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By Nick Stoico
After losing 4-1 to the Bruins Tuesday night, Florida Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas was asked about his newest teammate, Roberto Luongo, who was dealt from the Vancouver Canucks earlier on Tuesday.
“It looked like [Panthers GM] Dale Tallon went kicking some tires and found one that needed pumping,” Thomas said.
Thomas said that he did not come up with the comment, but seemed rather proud of the little joke after telling it to the media.
Well, now we know why it took so long for the Rangers to move disaffected defenseman Michael Del Zotto: There was no market for him.
It’s hard to take away anything else from today’s deal that sent the former first rounder to the Predators for nothing more than a depth defender such as rapid-fire artist Kevin Klein.
As much of a beauty as he was in that tilt, Klein hasn’t been particularly effective this season for Nashville. The 29-year old is a limited defensive player whose stats, both standard (one goal, three points) and fancy (44 percent Corsi, -4.4 percent relative Corsi), don’t paint a very pretty picture.
What might have made Klein appealing to New York is that he is locked down. He’s signed through 2018 at a cap hit of $2.9 million per season, which gives GM Glen Sather some cost certainty moving forward. That’s not much value here, though, and Klein is clearly a significant downgrade from what Sather originally hoped to get in return.
As for Del Zotto, he doesn’t have ideal size, but he’s a terrific skater whose bread and butter has always been his offensive skills. He’s a lefty, too, which has been a pressing blueline need for the Predators.
The update on the health of goaltender Pekka Rinne issued by the Predators last week may have sounded rosy on the surface, but anyone who read between the lines could have surmised that there is a very real chance the All-Star stopper won’t be back this season.
The team finally handled up on that grim possibility today. Recognizing that their playoff chances were slipping away, and that they weren’t going to climb back into the race with a pair of rookies between the pipes, the Preds sent veteran forward Matt Hendricks to the Oilers in exchange for goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
Dubnyk began the season as Edmonton’s No. 1 goalie, but lost whatever tenuous hold he had on the job when the team picked up Ilya Bryzgalov in November. That he hasn’t been able to reclaim it while Bryz has gone 3-7-2 with a 3.27 GAA and .902 save percentage illustrates how fully Dubnyk had lost the faith of the Oilers’ coaching staff. And it shows just how little it took to upgrade Nashville’s current situation, where Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec weren’t getting it done.
Getting out of Edmonton might be the best thing to happen to the former first rounder (14th overall, 2004). He won’t make anyone forget Rinne, but playing behind a more structured defense than he has during the past few years gives him a chance to create some impression of value before he heads to unrestricted free agency this summer.
Shortly after the fiesty Colorado winger had his right ACL blown out on a hit from Los Angeles defenseman Davis Drewiske last January, a scout offered up this thought to the assembled press box wags: “The Avs aren’t the same team without Steve Downie in the lineup.”
We’ll see now if that’s really true.
Colorado today sent Downie back to the Philadelphia Flyers, the team that originally chose him in the first round of the 2005 draft, in exchange for veteran winger Max Talbot.
Just 26, Downie is clearly the better player at this point, but it’s his born-to-be-a-Flyer approach to the game that the struggling Philly side desperately craves. Despite a reputation for mayhem earned earlier in his career, he’s matured into a solid performer who can make things happen with speed and creativity as easily as with a big hit. He had one goal and seven points for the Avs, an output that ties him with Vinnie Lecavalier for the Flyers’ team lead, and while he’s not a premium player himself, he has the tools to work well with guys who are — see his time in Tampa Bay alongside Steven Stamkos. Expect to see him line up alongside Claude Giroux in an effort to create some space for/light a fire under the struggling captain.
By Allan Muir
According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, the Sabres have already turned into sellers this season, trading Thomas Vanek to the Islanders, getting back forward Matt Moulson, a 2014 first-round pick, and a 2015 second-rounder.
First thoughts? I’m guessing the “Fire Darcy” chants have been silenced in Buffalo. A franchise that has been pilloried by its fans and the press since the start of the season for its utter ineptitude on the ice and in the front office just pulled off the sort of deal that will make the suffering yet to come so much more bearable.
They may have sewn a C on his chest earlier this month, but Vanek wasn’t going to re-sign with the Sabres when he hit free agency this summer. Not a chance. It’s one of the worst-kept secrets in hockey that Vanek is pining for a return to Minnesota next season, the state where he played his college hockey and where his good buddy, and former teammate, Jason Pominville currently skates. So removing the distraction and swapping him out for multiple assets makes sense.
By Allan Muir
The cap-strapped St. Louis Blues have dealt David Perron to the Edmonton Oilers.
In exchange, the Blues receive forward Magnus Paajarvi and a second-round pick in the 2014 draft.
The Blues have been dangling Perron, a skilled but underachieving winger who scored 10 goals and 25 points last season, since the trade deadline. But while Perron’s speed makes him a natural fit for Edmonton’s high-flying top six, he doesn’t fit the team’s clear need for a power forward, grit and experience on the bottom six or a reliable, two-way defenseman.
By Allan Muir
Talk about July 4th fireworks. TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting that the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars have completed a multiplayer swap centered around 2010 second-overall pick Tyler Seguin.
Along with Seguin, versatile forward Rich Peverley and prospect Ryan Button would reportedly head to Dallas.
Loui Eriksson would be the key get for Boston, with minor leaguers Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow also rumored to be part of the deal.
By Allan Muir
Facing both a dearth of talent on their blueline and an historically weak free agent crop, the Philadelphia Flyers made a preemptive strike Wednesday. They acquired the rights to New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit in exchange for a fourth round pick in 2014 and Adirondack Phantoms winger Shane Harper.
It’s a low-risk/high-reward venture for Philly GM Paul Holmgren, a man with a lot of work ahead of him this summer to rebuild a team that came nowhere close to living up to expectations this season.
He’s had luck fishing these waters before, paying for the chance to negotiate exclusively with a player before they hit free agency, picking up Kimmo Timonen from the Predators. He’s also come up short, acquiring and then redealing Dan Hamhuis when he could seal a deal before free agency.
But at this point, it sounds like there’s a deal to be made with Streit, a 35-year-old with extremely low mileage on his tires after just seven years in the NHL.
By Allan Muir
At some point, hopefully soon, a good friend of Jay Feaster will pull him aside, show him a calendar and make sure that Calgary’s GM has a firm grasp on the year in which he’s living and working.
Feaster’s dogged determination to wear Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff down to the wire for a team that has no real chance at the playoffs is enough to make you wonder.