Prospects changing hands near the 2007 trade deadline

By George Bachul

Twenty NHL prospects changed hands during the final month leading up to the NHL trade deadline. Hockey’s Future analyzes the trades and gives some insight to the young players being moved between NHL franchises.

February 1, 2007

To Washington: Milan Jurcina, D
To Boston: 2007 fourth-round pick

Analysis:  Milan Jurcina has the size that many NHL GMs covet.  Jurcina had fallen out of favor with Head Coach Dave Lewis and had seen some press box time.  It was a deal that had some Bruins fans shaking their heads based on the fact that at 23 years of age, Jurcina will still develop.  He was a solid contributor last season and had regressed this season.

Winner: Overall you would have to suggest that both teams won.  The Bruins acquired a fourth-round pick for the original eighth-round selection of Jurcina.  The Capitals have a player that can play now and add blueline depth and still has some upside.

Prospect upside: No. 4-5 defenseman.

Brief style overview: Defensively responsible, big blueliner with low-moderate offensive ability.

NHL arrival: Immediate.

February 5, 2007

To New York Rangers: Sean Avery, C
John Seymour, F (prospect)

To Los Angeles:
Jason Ward, RW
Marc-Andre Cliche, F (prospect)
Jan Marek, F 

The New York Rangers were keen on acquiring grit and toughness and Sean Avery was their target.  They also acquired prospect John Seymour who is basically a long shot prospect throw-in to the deal, taken in the seventh round in the 2005 NHL draft.  In return, the Los Angeles Kings received Jason Ward, a decent roster player, as well as Jan Marek, a European player the Rangers drafted in 2003 as a 23-year-old.  Now 27, it is uncertain if Marek will ever come to North America.  The final piece of the puzzle is Marc-Andre Cliché, a gold medal winner for Team Canada at the 2007 World Junior Championships.  Cliché was drafted in the second round of the 2005 NHL draft, 56th overall.

Winner: At first glance the NY Rangers are the winner of this deal because of the certainty of quality they received in return.  The Los Angeles Kings have a question mark in Marek coming to North America and Marc-Andre Cliché’s offensive ability at the NHL level.

Prospect upside (John Seymour NYR): In all likelihood, Seymour will be nothing more than a career AHLer.  If he hits his absolute peak potential, he could be a fourth-line energy player in the NHL.

Brief style overview: Fourth-line energy, physical player.

NHL arrival: Unlikely

Prospect upside (Marc-Andre Cliché LA): Cliché was a key cog in the Team Canada WJC 2007 gold medal team.  His strong forecheck and aggressive penalty kill were definite assets to the team.  He could end up as a solid two-way winger, but looks like he could also mold himself into a defensive specialist.

Brief style overview:  Two-way winger.  Decent offensively, conscious defensively. 

NHL arrival: 2008-09

February 15, 2007

To Nashville: Peter Forsberg, C

To Philadelphia:
Scottie Upshall, F
Ryan Parent, D
2007 first-round pick
2007 third-round pick

Analysis:  The Nashville Predators decided to acquire the crown jewel of available players at the deadline with the acquisition of Peter Forsberg.  The cost was high moving former top ten pick Scottie Upshall, highly-touted defensive prospect Ryan Parent and a first and third round draft choice. 

In any transaction of this magnitude, the key for Nashville is that they are trying to put their team over the top.  Any asset is moveable if the result is the Stanley Cup.  Upshall hasn’t developed as the Predators had liked and Ryan Parent is in a defense pool that is the deepest of any team in the NHL.  The Predators still have Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Kevin Klein, Cody Franson and Teemu Laakso that are all NHL quality players and prospects.

Winner: Undecided.  Long term the Flyers win big with several good assets in return for a pending UFA.  If the Predators win the Cup, it was all worthwhile.

Prospect upside:  Parent is an effortless skater and considered to be a lock to be a top four defenseman in the NHL.

Brief style overview:  A solid defenseman who takes care of his own end first and can play physical.  Skates effortlessly and is a good leader.

NHL Arrival: 2008-09

February 18, 2007

To Edmonton:
Denis Grebeshkov, D

To New York Islanders:
Marc-Andre Bergeron, D
2008 third-round pick

Analysis:  The first sign of the Edmonton Oilers becoming sellers was to move Marc-Andre Bergeron for futures.  Bergeron is an offensively gifted, smooth-skating blueliner that has more than his share of defensive lapses.  The Edmonton Oilers lack of blueline depth had Bergeron playing against other team’s top players and getting exposed defensively.

