But don’t be fooled. The NHL’s 30 GMs were as busy as ever on the draft floor, setting the parameters for future moves in the coming weeks.
“A lot of seeds get planted,” said Minnesota Wild GM Doug Risebrough.
Despite the lack of any major move Saturday, Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray said his ears were burning.
“We were all very active, very busy, lots of conversations with people,” said Murray. “I talked to some people and they said, ‘Well, we don’t have to do it today. We can do it going forward.’ So I think we planted the seed for a couple of things that could happen sometime during the summer if not the early summer.”
Both Risebrough and Murray have a common goal: to unload a goalie, the Wild trying to deal Manny Fernandez and the Senators hoping to move Martin Gerber.
The rumour mill was ripe with talk that Boston and Minnesota were close to a deal but Fernandez never did move. The Bruins, Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings are among the team looking for a No. 1 goalie.
“There’s still some people I’m interested in but if it’s not there, we’ll do it right and develop our own,” said Kings GM Dean Lombardi. “But I’m not done shopping.”
Risebrough still considered the four days in Columbus a worthy time in his efforts to find a taker for Fernandez, who became expendable after losing his job to Nicklas Backstrom last season.
“I would say it was productive,” Risebrough said. “You saw a lot of goalies change (teams) so it shows you the importance of goaltending. I’d say that some people are still looking for solutions.”
Just when he’ll pull the trigger isn’t clear.
“I haven’t really put a time frame on it,” said Risebrough. “I’m motivated to listen more than I am to react. This was a good four days to listen. Because there was a buzz, a lot of buzz about the goaltenders.”
It’s believed Risebrough inquired with Toronto about Fernandez before the Maple Leafs chose to acquire Toskala from San Jose instead. Nashville also offered Vokoun to the Leafs before dealing him to Florida. The bottom line is that both the Panthers and Leafs left Columbus with a huge upgrade in goal.
The Anaheim Ducks were also shopping Ilya Bryzgalov all weekend and left Columbus without a suitor.
Perhaps the most frustrated GM to leave town was Edmonton’s Kevin Lowe. He declared himself “open for business” a few days ago but left Columbus empty-handed.
“Just disappointing that you put all the work in . . . but hey, sometimes the best deals you make are the ones you don’t make,” said Lowe, who still feels close to a few deals. “But I think there’s a lot of basis. The effort you put in, you get a sense of what the market is, a sense of what other teams are doing. If it doesn’t result in that particular deal, it might result in something along the way.
“The art of the deal can be a long process.”
The rumour mill had him trying to acquired the rights to pending free agent Scott Gomez from New Jersey. Not true.
“The Gomez thing is totally off the charts,” said Lowe. “I hadn’t even talked to Lou Lamoriello, since I think January or February. That one was off the charts. Not to say that I haven’t inquired about others (UFAs) though.”
Said Lamoriello: “The answer is no. I’ve been asked that all day. No one has asked for permission, nor would I ever give it to them. It’s just rumours.”
Similarly, Sabres GM Darcy Regier said no team approached him about his pending free agents, star centres Daniel Briere and Chris Drury, and the same response came from Habs GM Bob Gainey regarding Sheldon Souray, who is also set to become unrestricted on July 1.
“We still have plenty of time to talk to Sheldon,” said Gainey.