Did you miss it? Right there, it just flew by. Yeah, that was the trade deadline, it’s gone…in case you didn’t notice.
But why would you? Unless you were glued to a Twitter list of NHL analysts and personalities you probably were more excited by your work or chemistry lab or Chinese water torture.
All jokes aide, there were some exciting moments during yesterday’s NHL trade deadline. While it’s safe to assume that the best of the day came after the 3 pm EST deadline, some hockey clubs got their man and are now looking forward to the final playoff push.
Ok, so let’s see who impressed and who embarrassed overall in the trade deadline.
Nashville Predators: hands down this is one of the best/upcoming teams in the NHL in the last few years, and arguably one of the best expansion teams in all of sports in recent memory. Overall in February the Preds made three trades, including two solid ones yesterday:
***D Hal Gill from Montreal for Blake Geoffrion and a 2nd rounder – There was more to this trade, but these are the pieces that matter. A prospect and a second round pick for a BIG defender that will definitely help this the top defense tandem relax during the playoffs. Win.
***F Andrei Kostitsyn from Montreal for two 2013 picks – Another deal with the Habs brought the second Kostitsyn brother to Nashville to give them a Sedin-style feeling in Music City. Gaining a solid forward who can enjoy playing with his brother for two picks next year – neither of which were first round?? Win.
***F Paul Gaustad and a 2013 pick from Buffalo for a 1st round pick this year – This might have been the biggest deal of deadline day. Gaustad is a solid forward who will help bolster the depth of the Preds’ lineup. Sure it was tough to give up a first round pick, but it’s not like the Preds will be drafting in the top 10 anyway so this is a great move for the team. Win.
Boston Bruins: the Bruins are already a very strong team, and they didn’t do much to mess up their lineup, which is always a plus when you’re winning. They managed to acquire three solid depth players in D Greg Zanon, F Brian Rolston and D Mike Mottau while giving up next to nothing in some prospects. Boston now has three experienced players to add to their lineup in hopes of repeating their Stanley Cup victory from last season.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Leafs Nation was hoping all day long that the club would pick up a big-name star (or two…or three) and a goalie, but they ended up with a solid young forward and defensive prospect. In picking up Carter Ashton from the Lightning, Toronto added a solid third-line forward for their playoff push and sent away Keith Aulie who was, for lack of a better word, expendable. Sometimes the best trade is the one you don’t make, right? GM Brian Burke is hoping his current team with Ashton is a playoff team and that more deals can be made in June if need be.
San Jose Sharks: There was some serious speculation about big names being shipped out of San Jose, but the they stayed put. The Sharks managed to add some depth in a big deal with the Avalanche in picking up F Daniel Winnik and F T.J. Galiardi. The Sharks are already a playoff team and they’re hoping these guys will help give them the depth they need for a long postseason run.
Columbus Blue Jackets: More specifically, a losing grade to their GM Scott Howson. They lost Jeff Carter last week, then Samuel Pahlsson yesterday for two 4th-round picks AND couldn’t ship out captain Rick Nash for the king’s ransom they were hoping for. Then, after all that, Howson threw Nash under the bus saying Nash requested the trade and made it public how frustrated the star was in Ohio. Real classy. So now the team has a disgruntled star who will for sure be gone in the off-season, and a young defender who is still unproven. Good job guys.
Washington Capitals: The Caps are a strong team and have been perennial playoff contenders for a long time now. Right now they’re clawing at a playoff spot and only made two minor moves all month? That’s not going to cut it for this team that has been struggling offensively this year.
Now it’s time for the rumors to be done with and for the real season to begin. The fans can now only hope their teams made the right moves, or held back from making bad ones.
Do you think anyone else won or lost in yesterday’s trade deadline? Let’s hear it.
Nets Remain Favorites For Howard
Many things have changed in the world since December, but Dwight Howard’s stance on where he wants to go has not. The Lakers and Mavericks are still on Howard’s trade wish list, but Sam Amick says he still wants to go to New Jersey.
