Like most everyone else I was getting impatient at hearing no word about any Devils moves before the trade deadline ended at 3 PM. Obviously some deals can still be announced for the next couple hours afterwards but you had to figure there would have been a deal in place for Jason Arnott before his meeting with GM Lou Lamoriello last night to discuss which teams he would waive his NTC for. So when no deal was announced I started to get nervous there would be no trade at all.
Then finally at around 3:20 word came down that Arnott was in fact, dealt to the Caps for David Steckel, a role player who’s a faceoff dynamo and signed for the next two years at $1.1 million per. I admit I was somewhat bemused, trading player for player seemed like a lateral move at best and I was dissapointed there was no pick involved…until I got home and found out there was a pick involved – a 2nd rounder no less. Granted, the 2nd rounder isn’t till 2012 but it’s actually better in a way since that draft is supposed to be deeper.
When I heard the full terms of the deal I was astonished really, I figured Arnott would still fetch a 2nd rounder in spite of how underwhelming he’s been lately but to get that and a nice role player signed on the cheap for the next couple years as well?! Not to mention getting a supposedly more valuable 2nd rounder, though it would have been nice to have one this year since we dealt ours to acquire Arnott from Nashville in the first place…funny how life works.
Clearly the acquisition of Steckel along with holding on to fellow UFA’s Andy Greene and Johan Hedberg sent a message loud and clear that the Devils were in fact, all in for the last twenty games of the season. Amazingly the Devils may have actually gotten better this year with the trade, since Arnott was playing like a fish out of water for the last three months and Steckel should fit in nicely to the third-line center role, perhaps finally filling a John Madden -type role on the third line.
You really have to wonder what George McPhee and the Caps were thinking here, clearly they were desperate to get more offense from their center position but can Arnott give it to them? They paid a high price to find out. Heck, I’m sure Steckel himself wasn’t thrilled, going on a team that’s clearly in the playoffs to one that needs almost divine intervention to make it. At least he’s got two more years here to win and is on a team that should appreciate his talents.
Not surprisingly (for once), the rest of the deadline came and went with only a few mid-level deals, nothing particularly earth-shattering. I suppose that’s one price of the NHL’s ridiculous parity, not many teams feel they’re out of it but also some GM’s got smart and did their dealing earlier than the last minute – although I suppose the Rangers’ acquisition of Bryan McCabe and the Sabres’ suprising trade for Brad Boyes all but counted as deadline day deals.