NHL

KELLEY: Trades follow quiet waiver draft

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Jim Kelley

 
   
 
As expected, the National Hockey League waiver draft produced little in terms of excitement. It was only after the draft that things got even a little bit interesting. A mere six players — most of whom casual hockey fans will have never heard — changed hands. Defenseman moved from Montreal to Atlanta, defenseman Mathieu Biron moved from Tampa Bay to Columbus, right wing was claimed by Florida from Nashville while defenseman was taken from Montreal by Nashville. In addition, the New York selected right winger from Calgary and Washington selected defenseman from Pittsburgh. After that, however, there was some action at least on the redemption front. Florida general manager Rick Dudley sent his claim, to Columbus for Mathieu Biron. Dudley had traded for Biron once before, when he was general manger of the Tampa Bay and apparently wasn't yet ready to give up on the 6-6, 221-pound defenseman who has yet to become a regular in the NHL. "He's a very big defenseman who skates well and has good puck skills," Dudley said. "Mathieu will play in the NHL. It's only a question of time, whether it's now or in the future." Meanwhile, Atlanta general manager Don Waddell wheeled Robidas to the Dallas for a sixth-round draft pick in 2003. To give you some example of the talent that changed hands here, Robidas was a minus-25 on the plus-minus charts of the defensively challenged Montreal last season. While that sounds awful (and it was), it should be noted that he was playing out of position (a left-side defenseman who was shifted to the right side while another player was injured). But Robidas did show promise the season before and at the World Junior Championships, where he was one of Canada's standout performers. Biron, brother of Buffalo goaltender , was thought to be a sure-fire NHL player, but has struggled since coming into the game. He was a part of the trade that sent to the New York and was expected to be an NHL regular this season, but has been stuck in Tampa's minor league system despite a contract worth near $1 million per season. Petrtovicky had been on Calgary's NHL roster for the better part of two seasons, but was exposed because the thought they had better prospects who needed to be protected. The are likely to assign him to Hartford in the American Hockey League even though he has 107 NHL games to his credit. The picked up Berry not so much because they needed another defenseman but because the Penquins are a conference rival and are a tad thin on the blue line. In picking him up, the Caps get depth and take advantage of Pittsburgh's dire financial straits, a move that could make a difference in the battle for playoff positioning in the East. Most of the "name" players who were on the unprotected lists, will now either remain with their teams or be reassigned to the minors. Some likely will be waived right out of the league. Among the "name" players expected to remain with their NHL teams are (Los Angeles), (Toronto) and (Anaheim). For the most part, forwards and defensemen who've either played less than 160 NHL games - or have three years or less professional experience - are exempt from the waiver draft. A goalie gets 80 NHL games or four years. The relatively low total movement reflects a trend of recent seasons. A mere five players changed teams in the 2000 waiver draft. Nine players moved in 2001. Contract considerations often come into play when "name" players go unselected. Jim Kelley can be reached at his e-mail address: jkelley@foxsports.com.
Tagged: Petr Tenkrat, Rick Berry, Sabres, Flames, Canadiens, Islanders, Rangers, Penguins, Capitals, Predators, Martin Biron, Ronald Petrovicky, Stephane Robidas, Francis Bouillon, Adrian Aucoin

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