Friday, March 2, 2012

To Move or Not To Move: Analyzing Detroit's Trade Deadline Moves

I was doing my daily read through of The Malik Report a couple of days ago and found one of the articles George posted to be particularly interesting. It comes from a Rant Answers column by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun:
stunard2000: Another year, another non-trade by the Wings. Are you kidding me? Don't they know the spark it provides to sign a big name to the roster? Don't they know it gives the guys a feeling that 'Hey, our management is doing all it can to get us deep into the playoffs?' Don't they know that it's just in time for the playoff push? And don't they know that, historically, the Wings have exited the playoffs early because they didn't make a move to shore up some part of the team? Where's the Shanny deals? The Brett Hull, Larionov, Dino C trades? Give the team a spark. Give them something they're missing (um, how about an enforcer, which has been missing since the middle ages?). 

My take: Boy, some of you Wings fans are hard to please. You’ve got the best GM in the NHL and you’ve been the model franchise for 20-plus years and it’s not good enough? Yes, the Wings were quiet on deadline day, but they acquired Kyle Quincey prior to it, a solid addition on the blue line. Yes, I would have like to see them add some size/grit to their bottom six forward group. But the price for Paul Gaustad was a first-round pick, which the Wings didn’t have. Pittsburgh, Washington, Toronto and Philadelphia also didn’t do much on deadline day. It was that kind of year. Not many sellers. I wouldn’t sweat it if I were you. The Wings are still big-time contenders. 
 When I think of the stereotypical fan's response to the (insert year here) trade deadline, this is it. My natural inclination is to believe that nothing could be further from the truth, but I think it would be interesting if we looked at all of the Wings' trade deadline acquisitions in recent memory and look at how they've impacted Detroit's playoff performance. We'll go back to the 1996-97 season, as it seems that the season with the Wings first Cup in 42 years is as good a place to start as any.

March 18, 1997: D Larry Murphy traded from Toronto to Detroit for future considerations
Playoff Outcome: Won Stanley Cup

March 24, 1998: D Jamie Macoun traded from Toronto to Detroit for Tampa Bay’s fourth-round pick in 1998 Entry Draft (previously acquired)
March 24, 1998: D Dmitri Mironov traded from Anaheim to Detroit for D Jamie Pushor and Detroit’s fourth-round pick in 1998 Entry Draft
Playoff Outcome: Won Stanley Cup

March 23, 1999: NY Rangers trade D Ulf Samuelsson to Detroit for a second-round pick in the 1999 Entry Draft and a third-round pick in the 2000 Entry Draft
March 23, 1999 - Detroit Red Wings obtain Chris Chelios from the Chicago Blackhawks for 1999 and 2001 first-round draft picks (Steve McCarthy and Adam Munro)
March 23, 1999: Detroit traded G Kevin Hodson and San Jose’s second-round pick in the 1999 Entry Draft (previously acquired) to Tampa Bay for LW Wendel Clark and Detroit’s sixth-round pick in the 1999 Entry Draft (previously acquired)
Playoff Outcome: Lost in 2nd round

Playoff Outcome: Lost in 2nd round

Playoff Outcome: Lost in 1st round

March 19, 2002: Atlanta traded D Jiri Slegr to Detroit for C Yuri Butsayev and Detroit’s third-round pick in the 2002 Entry Draft
Playoff Outcome: Won Stanley Cup

March 11, 2003: Los Angeles traded D Mathieu Schneider to Detroit for C Sean Avery, D Maxim Kuznetsov, Detroit's first-round pick in the 2003 Entry Draft and second-round pick in 2004
Playoff Outcome: Lost in 1st round

Playoff Outcome: Lost in 2nd round

Playoff Outcome: Lost in 1st round

The Detroit Red Wings acquire forward Todd Bertuzzi from the Florida Panthers for forward Shawn Matthias and a conditional draft pick
Playoff Outcome: Lost in Western Conference Finals

The Detroit Red Wings acquire defenceman Brad Stuart from the Los Angeles Kings for a 2008 second-round draft pick and a 2009 fourth-round draft pick
Playoff Outcome: Won Stanley Cup

Playoff Outcome: Lost in Stanley Cup Finals

Playoff Outcome: Lost in 2nd round

Playoff Outcome: Lost in 2nd round

The Tampa Bay Lightning acquire Mike Commodore from the Detroit Red Wings for a 2012 7th round draft pick
Playoff Outcome: TBD

From here, the list can be broken down into pre- and post-salary cap implementation. The pre-cap acquisition that may have had a real effect on the team was Larry Murphy being pulled from the burning wreckage of Toronto. The post-cap acquisition that one could argue helped bring the Cup back to the D was Brad Stuart.

After those two...meh. Chris Chelios won 2 cups with Detroit, but I don't see a 1998-99 Stanley Cup Champions banner hanging from the rafters so that move doesn't fit the criteria of a game-changing deadline acquisition. Mathieu Schneider had a good career in Detroit, but he never won a title here. Bertuzzi has been a great addition to the Wings (and one could argue that he fills the enforcer role the above fan was complaining about without being a true fighter, but that's another post for another day) but if it weren't for the hockey gods smiling on him and granting him a second go-round with the Wings we wouldn't be saying that about him. 

There isn't much use in analyzing pre-cap moves because gone are the days of free wheeling and free spending, along with Murph being the only deal worth mentioning. Hot dogs, folks. Hot dogs.

Post-cap, there just haven't been many deals. Welcome to the new budget conscious NHL, where parity means few are sellers and prices are higher than Armani. The Stuart deal paid off and continues to do so, but that's it. One deal. Seven years. 

Seven years in which the Wings have advanced to the second round or beyond all but one time. That's a pretty good track record, and it wasn't achieved through trading. If your team is skilled enough and has the right personnel for your system, there's no need to move players to provide a "spark." This organization has been serious about winning for over 20 years, and they don't need to make a trade to show that they're serious about going deep into the playoffs. 

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