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One deadline, so many stories to tell

Friday, 03.06.2009 / 10:00 PM / Ice Age

By Phil Coffey - NHL.com Sr. Editorial Director

The 2009 trade deadline may not have contained the blockbusters of years past, but that's not to say the developments on hockey's craziest day weren't just as interesting.

Consider ...

* The Phoenix Coyotes made a series of deals to give a decidedly new look to their roster.

* Ditto the Anaheim Ducks, who managed the moves without dealing defensemen Chris Pronger and/or Scott Niedermayer.

* The Florida Panthers decided no package offered was better than having defenseman Jay Bouwmeester in the lineup.

* The Calgary Flames made a bold statement that they are going for it with the acquisitions of Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold.

* The Sharks, bitten hard by injuries of late, added valuable depth in Travis Moen and Kent Huskins.

* In Boston, the Bruins also added experience and depth with the acquisitions of Mark Recchi and Steve Montador.

* The Rangers changed their roster around in a big way, welcoming Sean Avery back, dealing for Nik Antropov and Derek Morris, and trading or waiving Nigel Dawes, Petr Prucha Dmitri Kalinin, Aaron Voros and Erik Reitz.

Other teams opted for a tweak here and there.

* New Jersey added defenseman Niklas Havelid prior to the deadline.

* Chicago acquired Sami Pahlsson from the Ducks.

* The Red Wings stayed with their roster.

So, there is a lot to talk about. Let's get rolling.

It's no Jokinen -- For years, players have looked to flee from teams coached by Mike Keenan. This time around, Olli Jokinen couldn't get to Calgary fast enough.

Jokinen credits Keenan with helping him become a better player when the pair was with the Florida Panthers, so he certainly was happy to move from Phoenix to Calgary.

"I don't think I've been playing on a level that I can play at," Jokinen said of his season. "You don't want to be just average. You want to bring your best every day. That's what I want to do the rest of the year. It's a fresh start. It's like the season is going to start again.

"You want to fit in right away. You want to get to know the guys. It's a good feeling right now. It's a dream come true."

Especially being reunited with Keenan.

"He's probably the biggest (influence) for my career. I have to give him all the credit," Jokinen told reporters. "When he came to Florida, I was a borderline player and I became a lot better hockey player under him.

"I'm excited. He knows what I can bring to the table. I know he's going to push me very hard and it's going to be challenging for me, and my job is to help the team and to fit in."

The move had a big impact initially as Jokinen scored 2 goals in his debut against the Flyers Thursday.

There will be one adjustment for Jokinen -- his familiar No. 12 was taken, and since it belongs to Jarome Iginla, Jokinen knew right off the bat there would be no dealing for the digits.

"No," Jokinen laughed. "There's no questions asked with that number."

Draft picks jump in value
-- No doubt about it, teams are placing increased value on draft picks. Several contending teams easily could have added immediate help at the deadline, but sacrificing long-term gains for the short term turned off plenty of general managers.

"If I could have made a hockey deal, I would have, but I had no interest in a rental," the Wings' Ken Holland said. "We like our team. We won the Stanley Cup last year and, recently, we are finally starting to show signs that we are playing closer to last year. We've had a run of games where we've given up none, one or two goals in a game, except for that blowout by Nashville.

"We're seeing signs of more attention to detail and more focus. With the salary-cap issues we have and the free-agent challenges we face this summer, we were very content to do nothing and that's what we did."

In Vancouver, GM Mike Gillis was content to sit the deadline out after kicking the tires on a few deals.

"We talked to a number of teams about a number of possibilities, but giving up second-round picks for players who weren't long-term players was something I had decided not to do as long as eight months ago," Gillis said. "Because Ryan Kesler is playing so well on our second line, we thought, perhaps, if we could get some more depth at center we'd be happy.

"But the things we tried came with a second-round pick as a price. In the analysis that I've done, there are great players who have come out of the last half of the second round, so to continue to do that would be a mistake, in my mind."

The Capitals' George McPhee approached the deadline in a similar mindset.

"For us to do anything, it had to be an upgrade on what we had, and based on what was out there, there were not a lot of upgrades we saw that we could do," McPhee told reporters. "We thought there were two defensemen out there who would be an upgrade, guys like (Anaheim's Chris) Pronger and (Florida's Jay) Bouwmeester. But the price to get into that game wasn't something we were willing to pay.

"We would like to be a good team for a number of years and be knocking on the door every year, rather than load up and hope you can do it one year and then be scrambling for a few years. If you can give up a first-round pick or young players to bring in a rental, that's the sucker's game that hurts you a year or so down the line."

"This year I just didn't feel it," McPhee added. "Some years there's nothing out there to help your club, and no deal is better than a bad deal."

New-look Ducks -- Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger remain, but plenty of familiar faces around Anaheim moved on. First it was Chris Kunitz, who was dealt to the Penguins for defenseman Ryan Whitney. Then Brendan Morrison was claimed off waivers by Dallas. Steve Montador was dealt to Boston, Sami Pahlsson to Chicago, and Travis Moen and Kent Huskins to San Jose.

In addition to Whitney, GM Bob Murray acquired defenseman James Wisniewski from Chicago, forward Erik Christensen from Atlanta, center Petteri Nokelainen from Boston and a couple of prospects from San Jose.

"Over the last few years, while chasing another Cup, we've let assets get away and gotten nothing for them," Murray said. "We had to stop that. We've let enough assets go."

