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Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 8:15 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Blog: My winners at the Trade Deadline

The trade deadline is always one of the most dramatic days of the season, with teams scrambling to make the right moves that will get them a Stanley Cup. This season's was no different, but there were some clear winners and clear things to take away from it in my mind.

Here are my thoughts on the biggest stories of deadline day.

The Winners

Nashville Predators -- I like what Nashville did for several reasons. First of all, it was great to see the Predators be buyers at the deadline. For so many years Nashville always had to sell players. They've always had to get rid of free agents because they knew they couldn't sign them. We've seen so many great players leave Nashville so it was nice to see them change their philosophy and take a run at winning. I think everyone that follows hockey is a Nashville fan. They know what Nashville's been through financially, and I think everybody deep down would love to see Nashville have a deep playoff run.

As for what the Predators did in the days leading up to the deadline, I love the Hal Gill deal, because Hal Gill plays his best hockey in the playoffs. Come playoff time he always plays against the other team's top forwards and he shuts down everyone he plays. As for Monday, I liked the move to get Paul Gaustad. I know the price is high -- a first-round pick -- but Gaustad is something they don't have. They don't have a big, physical forward -- a guy that can win draws, a guy that can check the other team's top player, a guy that can kill penalties, and a guy that has a physical edge to him. I thought that was a need that Nashville had and I thought they went out and filled that need.

I like the move to bring in Andrei Kostitsyn as well. I know he's an underachiever. You look at him and his points never add up to what his talent level is, but hopefully he'll get caught up in what Nashville's doing and get fired up about playing with his brother again. That is something, a little added spice, that other teams couldn't offer Kostitsyn. Hopefully the chance to play with his brother again will invigorate him and get him fired up for the stretch run. Nashville is a very defensive team -- they win by bottling you up -- and doesn't have a lot of offense, which is why Kostitsyn is such a good addition. He's a pure scorer, someone who doesn't need 10 or 12 chances to put the puck in the net.

The Predators have risen up a level with these moves and they're with the big boys in West now. Their goaltender gives them a chance to win every night -- an argument could be made for Pekka Rinne to be in the discussion for the Hart Trophy, not just the Vezina -- and now all of their players in their prime. They've also got to have a deep playoff run to take a run at keeping Ryan Suter and Shea Weber over the next two offseasons. That makes this a paramount time in the history of the Predators franchise. These moves have set them in the right direction at this important moment for that team, and I think they were the clear winner at the deadline this year.

San Jose Sharks -- I thought San Jose had to do something. They were in a free fall after going 2-6-1 on their recent road trip -- and coach Todd McLellan is out with a concussion, which doesn't help. Things seem bleak for them and they're dropping like a rock, so it was important that they did something to send a message to the team. They added two forwards who will be third- and fourth-line guys, but they're going to give them depth. Daniel Winnik is a big body who gives them a kind of physical presence they don't have enough of, and T.J. Galiardi is a guy I loved as a rookie. He can fly and he'll fit in well with San Jose's style and maybe he can recapture how he played in his rookie year. I thought it was a good move, they needed to do it, they sent a message to the team that they weren't going to stand pat and that they were going to try to jumpstart the team.

You could say they didn't add an impact player, but sometimes just the message you're sending is more important than what you actually do. I think this was a good message from the San Jose Sharks and don't forget they've still got Martin Havlat coming back, too. He's a top-six forward who will make their power play better, and while I think he's a bit of an underachiever, he's still one of the biggest pure talents the NHL has when he's healthy.

Vancouver Canucks -- I like what Vancouver did. A lot of fans might be upset that they traded Cody Hodgson to Buffalo, but I have no problem with that. He was only playing 12 minutes a game or so, and he wasn't seeing time on the power play behind Kesler and Sedin so where would he go. The Canucks felt they weren't tough enough last year against Boston, but going to get a guy like John Scott from Chicago wouldn't have been the move they needed. They needed a Milan Lucic-type player, someone with skill and toughness. I'm not saying Zack Kassian already is that kind of player, but you can see him becoming that type of player. He's skilled enough, he's a good skater, he's mean, he's big at 230 pounds, he's physical. Having him on the bench and the ice will make them a tougher team mentally -- and certainly give them more toughness physically. You could say that they overpaid for him, but unless you've been pushed around and you know your team's not tough enough you don't value toughness. You don't value toughness until you don't have it. I think Vancouver realized that was what they didn't have last year against Boston.

The Canucks' pickup of Sammy Pahlsson is also interesting because he had such a good playoff for Anaheim back in 2007. He scored some big goals, he was big on draws, and you can never have enough guys that score and can win draws come playoff time. Getting him was a good deal because of his playoff experience, and if you can get him to play well for three months, that's all you're looking for. Vancouver now has two solid centermen in Manny Malhotra and Pahlsson who can play on the third or fourth line. It also gives you the ability to put two centermen on one line if you need to have a second option on the ice for a key draw. Getting Pahlsson was a good, cheap pickup for Vancouver.

