’ motif of gritty, hard-hitting defensemen with a hard slapshot, and he came at a relatively cheap price. Expect him to find his rhythm in Boston and contribute all the way to the playoffs.


Montreal Canadiens- Winners
canadiensMontreal came home from the dance with the prom queen (and no, I do not mean Devan Dubnyk). They practically stole Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders for a second round pick and prospect Sebastien Collberg. As Melissa noted in her roundup of the Metropolitan Division, this is a remarkably small price to pay for one of the biggest forwards on the market. My guess is Garth Snow overslept Wednesday, realized the trade deadline was in about an hour, and panicked. Remember in Seinfeld when Kramer accepts the coffee company’s plea bargain before they finish it, so he wins basically nothing? That’s what I picture this to be like. Regardless, with Carey Price out injured, Montreal acquired a stopgap goaltender in Dubnyk and an offensive catalyst in Vanek to help carry them to the end of the year and beyond.Toronto


Toronto Maple Leafs- Losers
maple leafsThe Maple Leafs are not losers in the sense that they made some questionable decisions. No, they got those out of the way before the season began. Instead, the Leafs stood pat, despite speculation earlier in the month that youngster Nazem Kadri may be on the trade block. In a division where so many other teams improved at the deadline, Toronto may have fallen behind by not making some sort of move for depth purposes. They will struggle to keep pace unless goalie Jonathan Bernier can improve his play and players beyond James van Riemsdyk and Kessel begin scoring.


Tampa Bay Lightning- Losers
lightningYou really have to feel for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Here they are, poised to make a legitimate run in the playoffs, with the dawn of Steven Stamkos’ return on the horizon, and they are forced to deal leading scorer and team captain Martin St. Louis because of hurt feelings. Don’t misunderstand me, Ryan Callahan is a fantastic worker and a great leader. Any team would be lucky to have him on their roster. However, he simply does not have the same skill set that St. Louis has, and therein lies the rub. Steven Stamkos is a rifle, and St. Louis’ passes were his bullets. They were one of the more dynamic duos in the league, and to have them split up is a major blow to the Lightning. Now, Tampa is in free-fall (they are 3-7-0 in their last 10), and Detroit and Columbus are surging, threatening to take their wild card spot. With St. Louis gone, it’s hard to imagine the Lightning will have the same sort of potency to get far in the playoffs, Stamkos or no Stamkos. Do look for Ben Bishop in the Vezina category when it comes time for awards season, though.


Detroit Red Wings- Winners
red wingsIt truly is amazing to think the Red Wings are where they are in the standings considering how beaten up they have been all season long. At one point, the Wings were missing captain and leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, goalie Jimmy Howard, along with 5 other starting skaters. On the “24/7: Road to the Winter Classic” show featuring the Wings and Maple Leafs, coach Mike Babcock joked when reviewing his lineup on the whiteboard, “here’s my sixteen-year old daughter. Just got told she’s cleared and ready to go.” Now, with Pavel Datsyuk and Zetterberg both set to miss more time, the Wings desperately needed another legitimate veteran scorer, and found one in David Legwand. They only had to give up Patrick Eaves, a minor leaguer and a third rounder to get him, not much of a bounty. And Legwand has already begun making an impact for Detroit, notching a goal and two assists in his second game against New Jersey. Beaten and bruised as they may be, it is looking like Detroit will limp and hobble their way into the playoffs.


Ottawa Senators- Losers
senatorsOttawa is quickly fading from the playoff hunt. With the mad scramble for the wild card spots intensifying, the Senators just cannot seem to catch up to the pack. Though they acquired forward Ales Hemsky to help shore up their offense for a third and fifth round pick, there is no reason to believe the Sens are ready to burst onto the scene. Several teams reportedly kicked the tires on acquiring Jason Spezza, though Ottawa never seemed to seriously entertain any offers. Perhaps they will be more willing to move him in the offseason, as he enters the final year of his contract. Bobby Ryan will also be in a contract year next year. The waiving of Cory Conacher could solidify their stance as sellers in the coming year or so.


Florida Panthers- Winners
panthersThe dream of having Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas in the same goaltending tandem is sadly dead. The Panthers dealt backup goalie Jacob Markstrom to the Vancouver Canucks for Roberto Luongo, then traded starter Tim Thomas to the Dallas Stars for Dan Ellis. Though Luongo is 34-years old, he is signed essentially for the rest of his career at a price of $4.5 million per year, which, for a team as far from the cap limit as Florida, is not nearly as big an issue as it was in Vancouver. With a top-of-the-line goaltender locked in their roster, the Panthers are free to focus their attention to their various other needs on the roster. They are far from contenders, but this is a step in the right direction.


Buffalo Sabres- Winners
sabresThe firesale in Buffalo is all but complete. The Sabres are a mess in the management department, with president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine resigning not a week ago. However, Buffalo was extremely busy at the deadline, wheeling and dealing to put them in the best position possible for their rebuild. They entered the deadline with ten first and second rounders in the next two drafts, and got more draft picks still in return for Matt Moulson. They also managed to snag young goalie Michal Neuvirth and veteran defenseman Rostislav Klesla from the Capitals, along with several other prospects from Minnesota and Los Angeles. I hesitate to call the Sabres outright winners only just because of the fact that the draft is never a guarantee. A player could be a bust, he could get injured, he could be a headcase, or- here’s a twist- the team could draft poorly. So they are not out of the woods quite yet. That being said, they do have a set few people to build off of, with some key players like Cody Hodgson and Ville Leino locked down for the next few years. The team managed to pick up Cory Conacher off waivers, a cheap but useful player. Plus, the young-but-temperamental Chris Stewart could find his scoring touch that he has longed for since 2009-2010; that is, if they manage to resign him come next offseason. To top it all off, Buffalo appears to be the frontrunner to acquire Rochester-native Ryan Callahan in the offseason. So, is it too early to say the Sabres have a very bright future? Yes, a little. Is there reason for optimism? Absolutely.


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