Happy 4th to our friends south of the border...
Big Sunday Night Blockbuster here as the Sharks sent Dany Heatley into the Wild for Martin Havlat. This just looks like a straight-up old school hockey trade of two top wingers with no real ramifications for anyone else as they'll essentially just swap spots. Heatley should line up with Mikko Koivu on the top line in Minny and while he's not the same player he was five years ago I think he's due to rebound after a weak 26 goal season (playing hurt) no matter what team he's playing for in 2011/12. Going from Thornton to Koivu may seem like a downgrade but Heatley never really clicked with Joe while Mikko is chronically underrated and has never had the opportunity to play with a sniper like Heatley.
I'm not the world's biggest Havlat fan as he's inconsistent and injury prone but I like this move for him as he upgrades from playing with scrubs like Brodziak & Cullen to either Thornton or Couture. So his value definitely increases but I don't think you can feel totally comfortable with this guy given his spotty history... but I will give him credit as he's averaged 77 games over the past three seasons. [more from Mike Russo at StarTribune]
The Leafs added Cody Franson and Matthew Lombardi's contract from Nashville for virtually nothing (aka Brett Lebda & Robert Slaney). Lombardi suffered a concussion that kept him out of all but the first two games of the season last year, when you miss that long and there hasn't been much improvement then who knows if he'll ever be able to return... weighing the return with the risk, I'd steer well clear. Franson is the real steal in this deal as I think he's a very promising player that just needs an opportunity to shine... and the Leafs should give him every opportunity to shine away. This guy has been a very productive player in both the WHL & AHL and was top 10 in the league in ESP/60mins amongst dmen (with 20+ games) while only seeing an average of 15:10 of ice-time last season. He put up 29 points with just six coming on the PP (1:53 PPTOI/gm) so there's lots of room for growth assuming he sees an increase in his minutes & PP opps.
Franson's addition combined with the trade for Liles really hurts Carl Gunnarsson's value as he's not likely to see quality ice-time any longer but I wasn't very high on him regardless. Nashville could afford to give Franson away as they have a number of dmen prospects that are very close including Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi & Mattias Ekholm.
Nashville signed Niclas Bergfors to a cheap one-year deal... I like this guy and think he could be a nice late-round sleeper pick who can surprise as he's averaged a respectable 40 points over his first two NHL seasons and he likes to shoot the puck (which I fully endorse). Given that Nashville is really clearing out some deadwood (Dumont, Sullivan, Goc, Ward & Lombardi), this really opens things up for a guy like Bergfors to come in and potentially rebound like Sergei Kostitsyn did last year.
AHL superstar Alexandre Giroux has signed a two-way deal with Columbus, he'll get a look at training camp and could be called up if injuries strike but like every other stop throughout his career, the CBJs will likely just send him down due to his lack of foot speed.