There were 25 trades including some big names moved, but NHL Trade Deadline Day 2007 will go down as the day the Edmonton Oilers traded Ryan Smyth.
This isn't the first time the Oilers have had to make tough decisions with star players. Yet this trade was almost as surprising as the other time they traded their heart and soul - August 9, 1988.
I can't imagine how demoralizing this must be for Oilers fans. Smyth was the face of the franchise, and in many ways the face of every blue collar Oilers fan that the organization depends on so desperately for revenue. Will the Oilers go into a tailspin for the rest of this season? Is there a chance for fan backlash?
"I want to be very clear that making this trade today is a hockey decision. It was not financial," says Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe. They can afford Smyth. They just don’t think he’s worth the money.
The Oilers will have to make a big splash this summer time before the blue collar fans fork over season ticket money. Perhaps that splash could be resigning Smyth himself. His reported demand of $22 million over 4 years seems reasonable given recent contract extensions to Marco Sturm and Darcy Tucker. But given the craziness of an open market come July, Smyth may be able to fetch even more.
I really like San Jose's pick up of Bill Guerin, and for that matter the under-rated Craig Rivet. I also like what my Vancouver Canucks did by picking up two solid puzzle pieces in Bryan Smolinski and Brent Sopel. Both should slot in without disrupting the chemistry the team has captured, filling needed roles nicely.
I also like Pittsburgh's moves. Georges Laraque fills an obvious need and Nolan Schaefer finally gets a chance while providing the Pens with depth in goal. But the obvious key was Gary Roberts, who will now mentor Sidney Crosby and the Pens young guns. I liken this trade to Calgary's acquiring of John Tonelli in the late 1980s. The rugged Tonelli really helped those talent Flames teams learn how to win in the playoffs.
For full expert analysis of what went down on trade deadline day, check out Spector's blog at Fox Sports.com.
The most traded assets, as always, were draft picks or conditional draft picks. I know 2007 is supposed to be a weak draft year, and anything below the top 10 or top 15 picks is a real lottery ticket, but fans of selling teams should stay patient and know that sometimes these draft picks turn into superstars. Perennial sellers in the 1990s, the Tampa Bay Lightning traded away Jason Weimer, Bryan Marchment and David Shaw on March 24th, 1998. Among the package they received in return were draft picks to obtain Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards.