When Useful Becomes Must-Have
Murray Craven, meet Ryane Clowe.
It was 20 years ago, at the 1993 NHL trade deadline, that Craven was the hottest commodity available, a workmanlike, generally un-flashy veteran forward who was elevated to must-have status by the pressures of the deadline. Everybody suddenly needed to have him.
Vancouver got him, and Craven scored no goals in 10 regular season games before scoring four times in the playoffs. The Canucks didn't win it all, although Craven was a good player (15 goals) the next season who was part of the Canucks' run to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup final.
At least Craven had 25 goals (in a much higher scoring era) at the time Pat Quinn picked him up from Hartford GM Brian Burke for winger Robert Kron.
Clowe, 30, is a whole different story heading into this year's NHL trade deadline, one that has uncertain expectations for the possible amount of activity. Sportsnet will have 31 on-air personnel involved, including Theo Fleury and Wendel Clark, so we'll make 31 bodies changing teams the over-under.
I'll still take the over. That means somewhere between 15 and 20 deals.
Clowe seems destined to be involved in one of them, and might be the most sought after player available this year.
Even though he has no goals. Not a one in 28 games. He also didn't score in five playoff games last year.
Even better, he is apparently demanding that whatever team trades for him needs to sign him to a new contract, as he is an unrestricted free agent in July.
When a zero goal scorer has that much appeal and that much leverage, you're talking about a unique annual scenario that turns good players into supposedly indispensable ones.
The Sharks, and Clowe, are counting on that.