Grebeshkov was at one time considered one of the top blueline prospects in the world and was selected originally 18th overall in the 2002 draft.  Grebeshkov has been playing with men since the age of 18 when he first made the Lokomotiv in the Russian Super League. 

Grebeshkov spent most of 2003 through 2006 playing in the AHL and was expected to become a regular in the NHL as soon as this season when the New York Islanders couldn’t come to an agreement with Grebeshkov on a one-way contract.  Grebeshkov still shows signs of being highly touted and the Oilers have stated they intend to have him on their roster next season.

Winner:  Islanders.  They turned a prospect playing in Russia for a top 6 NHL defenseman and a fair draft pick.

Prospect upside: Top four blueliner.

Brief style overview:  All-around defenseman capable of playing in all situations. 

NHL Arrival: 2007-08

February 24, 2007

To Anaheim:
Gerald Coleman, G
2007 first-round pick

To Tampa:
Shane O’Brien, D
2008 third-round pick

Analysis:  The key for this deal was the acquisition of a first-round pick by Brian Burke the GM of the Anaheim Ducks.  It has been suggested that Burke would need to acquire a first round pick to pry one of the key coveted forwards available at the deadline such as Bill Guerin or Keith Tkachuk.  O’Brien was having an incredibly solid rookie campaign putting up 14 points in 62 games while going +5 and adding strength and toughness on the back end.

In Gerald Coleman, the Ducks acquired a depth goaltender for the organization that likely won’t see much NHL playing time.  

Winner:  It is easy to look at a deal in retrospect, since Brian Burke didn’t end up acquiring a top echelon forward at the deadline.  But the return for a player of O’Brien’s caliber was extremely solid.  Give this one to the Ducks.

Prospect upside (Gerald Coleman ANA):  Backup goaltender

Brief style overview: Large goalie that takes up a lot of net.  Needs to compensate for slow footwork.

NHL Arrival:  2010-11.

Prospect upside (Shane O’Brien TB):  No. 4 or 5 Defenseman.  O’Brien should be able to continue his progression and carve out a nice NHL career for himself. 

Brief style overview:  Tough, two way defenseman with low-moderate offensive upside.  Solid defensively and willing to drop the gloves.

NHL Arrival: Immediate.

February 24, 2007

To Atlanta: Alexei Zhitnik, D

To Philadelphia: Braydon Coburn, D

Analysis:  Conventional wisdom is that Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell is feeling the heat to get his team to the post season.  Now that his team is on the cusp, he is willing to move some youth to acquire some veterans to achieve this goal. 

Former top 10 pick in the 2003 draft Braydon Coburn has yet to achieve NHL success like the pick before him (Ryan Suter) and the pick after him (Dion Phaneuf).  The time for the Thrashers to win is now so the movement of a prospect that doesn’t seem to be achieving his lofty draft day expectations is a reasonable thought.

Winner: Atlanta.  Not only do they get a strong offensive blueliner in Zhitnik, the Thrashers will have Zhitnik’s services for the next two seasons.  One bright side for the Flyers is they move $3.5 million in salary to put towards some free agents next off-season.

Prospect upside: Top four blueliner.

Brief style overview:  Smooth skating defensive blueliner with good size.

NHL Arrival:  Immediate.

February 25, 2007

To San Jose:
Craig Rivet, D
2008 fifth-round pick

To Montreal:
Josh Gorges, D
2007 first-round pick

Analysis:  After this trade Canadiens GM Bob Gainey indicated they were not sellers.  Most certainly it proved correct since the Canadiens did not move any of their other Unrestricted Free Agents.  Craig Rivet as an UFA garnered a solid return since he was most likely to not return to Montreal in the off-season.  Rivet will provide another veteran presence to the Shark blueline in an attempt to go on a playoff run.  Gorges gives the Canadiens another option on the blueline as the team has three other unrestricted defensemen (Sheldon Souray, Andre Markov, and Janne Niinimaa) this off-season.  A first round pick is always a decent asset.

Prospect upside: Depth defenseman.  Limited offensive ability.

Brief style overview:  Hard working, mostly mistake free, defensive defenseman.

NHL Arrival: Immediate.

