Numbers Game: Rent-a-player
Brian Murray pulled off a trade yesterday that brought Stanley-cup winners, Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore to the Senators. Stillman is “that top 6 forward that the Sens have been missing in their previous playoff drives”, while Commodore will certainly compliment an already strong defensive group.
How many times have you heard the media refer to trade deadline acquisitions as “the missing piece” that are certain to make their new team solid contenders in the playoffs? Just last year, we saw Bill Guerin, Ryan Smyth, Gary Roberts, Keith Tkachuk, Peter Forsberg, Craig Conroy, and Mike Comrie switch teams near the trade deadline with the hopes that they would fill a void in the lineup.
How did these guys actually do in their new uniforms?
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Bill Guerin scored less points per game when he was traded to the Sharks and in 9 playoff games, he only had 2 assists with a -3 rating. The Sharks lost in the second round to the Red Wings.
Gary Roberts scored more goals and points per game following his trade to the Penguins. He was also a strong contributor for the team in the playoffs, scoring 4 points in 5 games. However, the Pens lost in the first round to Sens.
Speaking of the Sens, they added Mike Comrie in early January. Comrie’s point production decreased in Ottawa during the season and he finished with only 6 points in the playoffs as the Sens fell one game short of winning the cup.
Ryan Smyth continued his strong play with the Islanders scoring nearly a point per game in the final stretch run of the season and in the Islanders’ short-lived playoffs. Ditto for Peter Forsberg with the Predators.
Keith Tkachuk joined the Thrashers hoping to win a cup. Those chances ended quickly after a 4 game sweep at the hands of the Rangers. Tkachuk, however, was consistent as he continued to produce .75 ppg.
Craig Conroy was brought back to the Flames with hopes that he would regain the chemistry he had with Iginla during the 2004 cup run. Conroy scored 21 points in the 28 games he played with the Flames, compared to only 16 points in 52 games with the Kings. However, he was nowhere to be found in the playoffs as the Flames lost in the first round in 6 games.
In sum, of these 7 “missing pieces”, 5 of them didn’t even make it past the first round with their new teams and only Mike Comrie, who cannot be credited with the Sens strong playoff drive, made it past the second round.
There are certainly many examples of players that are acquired at the deadline that end up playing pivotal roles. Just two years ago, Roloson and Samsonov were key figures in the Oilers unexpected cup run. However, one should certainly curb their optimism when your team has added “that missing piece.” That being said, I think the Stillman acquisition was an excellent move.
For Illegal Curve, I am Adam Gutkin.