Boy, things sure are getting crazy with the NHL trade deadline right around the corner. Look at all those trades for me to talk about! All those stars buying new bachelor pads! All those blue-chip prospects getting shipped off to new area codes! Oh, wait. None of that is happening (Ed Note: This was filed before the Jeff Carter trade). The 'Canes even extended Tuomo Ruutu for four years at $4.75 million a year, meaning they won't trade him now, but they'll definitely trade him in a couple years.
Is it time for us to start calling hockey's trade deadline boring? I know the salary cap and floor throw a wrench in things, so it's hard to just dismantle your bad team and rebuild just like that, but wow, if you look at the players who have been moved at the deadline recently, it's not exactly a murderers' row. Generally, all the big deals take place well in advance of the deadline; by the time we get to the moment of truth, there's not a whole lot left to do.
This year has been especially bad - there just haven't been blockbusters of any sort going down. And it's no wonder, considering the price the basement teams want for their stars.
So, did any of the last week's trades involve prospects you should know about? Well, sadly, no, they didn't. That's disappointing, but not as disappointing as it would be to see the Rangers trade Chris Kreider. I would be more than okay with the Flyers letting Brayden Schenn join his brother Luke with the Leafs, though.
But hey, I made a trade in my fantasy hockey dynasty league! I shipped off Marian Hossa and Brian Boyle for Sean Couturier, Ty Rattie and a first-round pick in next year's rookie draft. Hossa and Evgeni Nabokov were my only over-30 players, so it seemed like a good time to capitalize on the winger's healthy and productive season. It seemed like a good time to cash him in for Couturier, who I see as a future star, and Rattie, who's been annihilating the WHL this year. Just recently turned 19, the Albertan winger has racked up 51 goals and 51 assists in 57 games for the Portland Winterhawks, making him one of just four major-junior players to have cleared 100 points so far this year.
David Rundblad, D, PHO - It's been a mixed bag for the 21-year-old Rundblad in AHL Portland, where he's scored six goals and 10 points in 15 games, but has also managed to play to a minus-10 rating and rack up 25 penalty minutes (15 of them in one game) - quite a bizarre feat for a guy who totaled 38 penalty minutes in 153 games in the Swedish Elite League. The minus-10 is concerning for the former first-round pick, especially in the aftermath of his minus-11 in 24 games as a Senator. This is all part of the learning curve for Rundblad, though. He's got a boatload of offensive talent, but is going to need some time to get the defensive part of the game down pat to realize it.
Matt Fraser, LW, DAL - Fraser's stayed productive for AHL Texas, as he's second on the team with 42 points in 50 games - and, alluringly, 26 of those points are goals. His minus-15 rating may look concerning on its face, but just about every other Texas player is in the minus as well, thanks to a year-long lesson in atrocious goaltending. The undrafted 21-year-old has size, plays with an edge and has the talent to score goals. The question is how much of a shot he'll get in Dallas right now, as he enters the lineup at the expense of the injured Jake Dowell, who was only averaging eight minutes a game.
Mike Murphy, G, CAR - The 23-year-old former sixth-rounder was actually called up, sent down, then called up again on three consecutive days. It truly must be a royal pain in the ass to be a minor-league hockey player. No wonder you always see no-name enforcers score goals in their NHL debuts - gotta make a good impression right away so you can stop getting jerked around. Anyway, it'll give Murphy something to talk about with Zac Dalpe, Drayson Bowman and Zach Boychuk, three guys who should probably just buy monthly bus passes. Cam Ward (lower body) is day-to-day, so Murphy shouldn't bother unpacking. He's been quite solid for AHL Charlotte, compiling a 15-11-1 record to go with a .910 save percentage and 2.71 GAA, but has been outshined by the undrafted John Muse, a call-up from the ECHL's Florida Everblades who's taken the AHL by storm over the last two months, winning nine of his 13 starts while posting a spectacular 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage.
Carter Camper, C, BOS - The undrafted rookie from Miami of Ohio has had trouble establishing consistency as a scorer with AHL Providence this year. He's got 38 points in 53 games, but that doesn't really tell the full story of the 23-year-old's season. In his last 12 games, Camper has gone without a point eight times. In the other four games, he's blown up for a total of five goals and six assists, including a hat trick in his last game before being called up. The undersized Ohioan is currently serving on Boston's fourth line in what projects to be a small cup of coffee. He skated a quiet 6:21 in his NHL debut.
