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Top Shelf: Doling out some deadline thank you notes

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The world likely doesn’t need another “Hallmark Holiday.”

Days dedicated to Valentines and mothers already do an effective enough job of keeping card sales and male guilt sky high.

Still, the NHL trade deadline has become almost holiday-like for hockey fans and if there were to be some ‘thank you’ notes handed out today, they’d be addressed like this:

To: Columbus GM Scott Howson

From: Columbus power play

No, Howson didn’t find that skilled center or puck-moving defenseman to help his team’s league-worst power play. But he did pick up Antoine Vermette in the hopes the former Sen can regain his useful 20-goal form and maybe even exceed it.

Even if that doesn’t happen, Vermette is a very effective penalty killer. Right now, Columbus’ penalty kill is in the middle of the pack. Vermette potentially taking the Jackets PK up a few notches may not seem like a big deal, but anything that takes any pressure off Columbus’ horrific power play is a good thing.

Killing off a few more opposition power plays here and there isn’t a huge factor, but for a team that so rarely gets a lift from its man-advantage unit – we’re talking 12.6 percent here people – at least it’s something.

To: Buffalo GM Darcy Regier

From: Patrick Lalime

Lalime is a better goalie than his bum rap would have you believe, but hoping he could get Buffalo into the playoffs in Ryan Miller’s absence was asking a lot. Mikael Tellqvist can come in and share the load with Lalime – and shoulder some of the blame if the Sabres fall short. Being eternally linked to playoff failure in Ottawa is already enough of a burden for Lalime to carry.

To: Montreal

From: Calgary

The Habs couldn’t come up with a better package for Olli Jokinen than Brandon Prust, Matthew Lombardi and a first round pick this year or next? The Canadiens seemed to be acknowledging their need for a big, productive pivot when they aggressively pursued Mats Sundin. Not besting Calgary’s mediocre parcel indicates the Habs aren’t as self aware as we thought.

To: Curtis Joseph and Justin Pogge

From: Martin Gerber

The Toronto Maple Leafs are a bad team that announced it will raise already-ridiculous ticket prices in the middle of what has essentially become an economic crisis. In some ways, they have no shame.

While it was reported the Leafs tried to flip Gerber after picking him up, let’s just hope it was for another goalie. That would go a long way in proving the team does have a conscience. How could they charge people an arm and a leg to see two goalies – Joseph and Pogge – who haven’t really had a functioning body part between them this year?

Gerber is getting a chance to earn another contract because the Leafs couldn’t shut Vesa Toskala down without bringing in some kind of NHL-caliber goalie.

To: Islanders GM Garth Snow

From: Penguins GM Ray Shero

People accuse the media of getting too crazy around deadline day, saturating the event with unnecessary coverage. Well, apparently there was a media blackout on Long Island because Snow clearly didn’t hear Mark Recchi fetched two prospects (Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums) from Boston about half an hour before he handed over Bill Guerin to the Pens for one pick that will occur no higher than the third round of this year’s draft.

What is there to chose between Recchi and Guerin? If you told a group of hockey fans one of those guys went for a bundle, while the other went for a single, inconsequential pick, you’d have as many people guessing Guerin generated the loot as Recchi.

And Boston is acquiring Recchi to play a small role. It’s not like Tampa had them over a barrel, whereas Guerin was brought to Pittsburgh to help with the ongoing saga of finding a suitable winger for Sidney Crosby.

Snow simply did not recognize the leverage he had.

Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Fridays.

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