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NHL.com's Online Magazine
March/2003, Vol. 1, Issue 6
  • Even Gretzky wasn't immune to wheelin' and dealin'

  • NHL.com's top 15 trades since 1980

  • GMs Pleau, Waddell take you inside the trade game

  • Wigge: Making magic at the deadline

  • Blake, Kovalev know all about living with trade rumors

  • Trades put players' wives to the test

  • A look back at 2002 trade deadline deals

  • Behind the scenes: Small transaction spurs big activity

  • Photo of the month

  • Back issues of Impact

    Joe Nieuwendyk
    Joe Nieuwendyk did not pay the immediate dividends the Devils hoped for when they obtained him and Jamie Langenbrunner from Dallas.

    Deadline dealin'
    A look back at 2002 trade deadline deals
    By Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com

    Throughout the years, the NHL's trade deadline has produced some of the biggest intrigue generated during each NHL season.

    For 24 hours late in each season, usually in early March, hockey executives, players and fans pump everyone for information about what teams and what players might be involved in a trade before the League-imposed deadline of declaring players eligible for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

    When the dust settled, usually one, if not a flurry, of major deals was consummated to radically alter the NHL's landscape and change the fortunes -- for better or worse -- of the League's Stanley Cup contenders.

    Today, little has changed. With the pressure building and the deadline looming, many general managers become more eager to make a move, either for today or to build their franchise for a future Cup run. The results can often be mind-blowing to the League's most rabid fan base.

    "I think of lot of your trades are created because of deadlines," said Larry Pleau, the Blues GM. "You have the March deadline where a lot of teams have a lot of conversations trying to help themselves that year, or some try to help themselves three years down the line. It all depends upon what situation you're in with your organization.

    "So, I think the deadline definitely creates opportunities to get something done. It's like your deadline at Christmas time. It's like the deadline of the Waiver Draft. Anything that has a deadline, I think creates an interest for teams to get something done."

    Last season, Pleau did not make a deadline-day deal despite rumors swirling around the team. Instead, his team went into the playoffs as they were constituted in March and fell in the second round to the Detroit Red Wings, the eventual champions.

    While the Blues were inactive, there were 17 trades made on last year's trade deadline day. It was not one of the busiest deadline days ever, by a long stretch; and there were few blockbusters among the deals that were fashioned after intense last-minute wrangling by executives across the North American continent.

    That conservatism is more a reflection of the game's economics today, rather than a lack of trying by GMs eager to find that missing piece that could pave the way to a Stanley Cup championship.

    Adam Oates
    Adam Oates was brought to Philadelphia to jump-start the Flyers' offense, but he succumbed to the slump that engulfed the rest of his team.
    "When the deadline comes some teams could hold out until the end before they move someone," explains Don Waddell, the Atlanta Thrashers' GM. Waddell made three separate trades at last year's deadline.

    "If you have two teams that are maybe going to compete for the Stanley Cup, it's not so much that one team maybe this guy's going to help (them), but they may want to keep him away from the other," he says. "In the history if the trade deadline, I think you always gotten more than maybe the value of the player.

    "But I started to see that change a bit last year and I think that was because of the economics picture of our League right now. That may be even a bigger part of the puzzle at this coming trade deadline."

    Looking at last year's trade deadline deals, Waddell's observations appear to be right on track. Of the 17 deals, only three could be construed as having a major impact on the NHL's balance of power at the time.

    Here is a look back at last year's three major deals and what they mean nearly a year later.