Many NHL deals done, but no blockbusters
NEW YORK (AP)
So much for another big hockey boost. The NHL trade deadline came and went with a thud instead of a bang.
Not that anyone expected Wednesday's deadline to come anywhere close to the excitement of Canada's Olympic gold medal win over the United States three days earlier, but it didn't even generate the buzz of previous trading days that created the wow factor.
It did, however, produce a couple of records.
There were a deadline-high 31 deals, mostly of the smaller variety, involving a record 55 players and 25 draft picks completed before the cutoff Wednesday. But big-name players such as Toronto's Tomas Kaberle, Carolina forward Ray Whitney, and New York Islanders goalies Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron stayed with their clubs that are on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
It was the seventh straight deadline day in which at least 20 trades were completed. The previous record was 25, accomplished three straight years from 2006-08. Last year's deadline saw a then-record 47 players switch teams.
Phoenix, which began Wednesday fifth in the Western Conference, made seven trades. Anaheim pulled off five deals.
The day wasn't a total bust on the excitement scale as key players such as forward Raffi Torres, who went from Columbus to Buffalo, and defenseman Steve Staios, part of a rare trade between bitter Alberta rivals Edmonton and Calgary, found new homes in deals that could prove significant in time.
Calgary also traded center Riley Armstrong to Detroit for defenseman Andy Delmore.
Before trading away the popular Staios for defenseman Aaron Johnson and a third-round draft pick from the Flames, the Oilers acquired U.S. Olympian Ryan Whitney from Anaheim for fellow defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky. Edmonton also gets a sixth-round pick in this year's draft. Whitney carries a salary cap price of $4 million over the next three years.
You can blame the Olympic break and the salary cap for keeping the frenzy at a minimum Wednesday. Most of the deals made in the final hours involved players slated for unrestricted free agency that were moved by non-contending teams in exchange for draft picks.
Stars such as Ilya Kovalchuk (Thrashers to Devils), Dion Phaneuf (Flames to Maple Leafs) and Olli Jokinen (Flames to Rangers) were involved in trades before the NHL's two-week Olympic break that ended Monday. Only a few days of dealing were available to general managers after the freeze was lifted following the Vancouver Games.
One intriguing deal Wednesday saw a pair of players chosen in the first round of the draft swapped for each other. Phoenix acquired left winger Wojtek Wolski from Colorado for forward Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter.
The 24-year-old Wolski has 17 goals and 30 assists this season in 62 games. The 21-year-old Mueller has had a disappointing follow-up to his outstanding rookie season. He has four goals and 13 assists in 54 games. Phoenix also reacquired defenseman Derek Morris from the Boston Bruins for a conditional 2011 draft pick. Morris was dealt to the New York Rangers by the Coyotes at last year's deadline.
Contenders, such as Philadelphia, were pressed up against the cap and either didn't have the money or the stockpile of draft picks to make significant upgrades to their rosters. Clubs have about 20 regular-season games remaining to make a playoff push.
Anaheim traded goalie Justin Pogge and Boston's fourth-round draft pick in 2010 or 2011 to Carolina for well-traveled defenseman Aaron Ward. The Ducks also dealt recently acquired goalie Vesa Toskala, traded by Toronto in a deal for Jean-Sebastien Giguere, was sent to Calgary for goalie Curtis McElhinney. Then they sent center Petteri Nokelainen to Phoenix for a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft.
Carolina, which is hoping to make a late-season recovery one season after reaching the Eastern Conference finals, traded defenseman Joe Corvo to the Washington Capitals for defenseman Brian Pothier, left winger Oskar Osala and a second-round pick in next year's draft.
The Hurricanes also sent right winger Scott Walker to the Capitals for this year's seventh-round pick. Washington began the night with an NHL-best 90 points. The Capitals also reacquired defenseman Milan Jurcina from Columbus for a conditional draft pick.
``I don't know if we're the favorite at all, but anytime you get a chance to improve your team without giving up a lot - we hate losing Brian Pothier - but we gained four guys and gave up one,'' Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said ``I thought that's a pretty good exchange. There were some spots that we liked to improve and get better at and I thought we did.''