Martin Havlat was involved in the second-biggest trade of the summer, going from the Minnesota Wild to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for sniper Dany Heatley (the only bigger one also involved those two teams).
The thought was that Havlat brought more speed and was better defensively, making him a better match in San Jose. Moreover, the $2.5 million saved in the trade would be used to sign more depth via free agency for a team in desperate need of cap relief.
When the Sharks did not use that room, many fans were calling for it to be saved for a major move at the deadline. That shows a lack of understanding of the business of the NHL.
Carrying $4 million in cap room would only be needed if the team was going to take on $12 million in additional talent with a third of the season left. Not only did the Sharks lack the draft picks and prospects to entice that kind of talent to the Bay Area, but teams in need of that much help are not winning anything.
When it became clear that San Jose was not going to use the space, Havlat was still being talked about as the difference-maker in their playoff push. In the end, Marty could not extend the Sharks' season but one game.
Ultimately, there are few players whose presence or absence makes as much of a difference as followers of the Sharks were attributing to Havlat.
Individual players need to be judged on the good things they bring to the table and the bad baggage that comes with it to arrive at the truth of their value to the team. Often, this cold-blooded analysis can get ugly.