Hardly a blockbuster day

Publish date:

Wed., 6:13 PM

Picking winners and losers moments after the deadline is a fool's errand...so who better than me to take a stab at it?

I'm not looking at every team here, just the ones that jump out at me as the day winds up.

FLORIDA: By keeping Jay Bouwmeester, they keep their eyes focused on the playoffs and send a strong message to their fans.

PHOENIX: They may wipe out a year's worth of financial losses just from selling lineup cards at the next few home games. Six men enter, four men leave.The new bodies are younger and faster, they added a first- and second-rounder to continue the rebuild, and they got rid of a problem in Olli Jokinen. A nice day's work that should help build the rep of GM Don Maloney.

CALGARY:Jordan Leopold should be a seamless fit, making their blueline one of the game's most imposing. Jokinen gives them options up front, and helps make the Flames a legitimate contender to come out of the West.

PITTSBURGH:Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin address their most obvious need: scoring on the wings and veteran grit and leadership.

BOSTON: They didn't land the big one, but in Mark Recchi and Steve Montador they filled holes on the wing and blueline.

BUFFALO: Pleased their fans (and players) by re-signing Tim Connolly and adding an offensive weapon in Dominic Moore -- he'll be a boon on the power play.

ANAHEIM: Set up the blueline and the pipeline for years to come.

MONTREAL: Adding Mathieu Schneider was savvy, but Bob Gainey missed out on the chance to address their obvious deficiency at center.

NEW YORK RANGERS:Nik Antropov and Derek Morris don't bring enough to help them compete against the Canes, Sabres and Penguins.

CHICAGO: Their need for a second line center has been apparent for months. Sami Pahlsson is a nice add, but he's a checker.

COLUMBUS: Antoine Vermette is a winger. They needed a center.

MINNESOTA: Signing Niklas Backstrom was smart, but Doug Risebrough needed to do more than maintain the status quo.

Wed., 5:45 PM

Sorry for the two-hour delay. Nothing like a computer meltdown just as the witching hour strikes to put a cherry on top of deadline day.

At this point, it's safe to say we've seen the last of the approved deals. The most interesting swap of the day? For my money, it was the two-parter involving Edmonton, Los Angeles and Carolina.

The Hurricanes dealt Justin Williams to the Kings for Patrick O'Sullivan and a second-round pick (originally owned by Calgary). They then traded OSullivan and their own second-rounder to Edmonton for Erik Cole and a fifth-round pick.

Give the nod to the Canes on this one. They bring back Cole, who never really found his niche with the Oilers, and he can be re-teamed with former linemate (and roommate) Eric Staal. That might be exactly what it takes to get Staal back on track after what's been a disappointing season, and to give the Canes the boost they need to challenge for one of the final spots in the East.

The Kings move out a player who hasn't yet lived up to expectations, and bring in Williams -- a first-line talent who has a bit too much of Bad Luck Schleprock in his genes.

The Oilers? They get a change of pace on the wing, and a high pick that should help restock their prospect cupboard.

Other late deals

San Jose addressed its need for additional grit and playoff experience with hard-rock winger Travis Moen and depth blueliner Kent Huskins. In exchange, the Ducks got 19-year-old German goaltender Timo Pielmeier, Boston University sniper Nick Bonino and a conditional pick. A great move by GM Bob Murray to get a pair of promising assets for a couple of veterans who were gone after this season anyway.

Earlier, Murray picked up James Wisniewski from the Hawks for center Sami Pahlsson. Thats another NHL-caliber defender to shore up the Ducks, who've already given up Huskins and Montador and could lose Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin to free agency. Pahlsson gives Chicago the face-off whiz they sought, but no one knows when hell suit up. He's been sidelined by mono since Jan. 31, but should provide a solid defensive presence when he gets the go-ahead.

Wed., 3:35 PM

Isn't that Derek Morris deal a classic Rangers grab? Name over ability. He still has a bomb from the point, but he's not the sort of player who's going to help turn around their 29th-ranked power play.

Morris is certainly an upgrade over Dmitri Kalinin, but if that's the standard, then they failed to set the bar high enough.

I like what the Coyotes did. Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha strike me as players who can do more than we've seen. Prucha may never hit the 30-goal mark again without Jaromir Jagr blocking for him, but he could be a useful depth player who chips in on the second power play unit. Dawes has sensational hands and has been a big scorer at every level to this point. Playing in the West, under Wayne Gretzky, may allow him to open up his bag of tricks.

Savvy move by the Sabres to nab Dominic Moore from the Maple Leafs. Goal-scoring's been an issue in Buffalo over the past couple weeks moreso than goaltending, and his creativity and grit should help take some of the load off Derek Roy and the newly re-signed Tim Connolly.

