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TSN.ca Staff
9/29/2006 4:11:51 PM

Hockey trades are rarely as great or as poor as they're initially made out to be and so it likely is with today's dealing of Jack Johnson by the Carolina Hurricanes.

The initial reaction is that the Hurricanes got fleeced when they sent defenceman Oleg Tverdovsky and the rights to Johnson, who was the third overall pick in the 2005 entry draft, to Los Angeles for defenceman Tim Gleason and centre Eric Belanger.

And if Johnson, who is obviously a blue-chip prospect, turns out to be the next Dion Phaneuf, well, then Sept. 29th will be a day Hurricanes' GM Jim Rutherford comes to regret.

But anyone who thinks Gleason and Belanger are no more than a bag of pucks, think again. This transaction is not nearly as lopsided as some are making it.

Gleason, who will be 25 in January, is entering his fifth pro season. A first-round pick of the Ottawa Senators, Gleason is a solid defensive defenceman with outstanding mobility. At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, he has some physical presence and isn't afraid to use it. It is not a stretch to say he's an excellent skater. He will not put up any significant offensive numbers, but this a young player with character. The scouting report on him is that he's a mentally tough individual who has leadership skills and is future captain material.

Gleason will no doubt play in the Hurricanes' top four on defence, especially in light of Frantisek Kaberle's prolonged absence because of shoulder surgery. Gleason isn't so much a replacement for Kaberle, in terms of style, as he is a fit to fill the void created by the departure of Aaron Ward to unrestricted free agency and the New York Rangers.

As for Belanger, the soon to be 29 year old is a prototypical third-line two-way centre. He's a 15 to 20 goal man, probably a 40-point player but he plays a complete game. He's good on faceoffs, can kill penalties, has good defensive awareness, sort of a poor man's Guy Carbonneau, perhaps in the mold of a former teammate, Ian Laperriere, now with the Colorado Avalanche.

Belanger will walk into the third-line centre spot on the Hurricanes, a nice addition behind Eric Staal and Rod Brind'Amour. For a team that lost Matt Cullen, Doug Weight, Josef Vasicek and Mark Recchi from the Cup-winning lineup, and may be without Cory Stillman for most of not all of the season, adding a solid NHL veteran like Belanger is crucial to any success they are to have this season. As is the addition of Gleason on the blueline.

And, really, that's what a lot of people who are panning this move as lunacy don't understand.

The Hurricanes are defending Stanley Cup champions. They have a very good nucleus with Staal, Justin Williams, Erik Cole, Brind'Amour but between injuries and free agency, they lost a lot of their depth. It would be foolish for the Hurricanes to think only of the present, but it's imperative for them not to backslide this season if they hope to capitalize on their momentum in their marketplace. Gleason and Belanger will pay immediate dividends and give the Canes a fighting chance to defend their title.

And yet they can hardly be accused of mortgaging their future.

It's not as if the Canes didn't attempt to land Johnson. They tried to sign him after the 2005 draft, but Johnson's No. 1 hockey dream was to play at the University of Michigan, so he went off to his freshman year. When Michigan's season ended and the Canes were gearing up for the playoffs, they tried again, but Johnson, saying he didn't feel he was ready and that he had unfinished business at Michigan, said no again. Just recently, with Ward gone to the Rangers and Kaberle down for most of the year and an acute need on defence, the Canes tried a third time. Again, Johnson chose to stay in Michigan.

Hey, there's nothing wrong with that. Johnson knows best when he's ready, willing and able to go, but the Hurricanes had holes to fill, so they acted.

Now, by anyone's standards, Johnson is a blue-chipper. He's a big, strong, fast-skating, hard shooting, nasty, point-producing defenceman with a larger than life personality. He is going to have a chance to be a No. 1 or No. 2 defenceman in the NHL for a very long time. And for the Kings, who are in that middle ground where they're trying to rebuild with youth without sacrificing their competitiveness now, he's a great addition.

But as with any young defenceman there's bound to be a learning curve. The gap between potential and performance, especially those who are tagged for brilliance, is often a large one that takes time to close.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=179276&hubname=nhl
 

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I don't know about this. Gleason may be decent (I don't know, I haven't seen him play much), but Johnson was supposed to be one of the top d-men in the league when he peaked. Of ocurse, not all prospects turn out the way they should, but when a drafted player plays in the college, he should end up being pretty good.

I don't know what LA was thining about Oleg Tverdovsky though .they already have Visnovsky, and Tverdovsky isn't an upgrade over anyone. He moves the puck well and has some offence, but when a player is a defenceman his defencive play should count. He's also kind of soft.
 

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This trade will end up biting LA in the butt. Tverdosky is well to put it bluntly horrible and to give up Gleason AND Belanger for a guy that may never play for them is not a great. Tverdosky The Most OverRated and OverPaid Player in the League..
 
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