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No sizzle at deadline? No problem, take the steak

by Phil Coffey
"Not much sizzle"
That seemed to be the big complaint about Wednesday's trade deadline. There were plenty of moves, but none that captured the fancy of fans and commentators.
Well, you can have the sizzle, I'll take the steak, and at this deadline, the steak was the host of trades that supplied contending teams with an element that may not be readily apparent until May or June.
Namely, depth.
You do not win a Stanley Cup without depth or unheralded players who jump onto the playoff stage and make it their own. Those were the kinds of trades that were made at this deadline, the ones that fortify a lineup for the long haul that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
So you may look at the Washington Capitals' moves for Scott Walker, Eric Belanger, Milan Jurcina and Joe Corvo and shrug, but GM George McPhee added four valuable components to his roster that should pay off handsomely.
Ditto in Phoenix, where GM Don Maloney strengthened his lineup to get into the playoffs.
Defensemen Derek Morris and Mathieu Schneider are the experienced hands all backlines need. Not sexy, to be sure, but solid and dependable. Forwards Lee Stempniak and Petteri Nokelainen aren't blockbuster names, but they do add depth, with Stempniak having shown a scoring touch in the past and Nokelainen a solid third- or fourth-liner.
The exciting trade made by Maloney brought in Wojtek Wolski from the Colorado Avalanche. He could be the offensive dynamic that helps push the Coyotes into the postseason.
The two moves made by the Los Angeles Kings didn't generate many headlines, but in adding the always solid Jeff Halpern and Fredrik Modin, the Kings brought in -- yes, there's that word again -- depth. Plus, if Modin can stay healthy, he has a hell of a shot.
Here are some other moves that get the thumb's up from Ice Age:
* The Penguins getting Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jordan Leopold. Ponikarovsky could really thrive in Pittsburgh and Leopold adds -- dare I say? -- depth on the blue line.
* The Sabres getting forward Raffi Torres from Columbus.
* The Devils picking up defenseman Martin Skoula. There is that depth idea again. Plus, Skoula had three solid seasons under coach Jacques Lemaire in Minnesota.
* The Ducks adding Lubomir Visnovsky from the Oilers for Ryan Whitney. This is one of those deals that help both clubs. Visnovsky will add some punch from the blue line as Anaheim looks to make the playoffs, and for next season should Scott Niedermayer retire. For the Oilers, they get a younger defenseman who can be part of a rebuilding effort. Adding Aaron Ward also is a good short-term move for the Ducks.
* The Senators picking up Andy Sutton from the Islanders. Huge defensemen do not grow on trees.
Early blockbusters -- And let us not forget that prior to the Olympic roster freeze, fans got two blockbuster deals to ruminate over, with Dion Phaneuf becoming the cornerstone of the Toronto Maple Leafs' defense and Ilya Kovalchuk bringing some much-needed offense to the New Jersey Devils.
In all, 12 players and one draft pick changed hands in those two trades, so when you take all the wheeling and dealing as a whole, it was a pretty impressive swap meet.
Well Said I -- "The biggest surprise to me is how everybody threw Marty Brodeur, the greatest goalie in the history of the game, under the bus and backed over him, and forward, backward, forward, backward. It's the greatest goalie that's ever played and it almost tarnished his career on one night. He didn't have a good night, but part of that had to do with how well we pressured them." -- Team USA coach Ron Wilson
Buzz kill this! -- There are days when you just want to throw up your hands and wonder if you are looking at the same thing as others.
An e-mail the other day directed me to a column from Tim Dahlberg of the Associated Press that said the NHL was doing its best to kill the buzz over the 2010 Olympics. It was one among several that said the NHL hasn't embraced the Olympics.
Huh? Really? I guess I didn't get the memo because it sure seems like we have been talking about the great games in Vancouver pretty extensively here at and on NHL Live! and on the NHL Network both during and after the tournament. In addition, teams presented video tributes to returning Olympians, Ryan Miller got a huge ovation in Pittsburgh the other night before facing the Penguins, Mike Babcock and Miller went on Commissioner Gary Bettman's radio show Thursday, etc.
So what buzz kill, exactly? Oh, because the League hasn't committed to the 2014 Games? Let history be your guide here. In the past three Olympics the NHL has participated in, there was not an immediate decision, either. The next Olympics are, after all, four years away.
"When we left Salt Lake in 2002, we didn't know if we'd be going to Torino in 2006 or Vancouver in 2010," Bettman said on The NHL Hour on Thursday. "We don't know who the broadcaster is yet -- NBC or any of the broadcasters haven't committed yet. There are a whole host of things that have to be focused on -- what the exact schedule will be, going halfway around the world's a little bit different than going to Vancouver in terms of how long the break is going to have to be ... lots and lots of issues to be decided, and it's something that we'll decide with the Players' Association at the appropriate time. There's no rush to do it."
And by the way, the AP article in question lost all credibility in my book when Dahlberg described the Stanley Cup Playoffs as "some interminable playoffs to endure."
Spare me.
Olympic meet and greet -- The Olympians among the Anaheim Ducks returned from Vancouver with some tremendous memories and an impressive haul of medals.
Scott Niedermayer, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry won gold for Canada, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Whitney took silver with the United States and Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu earned bronze with Finland. The only Duck who didn't medal was Switzerland's Jonas Hiller, but he earned a fair share of accolades for his excellent play in goal.
And the Ducks shared their Olympic bounty with their fans Thursday when they taped a segment of a television show at the Anaheim Convention Center and invited the fans to stop by.

"This is the easiest part of the job," Selanne, wearing his Finland jersey and bronze medal, told Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register. "On the ice, that's a lot harder. I don't even look at this as being a job. We're making people happy. It's good to make people happy."

