2011 NHL Predictions: Dustin Penner and 10 Players Who Will Help Their New Teams
Since Trade Deadline 2011 is something to look back on, rather than forward to, all of those unknowns will start to fall into place. Now that we know who was traded where and players are starting to settle down, it's time to take a deeper dive into what the trades really spell for the active teams.
Some players could really help their team in the push to the playoffs, others were dealt away as a clear move in favor of rebuilding, and still others will be slipping on a new jersey with big shoes to fill.
Here are the 10 players who, from where I'm sitting, seem poised to make the biggest splash, in a good way, for their new teams.
Honorable Mention: McCabe and Campoli
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When you try to boil down all of the players involved in trades to just 10 top candidates, there are some that have to be just outside that cut. For this list, the two honorable mentions are Bryan McCabe and Chris Campoli.
Bryan McCabe was traded to the New York Rangers from the Florida Panthers. The Rangers have never really settled on a definite core for their defense, and adding McCabe into the mix could possibly complicate things for a little while. However, after the dust settles, the Rangers could really benefit from making the move for this veteran defender.
Defender Chris Campoli was dealt from the Ottawa Senators, who have made a clear decision that this year, they are waiving the white flag and opting for a rebuilding year instead. Campoli has instead joined a Chicago Blackhawks team, one of those Western Conference teams that is on the better side of the postseason cutoff line. Campoli has already been praised as a solid pick up for the 'Hawks, but like all of these players, only time will tell how well they settle down in their new homes.
Francois Beauchemin: Anaheim Ducks
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The return of Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim, although it happened a strong distance before the deadline, could still be one of the best moves that the Ducks have made all season.
GM Bob Murray had to sacrifice forward Joffrey Lupul in order to get Frankie back, but it should prove a move that is worth it. Beau was a key asset on that 2007 Stanley Cup Championship team, and because of that, Anaheim is expecting him to essentially pick up where he left off before. Beauchemin can really alleviate some of the extensive minutes that have fallen onto the shoulders of Lubomir Visnovksy and Toni Lydman, and just with that, he makes himself a worthwhile pickup.
Blake Wheeler: Atlanta Thrashers
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Atlanta's best move of the trade deadline was the acquisition of right wing Blake Wheeler from the Boston Bruins.
The young forward, at age 24, still clearly has potential to be a franchise player, and if he is surrounded by the right supporting cast, he can really make a difference in the game. He had a career-year as a rookie with 45 points, and he has tallied another 30 this year, three of which came in his four games played as a Thrasher. If Wheeler settles down, he could really make a difference in Atlanta.
Tomas Kaberle: Boston Bruins
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Considering how quiet the trade deadline was this year, we will be backtracking a bit to find that a newcomer to the Boston Bruins, Tomas Kaberle, is another player who could really make some waves.
Given how many rumors were swirling around Kaberle's name on the rumor mill for the past few years, this trade could be seen as a long time coming. The addition of Kaberle to the Bruin lineup was a great move for Boston, seeing as the veteran defender can really add some depth to the blue liners, and with his strong point shot and passing abilities, Kaberle can really help Boston out in the postseason.
Scottie Upshall: Columbus Blue Jackets
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The trade between Phoenix and Columbus was a bit of a shock to me, considering Upshall has been such a solid piece of the Coyotes offense, and the trade seemed a bit one-sided. But that's just my opinion, and now that Scottie Upshall will be in Columbus, he could really help out the Blue Jackets.
Upshall has 27 points in 61 games this season with the 'Yotes, and now that he is in Columbus, who find themselves out of the playoff standings, he will probably try to help step up that game and get the Jackets up a few rankings. Was this move too little too late? Only time will tell, but I expect Upshall to make some sort of positive influence on Columbus.
Dustin Penner: Los Angeles Kings
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The Los Angeles Kings were one of the main teams who were tied to a variety of big name players, including Ilya Kovalchuk on the offseason last year, and now they have made their move and acquired Dustin Penner from the Edmonton Oilers.
Edmonton is a team that is also in a rebuilding phase, considering they have the fewest points in the NHL and have been considered out of the playoff race for quite some time now. However, Penner jumps from the worst team in the league to a team that is currently holding onto a playoff spot by the skin of its teeth.
The Kings are another team who are in the chaos of the West, and they need to turn things around and get hot if they intend on staying in the top eight. Penner is widely considered to be that key addition to rekindle the flame that held LA in higher rankings for a lot of this season.
Kris Versteeg: Philadelphia Flyers
When you have a team like the Flyers who are dominating the Eastern Conference, there isn't much that they could do to improve their success, but in reality, they found one thing that they could fortify, and that's their strength on the wings.
Philadelphia traded to get Versteeg out of Toronto and they have already dressed him in seven games as a Flyer. Versteeg is a strong winger, and when you fortify the wings and couple that strength with the depth that Philly has in their centers, defenders and goaltenders, it makes a team that, at least on paper, looks pretty intimidating. All in all, once Kris Versteeg manages to settle down more and adapt to his new team, he could really start spicing things up in Philly.
Alexei Kovalev: Pittsburgh Penguins
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One of the key reasons that Kovalev will be an important addition to the Penguins is summed up in one word: Injuries. With Crosby still struggling to get back on the ice and Malkin out indefinitely with a severe knee problem, Kovalev can be a bit of a safety net in terms of scoring goals.
Granted. Alexei Kovalev was struggling to produce the numbers that the Senators expected out of him, and he was another big name that Ottawa shipped away to propel forward the mass upheaval that is in progress. Kovalev's purpose in Pittsburgh is not just as a rental scorer while the big guns of Malkin and Crosby are out, but even once one or both of these players return, Kovalev could be a solid piece to round out that top trio. In short, I expect Kovalev to really help out the Pitt team that has been recently plagued with some awful injuries.
Eric Brewer: Tampa Bay Lightning
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Any trade that involves a long-time player and captain of one team getting shipped away in exchange for just a prospect and a draft pick will undoubtedly draw some attention.
Granted Brewer hasn't been producing the same numbers that he used to, but his veteran presence on a blue line roster will absolutely be beneficial to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have strength both offensively and in their goaltenders. Brewer has already played in four games with Tampa Bay and has a plus three rating; however, I'm expecting him to really break out as a strong defender once he settles into the system and gets comfortable.
Jason Arnott: Washington Capitals
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Jason Arnott is a pretty well-known name around the National Hockey League, and for a good reason. Arnott is currently in his 17th season in the NHL, and of those, 11 seasons were at least 50-point seasons.
Arnott is a great addition to any offense. However, when you have a team that is looking to reboot itself, like the New Jersey Devils are, they opted in favor of sending Arnott to Washington, where they look to be pretty deep on paper. But the Caps have been struggling more than most people expected, and they are now sitting fifth in the East with the sixth place Canadiens just three points back. Arnott can really do some damage with the Capitals if he finds his rhythm and some help with his supporting cast.