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Late flurry at NHL trade deadline produces a surprise winner

NHL.com @NHL

There was no signature deal or surprise blockbuster, but plenty of players were moved at the NHL's trade deadline.

Only one first-round draft pick changed hands Wednesday and it was part of the deal involving the biggest name to change teams - Olli Jokinen, who is now a member of the Calgary Flames.

The Flames emerged as the surprise winners on deadline day and appear ready to challenge the elite in the Western Conference. They added Jokinen and defenceman Jordan Leopold while only losing centre Matthew Lombardi from their group of regulars.

Other teams tinkered, but none of them was as bold as Calgary in trying to improve its current situation. A big reason for that might be the uncertainty that surrounds the league's salary cap beyond next season.

"It's a little bit of a different climate because we're not different than what's going on in the world, not knowing what's going to happen the year after next year," said Flames GM Darryl Sutter. "I don't think you've seen any long-term deals move yet today. Are there any with over one or two years remaining on contracts? Probably not."

Indeed, the majority of players changing teams have contracts expiring at the end of the season.

The most notable of those moves involved veteran players: Bill Guerin landed with Pittsburgh, Mark Recchi was acquired by Boston and Erik Cole was sent back to Carolina from Edmonton as part of a three-way trade.

That last deal was among a flurry of moves that got completed just before the deadline passed. The Oilers received Patrick O'Sullivan and a second-round pick as part of the trade with Carolina and Los Angeles before landing Ales Kotalik from Buffalo for a second-round pick.

A couple other Canadian teams were active too.

Ottawa made an early splash by acquiring goalie Pascal Leclaire and a second-round pick from Columbus for Antoine Vermette. The Sens also signed defenceman Filip Kuba to a US$11.1-million, three-year contract extension that includes a no-movement clause.

As expected, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke got in on the action by dealing Nik Antropov to the New York Rangers and Dominic Moore to Buffalo. The Leafs got two second-round picks and a conditional pick in exchange for those players.

Burke wasn't surprised by the lack of blockbuster trades given that the salary cap could go down significantly by the 2010-11 season.

"I think everyone's scared to death of the 2010-11 season," he said. "My sense is that teams - and I know I am - are scared to death of 2010-2011 as far as committing a lot of money to lock up guys."

Some of the biggest news came from teams who decided to hang on to players. The Florida Panthers retained Jay Bouwmeester, Chris Pronger is still in Anaheim and Marian Gaborik will continue working with Minnesota Wild doctors while rehabbing his hip injury.

In the end, the price for those players might have been a little higher than other GMs wanted to pay.

With the salary cap expected to decline after next season, top draft choices might be as valuable as they've ever been.

"I don't think anybody was anxious to give up first-round picks for players," said Rangers GM Sather. "They're hard to get. If you're going to try and keep your organization's head above water, you've got to be able to keep those first-rounders."

Meanwhile, in other deals:

-The Phoenix Coyotes sent defenceman Derek Morris to the New York Rangers for defenceman Dmitri Kalinin and forwards Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes. Morris has five goals and seven assists in 57 games but is in the final year of a $3.95-million contract.

-The Maple Leafs also sent minor-leaguer Richard Petiot to Tampa Bay for goalie Olaf Kolzig, defenceman Jamie Heward, prospect Andy Rogers and a fourth-round pick. Kolzig and Heward are both out for the season with injuries.

-The Philadelphia Flyers added some toughness by acquiring Daniel Carcillo from the Phoenix Coyotes for Scottie Upshall and a second-round draft pick. Carcillo had almost 100 more penalty minutes than anybody else in the NHL last season. Upshall has seven goals and 14 assists in 55 games this season.

-The Boston Bruins acquired defenceman Steve Montador from Anaheim in exchange for forward Petteri Nokelainen. Montador has four goals and 16 assists in 65 games this season. Nokelainen has three assists in 33 games.

-The St. Louis Blues sent Andy Wozniewski to Pittsburgh for fellow defenceman Danny Richmond. Richmond has three goals and 14 assists in 55 AHL games this season while Wozniewski has a goal and 16 assists in 56 minor-league games.

-The Anaheim Ducks acquired forward Nick Bonino, goaltender Timo Pielmeier and a conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2009 from San Jose in exchange for defenceman Kent Huskins and winger Travis Moen. In a separate deal, the Ducks picked up forward Erik Christensen from Atlanta in exchange for forward Eric O'Dell. Meantime, the Sharks also sent defenceman Kyle McLaren to Philadelphia in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick.

-The Florida Panthers acquired defenceman Steve Eminger from Tampa Bay for defenceman Noah Welch and a third-round pick.

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