Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Canucks, Predators Win at the NHL Trade Deadline

By Jason Klau

For the hockey world, this year's trade deadline revolved around one player: Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Nash though, would not be moved from the last-place Jackets - at least not this season. And while this deadline didn't see as many big moves as years previous, a few teams did come out ahead, bolstering their chances to make a playoff run.

 Rick Nash will not be hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup anytime soon.

In last season's run to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Canucks added enough grit to get to there, but not enough to out-grit the Boston Bruins. Adding guys like Chris Higgins and Maxime Lapierre provided depth and core power to their lower lines, without disturbing the ice time of their top guys. Those contributions fueled the fire in their run that eventually ended in a Game 7 Stanley Cup series loss.

This year Vancouver GM Mike Gillis went with the same game plan.

For a couple of mid round draft picks, Vancouver added Samuel Pahlsson from the Blue Jackets. Pahlsson, while he's no killer offensively, plays a strong defensive game and can be relied on to chip in when needed. His 81 playoff games and two Stanley Cup rings also provide the experience the Canucks need to get over the hump. Costing just two fourth-round draft picks, a lot of contending teams are kicking themselves today for not offering the same price for him. He steps up when it matters, and could be that missing piece that the Canucks did not have in last year's run. Simply put, Pahlsson is a winner.

The Canucks also took a gamble and dealt for Buffalo rookie Zack Kassian, another gritty player, giving up their own rookie, Cody Hodgson, in a straight up rookie for roomie deal. Both players are former first-round picks. Hodgson, while having the better offensive year thus far, doesn't bring the same level of grit that power forward Zack Kassian brings. Kassian led the American Hockey League in scoring before his call up to the big show, and while he hasn't produced as much at the NHL level yet, there is still some untapped potential.

 Zach Kassian will look to murder the game in Vancouver from now on.

Another Western Conference team that as well made a big statement on deadline day is the Nashville Predators, adding two key players.

After an action-less deadline morning, the Preds pulled off the first move of the day, adding Andrei Kostitsyn from Montreal. The move reunites Andrei with his brother, Sergei Kostitsyn, who left Montreal under some controversy with his brother involving the Russian mob. I don't know how much mob activity is in Tennessee, but things should be safer down south.

Nashville's second move involved adding Buffalo grinder Paul Gaustad. While the cost of a first-round pick is high, Nashville didn't want to give up any roster players. They liked what they had and did not want to ruin the dynamic of their team. By moving two draft picks for Kostitsyn, and the first-round pick they moved for Gaustad, Nashville said to their players, as well as to their fans, we are are confident in our guys, and we are ready to compete at the highest level.

Paul Gaustad has no problem going toe-to-toe with the game's biggest brutes.

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