February 27, 2007

To New York Rangers:
Alex Bourret, RW

To Atlanta:
Pascal Dupuis, LW
2007 third-round pick

Analysis:  Another Thrasher move to push towards the postseason moving their second former first rounder in three days.  They acquire a solid two-way forward that should help them in their playoff push and importantly get back a 2007 pick after trading two of them in the Tkachuk deal.  The Rangers seem to be looking toward the future, but it may not be too far away with Bourret already contributing at the AHL level.  There are, however, serious concerns about work ethic for the 20-year-old.

Bourret is a gritty scoring forward that is very strong on his skates and has good offensive instincts and should help the Rangers in the near future.

Winner: NY Rangers.  Bourret is a top-end prospect and could go on to a solid career in New York.

Prospect upside: Top six forward.

NHL arrival: 2008-09

To Anaheim: Doug O’Brien, D

To Tampa Bay: Joe Rullier, D

Analysis:  The Lightning were obviously looking for toughness depth when they moved Doug O’Brien for heavyweight Joe Rullier.  O’Brien was made expendable by the acquisition of his namesake Shane O’Brien only a few days earlier.  Seemingly an odd transaction considering the Ducks were trading for blueline depth with the same team they traded their blueline depth to.

O’Brien is a former two-time Memorial Cup all-star with the ability to contribute at both ends of the ice. 

Winner:  Anaheim Ducks.  Second time they acquire more value than they give up from the Lightning in three days.

Prospect upside: Top four blueliner.

Brief style overview:  Two-way defenseman with moderate offensive upside.

NHL arrival: 2008-09

To Pittsburgh: Gary Roberts, F

To Florida: Noah Welch, D

Analysis:  With their bountiful group of young players starting to hit their stride, it appears as though the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to make some noise in the playoffs.

The Penguins acquired some talented grit in Gary Roberts and he will definitely compliment the skilled players in Steeltown.  The Penguins give up a highly-touted blueline prospect in Noah Welch that has size, skill and a good all around game.

Winner:  Tie.  Obviously to add a solid known commodity like Roberts, you have to move something of value.  Welch should develop into a contributor for the Panthers in the very near future.

Prospect upside: Top four blueliner.  Solid in all zones.

NHL Arrival: 2007-08

To St. Louis: Brad Boyes, F

To Boston: Dennis Wideman, D

Analysis:  Sophomore slumping Brad Boyes played himself out of Boston dropping from a 69-point campaign to a projected 44-point campaign.  The Blues will hope that Boyes rebounds and provides them with some offensive flair with the movement of Tkachuk and Guerin to greener pastures.

The Bruins are also looking to replace some pieces with the movement of Paul Mara and his disappointing offensive campaign with Dennis Wideman who has shown an ability at every level to put up some decent offensive numbers. 

Winner:  Boston.  Wideman is having a good season and showing improvement.  Boyes still has upside but for now the edge goes to the Bs.

Prospect upside:  Top four defenseman, power-play quarterback.

Brief style overview:  Offensive blueliner with great puck skills.  Intelligent power-play quarterback.  Some struggles defensively.

NHL Arrival:  Immediate.

To San Jose:
Bill Guerin, F

To St. Louis:
Ville Nieminen, F
Jay Barriball, F (prospect)
2007 or 2008 conditional first-round pick

Analysis:  The San Jose Sharks continue their quest to be a contender this year by adding one of the top offensive forwards coveted at the deadline.  Guerin has been penciled in as a top line player on his new squad and should add even more scoring punch to an already potent line-up.

The Blues couldn’t come to terms on a contract extension with Guerin and as a pending Unrestricted Free Agent, they felt like value had to be acquired before potentially losing Guerin for nothing.

Along with a first-round pick, the Blues acquired Ville Nieminen, who will replace some of the veteran leadership on a very young squad.  They also picked up diminutive prospect Jay Barriball who is having a great offensive season in the NCAA scoring over a point a game as a freshman.  Barriball exhibits that small quick player that was suggested could thrive in the new NHL.

Winner:  San Jose Sharks.  Compared to some of the other UFA forwards acquired, the Sharks gave up the least.

Prospect upside: Second line forward.

Brief style overview:  Small skilled, offensive forward.

NHL Arrival: 2011-12

To Anaheim: Brad May, F

To Colorado: Michael Wall, G

Analysis:  The Ducks probably felt that Gerald Coleman was at least Michael Wall‘s equal, who they picked up earlier in the Shane O’Brien trade.

May will add more grit and depth to the Ducks squad.  He played only a minor role in Colorado since returning from shoulder surgery so he will not be missed.

Winner:  Colorado.  Wall is a decent prospect for an unrestricted free agent that won’t likely make much of an impact for his new team.

