by Ron Spence
The NHL’s brightest two GMs didn’t make a deadline day trade.
Both Kenny Holland and Lou Lamoriello had their ears pressed against their phones, their eyes on their TVs, but kept their hands away from their wallets.
They were resisting the temptation to make a deal.
This was the same with the GMs from Nashville, St. Louis, Vancouver, Washington, Minnesota and Montreal.
Eight of the NHL’s 30 General Managers maintained their status quo.
And only one – conditional – 1st round, and eight 2nd round picks were swapped.
Many owners were watching their costs, but also refusing to throw away their mid-round picks.
“Second-round picks were the flavour of the month,” Mike Gillis said, “and they went for players that are short-term players – either to teams to recover from injuries – or try to get into the playoffs.”
Vancouver fans have known this folly for better than two years.
Boston grabbed local prospect – Milan Lucic – from right under the Canucks’ noses in 2006 – with a 2nd round pick in 2006.
It was in 2006 that Dave Nonis had traded away a number of his 2nd and 3rd round selections.
To acquire Sean Brown, from New Jersey, he gave up his 4th round pick, which became T.J. Miller who had played for the Penticton Vees in the B.C. Hockey League.
“The 6’4, 200 Miller has an impressive skill set,” wrote hockeysfuture.com, “and is very well-rounded, but this season-ending injury is a bit of a setback for the rearguard. While there was a possibility of him turning pro at the start of the season, he will now most likely return to Northern Michigan to play his senior season to help make up for the lost development time this year.”
Vancouver also gave up a 2nd round pick to acquire netminder Mika Noronen from Buffalo. The Sabres drafted Jhonas Enroth and Noronen returned to Europe after a handful of games wearing a ‘nucks’ uniform.
“[Enroth]… is by many considered the top goalie prospect from Sweden since Henrik Lundqvist,” wrote hockeysfuture.com.”He is one of the elite young goaltending talents in the world, and one of the Top 50 overall prospects in the game.”
Enroth posted a 4-1 record in the 2008 World Junior Championships, with a 2.33 GAA and .905 save percentage. His only loss was a 3-2 OT decision against Team Canada in the gold medal game.
Vancouver also switched minor leaguers and gave up a 2nd round pick, to acquire Keith Carney from Anaheim. The Ducks drafted Bryce Swan, and later made “a lucrative offer.” But the kid declined, attended a Detroit camp and is now playing college hockey in the Maritimes. Still, he was a good prospect – who became greedy.
To make matters worth, Vancouver also traded a 3rd round pick – and a prospect – to St. Louis for Eric Weinrich.
St. Louis swapped this pick – which is difficult to trace – but both Cal Clutterbuck – the NHL’s leading hitter – and Steve Mason – this year’s Calder winner, were picked during the 3rd round of the 2006 draft.
So, Vancouver – and a number of other NHL teams – aren’t throwing around their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks anymore.
“We talked to a number of teams about a number of possibilities,” Gillis said, “but giving up second-round picks for players that weren’t long-term players was something that I agreed and decided not to do as long as eight months ago and I wasn’t going to change today … There’s great players that come out of the last half of the second round and for me to do that would be a mistake in my mind.”
I don’t know if Gillis was thinking about Milan Lucic when he made this statement. Or remembering that the Canucks threw away all of their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks, and didn’t even make it into the post-season.
Dave Nonis traded for quantity, which would become quality, and ended up with nothing.