NHL Trades: 5 Most Underrated Deals of the Offseason
You know about Rick Nash to the Rangers, Derek Roy to Dallas, Luke Schenn for James van Riemsdyk, Jordan Staal to the Hurricanes, Mike Ribiero to the Capitals and Anders Lindback to the Lightning.
Lost in the media frenzy and fan chat about the bigger-name trades are five other deals that will make a not-so-small impact on one or both teams involved.
To rewind and refresh, let's assess those five moves in reverse chronological order.
Casey Wellman to Florida
Casey Wellman, who will be 25 in mid-October, has yet to play a full NHL season, accumulating a 4-9-13 log in 41 appearances with the Minnesota Wild over three professional seasons. He most recently tallied a respectable seven points in 14 NHL games before his rights were transferred to the New York Rangers, after which he spent the balance of the season in the AHL.
The offensively challenged Panthers will offer the up-and-coming forward a better opportunity. If they phase him in at the right pace, Wellman will have a shot to lend them some bottom-six production that will improve their playoff hopes.
Of course, one player can only do so much. But a symbiotic Wellman-Florida relationship still has sound potential in the long run.
Marc Methot for Nick Foligno
Mark Methot had 106 hits in 46 games last year. Had he been available for the full season, he would have challenged forwards Derek Dorsett and Derek McKenzie for the team lead in that category.
The year prior, Methot was one of only six regulars on the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets to finish in the plus/minus black. In both 2009-10 and 2010-11, the stay-at-home defenseman was playing just a little less than three shorthanded minutes per night.
Beyond that, it is worth noting that Methot has been constantly battle-tested by a schedule featuring the three- or four-headed monster that is the Central Division. Bringing him to Ottawa should give the Senators a competitive boost as they try to ward off the Maple Leafs and Canadiens and pursue the Bruins and Sabres in the Northeast Division.
Foligno, the return piece from Ottawa to Columbus, is coming off a career-high 15-32-47 scoring log. He shall join recent playoff adversaries Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky in the multi-man task of replacing Nash and building the Blue Jackets from the bottom up.
Benoit Pouliot to Tampa Bay
Benoit Pouliot’s hope of restoring the fourth-overall pick form everyone originally expected dwindles with every passing day. That does not mean he cannot still be useful.
With ample potential still ahead for Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell, Martin St. Louis defying Father Time and Vincent Lecavalier still not at an empty tank, the top of Tampa Bay’s depth chart is in good hands.
Pouliot will be tasked with trying to duplicate, if not eclipse, his career-high 16-16-32 line and demonstrate a little more consistency compared to his one-year stop in Boston.
The secondary scoring he offers will be an X-factor in the Lightning’s efforts to return to the playoffs, if not challenge for first in the Southeast Division.
Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix
Two years after transferring to the Pittsburgh Penguins via free agency, Zbynek Michalek is a second-time Coyote. The 29-year-old, seven-year NHL veteran’s reintroduction will lend some much-needed seasoning to the bottom of the Phoenix blue-line brigade, especially if Michal Rozsival does not re-sign.
Lubomir Visnovsky to New York Islanders
Tied for second in plus/minus on Anaheim’s downtrodden 2011-12 team and second in that category for the Ducks in 2010-11, Lubomir Visnovsky is a prolific power-play point patroller who will lend an invaluable veteran presence to the Islanders' defense.
That he has often retained a relatively sound rating while producing a sizable percentage of his points on special teams speaks to Visnovsky’s aptitude in his day job.
The Isles will doubtlessly look to Vixnovsky for leadership as they introduce fresh draft pick Griffin Reinhart to The Show and try to rebound from allowing three-plus goals per night in four consecutive seasons.
With that said, the fact is, the trade was made in the first place and the transaction can still come to fruition.
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