Predictions for the Biggest Names Who Moved at the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline
Some huge names are pulling on new sweaters all week following the NHL trade deadline.
Many of them will likely be sporting different colors again in the summer.
In the meantime, guys like Ryan Miller, Martin St. Louis and Thomas Vanek have missions with their current squads: make the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup.
Only one of them will accomplish the latter, but each of these big-name additions will be scrutinized down the stretch.
Click ahead to see what they've done so far and what they might achieve the rest of the season.
All stats are from NHL.com unless otherwise noted.
Martin St. Louis (New York Rangers)
Early returns: Two games played, one assist, eight shots, minus-one rating.
Prediction: Martin St. Louis proved by continuing to put up points after Steven Stamkos went down with a broken leg that he wasn't just benefiting from playing alongside one of the best young snipers in the NHL. His talent stands on its own—even at age 38.
Adjusting to a new system and a new group of guys—despite his familiarity with Brad Richards from their time together in Tampa—will prevent him from being as dynamic as he was for the Bolts early on, but he'll adapt and become the Rangers' most consistent playmaker down the stretch.
The Rangers, thanks as much to the play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist as to the addition of St. Louis, will make the playoffs but come away well short of the Stanley Cup Final.
Sadly, next season, playing without a massive chip on his shoulder for the first time in his career, St. Louis' stats will finally start to drop off.
For his trade demand, St. Louis will forever be hated by Lightning fans.
Ryan Miller (St. Louis Blues)
Early returns: Four games, four wins, six goals against, 1.50 goals-against average, .933 save percentage.
Prediction: It's easy to argue that the St. Louis Blues would have won their past four games whether it was newcomer Ryan Miller or the well-traveled Jaroslav Halak covering the crease. The Blues are just that good of a team.
But Miller was brought in from the Buffalo Sabres to provide the kind of consistency in net that can win a championship, and he's shown during a spectacular start with the Blues that those qualities are still in his arsenal.
It's a small sample size, but his save percentage is higher than in any season in Buffalo, and with a massive decrease in shots against coming with the Blues, in comparison with the Sabres, that trend should continue.
Miller will wow people with big saves in key moments to help the Blues become the biggest threat to unseat the defending Western Conference champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Thomas Vanek (Montreal Canadiens)
Early returns: Two games, no points, four shots, minus-one rating.
Prediction: On paper, the addition of Thomas Vanek gives the Montreal Canadiens a bigger-bodied forward who offers a proven scoring touch around the net. It's going to take some time, though.
The early returns haven't been stellar, but Vanek hasn't had much practice time with new linemates Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec.
The Habs are in a battle for anywhere from second in the Atlantic Division to a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They need Vanek to be the team's best second-best player, next to goalie Carey Price, down the stretch to better its position for the first round and ensure it doesn't slip out of the playoffs altogether.
Chances are very good that with a little more time with his new teammates, Vanek will ramp up production and give the Canadiens the kind of scoring depth through three lines they need to be a playoff dark horse in the wide-open Eastern Conference.
Marian Gaborik (Los Angeles Kings)
Early returns: One game, no points, three shots, minus-one rating.
Prediction: The Marian Gaborik experiment in Columbus ended without much satisfaction. In parts of two seasons, the talented but injury prone 32-year-old winger played just 34 games, scored nine times and totaled 22 points.
But with better health and a new life in Los Angeles, Gaborik could be king of the comeback stories down the stretch.
Some, like Adam Proteau of The Hockey News, viewed the teaming of Gaborik with coach Darryl Sutter as a potential disaster, mostly because Gaborik is a speedy, offensively gifted player, and Sutter preaches defense. But Sutter knows you have to score, and his system is as much about puck possession as it is about being reliable when you don't have it.
Gaborik was a risk/reward addition, costing the Kings Matt Frattin and second- and third-round picks. Given his prime years playing for the Minnesota Wild—a trap team guided by coach Jacques Lemaire—saw him score at least 30 goals in five of seven full seasons, the risk was worth the potential reward.
The Kings also believe they can sign the pending free agent to an extension.
