Martin Hanzal, courtesy of Sports.yahoo.com
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed during the Rangers’ debacle when I saw a couple huge trades being reported by TSN’s Bob Mackenzie. The first deal involved Ben Bishop, as Tampa Bay traded him and a 2017 5th-round pick to the LA Kings for backup goalie Peter Budaj, defensive prospect Erik Cernak, a 2017 7th round pick, and a further conditional 2017 pick. Interesting move for LA, as they must be securing insurance for Jonathan Quick, who played on Saturday for the first time since going down with a knee injury on Opening Night. I even read somewhere that part of the motivation for this trade was potentially to prevent Calgary, or another Western Conference playoff team from securing Bishop’s services. So all in all, kind of a head scratcher but I trust Dean Lombardi and honestly, I don’t mind seeing a guy who the Rangers could never figure out traded out of the Eastern Conference.
The second trade of the day reported by Bob Mackenzie is the one that floored me and the rest of the hockey world. Arizona sent Martin Hanzal, Ryan White and a 2017 4th-round pick to the Minnesota Wild for a 2017 1st-round pick, 2018 2nd-round choice and a 2019 conditional 4th-round choice that can become as high as a 2nd-round selection, depending on the Wild’s performance in the postseason. Wow. Quite a few pundits have been saying that a weak draft class has teams more inclined to trade early-round draft choices, but this is a TON of assets to trade for a 3rd-line center. Part of me gets it. The Wild now have Miko Koivu, Eric Staal and Martin Hanzal as their top three centers. That’s impressively deep and there are already rumblings about Hanzal re-signing with the Wild, which makes the trade a little easier to swallow. But still, three top draft choices makes this trade a bust if Minnesota doesn’t at least make the Finals. Now, the real reason why this trade has me so shocked is because it punches a gigantic hole in my trade plans for the Rangers. I wanted Jeff Gorton to deal Lindberg and a 4th-rounder for Brian Boyle, but who knows what it could take at this point? Hanzal and Boyle are generally different players, but have scored a nearly identical amount of points this season and are both very reliable face-off men. Plus, the Lightning have proven to be willing sellers with the Ben Bishop deal, so does to price of Boyle go up to a first- or second-rounder and a prospect or fringe NHLer? With the combination of the draft class and the looming expansion draft, this trade deadline is already breaking away from conventional wisdom. I can’t wait to see what the hell happens next.