Archive for July, 2012

Mid Off-season Trade Day

Posted: July 23, 2012 in Hockey

Today was definitely on the active side for trading in the hockey world.  Well, okay – two trades with one being the most anticipated move in the NHL over the past several months; the other on a smaller but local level involving the Everett Silvertips.  But, they both have their various key talking points worth pointing out.

First and foremost is the NHL trade that (finally) sees Rick Nash go to the New York Rangers in exchange for forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov as well as defenseman Tim Erixon and a round-one draft pick next June.  Along with Nash goes defenseman Steven Delisle and a conditional round-three pick in the same draft (the “condition” being if the Rangers make it to the Stanley Cup Final the pick remains in Columbus).  This trade has many, many layers to it but I’m only going to touch on the one that was my first reaction to the news: Dubinsky going to Columbus.

This past season the big question mark following Dubinsky’s name was in regards to what happened to his offense.  In 2010-11 he posted career highs with 24 goals and 30 assists, but I personally have always been shocked by the fact that he did in fact have a couple of very good years that kept him on the top two lines for the Rangers.  I don’t remember him vividly as a Portland Winterhawk, but he always struck me as more of a third-line kind of player which is basically what he has become at the NHL level.  Now, whether or not that’s what Columbus sees, I don’t know.

The Blue Jackets brass made the move for instant gratification on the ice, but is the brunt of that being placed on Dubinsky’s shoulders or is it collective performance improvement between him, Anisimov and Erixon?  Maybe I’m wrong and the pressures of Broadway being removed will free up Dubinsky’s mind and he can get back to basics.  Or, do the pressures he’s leaving behind simply get replaced by the new demands of essentially trying to save a franchise?  My initial impressions are that there won’t be pressures keeping him from being a standout because he’s only a third-liner at this point who can get plugged into the top six spots on occasion to fill whatever needs or create whatever sparks are needed.

On a smaller, Everett based note: he could be good protection for Ryan Murray.  Let’s face it, Murray is NHL ready and if his current trajectory holds course he will become the face, heart and soul of that organization.  Someone needs to have his back and that man could be Dubinsky.  Yes, I realize that’s a bit of a way down the road because Murray won’t be a marked man right out of the gate and yes I realize that Columbus has other players who probably fit the protection role better than Dubinsky (I’m not going to go as far as using the “E” word, but he is one of the bigger men upfront for his new team), but at some point in the future Murray will (hopefully) be a premiere player and someone has to have his back.

So, what comes of it all remains to be seen.  Saturday, October 13 will be the first true test as Columbus travels to Chicago to play their first regular season game.  By November 7, after the team has played ten games, answers will begin to unravel and we will see which Brandon Dubinsky is lacing them up: the solid heart and determination of the line-up or the former standout who was victimized by his own personal mental trade – Broadway’s demand for salvation’s calling.

Now, to quickly touch base on the Silvertips trade: 17-year-old prospect Geordie Maguire to Brandon for 20-year-old goaltender Brandon Anderson OR a conditional round-five pick in next year’s Bantam draft.   The key point in there is the “OR” of what Everett gets in return.  With Maguire being 20 and a Washington Capitals signed prospect, he could start next season playing in a professional league.  If that is the case then Everett gets the draft pick; flip-side being that if Anderson stays in the WHL then he reports to Everett and the pick remains in Brandon.  The essential aspect in this deal is that Maguire had turned down the Tips on more than one occasion when they tried to sign him so it’s good to see they were able to get at least something in return.  However, really interesting scenarios play out if Anderson plays for the Silvertips next season.  He would take up one of the three available over-ager spots leaving the three forwards of J.T. Barnett, Cody Fowlie and Ryan Harrison vying for the final two openings.

If that is the situation that unfolds, it will be very intriguing to see what the Tips do.  Fowlie and Harrison have played their butts off for Everett during their careers.  Barnett has lots of offensive brilliance, but hasn’t had much of a chance to show them in a Tips sweater due to injuries allowing him to only dress in 24 games (20-regular season, 4-playoffs) after being traded to the team early last season.  As it stands now, on a personal note I’d like to see Fowlie and Harrison stick around.  They are insanely fun to watch and they play their guts out every shift.  Let them play out the last season of their career for the team they helped build.  However, with the injury situation for Barnett last season you may be able to get more in a trade for one of the other two thus strengthening the Silvertips rebuilding process.

Those are big equations for the organization to weigh out, but in reality the key ingredient of the whole deal isn’t even in their control.  They are just passengers until the whereabouts of Anderson get decided.  If he comes back to the Dub it will make for a fun couple of weeks off of the ice, but if he goes pro then none of it will have any relevance and no decisions will have to be made.

Now, after all of this typing I have just one remaining question…

Is it hockey season yet?