Saturday, June 21, 2008

Florida On A Track To Nowhere

The first day of the NHL Entry Draft is done. Teams picked their young players who will hopefully be a part of their franchise in the future, but given the young age of the players it is really hard to speculate on which picks will turn out to be the best ones. Along with the first picks in the draft came several draft day trades. In most cases it was a player that a team wanted to move exchanged for draft picks and lesser players. The one trade that might be the biggest one has the potential to be an awful move for the Florida Panthers.

Florida traded top scorer Olli Jokinen to the Phoenix Coyotes for Nik Boynton, Keith Ballard and a second round pick in 2008 that was previously acquired from Ottawa. Florida gives up their best offensive player for two defenceman who are unlikely to ever be stars and a draft pick that is well back from the first round. Not a good move. It is a deal that Phoenix should be happy about. They added to their offensive depth without giving up any core players.

It had long been known that Jokinen wanted out of Florida. He is unhappy with the Panther team that seems to be going nowhere. The Florida Panthers have not been in the playoffs since 2000 and it looks unlikely that streak will end anytime soon. This trade sets them further back in that goal. This trade leaves them with Nathan Horton as the only player on their roster who scored more than 45 points last year. That is a recipe for a potential last place finish.

There are rumors that with the defensive additions, Florida may now trade Jay Bouwmeester, who is by far their best defenceman. That would be a further step in the wrong direction.

This trade has the potential to be as bad for Florida as the Roberto Luongo trade where the most useful piece Florida got in return for their all star goalie is Bryan Allen. If Florida keeps making moves like this, they will never get anywhere. The man who keeps orchestrating these bad deals Jacques Martin has recently been signed longterm. I don't see things getting better in Florida for a long time.

I'd have fired Martin as GM and kept him as coach, if I had to choose only one. This just clinches it. Florida has depth at center with Horton and Stephen Weiss, and younger players with a bit of potential - they've actually not drafted poorly in the past few years. But to get next to nothing for their captain? And then to use that next to nothing as a way to move Bouwmeester, who is a top-pair guy who's still young and learning?

There are computer GMs in NHL '08 that would never have made such a dumb-ass trade. Horrible.
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