NHL NEWS: Flames continue firesale, Sabres trade Regehr, and Sharks continue to shed deadweight.

As we continue towards Wednesday’s Trade Deadline, player movement is starting to gather momentum.  Yesterday, Calgary traded Jay Bouwmeester to St Louis for a conditional 1st round pick and prospects Mark Cundari and Reto Berra as they continue their path toward oblivion, Buffalo moved Robyn Regehr to the LA Kings for two 2nd round draft picks, and San Jose shipped Michal Handzus to Chicago for a 4th round pick.

BOUWMEESTER

Jay Bouwmeester was a polarizing player for the Calgary Flames.  He shouldn’t really have been, but he was.  A minute-munching, 2-way defenceman is something that every single team in the league wants, and Calgary had one.  To be fair, Bouwmeester hadn’t delivered quite the level of offence fans were hoping for when they traded for his rights back in 2009, but he did everything else with quiet aplomb.  He’s a highly effective puck mover, and criminally underrated defensively, playing monster minutes against the toughest players in the league on a mediocre-at-best Flames squad and still coming out ahead in the shot-differential metrics – although he was having a bit of a down year this season.

He’s also criticized for not being physical, a trait that has allowed him to stay healthy for basically his entire career – he holds the current NHL consecutive games streak at 611 games.  Yeah, it’d be a nice bonus for him to be physical, but as usual I place higher emphasis on hockey-playing ability than that.  Bouwmeester is a high quality defenceman, one of the best in the game at what he does, and should be a quality pick up for St Louis, improving an already deep defensive squad.

In return, Calgary got a return along the same lines as the Iginla deal.  In other words, not nearly good enough.  I don’t know what was being offered, but a small (if stocky) 22 year old undrafted defenceman in his third AHL season without a sniff of NHL action yet doesn’t scream quality return to me; he may be on the verge of being ready NHL time, I don’t know the prospect well enough, but he looks a bit of a longshot.  As does the 26 year old goalie with poor stats in the Swiss league that they also acquired.

As with the Iginla deal, the conditional 1st round pick is likely the most valuable part, especially given the Flames are likely looking at a full rebuild what with the selling off of their star players for maybe’s and likely-never-will-be’s.  The Flames already have their own, likely very high 1st rounder in this year’s draft, along with the one acquired from Pittsburgh for Iginla (likely to be a very low 1st rounder).  The condition on this pick from St Louis however, is if the Blues make the playoffs then the pick will be for this year’s first round; if they don’t make the playoffs this year (a distinct possibility with their awful goaltending), then the pick becomes a 4th rounder this year AND a 1st rounder in 2014.  So, either the Flames end up with three 1st rounders this year, which would be a great way to start off their rebuild, or they get an extra lower pick this year and two 1st rounders this year and two 1st rounders next year.  Either way, not too shabby in terms of collecting “bullets” for the amateur scouting team.

For Calgary’s sake, they better make the most of them.  Two star players were given up to get them.

REGEHR

Veteran defender Robyn Regehr, the former terror of Ales Hemsky when he played for the Flames, has been traded to LA for a 2nd rounder in 2014 and a 2nd rounder in 2015.  A forward-looking deal for Buffalo, who acquire extra picks that could be useful trade pieces or indeed in drafting for a shutdown defenceman who hasn’t been much better than average for them since being traded there in 2011.

A very much in-the-now deal for LA, who are clearly loading up on defensive depth for their playoff run without giving up any current players, or even any picks this year.  Shrewd move, especially given that you can never have too much defensive depth in the playoffs.

Good for Regehr too, who gets to play for a legitimate contender for pretty much the first time in his career sans a Cinderella run to the Cup in 2004 with the Flames.

HANDZUS

San Jose traded aging center Michal Handzus to the Chicago Blackhawks in return for a 4th round draft pick in this year’s draft.  Handzus has pretty much been a non-factor this year for the Sharks, with only 1 goal and 1 assist so far and performing very poorly in the shot-differential metric playing on the 4th line.  He was, like Doug Murray – recently shipped to Pittsburgh – an expendable piece that they managed to get some small return on.  Handzus has shown an ability to be better than this over the course of his career, and maybe he was just having a down year.  On the other hand, he is 36 years old and likely in the twilight of his long NHL career, so a downturn was inevitable at some point.

For the Hawks, they gave up very little for an experienced center (another position where depth doesn’t hurt) whom they can likely give sheltered minutes to with their deep roster.

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