He wants to leverage the Brooklyn market and get the international influence he’d get by playing for New Jersey’s Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov. He wants to “be Kobe Bryant, not be with Kobe Bryant.” The Magic would still like to get Andrew Bynum from Los Angeles, but Howard’s stance on the Lakers may prevent that. Of course if the Nets can’t get Howard, Dallas would be very interested in dealing for Deron Williams. Avery Johnson knows that Dallas could easily steal Williams away from the Nets.
Lakers Looking To Make Moves
Los Angeles would obviously love to acquire Howard, but they also really need a point guard. Pau Gasol is the most likely Laker to go, says Peter Vescey, but if Howard changes his mind about going to the Lakers then Bynum would get dealt and Jameer Nelson would head to LA.
Another point guard the Lakers like is Ramon Sessions of Cleveland. The Cavs have cap space, so they can take on contracts in order to get extra draft picks. Los Angeles also has an $8.9 million trade exception and have interest in Michael Beasley of Minnesota along with point guards Kyle Lowry of Houston (we know the Rockets covet Gasol) and Raymond Felton of Portland.
Vescey’s Extra Points
-There’s also talk of the Magic, Nets and Warriors and a megadeal involving Howard going to the Nets, Brook Lopez going to the Warriors and Monta Ellis among those going to the Warriors. Golden State also has interest in New Orleans’ Chris Kaman.
-Toronto is trying to move Leandro Barbosa’s contract to try to sign Wilson Chandler to an offer sheet.
-Boston and New Jersey are also interested in Beasley, who Minnesota would like to move.
Dallas Still On Board With Odom
There is no timetable for Lamar Odom’s return as he spends time with his ailing father, and a buyout has even been rumored. The buyout won’t happen and Dallas is committed to seeing things through. Odom, Shawn Marion and even Jason Kidd have been mentioned in rumors recently.
-Washington is still trying to move Andray Blatche after the Bobcats declined a trade that would have sent Tyrus Thomas to the Wizards a few weeks ago. There does not seem to be much interest.
-New Orleans has signed F Lance Thomas for the rest of the season.
Underrated is one of those terms thrown around. Most people define it as a player who flys under the radar. But whose radar? GM’s? Fans? ESPN? It’s those unheralded players in the league who go to work every night regardless of the national or international attention gained or maintained. Fans are also split into two categories: Enthusiastic, avid followers of the game or the casual, ESPN-informed fan. This is the first installment of the 2012 All Underrated Team:
Point Guard- Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks- It’s tough to just place one player in each position, however, this is what I’m here for. It came down to a competition between three: Teague, Andre Miller and Luke Ridnour.
In terms of flying under the radar, Teague averages 12 points, 4.5 assists, two steals, and shoots 47 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc and deserves the recognition. It’s his first season starting and logging at least 30 minutes after only 13 per game the previous two seasons and his team sits at 20-14 – right in the thick of things in the East. Others who were considered:
Andre Miller has long been one of the most savvy veteran point guards in the league. Never been the fastest or the best shooter in the game, his form, release and lack of lift on his jump shot causes opposing teams to allow him to shoot from 20 feet. Despite that flaw, he has continued to succeed in the league. Now acting as the backup to Ty Lawson in Denver, he posts 10.5 points and seven assists per game. Miller continues to be one of the best at his position, yet not one casual fan would include him in their top 10 list of PG’s.
Luke Ridnour? Is he still in the league? That small white dude? Yes, the starting PG for Minnesota has been a mainstay in the league despite his size and race. Most would take a glance at Ridnour and be done. Standing at a generous 6’2, 175 pounds, few would assume this guy has the talent to even grace the bench of an NBA squad. Yet he still continues to impress, averaging 11 points, four assists and an unmatched competitive drive to silence the doubters.
He hit the game winning floater to complete a remarkable comeback vs. Utah right before the All-Star break. Minnesota is sitting at 17-17 and the point guard position has a whole lot to do with it. Yes, Kevin Love is the driving force, however, consistent PG play trumps all. The two headed monster of Rubio and Ridnour allow this team to thrive and surprise the league halfway through the season.
