The NHL trade deadline has come and gone, and so has the Â“where will Sean Brown wind up?Â” hype that came with it.
Now that we’re done with what seemed to be a prolonged game of musical chairs for depth defensemen, let’s take a closer look at the league’s swap-shop winners and losers:
Winner: Edmonton. Yes, the Oilers overpaid to fix the disaster in net, trading within their division for 36-year-old, soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Dwayne Roloson.
But they’re still in a dogfight for a playoff spot, and without a major change between the pipes, they might have completely fallen out of the race. Plus, GM Kevin Lowe made up for the premium he paid by swindling Boston on the Sergei Samsonov trade.
The bottom line: Edmonton had two major concerns Â– starting goaltending and secondary scoring Â– and they addressed them both.
Loser: Tampa Bay. The Lightning’s goalie situation has been gruesome for a while, and it’s turning coach John Tortorella into Curmudgeonstein, a scowling, howling, bolts-in-the-neck monster created from a DNA mix of Barry Bonds, Lou Reed and Dick Cheney. And his sunny disposition doesn’t look like it’s going to improve in a few weeks.
Yes, GM Jay Feaster was up against the cap, a fact that prevented him from doing much at the deadline. But in the new NHL, lack of financial flexibility can be big a mistake as any on-ice personnel decision. It might be the one that leaves Tampa Bay on the outside of the post-season, looking in.
Winner: Dallas. If the Stars can re-sign Mitchell, the price of Martin Skoula and Shawn Belle will seem paltry. Why the Wild chose to part with the rapidly-developing 28-year-old blueliner is a mystery to us.
Oh right Â– they didn’t want to pay him. But they’ll regret it, and Wild fans will live to lament watching another Minnesota hockey product leave for the Lone Star state to truly flourish.
Loser: Toronto. Â“Activity doesn’t always mean progress.Â” That’s what Leafs GM John Ferguson said after his meager dealings at the deadline.
Such a phrase might trigger rapturous applause in a self-esteem class for the morbidly obese, but it sure doesn’t fly as hockey philosophy in hockey-nuts Toronto.
After hedging his bets last week, Ferguson is going to have to make a sizeable splash when he has money to spend on free agents for next season. If he doesn’t, local newspapers will be handing out blue and white promotional pitchforks and torches, with directions leading to Ferguson’s door.
And there’s the danger: though Ferguson will have the resources to make such a splash, there’s a fair possibility he’ll do it via belly flop.
Winner: Buffalo. Not trading goalie Martin Biron was the best non-move of the deadline. GM Darcy Regier has a good group of young guys who want to play for each other.
And though the Sabres might not wind up winning a Stanley Cup this year, Regier is going to find out who he wants to keep when Buffalo makes a bona fide push for prominence.
Loser: Colorado. The Avs’ acquisition of Jose Theodore in exchange for David Aebischer raises many questions, but provides the answer for one in particular: When did GM Pierre Lacroix jump the shark?
The pressure Theodore faced with the Canadiens was enough to, um, make anybody’s hair fall out. But Patrick Roy’s shadow didn’t just darken la belle province Â– it extended all the way to Denver.
And as Theodore’s salary balloons over the next two seasons Â– crippling Lacroix’s ability to maneuver under the salary cap Â– the fans and media will make him a Rocky Mountain scapegoat, just as they did in Montreal.
Winner: Anaheim. Be it in front of the microphones and cameras or at the trade table, Ducks GM Brian Burke ain’t no wallflower.
Bringing back Jeff Friesen was a savvy repatriation of a slick-skating, locker room leader. And unloading the relatively hefty contract of Sandis Ozolinsh to the New York Rangers is the sort of unheralded move that assures the Ducks of cap room come free agent frenzy time.
Loser: Boston. No offense to Marty Reasoner or Yan Stastny, but we don’t see the Samsonov trade as anything but the typical, 10-cents-on-the-dollar deal that has all but buried the Bruins in the mind of the common Bostonian.
At this stage of the franchise’s history, is there anyone who thinks young stars Brad Boyes and Hannu Toivonen will be in Beantown beyond 2010? And if there is, have those people been made to submit urine samples before we take them seriously?
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