Joe Nieuwendyk’s decision to hold a fire sale for the Dallas Stars made two of his fellow general managers quite happy – Mike Gillis of the Vancouver Canucks and Peter Chiarelli of the Boston Bruins.
Both Chiarelli and Gillis were able to fill some substantial holes with a couple of Nieuwendyk’s castoffs. Chiarelli and the Bruins eased the pain of losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Jarome Iginla race by getting Jaromir Jagr for a second-round draft pick and a couple of prospects which should help their pop-gun offence. The Canucks finally found a centre in Derek Roy, who only had 22 points in 30 games in his short stay in Dallas but could find the scoring form he showed as a Buffalo Sabre with a change in scenery.
To his great fortune, Gillis did lose the great Ryane Clowe auction to the New York Rangers on Tuesday when GM Glen Sather paid the crazy price of two second-round picks (one is conditional) and a third-rounder for a player who has yet to score this season. But more on that later.
Nieuwendyk decided to start selling after 3-2 and 4-0 losses to the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, respectively. That made it clear the Stars were being held together by the superlative efforts of goaltender Kari Lehtonen and are in dire need of a rebuild.
This was not a decision made lightly, by the way. Under new owner Tom Gaglardi the Stars are trying to win back a once-solid fan base that was alienated by former owner Tom Hicks.
It says more about the Stars than it does about Jagr that the 41-year-old was their leading scorer with 26 points in 34 games. But Jagr will fill that right-wing spot the Bruins wanted Iginla for and he’ll do it cheaper even though he’s headed for free agency this summer and even though that second-round pick the Bruins gave up for him becomes a first if they win two playoff series this spring.
The Bruins needed some firepower if they are to duke it out with the Penguins for the Eastern Conference championship. Jagr can provide it if he is used properly. In the short term, the Bruins can put Jagr on the right side of David Krejci’s line and drop Nathan Horton down the depth chart, as he has not been an effective player since coming back from his concussion problems.
Krecji grew up in the Czech Republic idolizing his countryman Jagr, so playing beside him should energize his game. The Bruins also have enough depth to give Jagr some rest in order to prevent the late-season fades that hit a few of the NHL’s other senior citizens like Teemu Selanne.
In Vancouver, Gillis’s need to upgrade the second line became critical when winger David Booth joined centre Ryan Kesler on the injured list. Gillis landed Roy for a second-round pick and a minor-league defenceman, and we’ll save any jabs about still having Roberto Luongo on the roster until after Wednesday’s trade deadline.
Roy, who is headed for free agency this summer, may or may not be the answer but Gillis needed to do something fast with the Canucks fighting for the Northwest Division title with the Minnesota Wild. It’s been three years since Roy, 29, put up the numbers expected from a No. 2 centre (he had 69 points for the Sabres in 2009-10) but the pressure to repeat them is not overwhelming. Kesler is expected back from his broken foot within a week, so Roy could still be used as the third-line centre or play the wing.
Tuesday’s action means there should be little excitement on deadline day Wednesday unless Sabres GM Darcy Regier decides to unload the likes of Ryan Miller and perhaps even Thomas Vanek now instead waiting until the summer.
The Canucks will not regret dropping out of the Clowe sweepstakes. This one was hard to figure, considering Clowe, 30, has all of zero goals in 28 games this season. But people remember him as a big winger with a nasty disposition who can also score.
However, it’s actually been two seasons since Clowe managed more than 20 goals. He still has the size and the obstreperous nature but today’s Ryane Clowe isn’t fast enough to keep up with the play, which means he’s either playing with an injury or all that physical hockey wore him down.
Since Sharks GM Doug Wilson was willing to trade Clowe, we’re guessing he thinks it’s the latter. So come the playoffs, Rangers GM Glen Sather, no stranger to whacky moves, should have a healthy case of buyer’s remorse.