Welcome back to the second half of our new Weekly Moves column. If you haven’t aleady seen it, check out Brent’s breakdown of the notable Eastern Conference transactions spawning from the ratification of the new CBA. I have been given the task of breaking down the same types of movement out West, and will do so following the jump.
Detroit Red Wings
Recalled D Brendan Smith and F Damien Brunner from Grand Rapids (AHL).
With Nick Lidstrom removed from the lineup, the changing of the guard is officially underway for the Wings. The ever-crafty wizard that he is, GM Ken Holland has been stockpiling young talent in Detroit’s farm system for the past few years, anticipating the decline of his aging superstars. Both Smith and Brunner figure to get a look at the NHL level, and the latter will begin with a role in Detroit’s top-six forward group. Smith, on the other hand, will be given a chance to help glue the back-end of the D-corps together in Lidstrom’s absence. We’ve all grown accustomed to Detroit being front and center in big trades and free agent signings, but Smith and Brunner figure to pave the way for a slew of talent working toward playing time in Motown.
Recalled F Brandon Bollig, F Marcus Kruger, F Brandon Saad, F Andrew Shaw, and D Nick Leddy from Rockford (AHL).
Also showing the depth of their young talent, Chicago recalled familiar faces in Kruger, Saad, Shaw, and Leddy to the big club. Enforcer Brandon Bollig will start the year on the team’s fourth line while Kruger and Shaw look to build on the extended ice-time they saw last season. With a full season of Johnny Oduya, Nick Leddy won’t be leaned on as heavily at even strength and figures to be a horse on the PP for GM Stan Bowman. Youngster Brandon Saad is the wild card of the group, as the team will have five games to determine whether or not they’ll demote him in favor of his entry-level contract “sliding” another year.
Claimed F Richard Clune off waivers from Los Angeles.
Looking to bolster the depth at the bottom-end of his forward group, Nashville GM David Poile put in a waiver claim for the Kings’ Richard Clune. Seemingly your standard around-the-margins NHL move, Clune is no stranger to the penalty box and figures to serve as a player whose game won’t be adversely affected by confinement to the press box.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Assigned D Tim Erixon to Springfield (AHL).
Heading back to the AHL, Erixon becomes the only active player from Columbus’ end of the Rick Nash trade that won’t begin the season with the Jackets. Not much to note here; there’s no reason to rush a young player into the fire during a shortened season with low expectations.
St. Louis Blues
Agreed to terms with D Wade Redden on a one-year contract for $800,000 with $200,000 in potential bonuses.
We were all wondering where he’d land, and St. Louis was the team to take a one-year flier on the services of Wade Redden. The Blues already have a very solid and underrated defense group, but a no-risk signing that could help the PP on a team that struggled to score goals last season was a perfect fit. There’s no real downside for St. Louis if it doesn’t work out, and we’re given another year of jokes at Redden’s expense. Everybody wins!
Assigned F Chris Porter to Peoria (AHL).
Porter saw 45 and 47 games with the Blues the past two seasons, respectively, yet he’s only scored 14 total points. The Blues are a bit short on available forward slots with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz beginning the season with the big club. Porter figures to be a serviceable call-up in a tight spot going forward, but serves as a roster casualty given the Blues’ improved forward depth.
Signed D Cam Barker to 1-year contract for $700,000.
Looking to bolster depth behind their top-6 on defense, Vancouver decided to sign Barker to a low-risk contract following the lockout. The Canucks dressed 10 different defensemen last year, so Barker gives them an extra body on the active roster should injuries or fatigue turn their final pairing into a revolving door once again. For now, he looks to (rightfully) join Andrew Alberts in the press box on most evenings.
Re-signed D Alex Edler to a six-year contract for $30MM.
Staring at his unrestricted free agency after this season, the Canucks locked up one of their most important players for six additional years. Vancouver has done a great job securing their core defensemen at reasonable prices, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do the same with Edler. His $5M cap hit saves Vancouver the price of finding his replacement on the open market and is a great price for his age 27-32 seasons. There’s certainly nothing wrong with having a solid defensive unit locked up for the foreseeable future, which seems to be the motto of GM Mike GIllis.
Signed C Steve Begin to a one-year, two-way contract.
We haven’t heard from Begin at the NHL level since he played two games with the Predators in 2010-2011. For now, GM Jay Feaster is only looking for a body to hold together the bottom part of the Calgary’s forward group, and Begin will begin the year in a 4th line role.
Traded a 2013 third-round draft pick to Dallas for D Mark Fistric.
The Oil’s search for defense is no secret, and after Fistric became available, GM Steve Tambellini decided he was worth a third-round pick in this year’s draft. A third-rounder is a pretty standard price for these types of trades, but Fistric isn’t anything special and Tambellini could have waited to see if the market improved closer to the trade deadline. At the end of the day, the Oilers still have problems on the back-end that a Mark Fistric Band-Aid doesn’t work to patch.
Recalled D David Rundblad, F Alexandre Bolduc from Portland (AHL).
Following the lockout, Phoenix recalled quite the list of players from their AHL affiliate, but it looks as if Rundblad and Bolduc will be the ones to stick for the time being. Bolduc, a .53 PPG player in the AHL for his career (32 Pts in 34 games this season), will have a fourth-line role to begin the campaign. Rundblad, part of Phoenix’s haul for Kyle Turris, saw ice time in all three game situations during the season opener. For a team that’s constantly relying on cheap, creative ways to stay competitive, Bolduc and Rundblad are the latest young talents given the opportunity to contribute in Phoenix.
Acquired C Matthew Lombardi from the Toronto Maple Leafs for the Coyotes fourth round draft choice in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Speaking of moderately priced bodies helping the team compete, Phoenix decided Matthew Lombardi would be worth a draft pick at the hands of a Toronto salary dump. Lombardi is a serviceable NHL player at this point and gives depth to the Coyotes’ bottom-six. If his first game is any indication, he’ll be another option to play minutes in any situation for Coach Dave Tippett. Lombardi’s best season-to-date came in 2009-2010 with the Coyotes, so it will be interesting to see if he turns into Phoenix’s latest career reclamation project.
Los Angeles Kings
Traded F Kevin Westgarth to Carolina for F Anthony Stewart, a 2013 fourth-round draft pick, and a 2014 sixth-round draft pick.
Trimming extra fat from his roster, Kings GM Dean Lombardi found a suitor for Kevin Westgarth in Carolina. Coming back on the other end were Anthony Stewart and two draft picks, rounding out a no-brainer of a deal for the Kings. Westgarth wasn’t going to be a part of L.A.’s plans on opening day, so even if Stewart doesn’t pan out, the Kings still come out ahead turning a player in the press box into two draft picks. It’s not often that teams get so much in a package for an enforcer, which is exactly why we saw the deal go down so quickly.
Traded D Mark Fistric to Edmonton for a 2013 third-round draft pick.
For a team with so many questions on defense, the Stars trading Fistric to Edmonton was a bit perplexing at first glance. Perhaps they were looking to give the young talent in their system room to grow at the NHL level, or merely looking to gain an asset for a player that didn’t fit their plans after this season. Either way, a third-rounder for Fistric is good value for the Stars as GM Joe Nieuwendyk continues to tinker with his team’s formula.