Wed., 2:59 PM

Looks like Brian Burke finally caved. The Maple Leafs have sent Nikolai Antropov to the Rangers for a second-round and conditional pick.

Looks like a winner for the struggling Blueshirts, who are desperate for anyone who can put the puck in the net. That they were able to add Antropov without subtracting from their roster makes this look even better from their perspective. It'll be interesting to see where they play him. Do they put him on the wing with Scott Gomez or take advantage of his size and line him up in the middle, where they've returned to their Smurf-like ways?

I think John Tortorella will try both, perhaps working Antropov at center at even strength and on the wing during the power play.

A second-rounder isn't anything to sneeze at, but Burke clearly was hoping for more. Word is he continues to expect at least a second-rounder for Dominic Moore. Hey, Dale Tallon, you listening?

At least one deal snuck under the wire: multiple sources have Derek Morris headed to the Rangers. If you were wondering how they were going to fit him under the cap, here's the swap: New York sends Nigel Dawes, Dmitri Kalinin and Petr Prucha to the Coyotes in exchange for Morris.

The Sabres grabbed Dominic Moore from the Leafs for a second-rounder. More on both of these deals in a bit. Need to make a last round of calls to try to ferret out any straggler deals.

And it looks as though Jay Bouwmeester is staying with the Panthers. Great day for Florida fans.

Wed., 2:52 PM

Reports out of Canada have the Coyotes trading Daniel Carcillo to the Flyers for Scottie Upshall and a second-round pick. Working to confirm the details, but this fits the chatter that was going around earlier.

First thought: Anyone else waiting for another shoe to drop? Carcillo is an aggravating player and he's willing to go with anyone, but he's a poor man's Steve Ott.

Upshall is a more complete player who competes hard, but he's a free agent this summer. He'll bring some reliable jam, offensive upside and leadership to the desert, where they have the cap space to extend his deal --something they couldn't do in Philly. If this was a second even-up for Carcillo, I'd like this deal for the Coyotes. Adding even a few weeks of Upshall makes this a steal.

Wed., 2:36 PM

Lots of reader questions coming in about Marian Gaborik. Best I can tell is that he is being shopped, but nobody's willing to offer up anything of value. At this point, no one knows when he's coming back or if he can stay healthy when he does return. I expect him to finish the day, and the season, in Minnesota.

The other hot question: what are the Hawks doing? The rumors have been floating about Sami Pahlsson, but I've also heard his name attached to the Canucks, who desperately need a checking center to replace Ryan Kesler on the third line. I can't believe the Hawks will stand pat, but unless they're willing to ante up for, say, Nikolai Antropov -- and the Leafs are still holding out for a second round pick -- then they're running out of options.

Well, this clarifies the decision by the Leafs to pick up Martin Gerber off waivers. The team has announced that Vesa Toskala is going on the IR for season-ending hip/groin surgery.

Wed., 2:24 PM

This is exactly why I wait to get multiple confirmations before I report a deal.

When word initially began circulating that the Penguins had acquired Bill Guerin from the Islanders, the return was said to be a first-rounder. Then it was a second-rounder. Now?

It's a fifth rounder -- with conditions. If the Pens make the playoffs -- a scenario that's looking more likely with the additions of Billy G. and Chris Kunitz -- the Isles get bumped up to a fourth-rounder. If Pittsburgh wins a series, it becomes a third-rounder.

This is a solid deal for the Pens. Guerin's a great guy in the room and a leader on the ice. His numbers aren't stellar this season, but he hasn't been skating with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby. And Pittsburgh fans shouldn't worry about his brutal playoff performance in 2006-07 when he was basically skating on one leg for the Sharks. This time around, he'll be an impact performer down the stretch.

The Isles? Well, they have to be disappointed that Guerin didn't fetch a bit more, but this gives a good indication of why so many players are still floating around out there. The buyers aren't willing to up the ante at this point, and with less than an hour to go, the market may have been set.

Wed., 1:45 PM

A league source confirms that Boston has acquired Mark Recchi from Tampa Bay. Great add for the B's, who desperately needed a top-six forward to replace Marco Sturm. His playoff experience will be hugely valuable for a team that relies so heavily on young and/or inexperienced players.

The Tampa side of the equation is taking shape. It looks as though they're sending a second-rounder (this year or next, their choice) along with Recchi to Boston for Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums.

If Boston wins the Cup then, hey, they win this deal in a walk. If not, it looks as though Tampa picked their pockets, adding two young players who can step in and contribute -- if not next year, then soon.

