It was a surprisingly busy Saturday for the Nashville Predators, trading out pending UFA defenseman Dan Hamhuis and captain Jason Arnott in two separate deals. The Predators picked up Ryan Parent, Matt Halischuk and a second round pick in the process and did what they do best: re-stock the cupboards for players whose time was running out.
Here’s a look at how Nashville, New Jersey and Philadelphia fared on the day.
We all knew Hamhuis was a goner July 1, so the fact they were able to get anything for him can be considered a victory; the fact they got Ryan Parent is a small miracle.
Parent was originally drafted by the Preds, but shipped to Philadelphia in the 2007 Peter Forsberg deal. Since then, the 18th overall pick in 2005 hasn’t panned out exactly as planned and hasn’t yet played a full NHL season, though he didn’t spend any time in the American League for the first time this season. With only seven points in 102 NHL games, Parent isn’t your power play quarterback and he still needs to add more bulk before he can be an effective shutdown player. Nevertheless, Parent is a good depth option for a Predators team full of under-the-radar types. Instead of having a gaping hole on defense, Nashville can now add a guy who has played almost as many post-season games as the Predators franchise has in its history.
Halischuk won’t bring a ton of flash, but he will bring a maturing two-way game that complements Nashville’s hard-working, blue-collar style. The 22-year-old got a taste of 22 NHL games this season and will get a long look to join the Predators in 2010-11.
The last time the Flyers added a defenseman via trade at this time of year it was Chris Pronger and he went on to lead them to the Stanley Cup the following year. Hamhuis won’t have that big of an impact on the Flyers fortunes and he still needs to be signed to a new deal, but if he does stick around, Philly’s already-stellar blueline just got much better.
But that’s the crux of this deal: Will Hamhuis stay? It seems strange a team already rich in defense would add another top-four piece, especially when signing him means you’re right up against the cap, with a few of your own players still to sign. Surely this means the Flyers aren’t going to be adding a bonafide No. 1 goalie this summer and instead go into next season boasting a tremendous amount of depth. And given the types of teams who’ve had success in the post-season recently – and how the Flyers got to the Cup final this season – that may not be a bad plan of action.
So long as Hamhuis sticks around.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
What’s old is new again with the Devils. The last time the team brought back a former player it was signing Brian Rolston as a free agent and Rolston started to see age catch up to him. Now, we all know a player’s production shouldn’t be counted on to increase when brought into New Jersey, but Arnott has been on a steady points decline for the past two years and, at 35, that’s to be expected.
What Arnott really brings is the big-body center the Devils have lacked. For a defense-first team, it’s tough to shutdown bigger teams consistently if you don’t have a solid presence up front who can take it to the defense down low and slow down the forwards in the defensive zone. Against the Flyers in their most recent first round exit, New Jersey didn’t seem like a Jacques Lemaire-led team, what with Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac leading the way. Arnott is the type of addition you’d expect from the Devils and while it’s a new era behind the bench with John MacLean, don’t forget the new coach has been with the organization for years and likely won’t implement any radical new changes.
Rory Boylen is TheHockeyNews.com's web editor. His blog and his column, The Boylen Point, appear regularly.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.