February 28 is scheduled to be trade deadline day in the NHL. Feb. 18 was definitely D day though.
In addition to the Bruins’ acquisition of Tomas Kaberle from Toronto, four other defensemen were traded Friday. While Erik Johnson and Kevin Shattenkirk switching places as part of the St.Louis-Colorado 2-for-2 swap didn’t fit in the same category of Boston’s trade with the Leafs, the deals that landed Ian White in San Jose and Eric Brewer in Tampa Bay were similar type deals.
Here’s a quick breakdown of those trades:
Ian White from Carolina to San Jose for a second-round pick in ’12
The Sharks, with Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard and Douglas Murray ensconced as their top three, needed to supplement their back end and decided they didn’t need to reach as high as an offensive-minded blueliner like Kaberle. White will be an unrestricted free agent come summer and currently carries a cap hit of a little less than $3 million. At 26, he’s the youngest of the three big names dealt yesterday. Although he has struggled fitting in with two teams offensively (2-14-16 totals) this season, he scored 13 goals last season for Toronto and Calgary. The Hurricanes decided they could move White because of the emergence of Brett Carson, much the way Adam “Lone Wolf” McQuaid’s improvement made Mark Stuart expendable in Boston.
Eric Brewer from St. Louis to Tampa Bay for a third-round pick in ’11 and unsigned prospect Brock Beukeboom
The Blues seemingly went into seller mode, although their second trade of the day only got them minimally younger and didn’t clear all that much cap space. Nonetheless, a team doesn’t usually trade its captain when it’s preparing for a playoff push. Interesting that Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman decided to solidify his defense corps but didn’t ante up for Kaberle — instead opting for his former Team Canada teammate, who’s 31 and carries a $4.25 million cap hit. Brewer will be a UFA this summer and should cash in since he’s already matched his career-high (set last season) with eight goals. If the Lightning get something going in the playoffs, Brewer’s price will continue to rise. Certainly, Tampa sees him as someone it can keep around to mentor its younger players and contribute beyond this season.
The Bottom Line
Boston got the player it has pursued for more almost two years and paid the steepest price of the teams that acquired defensemen yesterday. While I like White, he only would’ve fit the Bruins’ plans if they were looking to really shake up their personnel and add two new backliners (and probably get rid of a second one). He’s a perfect fit for the Sharks, who I believe might be my Stanley Cup favorite.
In Brewer, the Lightning added experience with some offensive upside. But he is not a power-play player and the Bruins had to have someone that could orchestrate on the man-advantage so that Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron could play up front and Zdeno Chara would have less responsibility.
Erik Johnson, who’s just 22 and signed for next year at a cap hit of just $2.6 million, would’ve been an amazing fit for Boston. Although he hasn’t produced much this year, he scored 10 goals last season and could’ve projected as the heir apparent to Chara down the road. I’m sure the Bruins did their due diligence on the former No. 1 overall pick and decided the price was too high and would’ve done too much to mess with their current chemistry.
After all, this is a Bruins team that has just one goal — to win the Cup this year. By adding a veteran player like Kaberle — who has his blemishes but brings a skill set that the team has lacked since the end of the ’08-09 season — at the cost of just a pick and a prospect — two things the Bruins still have plenty of — made the most sense for this situation. Even if Kaberle walks at the end of this year, the Bruins can rest assured they did the right thing to make a move for the rest of this season, and they’ll have cap space to pursue an equivalent talent via trade or free agency in the summer.