Date: Wedensday, March 4th, 2009
Venue: North America (and too many Canadian living rooms)
Trade of the day
The trade you wasted your whole day to see...
The day started out slowly as it often does. After the big play, we were left hoping for more, but little came. The trade itself came around lunchtime with Darryl Sutter making a sweet and confident offer to nervous Phoenix. The result, a dominant and rather large number one centre (Olli Jokinen) for the second best winger in the league - his first ever. He even scooped a third round pick in the process. All this for Matthew Lombardi, a prospect (Brandon Prust) and what promises to be a low first round pick.
GM of the day
GMs, most former players, rarely get a chance to face down their rivals so intensely and so directly. The winner of the day deserves accolades.
Darryl Sutter, Calgary
Sam Pollock, who would have held this honour for most years of his career, would tell you that the winner is the man who gets the best player. Darryl Sutter got the best player in Jokinen. He swapped centre for centre in a massive upgrade and obtains a player signed at a reasonable rate. He also added Jordan Leopold.
Dome management team
We're going into the last minute of the trade deadline with these 6 (and they're attached to the ice, so they're not coming off)...
Darryl Sutter, Calgary
He went early and he went hard. Not afraid to spend what would be a low first rounder, and confident in his current crop to give up two youngsters, he turned the corner from developing team to committed contender today as he went for Jokinen. His trade for Leopold (though I'm not a fan) did not cost him too heavily - he even managed to unload a waiver wire pickup from the morning. Deft and aggressive maneuvering.
Steve Tambellini, Edmonton
It all happens in Alberta. Not to be outdone by his cross-province rival, Tambellini took the time to get the man he wanted (through a Carolina detour) for a player that never fit the plans right. A promising prospect and a pick for a man you have no more use for - Bob Gainey take note... He tops it off by adding reliable enough Kotalik for a pick. Aggressive to finish the day and an improved team as a result.
Dale Tallon, Chicago Blackhawks
Plucking the diamond in the rough is hard to do. Samuel Pahlsson would have been my top target on a playoff team with most pieces in place like Chicago. Maybe Tallon kicked a few Jokinen tires, maybe some others; but unlike some peers it didn't end there. He saved a bit for the finish as he grabbed the stand-out shadow centre from recent Stanley Cup and Olympic championship teams - all for an expendable piece, and from a conference rival to boot. His "boss" Scotty Bowman might have had his paws on this day for the Hawks.
Jacques Martin, Florida
Jacques might lose Bouwmeester for "nothing" now; but he might not. One thing is sure - that is that Florida (who are in their best form in 13 years) have retained their best player in the face of inane speculation. In addition, Martin smelled blood in Tampa and pounced on novice GM Lawton to snatch Eminger for his already mobile and versatile defence.
Darcy Regier, Buffalo
Speculation that Darcy might have to lose his top point producer of late was quashed when he signed him to a contract instead. Following that, he turned pick into Dominic Moore (who wouldn't fit lots of places, but seems Buffalo-esque) and then created space for Moore and recouped the pick in dealing Kotalik to Edmonton.
Ken Holland, Detroit
7 teams were not involved in any trades today. 6 did not make any move at all. Of all those, you cannot question Ken Holland who was probably under pressure sitting in the unfamiliar 2nd seed. Having been here before, he could smell bad deals when he saw them and stayed well clear. Detroit as it was last year was head and shoulders above. Enhanced in the off-season. ken Holland has kept the most formidable group together without flinching.
Some say the best moves are the ones you never make. Time can prove anything. But this day will certainly be remembered for the moves that were not made. All the hype of stars moving even right up to 3:00 (Gomez for Morris, E1?) and there was only one superstar forward move. Only one goalie of note was shifted. The best defenceman dealt was had by a canny GM two weeks ago. Want to have your eyes opened: teams that didn't move today included Detroit, New Jersey and Washington. Who wouldn't want to be included in that group: not Montreal, Nashville, Minnesota and Vancouver (most long revered as well managed squads).
The GMs from among that group that did want to move did so away from the nonsense. Bob Gainey acquired Mathieu Schneider well before most GMs' alarms went off for this thing. It got him a PP back, 8 points in the standings, and the stay of execution he wanted for his top offensive star. Lamoriello plucked a defender for himself early too when the attention span was better. Gillis of the Canucks went aggressive with his cap space for Mats Sundin as he had committed to in the summer. That move looks like the top move of the year to me. Minnesota resigned their star Backstrom and Nashville just manages doing things the way they do.
On the flip side, the most hyperactive GMs were among the worst performers. Brian Lawton had a shocking day - swapping 5 players and picks for 4 worse players and a worse pick. Phoenix went a bit wild and only came out neutral because Glen Sather got blown out in the Morris trade hard. A final nod should go to Brian Burke who showed how tough the job in Toronto must be (JFJ looks good). He turned two of his only productive players into 2 second round picks. He then made himself a salary haven - for what? Plenty of bluster from the self-promoter.
I'm glad I joined into this farce late. It was predictably slow. And though it is great fun to read up on player movement at the end of the day, I hardly need to be there when the news of Guerin being traded again.
Last year was coloured by disappointment for me, as we lost Huet. This year, I have to say there was some dread Gainey might opt to unload a UFA or two (and I'm not talking about Dandy and Bouillon). As it ends, I'm happy we didn't move a key player, because I feel that this group at their best is better than all but maybe Detroit at their best. Our rivals may have strengthened. However, Boston is no better than they were for Montador and Recchi. Buffalo will still miss Miller more than Moore can help and New York is all over the map. Pittsburgh improved the most on this day, but it shouldn't be forgotten their defence is now a laughable lot sans impressive part Whitney of 2008. I like our chances if we can keep our cohesion and take advantage of some confusion on other squads. 2 games against TO shouldn't hurt either...