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Morning Skate: Tire Pumping

Dan Pennucci

Dan Pennucci

Dan Pennucci has covered hockey for Rotowire since 2002 and is the author of Blue Line Buzz since 2011 as well as being the co-author of Morning Skate. He also is a contributor to Talking Red, a New Jersey Devils blog and podcast. He is an English teacher and formerly wrote for The Coast Star in Manasquan, New Jersey where he and his sports section won several New Jersey Press Association awards. Dan Pennucci is a supporter of the New Jersey Devils, Washington Nationals and Chelsea FC. He's attended sporting events in six countries.

Janet Eagleson

Janet Eagleson

Janet Eagleson is a four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

(Ed. Note- The first three emails of this piece were sent prior to deadline day)

From: Janet Eagleson
To: Dan Pennucci
Sent: Tuesday, March 4
Subject: Tire Pumping

OMG -- the world is falling apart north of the 49th parallel. Strombone has joined forces with Tiny Tim in Florida? The trade centers are scrambling. Their best suits are at home. And they sure haven't spent enough time in the makeup chairs #HDhurts. They were supposed to be on the air Wednesday morning, not Tuesday at supper time.

Seriously, though -- what is it with the goalie moves? I'm still trying to unpack everything that has transpired so far. First, Ryan Miller and Jaroslav Halak get flipped, and Halak may get moved again before Wednesday at 3. Ilya Byrzgalov -- does he help or hurt the Wild? Viktor Fasth heads to the Oil Patch hours after the Oilers extend Ben Scrivens -- who becomes the starter? Is Anton Khudobin's contract extension the final nail in Cam Ward's coffin, at least in Raleigh? And has Martin Brodeur played his last game as a Devil?

Now to Roberto Luongo -- honestly, I was stunned. Then I started laughing. He finally gets what he wants, but he ends up beside the freak show that is Tim Thomas. Tiny Tim ain't gonna stand for being no back-up, eh. #catfight

Seriously, I think Bobby Lou will actually do just fine in Florida. Some of his best days were in Florida and I don't think his numbers will be all that bad down South. It's not like the Canucks' defence was filled with rock stars. Jakob Markstrom was once the hottest thing outside the NHL, but he hasn't exactly asserted himself at the NHL level. Maybe this is just what he needs to reset his career. But do the Orcas actually go forward right now with Eddie Lack and Markstrom as their one-two?

And how about the Caps? They essentially traded Filip Forsberg for Rostislav Klesla, an undrafted college winger who was signed after an amateur tryout and a fourth-round pick. And what exactly does Dustin Penner give them? He plays the cycle well, while Alexander Ovechkin likes to score off the rush. George McPhee should be fired.

Back to Ryan Miller and the Blues for a minute. Does he really satisfy the team's needs? Is he really that much of an upgrade over Jaroslav Halak? They have plenty of depth, but they do not have a game-changing offensive winger. Does one of Thomas Vanek or Marian Gaborik land in Missouri?

Couple more questions. Does L.A. advance in the playoffs without a star winger to play beside Anze Kopitar? Do the Ducks use all those picks they have to snag something big? And which defender gets moved first -- Christian Ehrhoff or Alexander Edler.

From: Dan Pennucci
To: Janet Eagleson
Sent: Tuesday, March 4
Subject: Deadline Eve

Wow, the Luongo deal was a surprise but you had to figure something was up after he didn't play in the Heritage Classic. Even the Devils started Brodeur in their outdoor game. (Worked well there for the Devils.) At this point, I don't think it matters who is in goal for Vancouver, as they're being shutout by Phoenix right now. Eddie Lack and Jakob Markstrom ... not a battery that inspires confidence, but then again this team is allegedly looking to move Alexander Edler and Ryan Kesler while still being saddled with the contracts of the Twins and Jason Garrison. The Canucks are a mess and will be found floating out into the Bering Sea soon. I wonder how much the Daniel Sedin injury will affect what they do Wednesday, not that fans were able to tell if Daniel Sedin was injured or not by looking at box scores.

I'm not worried about Luongo in Florida, he'll see more rubber than a tire factory, or a tire pump factory (see what I did there ... more to come). Just the peace of mind to get away from the Vancouver fiasco has to be worth a few wins for Florida, not to mention a veteran stabilizing presence in that goal. He made his bones in Florida and will be facing a division that doesn't consist of Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.

