Based on the number of impact moves, it was more a trade “dudline” than a deadline yesterday, but when the dust settled from the NHL’s annual player swap, several Canadian teams came out as both winners and shakers.
Throw the winner mantle to the Calgary Flames, who bolstered themselves by re-acquiring defenceman Jordan Leopold from Colorado and adding No. 1 centre Olli Jokinen from Phoenix; and credit the Leafs and the Senators for moving players they needed to move and thereby adding some zest to a deadline day that was the slowest since the lockout.
After an average of 25 trades and 43 players were moved in each of the last three seasons, yesterday’s tally saw 22 deals and 45 players moved. While those numbers are relatively close, much more was expected. But the overriding factor in the fall-off in moves clearly reflected concerns over the global economic crisis.
“I think everyone is scared to death of the 2010-11 season. I know I am,” Toronto GM Brian Burke said yesterday.
It is expected the current global economic crisis will be felt in the NHL in 2011.
Phoenix dealt Jokinen and a third-round pick to Calgary for centre Matthew Lombardi, winger Brandon Prust and a conditional first-round pick, and veteran defenceman Derek Morris to the New York Rangers for blue-liner Dmitri Kalinin and forwards Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes.
While the Flames, Maple Leafs and Senators accounted for seven trades collectively, the Montreal Canadiens took the brunt of critical review in Canada by remaining silent. A recent slide down the playoff ladder and some off-ice controversies heightened the expectation that GM Bob Gainey would make some moves to alter the course of his team.
Jokinen was considered the top player on the move yesterday. Others included Morris and longtime Leaf Nik Antropov (both acquired by the Rangers); and Bill Guerin (from the Islanders to Pittsburgh).
Ottawa GM Brian Murray said it was “tough” to move Antoine Vermette, but it helped address a greater need by acquiring a young goalie in 26-year-old Pascal Leclaire with certain No. 1 potential.