Monday, November 10, 2008

A month into the Meszaros trade

When Tampa Bay traded Filip Kuba, Alex Picard, and a first-round draft pick to the Sens in exchange for Andrej Meszaros, they were certainly thinking long-term about the asset they acquired. A month into the trade, however, Ottawa looks like the far-and-away winner--so far.

For the Senators, one top-six defender was turned into two top-six defenders. Kuba leads the team in ice time with an average of 24:28 per game, is on the first powerplay unit, and regularly steps in to kill penalties. Although he may be on an unsustainable pace, his 14 assists (tied for second-highest in the league) are more than anyone would have predicted, and he has at least one in 11 of Ottawa's 14 games so far.

Picard hasn't been quite the success Kuba has been, but he's made some strides. Whether because of his play or his contractual status, he's leapt ahead of Brian Lee, Luke Richardson, and Brendan Bell on the depth chart, and plays with Kuba on the Sens' first powerplay unit. His four points (2G, 2A) should improve as he gets more comfortable, and plays more alongside Kuba.

Similar to Kuba, Meszaros leads the Lightning in ice time per game with 24:47 per game (just three seconds ahead of D partner Paul Ranger). Although he only has four points (all assists), he's got more points than any other defenceman on Tampa Bay. Considering the ice time he gets, the Lightning have to be concerned with the numbers Meszaros is putting up--especially with more time on the powerplay per game (2:42) than any defenceman other than Ranger. Meszaros is also an assistant captain, but I can't really speak to his role in the locker room.

This equation doesn't take into account the first-round pick the Sens acquired, which may be packaged up in a trade or simply used to select another prospect for the Sens' depth chart. It also doesn't take into account the contract status of the players, though; although Meszaros' cap hit is about 200k more (EDIT: fixed) than that of Kuba and Picard combined, he's signed on for another five years. Pending any re-signings, Kuba is an unrestricted free agent after this season, and Picard has one more year on his deal.

So it looks like the Sens have won the deal so far, but we won't know for sure for at least a few seasons.
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