Washington's surprised me with the move for Klesla, especially when the likes of Edler, Ehrhoff et al are still out there. We called that Forsberg trade last year, but Forsberg will be buried in Nashville. I'm surprised the Caps got anything for Erat considering he asked for a trade seemingly every week if reports are to be believed. The Caps getting Penner can help, but as you said, this team doesn't exactly cycle, maybe use Penner as a net-front presence.

I do think Miller is an upgrade over Halak, just in terms of peace of mind and that Halak simply can't stay healthy; he hasn't put together a stretch since the 2010 Habs Conference Final run that earned him the Blues contract. Halak will help someone out as he likely won't play a game for Buffalo. Bryzgalov in Minnesota will give him a more insulated system that the last two he played in, but I'm not buying it; Kuemper has been great of late.

The Kings and the Blues need another scoring punch and Gaborik or Vanek will look good as an overpriced rental, but I think Moulson will be the steal of the deadline. He'll cost less and he's so good around the net and has shown the ability to play alongside stars. Giving Kopitar a competent winger will be something the team hasn't had since Michael Cammalleri ... will Dean Lombardi go down that road again?

-Brodeur leaving New Jersey I do not see happening despite today's crazy rumors that the team would give him a farewell game. What GM would play a player a deal has already been worked out for? Remember Cammalleri getting pulled in the third period for Montreal a few seasons ago for his trip to Calgary? There's no market for a goalie like Brodeur who can't see to make up his mind about wanting to stay or leave. Just let him get 700 and be done with it.

Did the Flyers get hoodwinked in trading for Andrew MacDonald? As a fan of a team in the Metropolitan Division, I'm glad MacDonald stays within the division, but can't see the Flyers being happy here.

-What's Anaheim gearing up for with their moves?

-Do the Caps make a goaltending move (not that it would matter)?

-Will the Bolts actually trade Mighty Mite? Not just say, "hey Stamkos is coming back, we'll trade you later?"

-Who leaves Winnipeg Wednesday with Olli Jokinen?

-What does Pittsburgh end up with?

-Lastly, do you favor a depth move or a blockbuster for teams looking to add talent?

Should be fun.

From: Janet Eagleson
To: Dan Pennucci
Sent: Tuesday, March 4
Subject: What to Expect When You're Expecting ... To Deal

Happy Flyers? Isn't that an oxymoron (with emphasis on moron)? Andrew MacDonald was overplayed on the Long Island, but maybe he tidies up the number four spot. There's always a chance Brayden Schenn and brother Luke Schenn get moved in a deal for Ryan Kesler. Hmmmm ... how many siblings can one team play if hockey teams love to play sibs?

The Caps need to make a goalie move, but dollars to donuts they end up regretting the goalie they send away in exchange. Jaroslav Halak, perhaps? Braden Holtby or Michael Neuvirth. #regrets

Marty St. Louis' reputation has taken a huge hit, but the guy just keeps playing hard. He only wants to go to the Rangers. Bleck. He has a better shot at making a playoff run with the Bolts. I think he stays ... for now.

Anaheim wants scoring, but they need a guy who plays the wall. Oh right, they had that guy in Dustin Penner. But Big Diesel is slow, so little wonder they moved him. I think the Ducks are prepared to hand over some of those picks they have to make a push. I'd still put them and the Hawks above the Blues, even if they stand pat. I just don't think Ryan Kesler gets moved there -- he'd haunt Vancouver. But that's the type of guy they need. Unless, of course, they think Ryan Callahan is the answer.

Pittsburgh? Yikes. That one is a doozy. They could use help on the back end and on wing. Michael Cammallari? That doesn't feel right. Matt Moulson will be a target -- could he be Sidney Crosby's James Neal? I don't think Moulson lands there, but it's an interesting thought.

Who leaves Winnipeg? There are lots of possibilities, but Mark Scheifele's injury may confuse things. The Jets need to make the playoffs, so Rolli-Polie-Olie may be staying put.

And blockbuster or back-fill? Jeez. I love the former as a fan, but the latter makes more sense to me. I'm a big believer in chemistry that has been built over time. Some guys never really fit. See Iginla, Jarome in Pittsburgh. There's no magic bullet at the end of the day, though -- you need to match your own needs. Sometimes that'll take a monster move; sometimes it's just tinkering.

I leave you with this. The Roberto Luongo deal has the salary cap at its very root (even though the Orcas will be picking up a chunk of the tab). The Floridian felines obviously did the deal to get them to the salary floor. I hate that kind of move, but it illustrates the class structure of the NHL. What other moves are made to get teams to the floor? And what deals end up being draft day moves instead of trade day overpayments?