Michael Stone, D, PHO - A third-round draft pick in '08, Stone closed out his time in juniors with two very strong seasons, totaling 40 goals and 126 points in 138 games for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen. The Winnipeg native didn't find the pros to be quite so welcoming, as he totaled only 13 points in a full season for AHL San Antonio last year, putting a serious dent in his prospect status. This year, which he spent entirely in AHL Portland before his call-up, has gone better - nine goals and 22 points in 51 games are worth at least a modicum of attention, especially after he scored five times in six games in late January/early February. At 21, he's still got time to continue making adjustments and bringing consistency to his offensive game. He's already pretty solid on the defensive side. In two games now with Phoenix, he's gone scoreless while averaging just 10:34 of ice time. Like Rundblad, Stone will get some run with the Coyotes' blue line banged up.
Ben Bishop, G, STL - Bishop got no playing time in his latest call-up to the big leagues, but he's been dominating in AHL Peoria as much as ever. He's won seven of his last eight games, allowing more than two goals just twice in that span, and has a sick .928 save percentage on the year. With the way he fills the net at 6-7, 205, it's a wonder any pucks get by him at all. The 2005 third-rounder's prospect status is fading, though, as he's now 25 and has had few chances at the NHL level. It's not helpful that when he has played for St. Louis, the results have been mixed. Still, that's a small sample - he's gotten to play in just 18 NHL games in the last four years. At some point, the Blues have to use him or lose him.
Leland Irving, G, CGY - With Henrik Karlsson's conditioning stint up, Irving was returned to AHL Abbotsford. He got into just one game over two weeks with the Flames, stopping 33 of 35 shots in an overtime loss. Now, barring injury, he can settle back into his role as Abbotsford's starting netminder for the rest of the season. The 2006 first-rounder has compiled a .913 save percentage and 2.32 GAA in the minors this year - almost identical numbers to those he posted last year (.913, 2.30). You've gotta like the consistency.
Tomas Tatar, C, DET - "Tatar Tot," as I'm sure someone has called him sometime (if not, I better hurry up and trademark that) had a short stay with Detroit - so short that he didn't get into a game, as Henrik Zetterberg turned out to be good to go last Friday. Back to AHL Grand Rapids goes the former second-rounder. With 37 points in 51 games there, he's not blowing anyone away. It looked like he'd turned the corner with point-per-game production through November and December, but the wheels have fallen off since the new year - just 10 points in 19 games for the 21-year-old. It would have been nice to see some improvement on last year's 57-point campaign, but Tatar will have to turn up the heat just to repeat that feat. And yeah, that totally rhymed.
Colby Robak, D, FLA - The former second-round pick and AHL All-Star got three games in with the Panthers, going plus-1 without a point or shot on goal. Florida would surely like to see the 21-year-old let it fly more often, as he has with AHL San Antonio, where he's averaged two shots on goal per game (precisely 100 shots in 50 games) while compiling 26 points and a plus-10 rating. The big defenseman could arrive for good next year.
The Future to Come
Our prospect of the week is Jakob Silfverberg, a winger with Brynas IF of the Swedish Elite League and a 2009 second-round draft pick by the Ottawa Senators. Before this season, there were questions about Silfverberg's future in the NHL - would he grow into a star or simply become a complementary two-way forward? He's answered the skeptics with a breakout year. At 21, he's the captain of his team and has torn up the veteran-dominated SEL to the tune of 45 points (20 goals, 25 assists) in 43 games, good for best on his team and third in the entire league. The young Swede has enough size at 6-1, and though he could still add more muscle for the North American game, he plays with plenty of grit. Naturally, he's got a boatload of talent as well - he's an accurate shooter with a quick release who's been compared to countryman Loui Eriksson. Silfverberg has that kind of potential, and with turnover coming to Ottawa's top six, he could realize it sooner than Eriksson did. Just one cautionary note: He's had multiple shoulder injuries, and the contact only gets harder in the NHL.
Something to ask? Something to say? Prospects you're dying to hear about? You can contact me here.