Behind Enemy Lines – Central Division Trade Aftermath

By JoHannah Lowder

Mar 31, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets players swarm Columbus Blue Jackets center Mark Letestu (10) after his game-winning goal in overtime against the Anaheim Ducks at Nationwide Arena. Columbus won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks barely did a thing in the trade deadline frenzy, but a few of their Central Division opponents were quite a bit more active. Only a couple might mean trouble for the Blackhawks in the remaining games of the shortened season, but all match ups against arguably the most improved team are already behind them.

The only way the Blackhawks would have to deal with an even better Columbus Blue Jackets team is if the Jackets manage to scrape into the playoffs, probably the 8th seed. If Chicago is still 1st in the West, the 7-game contest should be a good one.

But thank goodness they’re done with the Columbus for the regular season. The Blue Jackets made the most trades in the Central Division and have reaped the greatest benefits. They sent alternate captain Derek Dorsett along with Derek Brassard to the New York Rangers in exchange for offensively talented Marian Gaborik. Gaborik will be rejoining former Rangers teammates Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky in an effort to jump start his offense and make Columbus an even more frustrating team to play against. Forward Blake Comeau from Calgary will add to that offense as well and help the Blue Jackets pester the Eastern Conference next season.

Columbus also traded backup goaltender Steve Mason to Philadelphia in exchange for Michael Leighton who will probably take Mason’s place second to Sergei Bobrovsky for the remainder of the season. Any move to give Mason a change of scenery and away from Columbus is a good move, and Philadelphia seems like a place that’s okay with struggling goaltenders, so a rebound game would just be a plus.

The St. Louis Blues follow Columbus for the number of trades, sending defenseman Wade Redden to Boston and forward Matt D’Agostini to New Jersey for a couple of future draft picks. To tighten up their somewhat slacking blue line this season, the Blues acquired Jay Bouwmeester from Calgary to give him a chance to make it to the playoffs after playing 750 NHL regular season games. Also new on the blue line for the Blues is Jordan Leopold from the Buffalo Sabres who was exchanged for a couple of conditional draft picks. Defense is the name of the game for the Blues, and these trades should wake up the team to getting back to the basics of what made them special last season.

The Nashville Predators have been staggering in and out of a playoff spot for a majority of the season, and now the urgency is even greater with the loss of one of their best defensemen. The biggest move the Predators made was granting defenseman Martin Erat‘s request for a trade. Nashville’s 11 year veteran forward Martin Erat was tied for the team’s lead in scoring with 21 points and was traded to the Washington Capitals for their 2012 first round draft pick Filip Forsberg. The Predators also traded defenseman Scott Hannan to Sharks for conditional draft picks. Hannan played for the Sharks for 8 seasons before being bounced around the league. Nashville’s problems have been both offense and defense, and the trades probably won’t make much of an impact in the remaining season with so little in return.

The Detroit Red Wings made only one move prior to the trade deadline, moving defenseman Kent Huskins to Philadelphia for a future draft pick. Huskins played 11 games with the Red Wings and never made it on the score sheet. Rumor has it they were looking for any available top end forwards or defensemen, but the options never materialized, leaving Detroit looking very much the same as before the deadline. This is good news for Blackhawks fans as they have won every matchup with the Wings this season. Since neither team made any significant moves, not much should change for their final meeting of the season in Chicago.

How do you think the Central Division trades will affect the Blackhawks for the remainder of the season and the playoffs?

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