Trade deadline day? Nothing left to say, but hours left to say it
It seems like everyone has been dealt, except for Roberto Luongo
San Jose Sharks winger Ryane Clowe chose the New York Rangers over the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday, thus closing one avenue of the Canucks’ endeavours.
Photograph by: Don Smith, NHLI via Getty Images
VANCOUVER — Somewhere in Toronto, the tall foreheads of The Sports Network and Rogers Sportsnet wept silently into their respective beers Tuesday while another round of big-name transfers sapped what few talking points remained for Trade Deadline Day.
Bad enough that Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero had already upstaged the whole production by getting in early and often, fishing Sharks D Doug Murray and Stars forward Brenden Morrow and Flames captain Jarome Iginla out of the pond before anyone else had even untangled their lines.
Did Calgary’s Jay Feaster and Dallas’s Joe Nieuwendyk have to run up the white flag so far in advance? Could Boston’s Peter Chiarelli and Vancouver’s Mike Gillis not have waited 24 hours to pick the last of the aged meat from the bones of the Stars?
Do those two good Canadian boys, L.A.’s Darryl Sutter and San Jose’s Doug Wilson, care nothing any more for the fate of the 70 or so talking heads in their homeland who will be trying to fill 10 hours of air time with something other than the sound of crickets Wednesday, while the clock ticks painfully toward the 3 p.m. EDT National Hockey League trade deadline?
Boston’s Tuesday acquisition of Hall of Fame-bound superstar Jaromir Jagr and Vancouver’s deal for diminutive centre Derek Roy, both from the Stars, and Sutter’s snag of his former Flames stalwart Buffalo’s Robyn Regehr, to bolster the Kings’ blue line further depleted the pool of players who might have made the blanket TV coverage even a little bit lively.
Also gone, before the cameras even start to roll, were iron man D Jay Bouwmeester (from Calgary to St. Louis) and his former Flames teammate Jordan Leopold (Buffalo to St. Louis) and F Michal Handzus (San Jose to Chicago) — and Tuesday evening, the curiously much-coveted San Jose winger Ryane Clowe chose the New York Rangers over Vancouver, thus closing one avenue of the Canucks’ endeavours.
In short, everyone has already been traded except Roberto Luongo, who spent his Tuesday attempting subliminal messages via Twitter, a series of icons ranging from sand running through an hourglass to an SOS signal to a telephone. All for naught. Nobody was calling.
Elsewhere, however, there was plenty of action.
“Well, there were some big names traded because of Calgary making a decision about where they were going, and Dallas (i.e., nowhere fast),” said Canucks GM Mike Gillis, acknowledging that Wednesday could be for housekeeping moves, at best.
“I don’t know if there’ll be much more activity once we get into (Wednesday). Maybe some minor-league stuff, but ... it’s challenging because of the shortened schedule, and it’s always challenging because you’re making decisions that are borne out of a marketplace that has 29 other teams in it, and there’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty. So when you want to go get a player in this kind of marketplace, you have to pay what the going rate is.”
The going rate seems to be iffy prospects and second- and third-round draft picks, in bundles.
“There’s been really high prices paid for players,” Gillis said. “There’s a lot of teams in the playoff race when you only have a 48-game schedule, it doesn’t create the same opportunity to separate teams from one another. And you know, it’s going to be a dogfight to get into the playoffs.
“You don’t have three or four teams in each (conference) out of the playoff picture at this point, and if you look at games tonight: teams that are out of the playoffs today may be in the playoffs by tomorrow and making very different decisions.”
The Canucks? One decision down, maybe two more to go. They could use a right-handed shooting defenceman and another winger, preferably with size, and, if it’s not asking too much, hands.
Ironically, if that’s the word, among the first questions to Gillis in a conference call Tuesday was whether, now that they had secured a much-needed centre, they might play Ryan Kesler on the wing when he returns in a week or two. Good Lord.
“That’ll be a coach’s decision,” he said, but presumably Alain Vigneault hasn’t been waiting all this time for centre-ice depth so that he can promptly toss it away by playing two of them together.
As for Clowe, the fact that San Jose actually would have been willing to trade him to a conference rival — Vancouver was the only other team in the bidding, by the end — is either a sign that the Sharks didn’t consider him a force any more, or a sign of supreme confidence in their ability to beat the Canucks under whatever circumstances.
“No, I wasn’t surprised,” Gillis said. “I think Doug Wilson is a very pragmatic guy who is looking at his own hockey team first and foremost, and I don’t think he had any fear in that regard. And it’s a little more complicated, in that the player has expectations about a contract moving forward that needed to be addressed.”
At any rate, if this is it for the Canucks, at least they have their centre, and in Roy — who, don’t forget, was one of 25 forwards Hockey Canada invited to Calgary for the pre-2010 Olympic camp — they’re getting a proven point producer and a decent two-way player with explosive qualities and good instincts.
Ideally, assistant GM Laurence Gilman said, he’d be 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, but you can’t have everything.
“He can take faceoffs, plays 20 minutes a game, he has been 30-goal scorer in NHL ... and aside from what he brings on ice, he will bring an emotional lift to our team,” said Gilman. “We’re a fertile team, but we’ve been depleted.”
It also changes the focus on what the return might be, if they manage to deal Luongo, either now or later. What comes back might not have to be a centre, if the Canucks and Roy like each other enough to re-up in the summer.
And if this isn’t the end of the dealing for the Canucks — Gilman said they’d love to add one or even two more players (though Clowe might have been one of them) — well, that’s something left for the TV boys to talk about, anyway.
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