Thursday, March 5, 2009

Trade Deadline: Canes Get Cole

The NHL's trade deadline arrived at 3pm Eastern yesterday, and, unusually for recent years, most of the posted activity occurred after the official deadline. The Canes were involved in one deal, although it was fairly big: re-acquiring winger Erik Cole from Edmonton as part of a three-team deal that saw Carolina forward Justin Williams sent to Los Angeles.

What does this do for Carolina? Financially, maybe not much, as Cole's and Williams' salaries are almost a wash. Cole is a UFA after this season, so the question becomees whether or not the Canes will try to re-sign him. Given that it seems his best scoring days are behind him, it would seem likely that he won't get an offer anywhere close to the $4 million per annum he's getting now. On the ice, Cole could be what the Canes have been missing. Although not a big body, Cole will play the physical game, and always puts pressure on defenses to move the puck faster. Plus, he seems to make Eric Staal a better player. It will be interesting to see how Maurice lines them up tonight against Calgary.

More important, as the Canes are currently tied for ninth in the East, is what the teams around them did to get better. With 71 points, the Canes are tied with Buffalo, and are one point behind the 7/8 spot, currently shared by the Rangers and Pittsburgh. Florida is in 6th with 74 points, and Montreal in 5th with 75 points. Here's how they all fared yesterday:

Buffalo added goaltender Mikael Tellqvist and forward Dominic Moore, and lost forward Ales Kotalik. Good moves for the Sabres. With Ryan Miller out at least for the short-term, getting a backup G was paramount. Moore adds some energy and grit that the Sabres have been missing all year. This could push them into the playoffs, ultimately. It all hangs on their play in net.

Pittsburgh added forward Bill Guerin and defenseman Andy Wozniewski. They also picked up forward Craig Adams via waivers and added forward Chris Kunitz prior to the deadline. All to the good, I think. All four players should add some work effort, although none are the finisher to go with Crosby that Pens fans wanted. Plus, they waived the frustrating Miro Satan.

NY Rangers are trying for an Oprah makeover. New coach, new Sean Avery, plus winger Nik Antropov and defenseman Derek Morris. Although Morris is not the offensive sparkplug on the blueline the Rangers were looking for, he'll help matters, especially as this team still can't score. If Avery doesn't destroy the locker room, and losing 2/3 of their 3rd line doesn't hurt, it won't matter if they can't score, because with Lundqvist in net, they can still go far. I think they'll either surge and challenge Philly for the #4 spot, or flame out and miss the post-season altogether.

Florida only made one move, acquiring defenseman Steve Eminger from Tampa. But it's the move they didn't make -- trading D Jay Bouwmeester -- that will really pay dividends. The Panthers are a surprise playoff team right now, and are showing no signs of faltering. Barring a total collapse down the stretch, they'll make the playoffs, last for one series, and then lose Bouwmeester to free agency.

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