The eve prior to the NHL trade deadline has been full of bombshells. Roberto Luongo is now a Florida Panther. Andrew MacDonald is a Philadelphia Flyer. Dustin Penner has been moved to the Washington Capitals, and Stephane Robidas has been dealt to the Anaheim Ducks.
One thing should stick out to you about the four major trades that happened today: only one impact player is moving to a Western Conference contender. The Chicago Blackhawks have stood pat, the Los Angeles Kings haven’t pulled the trigger on a deal for a top-six forward and the Colorado Avalanche aren’t expected to make a splash.
Unless you consider the Minnesota Wild’s pickup of Ilya Bryzgalov to be a true game changer, no one else in the West has been able to improve as much as the St. Louis Blues prior to the deadline. Robidas will play top-four minutes on a defensively sound Anaheim team, but did the Ducks rapidly improve like the Blues did?
It’s tough to make that argument, especially since the 37-year-old defender hasn’t played since November 29. He broke his leg against the Blackhawks that night, and has been rehabbing since. So while the NHL-best Ducks improve on the blue line, the move pales when compared to the duo that St. Louis brought in.
Everyone knows what Ryan Miller brings to the table. He’s an elite NHL goalie, and will be playing behind a defense that is better than any he ever saw while with the Buffalo Sabres. The value of Steve Ott shouldn’t be undersold either. He’s a warrior and gives the Blues yet another tough-to-play-against forward.
Heading into the March 5 deadline, several teams in the Eastern Conference have tried to improve. Even bubble teams like the Capitals are trying to get better. That hasn’t been matched by the ‘Hawks or Wild or any other Cup contender in the West. It could be argued that Chicago already made their moves, but Peter Regin and Kris Versteeg aren’t exactly the kind of players that can impact a game like Miller.
It’ll be interesting to see what the next few hours brings, but so far the Blues have been the winners of the trade deadline—at least as far as teams in the Western Conference go.
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