Ryan Callahan (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Early returns: Two games, one assist, six shots, plus-one rating.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning and ex-Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman saw at the Sochi Olympics what kind of an impact American Ryan Callahan can make in more areas than the scoresheet. Despite playing 15 games fewer than many of the forwards who pace the league in hits dished out, Callahan finds himself up in the top 35 in that category.
With plenty of young playmakers in waiting, the Lightning will appreciate the more physical style of the former New York Rangers captain. His leadership skills will complement new Bolts captain Steven Stamkos in the locker room, and the sting of St. Louis' snub—more potent than the one Team Canada hit St. Louis with in January by leaving him off the original Winter Games roster—will quickly fade.
Callahan will contribute goals and points at key times for the Lightning down the stretch and become a fan favorite in South Florida before shunning them as an unrestricted free agent in July.
Roberto Luongo (Florida Panthers)
Early returns: One game, one win, no goals against, 1.000 save percentage.
Prediction: Almost eight years have passed since Roberto Luongo tended the twine for the Florida Panthers. For fans, it might have seemed like twice that.
In his homecoming game in Sunrise, Fla. after the trade deadline, Luongo backstopped the team to its first shutout in 124 regular-season games while earning his 66th career blanking in his first victory during his second stint with the Cats.
With no shot at making the playoffs, the rest of this season—and maybe the last eight years of Luongo's lengthy contract—will be spent proving to the hockey community that he got the shaft in Vancouver and is still an undisputed No. 1 goalie with the potential to be elite.
The games won't all be as strong as his debut against a bad Buffalo team, but the 34-year-old will be a nice, stable force on a team full of young prospects who hope to be competitive before too long.
That might even happen before Luongo's retires.
Ales Hemsky (Ottawa Senators)
Early returns: Two games, three assists, plus-two rating, five shots.
Prediction: Ales Hemsky left the Edmonton Oilers and no shot at making the playoffs this season to join the Ottawa Senators for the determining stretch of their schedule. They have some ground to make up in the Eastern Conference Wild Card Race.
Odds are against the Senators making the postseason, and the 30-year-old Hemsky could cash in somewhere else this summer as an unrestricted free agent, but both are going to make the best of this new union.
If anything is working in the Senators' favour, it's the fact Hemsky has made a massive impact in a short period of time. He didn't earn any points in his first game putting on the new jersey after making the drive from Edmonton to Calgary a night after hosting the Sens and potting a pair of goals against them; talk about a great scouting opportunity. In his second game, though, he earned three helpers and looked great on a line with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek.
The Senators have been seeking a spark for Spezza all season, and Hemsky sure looks the part. He'll reinvigorate the Sens captain offensively, but it just won't matter in the playoff race in the end. He could decide Ottawa is a great spot to sign for next season, though.
Matt Moulson (Minnesota Wild)
Early returns: One game, one assist, five shots, minus-one rating.
Prediction: Playing alongside Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle, Matt Moulson will be given every opportunity to be an impact player. His presence already bumped former All-Star sniper Dany Heatley to the fourth line, as Michael Russo of the Star Tribune notes.
His last half-dozen games in Buffalo were probably his best all season after the Sabres brought him over from Long Island in a trade for Vanek earlier in the year. He extended a six-game point streak to seven in his debut with the Wild.
Moulson is the kind of gritty player whose work ethic probably outweighs his natural talent, so with the Wild in a good position in the Western Conference Wild Card Race, he'll be plenty motivated to show the state of Minnesota what he can do.
Dustin Penner (Washington Capitals)
Early returns: Three games, no points, minus-one rating, three shots.
Prediction: The Washington Capitals wouldn't be a bad landing spot for Dustin Penner if he were tabbed to play with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
But suiting up alongside a similarly sized Troy Brouwer and the ever-underachieving Marcus Johansson—or worse, Jay Beagle at center when Johansson is moved to the top line because of Brooks Laich's injury—won't have much of an impact on the Washington Capitals.
Heck, he was barely making a difference with the Anaheim Ducks, going from healthy scratch one day to plush assignment on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry the next.
At some point, to save face on a trade that doesn't look that great for a Capitals team in a neck-and-neck wild-card battle, Penner will likely get his shot on the top line. He might even score a few goals, but he's just too inconsistent to stick.
He's a wildly entertaining Twitter follow, however, and he will trade tickets to games for a ride home and help carrying the groceries.
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