Now that the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline has passed and the dust around the League has settled, teams are gearing up for the final stretch run to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A number of big names changed addresses and several teams made additions to prime them for a run at the Stanley Cup. The big stories at the deadline are just a few of the things that caught my attention over the past week.
MILLER TIME IN ST. LOUIS
The St. Louis Blues made what was probably the biggest splash of the deadline when they sent Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier and two draft picks to the Buffalo Sabres for Ryan Miller and Steve Ott. Is Miller the missing piece, the goalie the Blues need to finally win the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship? I'm not sure, but what I like about this deal is it takes away any excuses from the players.
Halak was maybe thought of as not as good as Jonathan Quick, Antti Niemi, Corey Crawford or Jonas Hiller, some of the goalies he would have to go through to take St. Louis to the Stanley Cup Final. The players had an excuse to fall back on for not getting the job done. Now they don't. This is a team that has had promise for a few seasons now, but it's time to put up or shut up. They needed a goaltender, they went out and got a great goaltender, as well as Ott, who is a proven playoff performer. Now that the Blues are loaded for bear, they really get to see just how they stack up against the other Western Conference powers over a long playoff run, and if they're really a team built to win the Cup or if they'll need to make significant changes.
This isn't just a move for this year, however. The Blues should have a decent shot at re-signing Miller because St. Louis has all the things he's talked about. He wanted a hockey city. He's in one. He wanted a team that has a shot at winning the Cup. He's on one. He wanted a team that has a championship window that should last a few more years. He's on one.
This looks, at least at the onset, like a great fit, and given Miller's 4-0-0 record and 1.50 goals-against average since arriving, there's no reason to think otherwise. Given how good this team is and how well the Blues' championship window matches up with Miller's remaining prime years, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him stick around when the season is done.
THE MARTIN ST. LOUIS SITUATION
One of the biggest stories making headlines has been Martin St. Louis being traded by the Tampa Bay Lightning to the New York Rangers. St. Louis is arguably the best player the Lightning have had to date, but the story here has mostly been the suspicion that St. Louis asked for a trade once his general manager, Steve Yzerman, didn't select him for the roster for Canada's Olympic team, for which he was also the GM. St. Louis was eventually added to the roster as an injury replacement for Steven Stamkos, but when I look at this situation, I think there's something more to it than St. Louis being miffed over the Olympics.
I coached St. Louis, however briefly, and the Marty I know is a total professional. He would look at that Canadian team and say, "You know, I think I should be on it, but I can't argue with anyone else who's on it." It's not like him to throw a tantrum and demand stuff like that. Marty's a great guy. He's a leader and a character guy. Character guys don't handle things the way he supposedly handled it. I really just can't see him doing that.
In addition to that, I know Stevie. I know everything is above board with him and handled honestly and totally professionally. Yzerman and St. Louis are very much alike. The easiest thing for Yzerman would have been to just put St. Louis on the team from the start. It would have solved every problem and he wouldn't have taken any heat for it. But Steve felt Marty wasn't one of the top 23 players available and the Marty I know would have respected that.
I might be 100 percent wrong, but the guy I knew in Tampa I can't see doing all this because of not being picked to the Canadian Olympic team.
TYLER BREAKS OUT
In his first season with the Dallas Stars after being traded by the Boston Bruins, Tyler Seguin has just been unbelievable. Not only does he have eight points over the past two games, but the hat trick he scored Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks was his third of the season. That's tremendous production. Seguin does have a good line around him, and he and Jamie Benn clearly have magic together, but I think a lot of this has to do with the difference between Dallas and Boston. Dallas is a fun team to watch. It really plays at a high tempo, which helps, but Seguin simply wouldn't have been able to put those numbers up in Boston because of the Bruins' system.
If you're going to go into Boston and be a part of that, you're going to have to give up numbers. You're not going to take chances if you get the puck and if you're the slightest bit tired you've got to go off for a change. It's a great team because all of the Bruins players have bought into the system, but that can hamper your offense. Phil Kessel wouldn't have thrived in Boston either. To be a great offensive player you have to take chances, and that system just doesn't let you. Seguin might have been the top scorer for the Bruins and improved their power play, but I don't think he would ever have the freedom to do the stuff he's doing with Dallas.
That said, you can't argue with Boston's system because they've won two conference championships in the past four seasons.
It's important to remember though that one of the reasons Seguin has taken off so much is probably because played for the Bruins. He learned to be a professional with those guys in Boston. He learned to compete every night and that taking nights off was unacceptable. He learned to play defense and have a complete game. I really think one of the reasons he's doing so well now is because he came up with guys like Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci or Zdeno Chara. Seguin could always score. Those guys taught him how to be a pro.
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