Shooting Guard- Arron Afflalo, Denver Nuggets- There are, once again, three very good candidates for the position. Afflalo gets the nod, mainly because of his efforts on both ends of the floor. O.J. Mayo and Wesley Matthews slide into the runner up spots.
Afflalo starts for the Nuggets and provides steady leadership on offense; but it is on the defensive end where he establishes a name for himself. He’s always checking the opposing team’s most prolific scorer, ranging from Dirk Nowitzki to Kobe Bryant. To go with the fact that Denver is struggling without the likes of Nene, Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson, Afflalo has picked up his offensive game as well, scoring more than 20 points in six February games. A tough-minded individual who makes the necessary sacrifices for his team as well as the necessary leadership, Afflalo commands the respect of his teammates.
Mayo has not yet lived up to his hype only because those who discuss his potential to drop 20 points on a nightly basis are upset when the box score reads 12. However, his efficiency and role on the Grizzlies is to be that spark-plug off the bench, as they have plenty of guys who can score on the roster. He provides support in other aspects of the game, as evidenced by his 1.5 steals per game this month, all the while still putting up 12 points splitting time with starting guard, Tony Allen.
Wesley Matthews is the definition of overlooked: Undrafted out of Marquette, the Utah Jazz took a chance on him and he answered the bell, averaging just under 10 points in under 25 minutes for a playoff team. After proving his worth in the postseason, Portland extended the olive branch and signed him to a nice deal as Brandon Roy was beginning to break down. Just because he had rookie success in Utah did not mean he would continue. Perhaps he would slip into a sophomore slump. He quickly changed that when he poured in 16 per game shooting over 40 percent from three last season for the Blazers. This season, his scoring is down to 12.5 points, however, the addition of Jamal Crawford takes shots away from Matthews, and he has contributed on the defensive end by taking the toughest assignment each game.
Small Forward- Nicolas Batum, Portland TrailBlazers- Nicolas Batum has progressed every season thus far, yet still flies deeply under the radar. Batum is averaging 19 points, five boards, 1.6 blocks, 1.6 steals, and is shooting 50 percent on field goals and 43 percent from three in the month of February. He is a longer, younger and more athletic version of Shawn Marion. He doesn’t get much press but Batum is a budding star and will be a hot commodity once his contract is up. As an integral piece to the success of the team, only those who follow the team closely or live in Portland realize the talent this young Frenchman possesses.
Kawhi Leonard, a rookie out of San Diego State, has really been nothing short of incredible for the Spurs, specifically because stats never tell the whole story in San Antonio. He brings energy, defense and incredible instincts on the rebounding front for a rookie. Seven points, five boards and 1.5 steals in 23 minutes per game speaks volumes to this kid’s heart and effort. If Batum wasn’t one of the leading candidates for 6th man of the year in my book, Leonard would take the spot.
Power Forward- Kris Humphries, New Jersey Nets- Humphries is still under the radar only because he plays for New Jersey and is more famous for his failed 72 day marriage to that Armenian slut. In every arena he visits he is booed every time he touches the ball, which also says something about American pop culture – they would rather defend a known whore than realize she craves media attention even more than athletes between the sheets. Averaging 14 points, 11 rebounds and a block per contest, he should be in high demand this offseason as he narrowly beats out Taj Gibson for the starting nod.
Center- Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota TimberWolves- In the month of February he is posting 17 points, 10.5 boards and 1.2 blocks per game – eclipsing 20+ points five times with eight double-doubles. Who knew?! He played a total of four minutes in their first 11 games, only to become their starting center for the last 14 games, adding to the talent pool coming out of Yugoslavia.
Pekovic’s season averages of 12.5 and 7.5 are high enough to propel the second coming of Vlade Divac to the starting position on the All Underrated Team. Helping keep the T-Wolves relevant in a deep Western conference is a tall order, and second year big man Pekovic is doing his part – avoiding any media attention whatsoever.