That said, Murray told reporters he isn't giving up on the season.
"If you can give up a first-round pick or young players to bring in a rental, that's the sucker's game that hurts you a year or so down the line." -- George McPhee
"I fully expect this team to run for a playoff spot," Murray said. "If I sense that any of our players think we have 'sold,' and quit, we will rectify that situation."

The prospects acquired from the Sharks -- Boston University sophomore center Nick Bonino and German-born goaltender Timo Pielmeier -- are interesting building blocks for the future.

"We think we got one of the top young prospects in hockey," Murray said. "Bonino is one of the best college players in the country right now. I can't emphasize enough how good I think this player is."

Something's Bruin -- Mark Recchi is a pro's pro who will be a solid addition to the Bruins. He has been through the deadline drill before, so going to Boston, the top team in the Eastern Conference, as opposed to missing the playoffs in Tampa, didn't have to be explained.

"It means everything to me," Recchi said of going for the Cup. "It's what 99 percent of the players play for, and to get this chance is remarkable. To get picked up by a first-place team and one that thinks you can help them is great. And I'm going to do everything I can to help."

That's music to GM Peter Chiarelli's ears. He wanted to add depth to a team that has been one of the season's big surprises.

"We're a buyer at the deadline. We're a team that believes. Our ownership and Darryl (Sutter, GM) believe we're close and have a shot. There's a quarter of the season left and I think we've done a lot of good things, we're improving, but with the injuries and the people we brought in, we'll have a lot of guys we'll feel as a team we can be going. It's an exciting time of year."
-- Jarome Iginla

"I like the fact that we improved our depth," Chiarelli said. "There's going to be some competition for ice time, and I think that's a good thing. There's probably going to be some moody guys, because they're going to miss (playing time) here and there.

"But we tried to add without subtracting, because we didn't want to take away from the chemistry. So that's the way it's going to fall out."

Sign and no trade -- In Buffalo, the re-signing of center Tim Connolly was well received by the players and made GM Darcy Regier a happy man.

"For us, it is better than a trade," Regier said. "I think when you look at anything that is available in the summer, anything that is available right now on the trade market, in order to keep Tim here, not to give up any assets to acquire someone like Tim, I think it's a terrific day for the Sabres organization."

Regier also added goaltending depth in Mikael Tellqvist, plus forward Dominic Moore.

Shut 'em down -- As we all know, the Stanley Cup Playoffs test players and teams early and often. We also know that you don't advance without playing lights-out defense,

Welcome to Chicago, Sami Pahlsson.

Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon, like the rest of us, can remember back to the 2007 postseason, when Pahlsson was an integral part of the Anaheim Ducks' Stanley Cup win because of his ability to neutralize opposing scorers. As if he needed a reminder, Scotty Bowman lobbied for Pahlsson.

"Scotty coached against him and thinks he's a great shut-down guy," Tallon told Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald. "We felt we were inexperienced up the middle. I think we addressed a need. We needed a centerman. We needed a shut-down centerman. We needed a face-off guy, penalty-killer, veteran guy that won a Stanley Cup.

"We were able to address a need that we felt that we had to address to go deeper into the rest of the season and playoffs. This is a guy that's played against the top players in the League and been able to be successful as a defensive, two-way centerman."
"This day was different for myself and our staff (because) we were buyers and not sellers. Buying is a lot more fun than selling, believe me." -- Dale Tallon
There will be a wait to get Pahlsson in the lineup as he recovers from mononucleosis that has cost him over a month of games.

"Our coaching staff was hugely in favor of this deal," Tallon said. "Joel (Quenneville) has coached against him in many playoff series and playoff games and is very confident in his abilities and what he can do as far as matchups and playing against the other team's top lines."

Normalized relations -- It seems there always is a circus-like atmosphere around Sean Avery. John Tortorella had the coaching job with the Rangers for a New York minute when he realized that. During his introductory press conference, Tortorella was asked almost as many questions about Avery, who wasn't even in the organization at the time, as he was about the players on the roster.

So it isn't surprising that with Avery officially on the roster, Tortorella is going to go about calming things down.

"I understand that there are other things that follow Sean back to us here," Tortorella told reporters. "But my job is to treat Sean as a player here that we picked up that's going to try to help us win. If we picked up another guy that didn't have any type of history or any other things going on with him, I'd do the same thing with that player.

"I want to normalize the situation here."

"I think we can be an effective team in being a hard team to play against," Tortorella continued. "That's a big part of Sean's game. He can skate, he can get in there. I think the system lends itself to him."

"You need personality within a hockey team," Tortorella added. "But it can't step out of the team concept. It can't be about you. Disruptive, it can't be."

Another theory -- Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke had a very practical theory for why the trade deadline featured deals primarily for players approaching unrestricted free agency -- the global economic woes.

"I think part of it is people are scared to death of the 2010-11 season," Burke said. "The coming season, what the cap's going to be. The (2009-10) cap will be based largely on this year's revenues, and most of our revenues were in the tills before the bad news really hit. So I think it's artificial in terms of what revenues will be in a year. But because the cap always follows 12 months of financial developments, my sense is that teams -- and I know I am -- are scared to death of 2010-11 in terms of committing money or locking up guys.

"This is where, if you go back to when guys were doing six-, seven-, 12-year, 15-year deals and patting themselves on the back for how smart they were, I think some teams are really going to regret going that far along."


Quote of the Day

Philadelphia is where I started my NHL career and this is where I want to be so I am really happy. This definitely gives me a lot of confidence by the Flyers showing that they have confidence in me. I know they want to see me get better as a player and this is the place to do it.

— Zac Rinaldo to the Flyers website on signing a two-year contract extension with Philadelphia