Column – NHL trade deadline lacks major blockbuster moves

Kenny Lindberg

The much anticipated and overly hyped NHL trade deadline ended March 4 in bitter disappointment.

Most of the trades made were actually fair. No lopsided deals of the past were made.

It seems that general managers have finally learned their lessons after years of horribly one-sided trades.

The uncertain economy could also have played a role, since it is widely expected that the 2010-11 salary cap will be significantly lower than this years cap and the one for the upcoming 2009-10 season.

This could have an affect on teams not wanting to acquire players with long contracts.

Another contributing factor for the slow market was the fact that 23 out of the 30 teams in the league are still in playoff contention, something not seen in recent years.

This has led to more buyers than sellers, and therefore less deals.

Rentals, or players with only one year remaining on their contracts, went considerably cheaper than in past years. The Toronto Maple Leafs traded Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore for low second-round draft picks. Those deals wouldn’t have been done for a year ago for anything less than a roster player and first round-pick.

The Calgary Flames were the most active, acquiring center Olli Jokinen and defenseman Jordan Leopold to help their Stanley Cup aspirations.

Only a year ago, the Flames franchise would have to mortgage half their team and their entire future in order to obtain those two players, but a more mature market left them in a much better position.

Among the busier teams, the Anaheim Ducks were involved in five deals, in moves that probably didn’t please any Duck loyalists. Anaheim told fan favorites Chris Kunitz, Samuel Pahlsson, and Travis Moen to pack their bags, while welcoming defenseman Ryan Whitney, forward Erik Christensen, among others.

The San Jose Sharks acquired Moen from the Ducks, along with Kent Huskins, in return for two prospects, and a conditional pick.

The Sharks also made a deal that would have sent Kyle McLaren to the Philadelphia Flyers, but that trade was voided because McLaren failed his physical.

The Los Angles Kings dealt forward Patrick O’Sullivan for injury-plagued forward Justin Williams. This will go down as the worst trade on deadline day. O’Sullivan is coming off a 22-goal season, and although his numbers are a little down this season, Williams has only scored 12 the past two seasons, and is sidelined indefinitely with a broken hand. Williams has also played in less than half his teams’ games the last two seasons.

Granted, more players were moved during the deadline than in any prior year, but the lack of blockbuster deals left many fans disappointed.

Fans waiting for a big deal can take solace in the fact that the NHL Entry Draft is only around the corner.

Big names players such as Chris Pronger, Ilya Kovalchuk, and future superstar John Tavares will certainly help stir the rumor mills and overly hype the Entry Draft, but will probably leave many disappointed once again.