NHL Trade Deadline: The Wrap-Up

Matthew Di NicolantonioAnalyst IFebruary 27, 2008

Another glorious NHL Trade deadline has come and passed, so now it is time to make sense of everything that went down on Tuesday.  Several big names were moved, others stayed put (see: Toronto Maple Leafs).

Starting with Toronto. Many Leafs' fans will likely feel a tremendous amount of disappointment that Cliff Fletcher was not able to deal away some big names and their big salaries, especially the likes of Mats Sundin, Bryan McCabe and Pavel Kubina, who would have netted large returns.

Fans may be quick to criticize these players, especially Mats, for deciding to not waive their no-trade clauses and remain members of a mediocre team.  However, fans must understand that this is a contractual right-whether it is a deserved one or not.  The indiviudal who should take the least scrutiny is Sundin.

How can fans be so mad at the man who has carried this team for the last thirteen years? Sundin is officially the most loyal Maple Leaf in team history, and it is not Sundin's job to clean up the mess created by John Ferguson Jr. 

If the team misses the playoffs this year, there is a window of opporunity where Kubina's NTC is void, and after the almost-trade saga he was involved with yesterday, it is very difficult to envision #31 wearing blue and white come October. There is a suitor out there, even with his $5 million/year salary.

With approximately $3 million freed up after the trades of Gill and Kilger yesterday, and the salary cap set to go up, the new GM will have some wiggle room to make additions to this club, one that Fletcher promised will look significantly different next season.

But enough of the Maple Leafs for now, there were more significant transactions yesterday.

Dallas/Tampa Bay: Brad Richards and Johan Holqvist to Dallas for Mike Smith, Jeff Halpern and Jussi Jokinen

This deal works well for both sides. Tampa desperately needed to free up cap space after signing Dan Boyle to a monster contract. They also needed to solve a long-running goalie situation.

Smith is regarded as one of the best backups in the league and will now get a chance to prove himself as an everyday player. Dallas got the star power they needed to complete their top 6 up front, while the Lightning got the secondary scoring they needed so badly. You can call it a draw since both teams got what they wanted and needed.

Atlanta/Pittsburgh: Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to Pittsburgh for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a first round draft choice in 2008 

Atlanta needed to get rid of the potential UFA and make up for a bad trade for Keith Tkachuk last year. One has to wonder, if this is the kind of return Hossa got, what could the Leafs have gotten for Mats Sundin.

Pittsburgh severely overpaid, giving up two key members of their forward corps and a top prospect for what will essentially be a rental player. The Penguins have too many other pieces that need to be re-signed before Hossa.

Atlanta appears to be the winner here, but if the Penguins can win the Cup, they will look like geniuses.

Buffalo/San Jose: Brian Campbell to San Jose for Steve Bernier and a first round choice in 2008

Just like in Atlanta, the Sabres needed to get something for a player that might not re-sign in the summer when Brian becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Sabres could not suffer the same fate as a year ago when Chris Drury and Daniel Briere walked away leaving Buffalo with nothing but disappointment. 

Campbell is a  strong defenceman, but the Sharks may have give up a little too much.  However, with pressure on both the coach and GM to win now, the Sharks needed to throw the dice and see where they can go.

Just like Pittsburgh, if they can get deep into the playoffs, this will look like a smart move, while the Sabres get a good offensive forward and another first round choice in a deep draft.


The acquisitions of Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg may be enough to push the Avalance over the top and return them to their glory days. Adding Forsberg to the offensive firepower of Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth, Wojtek Wolski and Paul Stastny should be exciting to watch, while Foote brings veteran leadership and ruggedness to the blue line.

The only question appears to be in goal where Jose Theodore and Peter Budaj are still competing for the number one job, and neither appear poised to put the team on his back and carry them to the Cup.

These are my thoughts and the biggest moves of the day. Let me know if you agree or disagree. There may be a second article tomorrow addressing some of the other deals of the day. 


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