"We appreciate the fans," added Selanne, who signed autographs, paused for pictures and seemed genuinely interested when a hotel manager approached, hand extended. "This is just a little thing we're doing."

An interesting aside here is Whitney's medal also was on display despite the fact he had been traded to Edmonton at Wednesday's trade deadline. A Ducks official went to Whitney as he was packing to make the move to Edmonton and asked if he wanted to take the medal with him. Whitney declined, allowing the Ducks to use it Thursday.


For Devils, reunion no big deal -- Running into former coach Brent Sutter Friday night in Calgary wasn't going to inspire much venom among the New Jersey Devils who played for Sutter during his two seasons in Newark.
The players understood Sutter's desire to return to his family in Alberta and are accepting of it.

"We understand why," Jamie Langenbrunner told Tom Gulitti of The (Bergen) Record. "Lots of people do lots of things and lots of jobs for family. When you have that ability to do that, then anybody would take advantage of that."

"We heard in the middle of the season that he might leave, so it didn't come as a shock to anybody," Martin Brodeur told Gulitti. "We expected it a bit and that maybe helped our transition of him leaving."

Strange bedfellows -- When the news came out Thursday that the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers had made a trade -- defenseman Steve Staios to the Flames for defenseman Aaron Johnson and a 2010 third-round draft pick, NHL Network analyst Craig Button, the Flames' GM from 2000-03, couldn't remember any other deal between the two heated rivals.

But this is another of those trades that would appear to help both sides. Staios is a solid, dependable veteran who should benefit from being back in the playoff hunt, while Johnson should get more ice time with the Oilers.

"To me, it couldn't have been a better situation," Staios told reporters. "I know a lot of the guys here (Calgary) and I've competed against them for a long time and have a high respect level for them, so I'm really excited.

"It's been a while since I've played some meaningful games. With the chance of getting into the playoffs and getting onto a roll with this team, I'm just thrilled. I have the experience of going through these types of situations ... I'll lay it on the line and see if we can't put this team over the edge."

Well Said II -- "His history has been, in the right place at the right time." -- Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, on new acquisition Scott Walker.

Toskala can unpack -- Speaking of the Flames, now Vesa Toskala can unpack. The goalie started the season in Toronto, was swapped to Anaheim in the J.S. Giguere deal before the Olympic roster freeze, and then was on the move at the deadline, going from the Ducks to Calgary, where he is reunited with former San Jose Sharks teammate Miikka Kiprusoff.

"From now on I'm just trying to help this team to win games and trying to stay positive here," Toskala said of his latest NHL home. "We just saw each other this morning first time here and that's it. It's always nice to see friends no matter where you're going. He's a good guy. He's one of the top goalies in the League."

Gotta pay to play -- Raffi Torres realizes his move to the Buffalo Sabres is going to increase his incidental expenses.

"Coming to Buffalo is going to cost me five grand," Torres, a Toronto native, joked with reporters over how much he is going to have to shell out for tickets for family and friends.

"No, it's good."

Indeed it is for Torres, whose gritty game should be a perfect fit with the Sabres as they try to shake off the doldrums of a 1-6-2 slump.

"I'm coming to a team that knows how to win here," Torres said. "I think these guys are professional enough, smart enough to know that they can win in this room. Hopefully, I can come in here and help out, pitching in along the way and try to liven it up around here."

Torres brings 19 goals with him from Columbus, which made him tops among the Sabres' goal scorers.

"He's a big, strong kid with a great shot," coach Lindy Ruff said. "It may take a little bit to breed familiarity with the other players. But we know what he brings. And I think what he brings can be a help for our team."

Well Said III -- "It's rewarding. I appreciate it. That's the way I look at it. I appreciate that there's guys who work just as hard, there are guys that may not get those opportunities that play a long time. If anything, I just really appreciate it. I appreciate the chances that I've had, the fact that I've had them and been able to win." -- Sidney Crosby, on all the success he has achieved in his career so far.

Lidstrom remains confident -- Nicklas Lidstrom sees the glass half full. Despite the Detroit Red Wings' season-long struggles with injuries and inconsistency, Lidstrom, the Red Wings' captain, is confident the Wings will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a 19th-straight season.

"I'm real confident in our chances," Lidstrom said. "As long as you get in, you've got a chance to do anything in the NHL playoffs. We've seen that upsets do happen because from top to bottom, teams are so close."

Why the confidence? Lidstrom sees the dressing room being repopulated with important players like Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, Andreas Lilja, Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula, all of whom have been sidelined with injuries for long stretches this season.

"We have the makings of a real good team," coach Mike Babcock said. "Now we have to play like a real good team each and every night to get ourselves into the tournament.

"It's about our high-end guys. It's time for them to step up."

Well Said IV -- "You lose friends when the business side takes over. It was tough to lose (Modin) because he has helped me with a lot of things with leadership and Raffi was a good friend and a big part of the team. But you got to look at the long haul and the future with those moves." -- Columbus' Rick Nash

The future is now -- Pat Quinn will get a look at next season's Edmonton Oilers now.

With no playoff push to be made, Quinn said he will play the team's young players now and the veterans will fit in as needed.

"We're going to really focus on development, especially our younger guys who we will be going forward with," Quinn told Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun. "With the veterans, it's going to be an in-and-out (of the line-up) sort of thing while we find out about the kids who warrant going forward.

"As we go forward we'll even want to look at some guys who are in Springfield, so there might be some guys called up for that. So the guys who logically might not play are the veteran guys.

"There's a movement toward restructuring and that will probably continue in the offseason. But in the meantime we're going to have a bunch of younger fellas who we're going to find out if they can play and get better."

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