Hockey Banter: Pony Up or Stand Pat?

Brendan Morrow, Pittsburgh Penguins

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Every year, there always seem to be a team that gets a jump on their trade deadline shopping. This year, the Pittsburgh Penguins are that team. On Sunday, the Pens traded top prospect, Joe Morrow, to the Dallas Stars for veteran and former 30-goal scorer, Brenden Morrow. Shortly afterwards, they acquired defenseman, Douglas Murray, from the San Jose Sharks for a 2nd round draft pick and another conditional draft pick, the latter depending on how far the Pens go in the playoffs and whether or not they re-sign Murray after the season.

Certainly, Morrow and Murray fill some needs, but they paid some steep prices to get them. And perhaps, it gives us a glimpse of what it’ll take to load up for a lengthy playoff run in this shortened NHL season.

J.J.: Safe to say the Pittsburgh Penguins are going for it. But man, did they pay some hefty prices. I mean, is Brendan Morrow worth a Joe Morrow? Is this the “market”?

Matt: I refuse to live in a world where Brenden Morrow is worth a top defensive prospect and Douglas Murray is worth two 2nd round draft picks, so maybe I should see if the NHL has expansion plans for another planet. But that said, this IS the market; Ray Shero just got his Christmas shopping done early and all he has to do is put his feet up while the other GMs panic up to the deadline. I remember reading one GM’s comments that trades are harder to make more than ever. In this whacky, short season, do you agree?

J.J.: It’s definitely a seller’s market. With so many teams still in playoff contention – only 6 points separate 8th and 14th place in the West and only 7 points separate 8th and 14th place in the East – the cost of acquiring reinforcements for the playoffs are at a premium. I like Brenden Morrow, but his play – and his production – has declined drastically over the last couple of years, and the Pens still had to give up a good prospect to get him. And Douglas Murray is essentially a bottom-pairing guy and he still cost a couple of 2nd round draft picks (although the second pick has conditions attached to it). Can you imagine if the Canucks gave up 2nd round draft picks like water at a rave and all they got in return was, say, Keith Carney?

Matt: Wouldn’t that be a little foolhardy? What kind of GM would be stupid enough to do that? Or pay a 2nd round pick for four games of Mika Noronen?

No, but in all seriousness, this indeed is the market for trades these days. I can’t see the Canucks be willing to move picks in what is expected to be a deep draft this June. And stow the Iginla rumours because I don’t think that will happen either. That said, I think the Canucks should be taking a look at a serviceable second line centre this trade deadline.

J.J.: The Canucks definitely need some center depth. At this point, it seems that unless you wrap Chris Tanev’s body around Ryan Kesler, Kes’ health will continue to be a big unknown, and I would think that having to deploy wingers as centers for any extended period during the playoffs should be a huge concern. On top of that, it would be nice to get some added scoring punch and defensive depth.

But are they willing to pony up to acquire these kinds of players? Or do they even have the assets to acquire them? You’re right the Canucks probably aren’t willing to move a lot of draft picks, especially high ones, in a deep draft, and I’d hate for them to part with promising prospects like Nicklas Jensen, Brendan Gaunce and Frankie Corrado. So if these are what teams are looking for in return for depth players, what do they do?

Matt: I think at the end of the day we can’t expect too much out of Mike Gillis when next Wednesday’s trade deadline comes and goes. Like we’ve established, this is a seller’s market (with the exception of the goalie market, which is ice cold at this point). More importantly, the Canucks have all their draft picks for the first time in a long time; that importance can’t be understated in a deep draft.

Sure, Gillis and Gilman will kick the tires on a few potentially blockbuster type of trades involving players like Derek Roy, Steve Ott, or even Sean Couturier. But I’ve got this haunting suspicion that after the deadline passes and Gillis faces the media, he’ll simply say that they made some calls to see if there was a way to improve this team, realized that the asking price was too high, and decided to stand pat. He’ll follow that up by saying he’s confident in the team he has now, he’s looking forward to adding Ryan Kesler when he returns from injury, and they’ll see what they can do in the offseason to both improve his team and get under the $64.3 million salary cap.

J.J. Guerrero

Founder and Executive Editor of Canucks Hockey Blog. Proud Canadian, hardcore Canucks fan. I would like nothing more than watching the Canucks win the Stanley Cup. Against the Leafs.

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