Home > Uncategorized > NHL Trade Deadline: Predictions Go Bust, Blow Up In My Face

NHL Trade Deadline: Predictions Go Bust, Blow Up In My Face

Getty Images Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler emerged worse for wear from this scrap with Andrew Ladd, then of the Chicago Blackhawks, during NHL action back on Jan. 23, 2010. Ladd has since been traded to the Winnipeg Jets, where he is now captain, while Kesler remains with Canucks despite reportedly requesting to be dealt out of Vancouver prior to Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline. I predicted Kesler to end up in Philadelphia as part of the deadline’s biggest blockbuster, but that was far from my only blunder.

Getty Images
Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler emerged worse for wear from this scrap with Andrew Ladd, then of the Chicago Blackhawks, during NHL action back on Jan. 23, 2010. Ladd has since been traded to the Winnipeg Jets, where he is now captain, while Kesler remains with the Canucks despite reportedly requesting to be dealt out of Vancouver prior to Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline. I predicted Kesler to end up in Philadelphia as part of the deadline’s biggest blockbuster, but that was far from my only blunder.

OK, here I am. Come throw your dung. I’m ready to wear it. Well, kinda ready . . .

Truth is, by and large, I missed the mark with my trade-deadline predictions. This comes as no surprise to most of you, who have been poking fun at my expense ever since I shared my proposed deals last Friday. In the fallout, I failed to predict even a single trade completely correct — that’s right, I went 0-for-24.

Larry Fisher
Larry Fisher

That’s your cue to snicker and publicly shame me again — go on, laugh it up, get it out of your system. . . .

Now, back on topic. My predictions weren’t without small victories when the dust settled.

I did call Ryan Miller to St. Louis and David Legwand to Detroit, though the latter was my one and only successful player-team combination on deadline day. I suggested a return of Riley Sheahan and a second-round pick to Nashville. It ended up being Patrick Eaves, Calle Jarnkrok and a third-round pick. So fairly close, not that far off anyway.

I also came agonizingly close to correctly predicting the total number of trades and players involved. I said 28 trades involving at least 64 players — 60 listed, plus the assumption that my four “minor” trades not detailed at the end would include at least one player each. In reality, there were 34 trades involving 68 players. So I’ll go ahead and give myself a slight pat on the back for that, maybe start a slow clap here all by lonesome. For the record, I’m not in my parents’ basement like you might be envisioning.

Further, to my credit, I declared this would be “a deadline to remember for deals involving goaltenders.” That proved prophetic . . . granted, I declared it as an opening statement to my reasoning behind a Cam Ward for Evander Kane proposal that drew more negative feedback than anything I’ve ever written in my decade-long career of sports reporting. That one clearly didn’t come to fruition, but there were a dozen trades involving goaltenders — 11 were dealt, including Jaroslav Halak twice. I’ll admit, my crystal ball gave no indication of a Roberto Luongo return to Florida, and Tim Thomas’ departure was an oversight on my part.

While I’m pumping my own tires — yes, Luongo that is possible, and no, you and Thomas don’t have to play nice after all — of the 60 players I predicted to be traded, 19 of them actually moved. The pessimists will point out that’s less than 1-in-3, but as an eternal optimistic, I’ll counter with the fact it’s a 32 per cent efficiency rating. Not too shabby, by Eklund standards.

Shhh! Quiet! What’s that sound, it appears to be something deflating — either my tires or my ego. Still, that’s pretty impressive stuff if you ask me — especially for somebody with “no inside knowledge on any negotiations.”

So where did it all go wrong? Why did I end up getting blanked in the big picture?

For starters, I way overvalued the rental types. That said, I’m sure some of the “seller” GMs can relate to my shock and disappointment that none of the rentals were able to fetch a first-rounder — not even Thomas Vanek. Garth Snow must be in utter disbelief (or a drunken stupor) right now. Strange times, this trade deadline. To that extent, I think I deserve to be cut some slack.

Secondly, I also anticipated — and predicted — more “hockey deals” that, in hindsight, rarely happen at the deadline and are better suited for summer. Indeed, we could still see that Ward-for-Kane swap in the future . . . or not (ducks and runs for cover).

As many of you so astutely brought to my attention, be it rudely or politely, that little thing called a salary cap also prevented a half-dozen (or more) of my trades from ever entering the equation — or even coming up in conversation amongst actual GMs.

My biggest fail was expecting St. Louis to stay in Tampa Bay — what’s that? Oh right, my second-biggest behind Ward-Kane, which I’ll never live down but will never let any of you hear the end of should it somehow still happen — even five years from now, I called that one, and don’t you forget it!

In all honestly, I didn’t put much stock in the speculated captain swap of St. Louis for Ryan Callahan of the Rangers. I just couldn’t see both teams bidding farewell to their leaders in the midst of playoff battles. But I guess that’s why Mr. McKenzie and that Dreger dude are the “insiders” and, well, I’m not — yet!

For what it’s worth — and that would be nothing, not even two cents — I had Callahan to Chicago, along with Sam Gagner, but the Blackhawks ignored my spidey senses and did sweet diddly-squat instead.

My intuition was mostly accurate — I use the term mostly rather loosely in this case — when predicting that four of my five “big fish” would be dealt. The lone miscue was I had Ryan Kesler on the move, not St. Louis, along with Ryan Miller, Callahan and Vanek. I don’t know who’s to blame for Kesler being “stuck” in Vancouver, but I do feel for the guy and hope he doesn’t have to endure the same two-year-long ordeal as Luongo now that he’s requested a trade. Or did he? Yes, Kesler did, and denial or not, the writing is on the wall there.

Switching gears again, of the 41 players that were traded in real life but not in my predictions, the most glaring omission has to be Marian Gaborik. For some reason, I felt Columbus would be keen on keeping him for its playoff push, but then again, the Blue Jackets have made it this far without the injury-prone winger. But boy does last year’s deadline deal that sent Gaborik from the Rangers to Columbus ever look like a steal for New York now, a clear win for certain. The Rangers have Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore and a pending sixth-round pick in this June’s draft to show for it. The Blue Jackets are left with Matt Frattin, prospects Steven Delisle and Carter Camper (via trade for Blake Parlett), plus a second-round pick either this year or next year and possibly an additional third-rounder that has conditions presumably tied to Gaborik staying healthy — fat chance of that — and the Kings making the playoffs or past the first round, which is much more likely.

All in all, it was another fun deadline and I’m glad I put my neck out there with that predictions blog despite all the backlash and limited success overall. It did net my website 4,732 hits to date, which is more than my annual average, so alas, I must take the good with the bad as it’s all part of the game.

Until next year’s deadline, good tidings to you and to all a good night!

EDIT: My colleague and occasional guest blogger here, Dave Cunning, was kind enough to have me as a guest on his podcast discussing the NHL trade deadline. Listen to my thoughts here.

Larry Fisher is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, B.C. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.

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