A sudden flurry of activity blossomed well shy of the trade deadline on Wednesday. Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs got the ball rolling early in the afternoon by moving Francois Beauchemin back to his former home: the Anaheim Ducks. Before the night of hockey began, the Islanders announced that they have attempted to remedy their goaltending woes with a former first round pick in Al Montoya. Then in the midst of a frenetic Boston/Montreal second period, a mildly elaborate deal worked between Dale Tallon’s Florida Panthers and his former club Chicago. Finally, the day was wrapped up by the minor league swap between the Devils and Sharks. Here’s the breakdown:
Anaheim acquires: Francois Beauchemin
Toronto acquires: Joffrey Lupul, prospect Jake Gardiner, conditional 4th round pick in 2013
The Anaheim Ducks get the defensive help that they’ve so sorely needed this season while Cam Fowler and Toni Lydman have attempted to hold the fort. They’ll need even more help from a steady blueliner with Jonas Hiller, their MVP, out of the lineup for at least a bit of time. Beauchemin returns to a place that he never really wanted to leave in the first place and Brian Burke re-acquires Lupul who has been bandied about quite a bit since 2006.
Side note, Lupul is moved in July 2006 for Pronger, one year later for Pitkanen, June 2009 for Pronger once more and then on Wednesday for Beauchemin.
Lupul wasn’t seeing a ton of ice time after his injury in Anaheim and will definitely see some major time on the wing on a Toronto team that is hurting for scoring. Lupul’s goal scoring prowess earned him the 7th overall selection in the 2002 NHL Draft and he’ll have a chance to get his career back on track after a slight, injury-riddled detour in Anaheim.
With the Leafs prospect pool hurting a bit and not at all aided by the Phil Kessel trade that cost them a few high draft picks, they get a quality defensive prospect in Jake Gardiner. Gardiner is a phenomenal skater who has a good head for both ends of the rink and can move the puck with fluidity. Still at the University of Wisconsin, Gardiner can play comfortably in any situation or role. He’s a fairly highly regarded prospect that was drafted by Burke in the first round back in 2008. Gardiner could perhaps project into a number 2 or 3 defenseman after a few years.
In terms of sorting out cap space, Lupul is signed until 2013 at $4.25 million per year. Beauchemin is locked up for next season at $3.8 million. The draft pick is conditional on Lupul being on Toronto’s reserve list for 40 or more games in 2012-13 – if he’s not, then Anaheim trades their 6th rounder instead of the 4th rounder in 2013.
It’s a win for the Leafs.
Chicago acquires: Michael Frolik and prospect Alexander Salak
Florida acquires: Jack Skille, Hugh Jessiman, prospect David Pacan
The Chicago Blackhawks make another shrewd move by acquiring talented winger Michael Frolik from the Florida Panthers. Frolik, second on his team in scoring this season with 29 points, was the 10th pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. While he hasn’t lit the world on fire after a 20-goal, 45-point rookie season, his foibles can be attributed to a somewhat makeshift Florida club that hasn’t won a playoff game in more than a decade and is still searching for an identity under new GM Dale Tallon. Frolik has tremendous skill and a knack for goal-scoring but is not very effective in the defensive and neutral zones. If he can get into a rhythm with talented linemates in Chicago, he will be very successful and amount to a quality second-liner at the NHL level.
The Panthers get back the 7th overall pick in the Crosby draft of 2005. The University of Wisconsin product, Jack Skille, has not blossomed into the major league power forward that many anticipated as of yet. Skille brings a good work rate to the rink as he played on mainly on Chicago’s lower lines most of the 2010-11 season. He’s physical – finish your check physical – not menacing, agitator physical however. He has some skills, but it doesn’t look like his offensive acumen will allow him to amount to more than a third liner.
The Panthers add another former high draft pick in Hugh Jessiman. Jessiman has the unflattering distinction of being the only 2003 first rounder that has not played in an NHL game. Jessiman is a big, rangy forward that can score goals in bunches. Up to this point, he’s been nothing more than a solid minor league scorer but in Florida he may get one last chance to prove why he was a first round pick nearly eight years ago.
