Thursday, March 05, 2009

And there's winners, and there's losers, but that ain't no big deal...

The 2009 trading deadline has come and gone and much to relief of programming officials at the nation's sports networks, the final hour of wheeling and dealing pushed the number of trades close to recent years totals.

Up until the 2pm to 3 pm eastern hour the prospect of a low number of deals had left the assembled panels with not much more than the option but to talk about the deals that didn't happen. Asking why Jay Bouwmeester didn't make that pilgrimage from Florida to Vancouver, or why the Montreal Canadiens decided to take the day off and go watch soap operas.

While the final flurry didn't provide much in the way of earth shattering trades, it provided volume, volume, volume, which in the end is what the networks want to see, thus to prove that the seven plus hours of coverage was worth it all. When the final trade was completed and the last piece of analysis provided, this years trade deadline only came three trades short of the total for last year and the year before that.

TSN and Rogers Sportsnet have seemed to have turned the trading deadline into the another television spectacle much like the World Junior Hockey Championships have become. The panels, the reporters flung far and near, all keep stoking that fire of the next big story, sometimes left with less than riveting news to pass along, but occasionally ready to outline just how that trade is going to change a team and potentially win a Stanley Cup.

On this Trading deadline day, it seems that the Calgary Flames were crowned as the big winners, the Flames brought back a familiar face on defence in Jason Leopold and added some scoring punch to the offense with the acquisition of Ollie Jokinen. That single trade seems to be the consensus pick of most of the trade observers as the key deal on deadline day.

If Jokinen can return to the kind of success he last had with Mike Keenan while in Florida, then yes this will have been a very successful trading day for Daryl Sutter. If however, he continues to showcase the less than stellar scoring touch as he's had in Phoenix then all that good chemistry thus far in Calgary may very well be wasted and possible Stanley Cup run derailed.

The Boston Bruins were pegged as a success story as they picked up Mark Recchi, a solid addition to an already impressive Bruin line up. Recchi having been through the playoff wars before will be able to help to keep the younger Bruins focused on the task ahead, a very important move on the part of the Bruins who sense that this may be the year that they could go very far in the playoffs.

The Penguins as well were givent the nod for some smart trading today as they solidified their defensive corps with Andy Wozniewski they also picked up Craig Adams off of the waiver wire and more importantly added some strong leadership skills into the mix in the form of Bill Guerin, it's most likely the hopes of the Pens management that Guerin having been an old experienced hand at playoff battles will help to guide the current group of Penguins into the playoffs and on to more than few rounds.

The Ottawa Senators more than aware that the possibility of playoff action now is most likely a lost cause were ready to deal today, but in the end only one transaction took place. Once again the Sens focused on goaltending as they acquired Pascal Leclaire from the Columbus Blue Jackets sending Antoine Vermette off to Ohio. Leclaire will suffer the expectations of the frustrated, as the always entertaining Senators goaltending situation takes on a new directkon.

Everyone's favourite centre of the universe Toronto made a few deals, mostly unloading some of the players that no longer seemed to fit into the new era of Leaf's Nation hockey. Nik Antropov finally won't be kicked around any more by the leafs management and fan base, off to new York he can now prove to be enigmatic to new coach John Tortorella. Also exiled from Toront was Dominic Moore, who despite having a pretty decent season in TO, didn't seem to be on the long term radar of GM Brian Burke.

The Leafs also made a very interesting transaction at the end of the trading day, taking on salary from Olaf Kolzig and Jamie Heward both of whom are injured an in the case of Kolzing destined not to play any more hockey this season. All sorts of possibilities exist for the interesting nature of the trade, though at the end of the day and of the season for that matter, not much in the way instant help came the way of the Maple Leafs, the steady collection of draft picks will surely pay off in the years of the future, but in the here and now, there wasn't much coming into Toronto that suggests that a playoff run would be a sure thing.

The final observation of the trading day came out of the sunbelt state of Arizona, where th Coyotes seemed to hold some kind of fire sale of established players. Gone from the sunny climes of Arizona are Mikael Tellqvist, Ollie Jokinen, Daniel Carcillo and Derke Morris, mainly for either draft picks or minor league or third line players.

Depending on the tentative financial situation of the club, many of those names that went to Phoenix today may yet find that another team is their destination, should the Coyotes continue to struggle financially one has to wonder how long the NHL would allow the team to exist, contraction of the league would result in a dispersal draft of Coyote players, it's not in the cards yet, but considering the quick pace of player dispersal today one wonders if it was not a preview of what may have to come.

As the final trades cleared the NHL office the final tally found that 22 transactions took place, relocating 45 players in the process. Many will make the difference between making and missing the playoffs, a select few could provide one of those turning point moments that lead to a Stanley Cup and for others, Wednesday will have proven to be just another day when they found out that they were playing with another team.

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