NEW YORK (AP) -So much for another big hockey boost. The NHL trade deadline came and went with a thud instead of a bang.
Not that anyone expected Wednesday's deadline to come anywhere close to the excitement of Canada's Olympic gold medal win over the United States three days earlier, but it didn't even generate the buzz of previous trading days that created the wow factor.
There were dozens of little deals involving multiple players and draft picks completed before the afternoon deadline Wednesday. However, big-name players such as Toronto's Tomas Kaberle, Carolina forward Ray Whitney, and New York Islanders goalies Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron stayed with their clubs that are on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The day wasn't a total bust as key players such as forward Raffi Torres, who went from Columbus to Buffalo, and defenseman Steve Staios, part of a rare trade between bitter Alberta rivals Edmonton and Calgary, found new homes in deals that could prove significant in time.
Before trading away the popular Staios for defenseman Aaron Johnson and a third-round draft pick from the Flames, the Oilers acquired U.S. Olympian Ryan Whitney from the Anaheim Ducks for fellow defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky. Edmonton also gets a sixth-round pick in this year's draft. Whitney carries a salary cap price of $4 million over the next three years.
You can blame the Olympic break and the salary cap for keeping the frenzy at a minimum Wednesday. Most of the deals made in the final hours involved players slated for unrestricted free agency that were moved by non-contending teams in exchange for draft picks.
Stars such as Ilya Kovalchuk (Thrashers to Devils), Dion Phaneuf (Flames to Maple Leafs) and Olli Jokinen (Flames to Rangers) were involved in trades before the NHL's two-week Olympic break that ended Monday. Only a few days of dealing were available to general managers after the freeze was lifted following the Vancouver Games.
One intriguing deal Wednesday saw a pair of players chosen in the first round of the draft swapped for each other. The Phoenix Coyotes acquired left winger Wojtek Wolski from the Colorado Avalanche for forward Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter.
The 24-year-old Wolski has 17 goals and 30 assists this season in 62 games. The 21-year-old Mueller has had a disappointing follow-up to his outstanding rookie season. He has four goals and 13 assists in 54 games. Phoenix also reacquired defenseman Derek Morris from the Boston Bruins for a conditional 2011 draft pick. Morris was dealt to the New York Rangers by the Coyotes at last year's deadline.
Contenders, such as the Philadelphia Flyers, were pressed up against the cap and either didn't have the money or the stockpile of draft picks to make significant upgrades to their rosters. Clubs have about 20 regular-season games remaining to make a playoff push.
The Flyers will rely on Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher to man the nets the rest of the way in place of goalie Ray Emery, who needs season-ending surgery on his right hip.