From: Dan Pennucci
To: Janet Eagleson
Sent: Wednesday, March 5
Subject: Surveying the Carnage

A lot of teams remained rather quiet on deadline day, much to the chagrin of the selfie-taking, song-playing TSN broadcast (however, I did like the Bryzgalov and the Burke songs, especially when Burke yelled at James Duthie on camera).

There's quite a bit of social media vitrol directed at Islanders' GM Garth Snow for getting just a second-rounder and a prospect for Thomas Vanek. It's not like he didn't know he wasn't going to be trading Vanek since November. I know a lot of teams were in on Vanek, but a few must be kicking themselves seeing how little the Austrian winger went for. That said, I'm guessing that teams had to be originally in on Vanek to get the price that Marc Bergevin and the Habs got for Vanek. Kudos to Montreal for landing him, but I'm wondering if they need help elsewhere rather than scoring. Where do you see Vanek fitting in with that group, honestly, I'm skeptical as to how much impact he'll have.

Marian Gaborik to the Kings I'm a little more bullish on, simply because he gets to play alongside Anze Kopitar, but I'm wondering how Gaborik will fit in on that team. The Kings don't need to score much and Gaborik has been a bit streaky in his career but he's utterly skilled. The Kings needed to score more and obviously this helps. I'm wondering what kind of info Dean Lombardi has on the Columbus organization considering they got wantaway Jeff Carter from them two years ago also.

However, as we discussed last week, Moulson could be the get of the deadline. He's a proven player who does the dirty work, now he heads to Minnesota, a team with some talent and elite players like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. True, he plays the same position as Parise, LW, but you have to figure he'll give the Wild another threat and an added dimension to score that vital goal. He'd been playing well in Buffalo leading up to the deadline with Tyler Ennis. Seems like he's a good fit for a lot of teams. I do like that the Wild seem content to give Kuemper the reins and acquired Bryzgalov as some insurance. I like Bryz in that system simply because it's not Edmonton or Philadelphia.

Now to the big one ... Tuomo Ruutu to the Devils for Andrei Loktionov. Kidding aside, I do like what Ruutu brings to the team, much more than Loktionov, just that cap hit is less than ideal. I'd have liked Ruutu a few years ago.

The Martin St. Louis-Ryan Callahan trade is going to be dissected beyond belief. The Rangers add a legitimate scoring threat to a team with Rick Nash and rising talents like Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan for a captain laden with intangibles. This desire to leave Tampa Bay isn't new for St. Louis, as we discovered last week when Brian Lawton noted that St. Louis asked him for a trade in 2009, but it's going to get spun that St. Louis was snubbed from Team Canada and wanted out for personal reasons. St. Louis will be seen as selfish and petulant for a team he has been the heart and soul of for the last 13 seasons at a time when the Bolts have as good of a chance as anyone else in the East to go deep into the playoffs, especially with Steven Stamkos returning to the lineup. The Bolts get a good two-way player who could pot 20 goals a season in a good year, but lose one of the league's most consistent scorers.

St. Louis backed the Lightning into a corner and got exactly what he wanted. We know what St. Louis brings to the Rangers, but I can't see Callahan having a large offensive impact with the Bolts.

-Will Halak be that much of an upgrade of Braden Holtby, or is the problem in DC more systematic?

-I'm not surprised about Kesler staying put. Does Mike Gillis keep his job much longer? The Canucks are arguably weaker.

-What were some of your favorite depth moves you saw today?

In short: The Rangers get better 

From: Janet Eagleson
To: Dan Pennucci
Sent: Wednesday, March 5
Subject: Capping the Day

Yep -- you got to experience a stitch of trade deadline day, Canadian style. TSN's selfies were a bit much, but they're doing everything they can to gain share after Sportsnet snagged that huge NHL deal. As for Duthie, I hear Sportsnet has tried (and tried) to lure him over as their top host, but he has said no. So they're moving on to George Stroumboulopoulos, who started out in sports and has moved to news and entertainment. But I digress.

Jaroslav Halak. Braden Holtby. Coin toss. No -- wait. Halak will be slightly better because he'll get a leash. Holtby isn't bad -- he was good enough to attend Team Canada's summer ball hockey camp, wasn't he? The Caps will go nowhere. Not now. Not in the future, at least as long as Alexander Ovechkin is there. Don't get me wrong -- I love Ovie. But he can't lead the way the team needs him to lead. It's not his fault -- it's just not in him. It's a little like Ilya Kovalchuk -- talented, but not the horse you tie your cart to for a playoff run. Their system runs through Ovie; it needs more diversity to succeed. And by diversity I don't mean Evgeny Kuznetsov -- how many more puck hogs can one team tolerate? He likes to carry and shoot. So does Ovechkin.