Lashoff, a former first-rounder, is an offensive-minded blueliner. Great skater, great first pass, but needs to work on his decision-making in his own zone. With coaching, he could mature into a top-four defender. Karsums, a former second-rounder, is a feisty checker with some touch who should become a reliable depth forward. It's a lot to give up, but the Bruins were dealing from a position of strength. Lashoff had been passed on the depth chart by Matt Hunwick, and he didn't look to have a future with the team. Karsums looks like a lock to be a player, but the B's have Brad Marchand slotted into that role in the future. This deal probably finishes off Boston's activity for the day.

Wed. 1:26 PM

Looks like the Olli Jokinen to Calgary deal now is official. The Flames are sending speedster Matthew Lombardi, bruising winger Brandon Prust and a first-rounder (2009 or 2010, Calgary's choice) to Phoenix in exchange for Jokinen and a third- rounder.

There are plenty of doubters about what Jokinen brings, and justifably so. He's never lived up to the hype of his third overall selection, and he's taken a lot of the blame for the fact that his teams have never made the playoffs. But the Flames offer an entirely different environment. It's a veteran squad where he won't be asked to play a leadership role.

And don't forget that he played his best hockey under Mike Keenan in Florida. Jokinen seems like the sort of player who needs a stern hand on his shoulder at all times, and Wayne Gretzky's no hard case.

Are the Flames legitimate contenders now with Jokinen and Leopold in the fold? No doubt. Be interesting to see if San Jose or Detroit feel the need to counter these deals.

The first-rounder is the key to the return for Phoenix. Not too many teams are moving those these days, but adding two legitimate NHL forwards shouldn't be overlooked. Lombardi's a frustrating player -- his feet move a lot faster than his head, and in that way he reminds me of a Geoff Courtnall -- but he has potential to improve his game.

Prust is a depth forward who'll keep the opposition honest, but don't expect much more than that from him. And if the rumors are to be believed, just getting Jokinen out of the room may be the most rewarding aspect of the deal for the Coyotes. There was talk that he was unhappy playing on such a young squad, and did little to make life easier on the players who make up the future of the team.

Wed., 1:03 PM

Here's one of those deals that's going to look a lot more important in May than it does now: The Bruins acquired Steve Montador from Anaheim for depth forward Petteri Nokelainen.

Montador's a gritty veteran who fills a need for a right-handed depth defender. His jersey won't be a big seller at the souvenir shop, but he brings a smart, tough game -- he plays like a Bruin. Nokelainen's struggled to stick in the NHL this season, but he's a big body who projects as a solid checking line forward. That's exactly what the Ducks need with all three members of their third line eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer.

Wed., 12:43 PM

The Olli Jokinen to Calgary rumors are gaining steam. Have to think that considerable salary will be headed back to Phoenix, or perhaps a third team, in order for the Flames to fit Jokinen's $5.25 million deal under their cap. Also have to believe that if this deal is consummated, potential UFA Mike Cammalleri won't be retained this summer.

Wed., 12:28 PM

The Blues send Andy Wozniewski to the Penguins for Danny Richmond. Gotta build the trade count up somehow . . .

Wed., 12:20 PM

A flurry of action on the waiver wire: the Maple Leafs grabbed Martin Gerber and Erik Reitz while the Stars claimed Brendan Morrison.

Gerber is a short-term acquisition who can step in if the Leafs decide to pull the plug on Vesa Toskala's season -- he's been outstanding over the past couple weeks, but has some lingering injuries. Reitz comes over from the Rangers, who picked him up from the Wild in January. You get what you pay for from a guy who's been deemed expendable twice in six weeks.

Morrison was an obvious pickup for Dallas, who has lost both Brad Richards and Toby Petersen from their center corps. Anaheim sources said he worked hard, but wasn't playing up to his salary. The Stars shouldn't expect too much from him but honestly, he beats whatever alternative they had in the system.

The Coyotes have dealt Mikael Tellqvist to the Sabres for a mid-round pick. Might mean that Ryan Miller (high ankle sprain) could be done for the season.

Wed., 12:04 PM

Multiple sources confirm that Colorado has dealt Jordan Leopold to Calgary. The return is a bit sketchy at this point, but it's believed to be a second-rounder (Montreal's pick acquired in the Alex Tanguay deal), prospect Ryan Wilson and Lawrence Nycholat, a utility forward the Flames snatched off the waiver wire yesterday.

In Leopold, the Flames get a reliable puck-mover who will help stretch the offense. He's healthy (finally) and should fit in comfortably. He spent 2002-2006 in Calgary. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him slide in next to old partner Robyn Regehr and help fill out a pretty stout blueline that will only get better when Mark Giordano returns.

Best of all, the Flames strengthened the point without giving up anybody off the roster. The cellar-dwelling Avs had no intention of re-signing Leopold, so a high pick and a prospect is a return they can live with. Wilson, 21, is a 6-1, 210-pound defender playing his first year of pro hockey. He plays a physical game and has some offensive touch, but needs a lot of work on his skating. Best case scenario is he projects as a third-pairing guy.

