NHL Trade Deadline: Identifying the Winners So Far

John PhenAnalyst IIIFebruary 25, 2011

NHL Trade Deadline: Identifying the Winners So Far

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    CHICAGO - JUNE 11: Patrick Kane #88 hoists the cup during the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory parade and rally on June 11, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The deadline is now just a few days away, and there have been a very entertaining and interesting bunch of trades so far.

    All the experts were proven wrong in thinking that the salary cap and parity in the league would drive down the number of trades.

    From wild to mild, chances are your teams have made the moves they think best position themselves for the NHL playoffs.

    Free agents, a change of scenery or a pure hockey trade, we've seen more than a few deals that make sense this year.

    With just a few days left until the deadline, here are the top five winners at the trade deadline.

Honorable Mention: Toronto Maple Leafs

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    TORONTO - NOVEMBER 29:   Brian Burke speaks to the media after being named President and General Manger of the Toronto Maple Leafs November 29, 2008 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
    Brad White/Getty Images

    The Leafs kick off our list of winners only because making the playoffs does not seem likely, despite what they may tell you.

    Many fans may criticize Brian Burke and say he doesn't know what he's doing, or they say that the Kessel deal was a huge mistake.

    While Burke may have made a few errors, he deserves to be mentioned as GM of the year for doing a great job with the hand he was dealt.

    In moving Kaberle, Beauchemin and Versteeg, Burke has acquired multiple picks that will continue to add to the rebuilding process.

    With the Leafs hot for a defenseman and a lot of movable assets, Burke figures to do more wheeling and dealing before the deadline dust settles.

    With Clarke MacArthur possibly on the move if his contract becomes an issue, Burke may not be done selling.

    While it's too early to crown Burke on anything done so far, he has done the best job in getting more in return for the assets he dealt.

    Paging Brad Richards...... 

San Jose Sharks

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    COLUMBUS, OH - JUNE 23:  General manager Doug Wilson of the San Jose Sharks talks on the telephone during the 2007 NHL Entry Draft at Nationwide Arena on June 23, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    While the Sharks have not had much to write home about this season, they are getting their game into gear recently.

    Sharks GM Doug Wilson acquired Ben Eager, Kyle Wellwood and Ian White to bolster the lineup and provide superior depth.

    So far in the process, the Sharks look to be staying the course rather than making a big bold move. A second-rounder for Ian White is a great price for a team that needs more defense, and Wilson made the call.

    The Sharks look like a completely different team that has bought into the defensive system and paying the price for a winning playoff recipe.

     In stark contrast to past teams who cruised into the playoffs, this Shark team is learning to play the right way and getting hot at the right time.

    The Sharks are very close to the cap limit and backup goaltender Antero Niittymaki's return will upset the salary cap cart.

    The team does not figure to be done and it could still land the blockbuster trade, but it's not likely given the hefty non-movement contracts on the roster.

    Wellwood, Eager and White have helped spark the turnaround to the Sharks season, and they have played big roles in the team earning 29 of a possible 34 points since the All-Star break. 

Philadelphia Flyers

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    PHILADELPHIA - FEBRUARY 22:   Kris Versteeg #10 of the Philadelphia Flyers plays the puck in front of Andrew Ebbett #26 of the Phoenix Coyotes on February 22, 2011 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Coyotes defeat the Flyers 3-2 in O
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    The Flyers are in win-now mode, which means their trade with Toronto provides them a potentially huge player in Kris Versteeg.

    While asked to do too much in Toronto, his role with the Flyers should allow him to make a impact much like the one last year for the Blackhawks.

    A late-first round pick and a third-rounder is a fair price for a player of Versteeg's ilk, who is signed for another season.

    This Flyer team is deep, talented and GM Paul Holmgren has added another key cog in a potential Stanley Cup-winning machine.

    This move cannot be understated on a team trying to do something that has been accomplished by only the 1984 Edmonton Oilers and 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins. And that is hoisting Lord Stanley's chalice after falling short in the Finals the previous year. 

    Now the only question is: Will they make a move to bolster their goaltending or let Bob do all the talking into the playoffs?

Boston Bruins

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    CALGARY,CANADA - FEBRUARY 22:  Tomas Kaberle #12 of the Boston Bruins carries the puck against the Calgary Flames during their NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome, February 22,2011 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    Peter Chiarelli did not figure to sit idle at the deadline and he went out and did exactly what they needed him to do.

    Acquiring Chris Kelly for a second, and swapping underachieving Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik are solid moves.

    The real kicker here is, of course, Tomas Kaberle and what he brings to the table. While the feeling-out period is likely to be long with Kaberle, Boston may have hit a home run here.

    Giving up a 2011 first-round pick, conditional 2012 second-round pick and Joe Colborne for an elite puck-moving defenseman will help the Bruins keep their offense moving.

    Will Chiarelli make the move to replace Marc Savard's production before the deadline? Could they bolster the defense further with Chris Phillips? With Chiarelli having roots back to Ottawa, he certainly knows Phillips well. 

    Time will tell what impact Kaberle will bring to the Bruins, but the Bruins had needs and went out and filled them aggressively.

    Will they do anything else?

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 8: Eric Brewer #4 of the St. Louis Blues waits for a face off against the Florida Panthers on February 8, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Blues defeated the Panthers 2-1. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Steve Yzerman has hit the ground running as the Tampa Bay Lightning GM and he has done a great job.

    Acquiring Eric Brewer from the Blues for a 2011 third-round pick and rights to undrafted free-agent Brock Beukeboom is a great value.

    Eric Brewer will provide leadership and a steady force on the Lightning blueline, and there's no way they lose in this deal.

    The ex-Blues captain will replace Mike Lundin, who is out indefinitely with an abdominal injury, and instantly solidfies the top pairing with Mattias Ohlund.

    A bevy of recent moves figures to make have the Lightning buyers as the deadline approaches.

    Steve Yzerman may be clearing salary for a big fish named Vokoun, as Mike Smith was placed on re-entry waivers.

    On Thursday the Lightning traded backup goaltender Dan Ellis to the Ducks for backup goalie Curtis McElhinney, clearing more cap room and salary.

    Vokoun a Bolt? Scary...

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - FEBRUARY 23:  James Neal #18 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates on the ice before the start of the first period of the NHL game against the San Jose Sharks at Consol Energy Center on February 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo b
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Another year, another deadline and another win for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ray Shero.

    As the team is struggling through myriad injuries to the team, Shero has again added key pieces for the playoffs.

    While the team bus is busy shuttling players back and forth from the AHL to the big club, the Penguins are struggling for offense.

    Shero delivered with some big-time acquisitions to bolster the top six and provide Crosby with some much-needed help upon his return.

    Giving up a young, promising defenseman in Goligoski may sting, but the addition of James Neal and Matt Niskanen make the trade a great value.

    Adding Alex Kovalev, who is still among the league’s premier talents, for a scuttling draft pick is a can't-lose gamble as well.

    Are the Penguins done trading? Hard to say, as Brooks Orpik sustained a hand injury after blocking a Patrick Marleau shot early in Wednesday's matchup.

    When and if Crosby returns will play a huge factor into whether or not the deadline bounty will pay off like Leopold/Guerin as opposed to Hossa/Ponikarovsky.