We were riddled with big moves last week and now we have had a chance to see a couple of games from the fallout of those transactions. Let’s take a look at some of the teams with recent changes and what has happened so far.
Columbus Blue Jackets...Fired Coach Ken Hitchcock
- Kristian Huselius saw at least 17 minutes in each of the final three games coached by Hitchcock. Under Claude Noel he has seen 15:12 and 15:59. May not mean anything, or it may mean that Noel feels less pressure to play the big salary. Huselius did play on the top line with Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette still.
- Steve Mason is 2-0-0, 0.50 and 0.980 under Noel. It’s early, but he seems to have found his mojo again.
- Is the team just slapping Hitchcock in the face? Philadelphia did this too - after a year or two, Hitchcock seems to be completely ineffective. They don’t play for him – in this case it was particularly stubborn given that the team just continued to lose games weeks after they were under so much pressure for losing games.
- Other line combos: Derrick Brassard with Raffi Torres and Jakub Voracek; R. J. Umberger with Michael Blunden and Samuel Pahlsson. Brassard needs to do better than one point in two games if he’s going to hold off Umberger from taking his spot.
- Despite being on the third line, Umberger has three points in two games. He had eight in nine before that, so he's had a hot stick anyway. If Brassard turns things around – and he’ll have every opportunity to do so – than Umberger will hit a wall eventually. Pahlsson and Blunden can’t help a guy maintain a hot stick for long.
- Anton Stralman has two points and is a plus-2 under the new coach, averaging 19 minutes in ice time.
Calgary Flames… acquired Chris Higgins, Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Ian White and Ales Kotalik
- Coach Sutter is still keeping Stajan on a line with Iginla and Hagman. They have looked fairly good out there, but pucks in general haven’t been going in for this team. Stajan has a point in four games with his new team, which is a disappointing start. I’d give it two more games before getting worried. He saw over 22 minutes last game.
- Hagman also has a point in four games. I don’t think Sutter is attached to having Hagman on that line. Just my gut talking.
- Same ol’ same ol’ for Higgins. Seeing 17 minutes of ice time in a second-line role and putting up goose eggs. While I’d give it another two games to judge for sure, it definitely doesn’t look promising for Higgins being anything more than a dropsy.
- Kotalik has a point in three games and was kicked out of the last game for his jersey coming off in a scrap. He’ll make his offensive impact early on, so expect the point to come shortly. But the hot run will fizzle out within a few weeks. It happens every time with this guy. Kotalike and Higgins have been playing on a line with Daymond Langkow.
- Truth be told, White’s ice time and power play time have actually gone down a little on his new team. He has a point in four games and has not disrupted things at all for Mark Giordano, as I thought it might. Giordano has 17 points in his last 31 games and still going strong.
- In all, the Flames are still in a funk with just seven goals in their last four games since the main shake-up. Until they snap out of it, this is one team that will be difficult to analyze the recent moves on.
New York Rangers…acquire Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust
- Jokinen lined up with Marian Gaborik and Vaclav Prospal, as expected. It didn’t work and Coach Tortorella doesn’t have the patience that Coach Sutter has (above re: Stajan/Iginla). So he is now lining up with Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. He has two points in three games as a Blueshirt.
- The presence of Prust has knocked Sean Avery’s ice time down. Avery is seeing 10 minutes a game now and has zero points in three games since the deal.
- Not that Prust is seeing monster minutes – he’s seeing about five per game. But that hasn’t stopped him from notching an assist and 29 penalty minutes in that three-game span.
- Gaborik is just Gaborik. He could have myself at center and you on the other wing and he’d still get over a point per game.
Toronto Maple Leafs…acquire J-S Giguere, Dion Phaneuf and Freddie Sjostrom
- Giguere has started two games and has two shutouts. Unless he jumped into the crowd and performed CPR on someone, saving their life, I don’t think you could expect anything more out of this guy. Clearly the fresh start is turning his career around. There are 23 games left and it wouldn’t shock me if he starts 17 of them.
- Phaneuf has one point and eight shots in three games for the Leafs. He also looks good out there. I think 14 points in the final 23 games is realistic.
- With Stajan gone, Tyler Bozak has lined up with Phil Kessel and has played over 18 minutes in each of those three contests. He has a point in every game since the trade – four in all. So far, he is the winner of last Sunday’s big “deal day”.
- Viktor Stalberg hasn’t played a game yet since the trade, but he was recalled Sunday and we’ll see his role in the lineup later this week. The thinking is that the added ice time he will get should produce results.
- Sjostrom has two points in three games for the Leafs, seeing about 16 minutes of ice time essentially taking Jason Blake’s spot. He is a better fit on the third line than Blake, and his offense is just a blip. Sjostrom, like Kotalik above, makes an early impact before his stone hands start to get noticed. He looks fantastic out there and leaves you wanting, but he’s a 20-point guy don’t kid yourself.
Anaheim Ducks…acquire Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala
- Blake is actually seeing fewer minutes in Anaheim (about 15) than he was in Toronto (about 16:30). He has two points in three games and is playing with Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne.
- More importantly, Blake’s presence was supposed to push Bobby Ryan to the top line, which would in turn kickstart Ryan in a big way. That did happen, but the “kickstart” part hasn’t happened yet. Ryan has two points in three games. Give it time though.