Heading into Trade Deadline day, many prognosticators lamented that they felt the biggest deals had already happened. Of course, they were talking about the likes of goaltender J.S. Giguere and defenseman Dion Phaneuf being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ilya Kovalchuk moving on to New Jersey to join the Devils.
While there may not have been any bog name players traded on this deadline day, there were a number of deals consummated today that, going forward, will impact the playoff races in both the Eastern and Western Conferences.
With that in mind, with a little over tow hours to go before the trade deadline expires, let’s take a look at the deals that will most impact the playoff picture and which teams emerged as improved.
Teams That Improved
Acquired veteran defenseman Aaron Ward from the Carolina Hurricanes in return for former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending prospect Justin Pogge and a fourth-round draft choice in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
On the surface, this looks like a very minor deal, but let’s not forget that defensemen are amongst the most fragile creatures in the playoffs, which makes this a very intelligent deal.
Much like the aforementioned Anaheim Ducks, the Coyotes made a decent depth move when they acquired defenseman Derek Morris from the Boston Bruins in return for a fourth-round draft choice in 2011.
Morris has had a tough time living up to expectations, but the Coyotes have had him before, which means hopefully they know what they are getting and how to motivate him. Again, depth at defense is a necessity for teams making a playoff run. Phoenix will be one, which makes this a great deal for them.
Phoenix also acquired Wojtek Wolski in return for struggling forward Peter Mueller and prospect Kevin Porter. Mueller has huge upside, but Wolski can play on the Coyote’s top two lines today, something Mueller was not capable of doing at this time.
Further, Wolski has 17 goals on the season and is a monster in the shootout, two areas where Phoenix needs some help. Great deal for the Coyotes!
Acquired defenseman Denis Seidenberg and defensive prospect Matthew Bartowski from the Florida Panthers in exchange for AHL forward Craig Weller, gritty forward Byron Bitz, and a second-round draft choice in 2010.
Seidenberg gives Boston some depth, and they didn’t have to take much of a hit to get him.
The biggest winner of the past 24 hours has to be the Pittsburgh Penguins, trading prospect Luca Caputi and defenseman Martin Skoula (who was later traded to the New Jersey Devils by Toronto) in return for forward Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Ponikarovsky had 19 goals and 31 points in 61 games as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, can play the power play, is a big body and is a decent two-way forward. Poni is exactly the type of player the Penguins needed to bolster their lineup for a playoff run. He may not be an impact player, but on Pittsburgh he will be a legitimate threat whenever he is on the ice.
Check back in two hours when I will analyze the other deals, minor or major...
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Until next time,