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GM meetings set groundwork for future deals?

by Shawn P. Roarke /

"I think we all have hundreds of trades that run through our head. I know I do. Even if they don't happen, it's still fun to think about them." -- Don Waddell

TORONTO -- This week's NHL General Managers Meeting here produced plenty of media coverage. The debate about blindside head shots has led the hockey news cycle for the past 48 hours. There was lots of discussion about removing the trapezoid area behind the net, an idea which gained little traction from reports. Most fans have heard about the new, safer helmet Mark Messier is bringing to market, plus that the leg pads NHL goalies wear finally will be height-specific come next season.

The GMs gathered at the Westin Harbour Castle hotel were eager to talk about all of these issues and were quite eloquent in presenting their views for public consumption.

But there was plenty of conversation that won't be published any time soon.

It appears this hockey season's first formal in-season gathering of the League's 30 general managers has placed the trade market into active session.

"I think there will be a lot of tire kicking here," Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk told on Tuesday.

Many GMs said the conversations begun this week likely will start to bear fruit as the weather turns colder and the calendar marches on inexorably toward the New Year.

"I think it is a combination of being here in person and then the 15- or 20-game mark," Tampa Bay GM Brian Lawton told "We have all had a chance to look at our team, assess and analyze and we have some new info that we didn't have from the start of the year. We'll make decisions from there.

"Some people are extremely pleased with their teams, other people are lukewarm. Then you are going to have a group of people that are disappointed and that's every year, no matter what, by virtue of how the system is set up."

Lawton said he is right in the middle of the spectrum. He likes where his young team is going and is not actively looking to shake up the dynamic of a team that is hovering right around the cutoff mark in the Eastern Conference for making the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I like our group of guys," he said. "We are always looking for ways to get better, but we have a plan in place and it's going to take some time. But part of that plan is to always be able to recognize some progression. We were 30th two years ago, we were 29th last year and we think we are better this year and moving in the right direction."

This week's conversations will set things in motion, but pulling off a trade can be far more difficult, as Nashville GM David Poile pointed out in his conversation with on Tuesday.

Essentially, Poile said his team -- which sits at the bottom of the Central Division, but is only seven points out a tie with division-leading Chicago -- needs scoring help after putting up just 34 goals in its first 16 games.

But, he knows none of his fellow GMs are looking to give away 20-goal scorers. He also knows he still must conduct his due diligence by at least initiating meetings and phone calls with other GMs.

Not surprisingly, some GMs enjoy this aspect of the job more than others.

Atlanta GM Don Waddell loves talking trade and was appreciative of the opportunity to meet face-to-face with potential trade partners.

"I think we all have hundreds of trades that run through our head," he said. "I know I do. Even if they don't happen, it's still fun to think about them."
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