NHL Trade Deadline: Deals Don't Always Work as Planned

Zachary SchiffCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2008

I know, I know, everyone gets all excited about trade deadline day, myself included. Writers have been talking about it since Christmas, maybe before.

Some teams (Islanders, Columbus, Washington) are trying to decide if they should be buyers or sellers. Other teams (Tampa, LA) have already decided on selling. Philly has already decided on buying. Toronto would have decided on selling if they hadn't given their whole team a no-trade clause. Was Pavel Kubina really that important to give him a no-trade clause?

Marian Hossa and Brian Campbell seem to be the big names out there, but let me first de-bunk the Campbell hype, especially for Ranger fans.

This year Campbell has five goals (two on the power play) and is a minus four. Michal Rozsival has 13 goals (six on the PP) and is a plus two. Yes, Campbell has seven more assists on the PP than Rozsival, but he isn't the "power play quarterback" people have been clamoring for on Broadway since Brian Leetch was great?

Rozsival (admittedly, I am not his biggest fan, but I am using this as a comparison) angers fans by not shooting and constantly looking to Jaromir Jagr for a pass. Campbell has one less shot this season. Yet Rozsival might command $4-5 million on the market come July 1, while Campbell will be looking for $6-6.5 million.

For what? He's eight months younger and has more assists. Great. If the Rangers go for him, they will be paying for it years from now when they have no draft picks.

Hossa will automatically help any lineup he enters, but at what cost? His 56 points in 60 games are the first time he is averaging less than a point-per-game since 2001-02 when he was 23. And he didn't have the luxury of playing with Ilya Kovalchuk then. At -14, he is also not a plus for the first time since he played seven games in 1997-98, when he was a -1. Last year, he was a +18 with 100 points.

So when Detroit, Dallas, Montreal, Boston, or Ottawa goes for Hossa, what are they giving up? A prospect, a player to fill Atlanta's void (they still are competing in the weak Southeast Division), and probably two first round picks. All for a declining player who might be gone in two months.

Last year the Ducks won the Stanley Cup by trading for...Brad May. Then-35-year-old, fourth line winger Brad May whose best years came in the mid-90s as a Sabre.

I'm saying that a blockbuster at the deadline doesn't always work out. Just ask Garth Snow where Ryan Smyth's jersey is now. Hey, Glen Sather, how are Pavel Bure's knees? I bet John Ferguson would rather have his job as GM in Toronto than Brian Leetch and Ron Francis in 2004.

I bet David Poile of Nashville wants his draft picks and prospects back instead of Peter Forsberg and Brendan Witt for two months each. Every time Don Waddell watches Braydon Coburn, does he cringe and wish he could un-trade Alexei Zhitnik?

The only two big deadline day deals in recent memory that I can think of that worked out great (read: Stanley Cup filled with bubbly) were Rob Blake to Colorado in 2001 and Mark Recchi to Carolina for a nobody and a second round pick in 2006.

If Carolina didn't win the Stanley Cup, I would have written about Dwayne Roloson and Sergei Samsonov going to Edmonton in 2006. If Roloson hadn't gotten hurt in Game 1 of the Finals, maybe those deals would have worked out.

My advice, in case any GMs are reading this and wondering, is don't overpay. Most teams are built through free agency, offseason trades, and character-player trades on deadline day.