More size is added to the system with the acquisition of David Pacan a center with the OHL’s Niagra IceDogs. The 6-foot-3 pivot initially chose the NCAA route with the University of Vermont before leaving school to join up with Ryan Strome, Dougie Hamilton and the IceDogs. Pacan doesn’t stand out particularly with any one clear-cut aspect but he’s not noticeably deficient in any area either. He’s played at three very different levels in three years and, should he get a contract, will turn pro next season. It’s unclear what his exact upside looks like, but it isn’t likely to be impactful.
Back to the other side of the swap, goaltending prospect Alexander Salak joins the Hawks thin goalie pool. Salak, who turned 24 last month, returned to the Swedish Elite League after a season in the AHL in 2009-10. So far, he’s been the main reason that Farjestad has had success this season. He leads the league in save percentage and has the third best goals against average in Sweden’s top league. Still something of a raw prospect at age 24, Salak tends to get a little sloppy at times and is prone to giving up some weak goals due to over-committing, over-playing or cheating. Due to the uncertainty surrounding in Chicago’s crease, Salak will get a strong look at next year’s training camp if he so chooses.
The contracts break down as follows: Frolik is wrapping up his entry-level deal ($1.275 million including bonuses) and will be a restricted free agent that may have used overpaid teammate Rostislav Olesz as a comparable which would not have been friendly on the Panthers’ slim wallet. Salak is currently signed to the final year of his entry-level deal ($1.3 million including bonuses but has been loaned to the SEL).
Skille signed a one-year, $600,000 deal on the other side of his entry-level contract, so he’ll be restricted at the end of the year. Jessiman is on a one-year, two-way contract that pays him the league minimum at the NHL level. David Pacan is still an unsigned prospect.
New York Islanders acquire: Al Montoya
Phoenix acquires: 6th round pick in 2011
After the trading of Dwayne Roloson and the apparent/impending curse of Evgeni Nabokov, goalie after goalie succumbed to injury on the Island – the last straw coming on Tuesday when projected starter Kevin Poulin came out for warm-ups, started them, and then proceeded to dislocate his kneecap during
them. His season ends with a surgery, Al Montoya’s rejuvenation begins on Long Island? Perhaps. Montoya was the 6th overall pick of the 2004 draft by the Rangers – the second Ranger draft bust moved on the night (Jessiman) – after a mastodonic performance for the Americans at the 2004 World Junior Championships. Three years at the University of Michigan and several AHL seasons with varying success, Montoya could never crack the lineup. He was shipped to the Coyotes where he had been given a cup of coffee but nothing more.
The Islanders should give him every chance to prove his worth and carve out an NHL career. Montoya, who will turn 26 on Sunday, is on a one-year, two-way deal at $750,000.
New Jersey acquires: Jay Leach and Steven Zalewski
San Jose acquires: Michael Swift and Patrick Davis
Merely a swapping of minor league pieces. Leach re-joins the Devils organization and could be a number 7 or 8 defenseman if the Devils didn’t already have so many of them. Leach apparently wanted out of the Sharks organization to have a better chance at returning to the NHL (Volchenkov is suspended after all). The other three players in the deal are unlikely to become regular NHLers. This trade effects Worcester and Albany and nothing more.
Score card: Leafs, Hawks, Isles (by default), pick’em
Toronto placed F John Mitchell on waivers, upon his clearing at noon tomorrow, expect the Leafs to recall big defenseman Keith Aulie to fill in the spot vacated by Beauchemin. Aulie was acquired in the Dion Phaneuf trade.
Rugged defenseman Tyson Strachan (St. Louis) was on waivers on Wednesday, while Aaron Voros (Anaheim) and Mattias Ritola (Tampa Bay) cleared waivers.
The New York Rangers are actively pursuing a puck-moving defenseman – they were scouting Edmonton cast-off Sheldon Souray but may have Bryan McCabe or Tomas Kaberle higher on their list.
The Dallas Stars do not wish to trade Brad Richards and feel that they have a healthy relationship. The Stars want to re-sign him and Richards wants to stay but ownership issues have caused a major problem in negotiations.
The Stars have not had a premier puck-moving d-man since Sergei Zubov left but they are not willing to disrupt the team too much to make it happen. For one, Jamie Benn is virtually untouchable and James Neal isn’t terribly far behind him it seems.
The Penguins don’t have much choice but to be active at the deadline now with all the injuries they have sustained. It appeared as if the Penguins were going to be pretty quiet come the afternoon of the 28th but now with LTIR cap space at their disposal, GM Ray Shero may be able to take on a bigger contract like Alexei Kovalev.