January 28, 2010

McQuaid and Marquadt: A Tale of Two Trades

What do Boston Bruins prospects Adam McQuaid and Matt Marquardt have in common? Both were drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets (McQuaid in the 2nd round of the '05 draft, Marquardt a year later in the 7th), and were traded to the B's before their draft rights expired. But that's where the similarities end. McQuaid, who played his junior hockey with the OHL's Sudbury Wolves, was acquired for a fifth-round pick in the 2007 draft (which was later flipped to Dallas; they used it on rookie forward Jamie Benn).

The native of Prince Edward Island is a hard-hitting defender who came into pro hockey with known skating deficiencies, established himself as a tireless worker and high-character player with the Providence Bruins starting in the 07-08 campaign. This year, partially because of injuries which decimated Boston's defense corps early in the season, and partially because the organization wanted to reward McQuaid's hard work and progress, he got his chance to play in the NHL. Marquardt, a high-scoring power winger (at 6-foot-3, 229 pounds) in the QMJHL with the Moncton Wildcats and Baie-Comeau Drakkar, also with known skating deficiencies, came to the Bruins even-up for struggling prospect Jonathan Sigalet.

After a slow start in Providence last year, his first as a pro, Marquardt picked up his production and was cruising along in early spring, when an injury felled him for much of the last quarter of the regular season and first part of the playoffs. He returned in time to taste some of Providence's run to the East Conference finals, and looked like a go-to guy for 09-10 with a solid rookie year under his belt.

Unfortunately, where McQuaid has flourished this season, Marquardt has faded. The Providence Bruins sent him to the Reading Royals, Boston's East Coast Hockey League affiliate this week, the team announced in a recent press release.

In 33 games with Providence, Marquardt had zero goals and eight assists. It appears as if head coach Rob Murray has tried to be patient with the 22-year-old, but at some point, when you're supposed to be scoring on a team that can't seem to score, something must be done. It wasn't the first time this season that Marquardt had been sent down: in 4 games with the Royals, he has a goal and an assist. However, it was hoped that upon returning to the AHL, the modest success might kickstart his production. McQuaid and Marquardt serve as reminders about how difficult it can be to find success at the highest level.

McQuaid is a no-frills player who has overcome mobility issues to demonstrate that he has a future as a lower pairing, defensively-sound role playerwith toughness in the NHL, while Marquardt appears to be a longshot.

The Bruins and their fans can take solace in the fact that Sigalet hasn't found success with the Blue Jackets either, but for the time being, it looks like one Columbus reclamation project has panned out.