Prospect upside: NHL backup.

Brief style overview:  Big athletic goalie that covers a lot of the net.

NHL Arrival:  2010-11

To Pittsburgh:
Georges Laraque, F

To Phoenix:
Daniel Carcillo, LW
2008 third-round pick

Analysis:  The protection of its young stars most notably Sidney Crosby has been a bone of contention for the Penguins all season.  Georges Laraque was convinced to waive his no trade clause to move to a playoff team and alleviate some of the physical pressure on the Penguins youth.

The Coyotes receive a third-round pick in 2008 and young agitator Daniel Carcillo in return.  Carcillo will drop the gloves and had an astonishing 311 penalty minutes in only 51 AHL games last season.

Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins.  The NHL’s best fighter to protect their skilled players at minimal cost.

Prospect upside: Fourth line agitator.

NHL Arrival:  2008-09

To Dallas:
Mattias Norstrom, D
Konstantin Pushkarev, RW
2007 third-round pick
2007 fourth-round pick

To Los Angeles:
Jaroslav Modry, D
Johan Fransson, D
2008 first-round pick 2007 second-round pick 2007 third-round pic

Analysis:  The Stars and Kings swapped veteran blueliners, decent prospects and several picks.  Mattias Norstrom is the best player in the deal but comes with a healthy $4,250,000 price tag for this season and next. Modry had some good years in Los Angeles already. 

Konstantin Pushkarev is a solid prospect already receiving NHL ice time.  He projects to be a top six winger at the NHL level with good offensive skills.  Fransson is a decent blueline prospect that has been playing in the Swedish Elite League for the last three full seasons. 

Winner:  LA Kings.  The Kings receive a lot of assets while moving a large salary the other way, while getting a NHL quality defender to come back the other way.

Prospect upside (Konstantin Pushkarev DAL): Top six forward.

Brief style overview:  Smallish skilled winger that can create offense.

NHL Arrival: 2007-08

Prospect upside (Johan Fransson LAK): Top six blueliner.

Brief style overview:  Two way blueliner with moderate offensive abilities.

NHL Arrival:  2008-09

To New York Islanders:
Ryan Smyth, F

To Edmonton:
Ryan O’Marra, F
Robert Nilsson, F
2007 first-round pick

Analysis:  If you listen to Oiler fans, it isn’t a happy situation regardless of what the return was.  Ryan Smyth was considered the face of the franchise and the most popular player on the team.  The inability to come to terms on a new long term contract forced Oiler GM Kevin Lowe to move the heart and soul player to Long Island.

The Islanders receive a player that is considered one of the best in the league in front of the opposition net tipping pucks and in the corners digging out pucks.  His stamina and grit are well noted and Smyth also plays well at both ends of the ice, even having the ability to play on the penalty kill.

The Oilers receive the equivalent of three first rounders, the first two being drafted by the Islanders in the 2003 and 2005, both 15th overall.  In addition the Oilers receive the Islanders first selection in 2007.

Robert Nilsson was highly touted in his draft year, being a dynamic offensive player, similar to his father Kent Nilsson who played for the Oilers in 1986-87 and briefly in 1994-95.  Nilsson from all accounts does have great offensive instincts but there is some question of his ability to stay motivated for long stretches of time. 

Ryan O’Marra is a two-time gold medal winner at the World Junior Hockey Championships for Team Canada.  O’Marra is a gritty, skilled center, who skates very well.  He is also skilled offensively and has a solid all around game.

Winner:  Edmonton Oilers.  While it sounds strange to Oiler fans to look at this as a victory, Ryan Smyth doesn’t have any solid connection to Long Island.  With Smyth possibly walking away for nothing, the return of three good assets for a pending UFA is a solid return.  The media in Edmonton suggests that Smyth turned down a $27 million dollar, five-year contract pricing him outside what Kevin Lowe pegged his value at.

O’Marra and Nilsson should be NHLers and if Smyth doesn’t re-sign with the Islanders, this is a huge win for Edmonton.

Prospect upside (Robert Nilsson EDM):  Top six forward.

Brief style overview:  Skilled offensive forward with great hands.  Defensive deficiencies will have to be worked upon.

NHL Arrival: 2007-08

Prospect upside (Ryan O’Marra EDM): Second line center.

Brief style overview: Gritty two-way center with lots of leadership qualities.  Skates well and should be able to chip in offensively.

NHL Arrival: 2008-09

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