Monday, February 27, 2012

The NHL trading dud line has passed

That was pretty boring.

But it shouldn't come as a surprise. NHL parity has made the trading deadline a non-event with the exception of the Canadian sports media who spend an entire day speculating about trades that will never happen. Few teams are sellers because most teams still have a shot at the playoffs. So with a ratio of 1 in 5 between sellers and buyers, the few players on the market on grossly over-priced. Of course this is fine with those players because most do not want to change teams this time of the year.

Teams fighting to make the playoffs are not going give up young players, prospects or draft picks just for the privelege of getting their ass kicked in the first round of the playoffs. Only a serious contender will actually over pay this time of year but only to add some depth in their lineup. If you have a hole in your lineup, convention wisdom suggests that this is not the time of the year to address it. Brian Burke has been saying this for some time.

The Leafs did make two deals involving minor leaguers. They shipped Keith Aulie to Tampa Bay for Carter Ashton. Aston is a 6'3", 205 lb winger playing for Norfolk, Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate. He has 19 goals and 16 assist in 56 games. He was Tampa's 1st round pick, 29th overall in 2009 and is the son of former NHL journeyman Brent Ashton. This seems to make sense for both teams. The Lightning need to rebuild their defense and goaltending. For the Leafs, the organization is deep at defense position with Korbinian Holzer and Jesse Blacker both ready to compete for jobs with the Leafs. Ashton is a big physical winger, something the Leafs need. He has the potential to be a 2nd or 3rd liner.

The other deal also involved minor leaguer. The deal was with the Ducks, sending forward Dale Mitchell to Anahiem in exchange for blueliner Mark Fraser. Neither have done much in the pro career although Mitchell is 2 years younger. The Leafs have given up on Mitchell who has played almost as many games in the ECHL as in the AHL over the past two seasons. He was also a Ferguson draft pick so I expect the current regime does not feel it has to invest too much time waiting for him to develop. Fraser provides the Marlies with some depth at defense with the loss of Aulie as Burke expects the Marlies to do deep in the AHL playoffs.

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