Suffice it to say this was the wrong draft weekend to head out to Boston to catch the Dispatch reunion show. I’m not mad at my decision, Boston is a great city and the show was absolutely killer. However, there were some major stirrings in the hockey world – both in and outside of Buffalo.
As the Robyn Regehr trade gets pounded into oblivion by the sports media, I want to offer my take on the other major transactions from draft weekend. My opinion, and many others have been cast regarding the Sabres trade. No need to rehash it.
One set of moves that outweighed anything else were the ones made by Philadelphia. By shipping Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to Columbus and Los Angeles, respectively, the Flyers really put a stamp on their goal for 2011-12. They needed cap space to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a major deal (that they did) and they found it with two major cogs.
Both forwards were inked to long deals that should have kept them in the City of Brotherly Love for life. Instead, they were unneeded pieces of a Stanley Cup puzzle.
The Carter move was much more perplexing than the Richards trade. Richards was wearing a hole in the locker room with the media and it seemed, at times, that he didn’t get along with his coach. In return, the Flyers got one of the most prized prospects in Brayden Schenn and one of my personal favorites, Wayne Simmonds. Both of those players make Philly better moving forward. Add the cap space they saved and it is an absolute win.
The reason I am not a fan of the Carter deal is the return. Namely Jakub Voracek. The Flyers have one loafing European who saw time in Columbus already, his name is Nikolay Zherdev. Why do they need another one? Now, obtaining the eighth overall pick in the draft, which became Sean Couturier, was wise. The center was, at one point, considered to be a top-three talent. If he hits the NHL in one year it will be big for the Flyers. The thought of JVR, Giroux, Schenn and Couturier is frightening. Still, it is going to be difficult to replace all of Richards’ goals AND all of Carter’s. Maybe they are able to get by with losing one, losing two maybe tough.
Another team who completely confused me was the San Jose Sharks. In order to acquire Brett Burns and a second-round pick in 2012, the Sharks shipped off Devin Setoguchi (one day after extending his contract), Charlie Coyle and the 28th selection in the 2011 draft. That pick became Zack Phillips.
The Sharks gave up three first-round talents – on of which has averaged over 20 goals three years running – to get an offensive defenseman who is -18 for his career. The opinion that you NEED a puck moving defenseman is somewhat overvalued if you ask me. Not to mention, the Sharks have the best one in the NHL, his name is Dan Boyle. Oh yeah, he plays defense too. If anything, Doug Wilson should have gone out and found a key shutdown guy. Whether that was Kevin Bieksa, Ed Jovanovski or Scott Hannan, it shouldn’t have mattered. That is the type of player you want to covet, not a dime-a-dozen puck mover.
The only other trade of consequence was Ryan Smyth moving back to Edmonton for Colin Fraser and a seventh-round draft pick. A rather ho-hum trade that gives the Kings some wiggle room to fit in Mike Richards and the Oilers some much-needed depth.
What these trades, and the recent extensions of key UFAs has done, is place a higher premium on the remaining free agent crop. I’ll have a few more thoughts on that soon.