Almost every playoff-bound team makes minor moves and trades throughout the season, with the most significant usually made in the time leading up to the trade deadline. Each time looks to add that one missing piece that will push the team over the top. Each of the four teams remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs made some significant mid-season moves that have helped carry the team to this point in the playoffs, but which GM improved their team the most?
Vancouver is the only one of the four teams remaining that made their deals on Trade Deadline day, an interesting trend in and of itself. One of the concerns with such trades is how quickly the acquired players will be able to adapt to the locker room culture and style of play of the team, which is one of the reasons why significant deals are frequently being made earlier and earlier in the season. Tampa Bay’s most significant trade came at the beginning of January in the acquisition of Dwayne Roloson. Since each season’s Stanley Cup winner frequently sets the trends for future attempts at the prize, it will be interesting to see the response from the rest of the NHL if one of these mid-season deals plays a key role.
GM: Peter Chiarelli
Key Mid-Season Acquisitions: Chris Kelly C (2/15), Rich Peverley C (2/18), Tomas Kaberle D (2/18),
Results: Chris Kelly has made a significant impact with the Bruins and has 7 points in 12 playoff games. With Patrice Bergeron out of the lineup, Kelly has stepped in as a center, so his versatility has been useful. Peverley also has 7 points in 12 games. Kaberle, however, has been a disappointment. He currently leads the Bruins in icetime on the powerplay. That would be the Bruins’ terrible, terrible powerplay that has gone a woeful 2-for-41 in the playoffs. He had 9 points in 24 regular season games and has just 3 assists thus far in the playoffs.
Grade: C- ~ While Kelly and Peverley were smart pick-ups that improved the Bruins’ forward depth, the trade deadline prize was supposed to be Kaberle, who is doing little to prove his critics wrong.
GM: Doug Wilson
Key Mid-Season Acquisitions: Ben Eager LW (1/18), Kyle Wellwood C (1/18, waivers), Ian White D (2/18)
Results: The moves the Sharks made are minor in impact compared to the other three teams. Eager is a fourth line tough guy with flashes of skill and a decent wristshot, Wellwood skates on the right wing on the third line rather than at his natural position, and White plays on their third pairing with some powerplay time. Still, they have to be happy with the results. Both Wellwood and White have 7 points in the playoffs, with Wellwood tied for the team lead in +/-. Wellwood has also been very good in the faceoff circle when Joe Pavelski has been waved out.
Grade: B- ~ Doug Wilson did well to add three small pieces, but it seems like more could have been done to improve the Sharks’ defensive depth beyond adding White. Wellwood, however, has thrived on Pavelski’s wing and is looking like a great waiver-wire pick-up.
GM: Steve Yzerman
Key Mid-Season Acquisitions: Dwayne Roloson G (1/1), Eric Brewer D (2/18)
Results: While including Dwayne Roloson may be pushing the limits of what can be properly called a “trade deadline acquisition,” it has to be included simply for the tremendous impact Roloson has had on the team. The veteran netminder solidified the Lightning’s shaky goaltending situation by simply being above average during the regular season, but he has been nothing short of phenomenal in the playoffs. He leads all goalies in save percentage (.941) and goals against average (2.01) in the postseason and has backstopped the Lightning to 8 straight victories. The trade for Eric Brewer gets less praise, but it has been almost as vital. Brewer has 6 points and leads the Lightning in average ice time by over 4 minutes per game. He has been a key component on the Lightning’s excellent penalty kill and powerplay and his veteran leadership has provided a calming influence on the back-end.
Grade: A ~ Yzerman made the right moves leading up to the trade deadline, fixing his goaltending issues and adding a solid veteran in Brewer who has exceeded expectations.
GM: Mike Gillis
Key Mid-Season Acquisitions: Maxim Lapierre C (2/28), Chris Higgins LW (2/28)
Results: Initial returns on these two deadline day deals were not promising: Lapierre could clearly hit, but wasn’t winning faceoffs, while Higgins certainly worked hard and was versatile, but didn’t seem to gel on any one line. In the playoffs, however, the two former Canadiens have made key contributions. Lapierre has stepped into Manny Malhotra’s role as a third-line checking center, winning 54% of his faceoffs while facing the toughest competition the opponents have to offer. This has freed up Ryan Kesler to once again shine offensively, which he has done with Higgins on his wing. Still, Higgins does only have 4 points in 14 games; while his goals have been important ones, the Canucks need more production from a second-line winger.
Grade: B ~ Lapierre has been vital in the absence of Malhotra, while Higgins has been a consistent presence on the second-line, if not a consistent scorer.
Tags: Bruins, Canucks, Doug Wilson, featured, Hindsight, Lightning, Mike Gillis, Peter Chiarelli, Questionable Grading Standards, Sharks, Steve Yzerman, trade deadline