Havlat To The Hawks
Martin Havlat is a Chicago Blackhawk, arriving in the windy city via a three-way trade between Chicago, Ottawa, and San Jose.
To recap, the players switching teams are as follows:
To San Jose: F Mark Bell (from Chicago)
To Chicago: F Martin Havlat and F Bryan Smolinski (from Ottawa)
To Ottawa: D Tom Preissing and F Josh Hennessey (from San Jose); D Michal Barinka and a 2008 2nd Round Draft Pick (from Chicago)
You would have to assume that Chicago anticipates being able to lock up Havlat long term, otherwise, they wouldn't have made this deal. But we should remember that these are the Chicago Blackhawks, and giving them any credit is probably giving them too much credit.
Nonetheless, they basically get Havlat for Mark Bell, a gritty forward whose career high in points is 48, Michal Barinka, a prospect on defense, where the Hawks are loaded, so they can afford to lose him, and a 2nd Round draft pick. Even if they get one year of Havlat, that's a good deal for them, assuming that he can help restore some modicum of respectability to the franchise. Oh, and they get Bryan Smolinski as a throw-in (salary dump, from the Sens perspective), who should replace Bell's production. This is a good to great move for them, depending on if they resign Havlat, and for how much.
Unless this move was done to clear salary, I can't imagine what Ottawa gets out of it. I like Preissing, he impressed me a lot against Edmonton in the playoffs, but I don't know much about Hennessey or Barinka. They have to replace Zdeno Chara, but Preissing is a different kind of player. He should, along with younger defenseman like Volchenkov and Mezjaros, help replace the big man's minutes, and makes the Sens defense more mobile, but less physical. Still, I can't help but think that they could have gotten a better return elsewhere, even if they waited until the trade deadline to dump Havlat. Unless this move was done to clear salary in advance of another move, I don't get it.
As for the Sharks, they have great depth throughout the organization, so they can afford a 2-for-1 swap. I anticipate that they have Bell pegged to replace Alyn McCauley's role as a two-way forward on the 3rd line. They will miss Preissing, but have enough young defenders to make up for his loss.
To summarize, this is a good trade for Chicago and San Jose, but I have to think that there are a lot of Senators fans shaking their heads right about now.
Update: Looking at things from the salary perspective, I can understand why Ottawa would make this trade. Swapping Smolinski for Preissing saves them $900,000 this season, and puts their payroll just above $35 million for the 14 players they have signed. Ottawa is apparently willing to spend up to the cap, so unless they thought that Havlat's arbitration number would break the bank, I can't see a reason for them to take this deal.
(As an aside, they still have four arbitration cases remaining - Vermette, Kelly, Neil, and Schaefer, none of whom should be excessively expensive).
(Second aside, the full list of players who filed for arbitration can be found here.)
Assuming that these arbitration figures cost them $4-5 million, that leaves them with only a mil or two to fill out the remaining 3-4 roster spots, and have a bit of flexibility. From a financial perspective, it became pretty clear that they would have to move him, or jettison at least a couple of their other arbitration-eligible players.
As a final word, despite the numbers, I can still think of only three plausible explanations for why Ottawa would accept this particular trade:
1. Due to his insistence on testing free agency next summer, there was a bear market for Havlat. This could have been the best (or maybe even the only) offer they received. I find this hard to believe, but stranger things have happened.
2. They figured Havlat would be awarded something in the range of $4.5-5 million, and once it became clear that they couldn't afford it, his trade value would be significantly lowered from what it already is.
3. They know something about Josh Hennessey, Michal Barinka, or the 2008 draft that I don't.
Second Update: Havlat has signed a 3-year, $18 million deal with the Hawks. I said in my draft preview that the Hawks really needed a franchise forward (preferrably a goal scorer too), and Havlat certainly fits the bill. Whether or not his $6 mil a year salary is worth it, especially given his history of injuries, is up for debate.