Wed., 10:58 AM

Another one comes off the boards. The Buffalo Sabres and Tim Connolly have agreed to a two-year, $9 million deal.

The term makes great sense for the Sabres. Connolly's a high-end playmaker, but his injury history makes any deal a huge risk. Limiting it to two years makes that risk more palatable. The money. though, seems high for a player who hasn't played a full season since 2001-02 and whose career high is 55 points, but the Sabres backed themselves into a corner. After letting players like Chris Drury and Danny Briere leave as free agents, they couldn't afford to let Connolly go the same route.

Wed., 10:11 AM

Two league sources (not from the teams involved) say the Senators have dealt Antoine Vermette to Columbus for Pascal Leclaire and a second-round pick. First glance, this looks like a better deal for the Sens. Leclaire's injury history makes him a risky acquisition, but as he showed early last season, he can get on a roll and carry a team.

Goaltending was Ottawa's biggest need, so this is a nice fix. The pick provides some insurance in case he can't carry the mail. From the Columbus perspective, the play of Steve Mason made Leclaire obsolete. Just getting Leclaire's money off the books ($3.6 million next season, $4.8 million in 2010-11) makes this a winner.

But does Vermette really address their need for a top-six center who can put some jump in their 30th-ranked power play? Maybe, maybe not. He can play center, but he's not the true pivot they really needed. He's more effective on the wing where he carries less of a defensive load. He has good speed and good instincts, but is wildly inconsistent. The guess here is that GM Scott Howson isn't done upgrading the forward corps. It wouldn't be a surprise to see them look to add an experienced netminder to back up Mason for the stretch run.

Wed., 9:54 AM

The Ottawa Senators have re-signed defenseman Filip Kuba for a reported three-years at $3.7 million per, soit looks like he's off the table.

Wed., 9:08 AM

Looks as though Keith Tkachuk will remain with the St. Louis Blues. "I don't think he's going anywhere," a league source said. "I think it would have been a more obvious choice if they'd won [last night against Detroit], but they've fought their way into the race even with all those injuries. I think they're going to keep him and keep fighting."

Wed., 8:26 AM

Woke up to find a bunch of messages on the cell phone . . .and not one of them related a done deal. Odd, but not entirely unexpected. The sense I got from several of them is that things may not shake out until closer to the actual deadline, and that the big deals we all want to see may not be forthcoming.

"We're looking at one or two guys, but they're not front liners," said one league executive. "They're complementary pieces that can make us better."

Reality seems to have taken hold of the senses in a few front offices. "We don't want to mortgage our future this year," said an exec with a non-Cup contender. "We're looking further down the road."

Tuesday, March 3

General managers rarely tell you exactly who they intend on dealing -- it can make things a little awkward if the transaction falls through -- but sometimes they can't help tipping their hand. Tuesday's starting lineups feature a number of obvious omissions, players being held out in order to avoid injury before Wednesday's deadline.

Among the players who were held out of tonight's action:

Nikolai Antropov and Dominic Moore (Toronto)

Robert Nilsson (Edmonton)

Mark Recchi (Tampa Bay)

Tom Poti (Washington)

Nick Boynton (Florida)

Conversely, the fact that Tomas Kaberle is in the lineup for the Leafs tonight against the Devils suggests that he's unlikely to be moved.

A league source says that the Dallas Stars are in talks with the Lightning about Recchi. Center is their most pressing need with the injury to Brad Richards, but the addition of Recchi could help by taking the pressure off rookie James Neal, who has looked overwhelmed for the past couple of weeks. It's thought that Dallas could secure his services for a draft pick.

Tuesday, March 3

Teams hoping to airlift an All-Star netminder in at the deadline can cross Niklas Backstrom's name off their wish list. The Minnesota Wild came to terms with the 31-year-old stopper Tuesday morning, signing the impending UFA to a four-year deal reportedly worth $24 million.

Though Backstrom hadn't been offered around, its believed that at least one team (likely the Philadelphia Flyers) had made inquiries about his availability in hopes of shoring up their second-tier goaltending situation.

"Smart move by [Wild GM Doug] Risebrough," one Western Conference executive said. "[Backstrom] makes their system work as much as their system helps him. And it'll help re-establish some good will with their fans. I think he had pretty much burned through his capital there."

The deal looks to be a winner for the Wild, shorter in both term and dollars than what the Rangers paid Henrik Lundqvist.

Teams looking for goaltending help may be focusing on Boston's Manny Fernandez. The Bruins aren't keen on moving him, but may have to go that route to clear cap space in order to make any significant addition before the deadline.