Mike Gillis? Let's see. Nazem Kadri + Tyler Bozak + pick + cleared contract OR Shawn Mattias + Jacob Markstrom + 15% per annum until the end of the contract? No Cory Schneider, but John Tortorella instead, and his system has sapped the game out of the Sedins, who have big new contracts taking effect next year. Oh ya -- the depressed market on deadline day means he couldn't get what he wants for Alexander Edler. And Ryan Kesler will be moved in the offseason. But on the bright side, Bo Horvat may make an impact in 2017. How many ways can you spell lame duck?

The Islanders deserve the criticism. I've never been able to figure out what Garth Snow was thinking. I gave up trying a long time ago. I'm pretty sure he knew Thomas Vanek wouldn't sign there, yet he waited until the last minute to re-deal him.

I've long maintained the impact of deadline deals is largely negligible. I haven't changed my mind on that. I like the Luongo move to Florida -- happy players play good hockey. I also like what the Sabres have done, outside the Matt Moulson deal and front office hailstorm. What is that, any way? I like Pat Lafontaine and I've always assumed he's a smart, thoughtful guy, but this is the second time he has resigned his post after a short-lived employment period. I'd be wary if I got his resume for one of my job competitions, regardless of the name value.

Lee Stempniak has to be the luckiest man on earth. I love that deal for him and the Pens -- he can play. And now he gets a shot on Sidney Crosby's wing? Cory Conacher as a waiver grab in Buffalo? It was only a year ago that he was traded for the breakout goalie of the year [Ben Bishop]. He didn't fit in Ottawa, but he'll get plenty of opportunities in Buffalo. Easy deal for the Sabres -- he could turn out OK down there. And Calle Jarnkrok will be missed in Detroit. He's a two-way talent and I'm pretty sure he and Filip Forsberg will be making beautiful music together in a couple years.

I think Edmonton actually made out really well. Victor Fasth, who might be an above-average starter, only cost them a third and a fifth. And they jettisoned Ales Hemsky, who they've wanted to move for what seems like years, for a third and a fifth. They got rid of an anchor and gained a possible building block for no next expenditure. Underrated, but surprisingly effective, other than the 50% of Hemsky's contract.

So, the Roberto Luongo-Tim Thomas combo didn't last long. What's the over-under (games) that our least-favorite uber-Republican starts rocking the boat in Dallas? At least he'll get to use the gun rack in the back window of his pickup.

Does David Legwand deliver a playoff spot to the Wings? And is Thomas Vanek a help or a hindrance in Montreal? I'm a little worried about Montreal being a bit of a party town.

The last word is yours. Just don't get used to it.

From: Dan Pennucci
To: Janet Eagleson
Sent: Thursday, March 6
Subject: Second Guessing

I do like the David Legwand deal quite a bit. A veteran center on a team seemingly atrophying centers, good for Detroit in getting a stopgap who won't hurt the team on the defensive end. Legwand won't light the league up in "Hockeytown" but he'll be a solid pick up.

The stories coming out of Sochi about the Austrian hockey team enjoying the Russian nightlife were hilarious. I'm sure Vanek can find a few more watering holes in Montreal than in Buffalo. If he doesn't succeed, it won't be because of the partying. He's been inconsistent in his career and can be an absolute force when he decides to play. If he's interested in finding out about Montreal's night life, maybe he can talk to the Kostitsyn brothers.

If I'm guessing now, I say Detroit out, Montreal in.

The Tim Thomas to Dallas deal was a bit upsetting due to the comedy that could have ensued from having Luongo and Thomas on the same team. Luongo did seem a little upset when it was announced that the Panthers dealt Thomas to Dallas. I'm sure Thomas will have no shortage of Red State support in Big D. How much he'll play, that's another story. Kari Lehtonen doesn't take many nights off.

The Oil are still a few years away, Aaron Eckblad or not, but I did like their subtle moves on deadline day. Scrivens and Fasth are a solid duo, but you could put Ken Dryden and Terry Sawchuck in that net simultaneously and it wouldn't matter with that defense.

-The way the Martin St. Louis trade will not look good for Tampa Bay in a few years. It's a foundational player they dealt away and who knows if Callahan will re-sign. The pressure on Callahan getting inked will be huge on Steve Yzerman. Does St. Louis get more of a pass on this since he's Canadian? Seems like Mighty Mite had his reputation tarnished quite a bit with this Jeff Carter-esque chapter in his storied career.