With the Ottawa Senator's regular season wrapping up Saturday night in Buffalo, it has now been 2 full seasons since General Manager Bryan Murray traded Andrej Meszaros to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard and a 1st round draft pick that later became (essentially) Chris Campoli.
Since the centrepiece of the return for Meszaros was Filip Kuba, and the latter two acquisitions have been relative non-factors, I've decided to compare Filip Kuba and Andrej Meszaros' performance over the last two seasons, in the hope of judging the impact of the trade.
So, first, let's look at the important statistics for Meszaros over the last two seasons:
Games Played: 131
Average Time On Ice: 22:10 (Power Play: 2.19) (Penalty Kill: 2.53)
Blocked Shots: 203
And now, let's look at Kuba's numbers in the same categories:
Games Played: 124
Average Time On Ice: 22.83 (Power Play: 3.80) (Penalty Kill: 2:31)
Blocked Shots: 197
I'm actually surprise how close those numbers are. For 250,000 less, Filip Kuba plays about .83 of a minute more over-all, all on the power-play, as well as 38 more assists in 7 less games. And finally, Kuba has a significatnly better plus/minus.
Meszaros has more goals, but only 2 in an extra 7 games played. The one number where Meszaros really stands out is in hits, with 177 compared to Kuba's measly 71. Who would have thought that the Senators would find someone meeker than Andrej?
So so far, it looks like agreat trade for Ottawa, right? Well, not so fast. Few would argue that the Senators have been a much better team than the Lightning over the past two seasons. Ottawa has 80 wins over the past two seasons, scoring 440 goals while allowing 470. Tampa on the other hand managed only 56 wins, scoring 420 goals and allowing 535. That major difference in goals allowed could account for Meszaros inferior plus/minus. However, their goals for aren't that much below Ottawa's, so Meszaros lack of production is still unaccounted for.
Let's take a look at Meszaros's stats BEFORE he moved south:
Games Played: 246
Average Time On ice: 20.17 (Power Play: 2.75) (Penalty Kill: 2.20)
Blocked Shots: 367
So a HUGE difference. Ok, so there is one extra season there, so let's compare averages (With Ottawa on the left side, and with Tampa Bay on the right):
82 -Games Played- 65
9 -Goals- 4
28 -Assists- 12
119 -Hits- 88
122 -Blocked Shots- 101
So obviously the move from a pretty good Senators team to a struggling Lightning did him no favours. So what about Filip Kuba?
Games Played: 156
Average Time On Ice: 22.34 (Power Play: 3.18) (Penalty Kill: 2.62)
Blocked Shots: 244
Funnily enough, Kuba was comparable or better in every category other than plus/minus. This confuses matters further (Although Tampa Bay was a better team those two seasons than they have the past two). Both defenseman played worse after the trade.
So what do we make of these findings? How the hell should I know? Would Meszaros have had the same decline had he stayed in Ottawa? Well, let's look at Matthias Ohlund, who joined the Lightning this season after having spent the rest of his career with the Vancouver Canucks. I'll quickly compare his post-lock-out averages with the Canucks with his statistics this season:
72 -Games Played- 65
10 -Goals- 0
18 -Assists- 13
+4 -Plus/Minus- -10
98 -Hits- 109
130 -Blocked Shots- 116
Now, to be fair, even in Vancouver you can see a steady decline in Ohlund's numbers. But none as drastic as the drop after the move to Florida.
You could even use Victor Hedman as an example. After tons of hype, the 2009 second overall pick is just 7th among rookie defenseman in goals, 6th in assists, 17th in plus/minus, 8th in hits and second in blocked shots.
Pretty underwhelming numbers for such a gifted athlete.
So one could make the presumption that Meszaros would NOT have struggled as much had he stayed in a Senators uniform. So, looking at Meszaros averages with Ottawa when compared to Kuba, who would've have been better? Obviously the "old" Meszaros. But, that's just me.