Ottawa’s Bryan Murray Hoping for Magic Trades and World Peace

Ottawa Senators' Erik Karlsson (C) moves the puck around goalie Pascal Leclaire while being followed by Toronto Maple Leafs' Fredrik Sjostrom (R) during the first period of their pre-season NHL hockey game in Ottawa September 29, 2010.   REUTERS/Blair Gable   (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

Jim Kelley has an interesting column about teams embracing the shakeup trade.

Or at least teams talking about embracing the shakeup trade.

Ottawa GM Bryan Murray isn’t happy with the play of the Senators (specifically his defense, and more specifically, Erik Karlsson and Brian Lee), so he’s talking about making an early trade to shake things up.

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff isn’t happy with the play of the Sabres (specifically all of the forwards except Derek Roy, and more specifically defenseman Tyler Myers, who’s been positively horrible). He hasn’t talked about making trades but he has talked about benching players. The subtext, though, is that GM Darcy Regier might prefer a trade to paying guys to watch games.

When players aren’t performing, GMs need to make changes, and a lot of the time, the quickest fix is a trade.

But to make a trade just to shake things up?

It’s not constructive.

Rather than addressing a weakness in the organization, more often than not, you’re simply replacing a weakness with another weakness. Sometimes it’s a similar weakness and sometimes it’s a different weakness. But these moving-deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic kind of trades very rarely improve either team involved in the trade.

Sure Ottawa and Buffalo fans will feel better immediately after one of these supposedly shock-inducing trades. But let’s say Ottawa does move Lee for another defenseman. What can they expect to get back for Lee? How much can they possibly improve the position without giving up more than Lee?

And keep in mind, because it’s so early in the season, teams can’t even take back too much salary in trades, since the cap hit is just about dollar for dollar (later in the season, the prorated contracts are much more affordable to teams).

So I get why Murray is upset. I get why he wants to send away players who aren’t living up to his expectations. But for now, because it’s so early in the season and there’s not much he can get back for any of his problem players, he needs to think about improving his team either via Binghamton call-up or through coaching.

GMs and coaches love the idea of the shakeup trade because it seems like a magical out from their troubles.

But realistically, the best a team can expect from an early season, knee-jerk trade is that they don’t make their team worse than it was before.

Trading problems rarely improves either team.