NHL Trade Deadline: Jason Arnott, the Washington Capitals and the Big Winners
The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, with several big names switching sweaters. Brad Richards is still in Dallas and Ales Hemsky is still one of the few bright spots in Edmonton.
Still, a handful of teams significantly upgraded their rosters for the playoffs or for the future. Here we review the big winners at the deadline.
Jason Arnott is getting a final shot at the Cup with the Washington Capitals. The burly center goes from a surging New Jersey Devils team that is still nine points from the final seed in the East to a Capitals team that's been a player away from making a big run the last couple of seasons.
Arnott said he'd only waive his no-trade clause to go to a contender, and he's got to be happy heading to D.C.
Washington got the center they needed for their second-line without sacrificing any big pieces. They paid a price (David Steckel is one of the NHL's best faceoff men, plus a second-round pick), but their team is definitely better after the trade than before.
Arnott has a ton of playoff experience and should help keep the Caps from becoming complacent come playoff time.
New Jersey Devils
As a Devils fan, it's tough to watch Arnott go. But they got Steckel, one of the NHL's top faceoff men, plus a second-round pick for what amounts to a rental for about 20 games.
Arnott wasn't coming back next season, and with the Devils missing picks from the Ilya Kovalchuk contract fiasco, the extra second-round pick will come in handy.
It's tough for Ottawa Senators fans to watch big names like Mike Fisher and Alexei Kovalev skip town, but GM Bryan Murray did a great job clearing cap space and picking up picks for the future. The Senators weren't making a run this season and have a top-five pick lined up in this year's draft.
It's tough to see, but things are looking up for the Sens.
Similarly to Arnott, Dustin Penner went from a team on the outside looking in to a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. Except in this case, Penner went from the league-worst Edmonton Oilers.
Penner should be able to help out the Los Angeles Kings' playoff chances and has got to be happy landing with the Kings.
I know a lot of people have called them out for not trading Richards, but I have to give Joe Nieuwendyk credit. Remember, it was less than two months ago that the Dallas Stars traded for Jamie Langenbrunner, signaling they were serious about making a run for the playoffs. Trading Richards would have netted a nice gain for the future, but would have basically admitted making a mistake by acquiring Langenbrunner.
With Richards set to come back on Friday, Nieuwendyk will see how much he has left for the rest of the season and will work on re-signing him. But you have to respect him for not selling the season out.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings bolstered up by adding Penner, who has 52 goals in his last 144 games. Penner has playoff experience, is familiar with the West and, at 28 years old, is in the prime of his career.
Penner is a nice move for the team, not only this season but for the future as well.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs cleared a ton of cap space and are still in the playoff hunt—an extremely tough balancing act. The Leafs may not be as talented as they were before their various trades (that saw them say goodbye to Tomas Kaberle, Kris Versteeg, and Francois Beauchamin), but they're still in the hunt and are better set up for the future.
The Pittsburgh Penguins cannot replace Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but kudos to GM Ray Shero for bringing in Kovalev for a seventh-round pick (which becomes a sixth-rounder if the Pens win two rounds in the playoffs).
Kovalev is coming back and should provide some spark to an offense that has struggled without its top two options.
The Calgary Flames have been on fire the last couple of months, and their pickup of Fredrik Modin will certainly help their playoff chances. Like Arnott, Modin is a veteran rental and has playoff experience (19 points in 23 games for the 2003 Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning).
Modin should provide some offense up front and it didn't cost the Flames much (a seventh-round pick).