Minor moves leave major marks
Championship teams have always added an extra piece to put them over
NEW YORK, NY -- Putting together the puzzle pieces of a Stanley Cup
winning franchise is no small task for NHL general managers.
Rosters require tweaking, and with the trade deadline approaching, the
past few Stanley Cup champions may shed some light on the importance
of mid-season acquisitions.
In 2007, the Anaheim Ducks combined strong veteran talent with the
future of their franchise. The team shored up their toughness early in
the season by adding fan-favorite tough guy George Parros, who went on
to lead the team in penalty minutes at the end of the season. Parros
became a nice complimentary piece on a team that dominated during the
"He's got intensity and character, and is obviously highly
intelligent," said Brian Burke, the Ducks' Executive Vice President
and GM, at the time of the deal.
Another important acquisition for the team, was veteran Brad May.
May joined the Ducks on February 27th, right before the deadline. His
strong character and presence in the locker-room helped guide the team
towards their ultimate goal. He did, however, almost hurt the team
when he was involved in an incident with Kim Johnsson that resulted in
a three-game suspension.
While the Ducks stayed away from major moves, the trades they did make
created an incredible amount of depth for the team. They were able to
put together a roster that had talent, grit and hockey intelligence
from top to bottom.
The very next season, the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings kept
their roster intact for the most part. The only real trade they made
was the acquisition of defenseman Brad Stuart. He paired with Niklas
Kronwall to make up the Wings second pair, and was an integral part of
the team's success.
The Red Wings have always been an exception to the rule in the NHL, so
it should come as no surprise that the team's depth was already in
place. They were lucky enough to lack major holes, and only needed the
one in-season move.
Conversely, just a season later, the Pittsburgh Penguins used their
GM's trade acumen to overcome that final hurdle and lift the Stanley
Cup for the first time in over 15 years.
Chris Kunitz has become an integral part of the Pittsburgh Penguins
success over the past few years. He had a pedigree of success being a
member of the Stanley Cup winning Ducks just a few seasons before, and
brought that winning culture to a young locker room.
Kunitz was essential for adding much needed secondary scoring behind
the team's marquee players. Kunitz was not a rental deal, because he
had three years left on his contract the day they acquired him.
"I've watched him forever and Dan Bylsma coached him [in the AHL] and
played with him," Ray Shero told ESPN. "He's a guy that can play with
good players. He's got the speed, the hockey sense, the hands. We
really like him."
Another major deal that came down at the wire, was the Penguins
bringing in the veteran fire-power of Bill Guerin. Guerin enjoyed a
multitude of success with Pittsburgh in the final two seasons of his
NHL career, and was a fundamental cog in the Pittsburgh Penguins
"I just go in and be myself. I've always been a vocal guy, not afraid
to say anything. You just play it by ear. They get you for a specific
reason," Guerin explained on TSN at the time of the deal. "The best
thing you can do is be yourself and support the leadership they have
Interestingly, the Chicago Blackhawks made no trades that impacted the
team's post-season success. Smaller trades acquiring players such as,
Johnsson, Nick Leddy, and Nick Boynton were completed, but none of
those players had a major impact in the playoffs.
Last season, the Boston Bruins were a team struggling to score
consistently every night. On the back-end, they were elite. They
needed offensive depth however, and GM Peter Chiarelli made sure his
team would have all the weapons they needed before heading into
The first domino to fall was the procurement of forward Chris Kelly.
Kelly came over from Ottawa for a second round pick, a small price to
pay for the impact he would have in the Stanley Cup playoffs, notching
13 points. Chiarelli was far from finished however, and would add Rich
Peverly just a few days later. Peverly brought a strong two-way
presence to the line-up, and added some offensive fire power in a
Finally the last piece to put into place, was another puck-moving
defenseman. And while Tomas Kaberle struggled during his time in
Boston, the end result was a Stanley Cup Championship; a trade that
Chiarelli would make 10 times out of 10.
"I looked at the two deals tied together and how they have improved
our team," Chiarelli elucidated about the trades. "We felt that we
needed a player like Tomas, a player with good vision, a good skater,
can quarterback a power play, has played many, many games in the
league. Very smart, heavy player, can skate. ... It was an important
piece for us to get, and obviously we had to pay a price."
While most team's stay away from big name deals and blockbuster
trades, adding depth to your roster could be important for a Stanley
Cup run. These smaller deals do not often interfere with a team's
Big ticket rentals often fail, leaving a team damaged for the future.
The Penguins acquisition of Marian Hossa, for example, led them as far
as the Finals, but no further than that. Fortunately for them, the
rental did not come at the cost of forcing the team into mediocrity.
They were able to rebound quickly and win the Stanley Cup the next
With the ultimate goal of a adding a ring to each player's finger in
mind, trades must be approached with great trepidation. But just a few
small modifications may, but a team over the top.