Boston Bruins -- In the East, Philadelphia made deals to add Pavel Kubina and Niklas Grossman a week before the deadline, but on the deadline day itself, the East was much quieter than the West. The West was much more aggressive. Boston cheaply added Brian Rolston, and people might wonder why, but the Bruins know Rolston. Claude Julien probably figures he can come in and play on the third or second line and play a little on the power play. I like Greg Zanon, too. He's a Boston-type defenseman -- very physical and he blocks a lot of shots. Mike Mottau is a veteran who doesn't beat himself. That's what Boston wants on its defense -- guys who don't beat themselves. They need to know what they're getting every shift and Mottau and Zanon are those types of defensemen. Boston got better.

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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 10:14 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Matchup: Capitals at Maple Leafs

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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 10:26 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Mullet of the Week: Steven Stamkos

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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 10:25 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry's Best: Trade Deadline Moves

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Posted On Monday, 02.20.2012 / 9:00 AM

NHL.com - Melrose Minute

My take on the first big trades before the deadline

The 2012 NHL Trade Deadline doesn't hit for another week, but a few teams fired their first shots over the bow this week. Here is my take on what the moves of the last week mean and how they helped their respective teams.

Dominic Moore
Center - SJS
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 16 | PTS: 20
SOG: 78 | +/-: -10
Dominic Moore, San Jose Sharks: The big quesiton with this, and I hear it all the time, is why is this guy traded all the time? It seems like he's traded every deadline, and I think it just shows that he's wanted at every deadline. If you watched the San Jose game Sunday, he played a lot and was on the ice during the last minute of the game. He's a solid hockey player all around -- great on draws, a guy that can score, he's very committed defensively and he blocks shots. He's the type of guy that's very in demand this time of year when the checking gets tighter, the going gets tougher and draws get more important. In addition, most lines only have one guy that can take a draw, but Moore plays on the wing, too. That means he gives teams two guys that can take a draw on one line in the final minute of a close game. That's a very important thing this time of year. A team that's going to be playing a lot of hard-fought, close-checking games can use someone like Moore. He becomes a pretty valuable guy. That's why you see him moving this time of year so often.

Moore is the type of a gritty guy you go after to push your team to that next level this time of year. Obviously, you'd go for an elite goal scorer if you could, but the price tag on one of those is pretty high. If you look at teams that win Cups, the gritty guys become more important because the elite scorers get checked tighter. Those third and fourth-line types are the ones that become important. If you look at Boston last year, players like Shawn Thornton were scoring big goals. Dominic Moore fits that kind of mold.

Hal Gill
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 8
SOG: 34 | +/-: -5
Hal Gill, Nashville Predators: I like this move, but the minute I saw it, two things came to my mind. The first is that Nashville is definitely taking a run at the Cup. This gives them a very deep defense and Hal Gill has been excellent in the playoffs. When he has an assignment, and it's usually been to shut down the team's top line, he plays very well. Getting him can also free up Ryan Suter or Shea Weber from that role of shutting down the other team's top line, allowing them to use their offensive weapons as well. The other thing that went through my mind though, was 'Did they do this because they're going to give up Suter at the deadline?' Nashville is saying they aren't going to give him up and they're taking a run at the Cup, but this is solid insurance if they decide to get rid of him to make sure they get something in return for developing a player they expect to leave.

If they know Suter is likely to be gone on July 1, they have to trade him. It's a bad decision to lose all the assets you could get back for nothing. This is a guy who could bring really high-end prospects or a boatload of draft picks back in return.

Having those three guys together though, Weber, Suter and now Gill, gives them a top three defensemen that might be unmatched talent-wise in the West. Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles all have talented defenses, but it's hard to beat a top three like these. Gill might get lost in the shuffle, but if you look back at what he did alongside Rob Scuderi in 2009 in Pittsburgh, he went against every team's top line every night and he always shut them down.

Nicklas Grossman
Defense - PHI
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 5
SOG: 38 | +/-: 1
Pavel Kubina and Niklas Grossman, Philadelphia Flyers: Obviously, the overriding theme here is size. These are two gigantic defensemen, and they're both good defensemen. They're not top-pair guys. They're more like third and fourth defensemen, but they've got big bodies and they skate well for guys that size. Kubina has already won a Stanley Cup which gives the dressing room another experienced guy, but all of the sudden, a defense that wasn't very big after Braydon Coburn now gets a very nice addition of size, which in the Eastern Conference will be key when they have to grind it out against teams like the Rangers and Bruins. I think these are both solid moves and they add to the depth of that team in a big way considering how much is missing with the absence of Chris Pronger.

I don't think they're in the discussion for top teams in the East because their goaltending still isn't on par with teams like New York or Pittsburgh. The goaltending is definitely the Flyers' Achilles heel, but their defense now looks much better than it did a week ago.
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Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 2:44 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Mullet of the Week: Evgeni Malkin

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Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 2:43 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Matchup: Flames at Kings

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Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 10:04 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry's Best: Halak, Campbell and Filppula

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Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 9:46 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Matchup: Blackhawks at Rangers

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Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 9:08 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place: The Detroit Red Wings

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Quote of the Day

Sick. I said a couple of bad words in Russian, but I said, 'Sick.'

— Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov on Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal in Game 2 against Rangers on Saturday