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Northeast: Deadline deals change landscape

by James Murphy

After much speculation, Bruins' GM Peter Chiarelli held firm and decided against making any major moves at the trade deadline -- specifically, dealing for Marian Hossa.
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The NHL trade deadline has come and gone and, as far as the Northeast Division goes, only one team, the Boston Bruins, stood pat. Heading into the deadline there were many names in the Northeast rumored to be on the move, but after all was said and done, only defenseman Brian Campbell -- the subject of numerous trade rumors due to his impending unrestricted free agency -- was dealt. Here's a look at what each Northeast team did or didn't do at the deadline, as well as some reaction from players, coaches and management.

Boston -- The Bruins were one of three Northeast teams reportedly in the running to acquire the services of forward Marian Hossa, who ultimately ended up going -- with Pascal Dupuis -- to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a blockbuster deal at the deadline. To acquire Hossa and Dupuis, the Penguins traded prospect Angelo Esposito, forwards Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen and a first-round pick.

Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli didn't name Hossa when acknowledging that he tried to make two deals that would "better" the team, but did believe the price Pittsburgh paid for the impending free agent and the prices being asked for such marquee players was rather high and was a price he's not ready to pay at this point. Chiarelli doesn't want to mortgage the future and halt the growth his team has experienced during his first two seasons as a GM in Boston.

"We went into this trade deadline wanting to improve our team and, at the same time, we've got a plan in place whereby I want to continue to try to inject our youth into the lineup in a competitive environment," he said.

"So, needless to say, today we targeted two basic transactions and, obviously, they ended up going somewhere else. But we spent most of the day on theses transactions and they would've bettered our team. In one of them, they ended up asking for way too much, and the other one, I still don't know why we didn't get it done because the GM never got back to me and that happens."

As for the Hossa trade, Chiarelli simply said the price was too high for where his team is at this point. But, the fact the similar Bruins prospects and players were discussed in possible deals left him satisfied that his staff is on the right path development-wise. He's also confident he could be getting back some injured players -- namely defenseman Andrew Alberts and goaltender Manny Fernandez -- in the near future.

"It's expensive, especially getting a player like that and not knowing if you're going to be able to sign him or not," Chiarelli said of the Hossa trade. "But we thought today was a good day. It gives you an idea of what other teams think of your prospects and players. I like the chemistry of our team and there's always the chance we may get a couple of injured players back which to me is as good as a trade."

Buffalo -- As mentioned above, defenseman Brian Campbell, rumored to be on his way out of Buffalo, did indeed get dealt prior to the deadline. Campbell, along with a seventh-round pick in 2008, was shipped to San Jose in exchange for forward Steve Bernier and a first-round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Despite numerous attempts, Campbell and the Sabres could not find a common ground in contract talks during the past few weeks. Facing the prospect of losing another star player through unrestricted free agency, Buffalo GM Darcy Regier felt he needed to get a return for Campbell to salvage this season and the future.

"You recognize that if you allow everyone to go to the unrestricted free-agent market, and I'm not blaming anyone here, your draft cannot support the makeup of your hockey club," Regier told the Buffalo News. "Subsequently, in the best interest of the club, you have to get something back. Otherwise, you won't have enough players and you won't have enough quality."

Campbell is excited for the new opportunity, but sad to leave a city he has grown to love. He had one regret, and one request, upon leaving Buffalo:

"You go into the dressing room after a playoff game, and then you go back into our change stalls that are a little closer to the front foyer there, and you hear people screaming and yelling for a playoff win," Campbell said as he fought back tears. "That was crazy going through that. The disappointing part is we didn't bring the prize home to Western New York.

"I just ask that they don't boo me when I come back."

Bernier is looking forward to playing for the Sabres and was honored to be dealt for a high-caliber player like Campbell.

"Campbell is pretty much the best defenseman in the League, from my point of view," Bernier said on a conference call. "It's going to be tough. I'm young right now. I've got a lot of growing to do to become a good player. I'm happy to do it with the Sabres. I'm going to work hard and try to be as good as possible to make sure that trade is going to be a good trade for the Sabres."

Montreal -- The Canadiens were another team rumored to be in the running to acquire Hossa, but instead they pulled off one of the more surprising deals of the day, trading away goaltender Cristobal Huet to the Capitals for Anaheim's second-round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. That pick was acquired by the Capitals in a previous trade.

In an unexpected move, the Canadiens sent starting goaltender Cristobal Huet to the
Capitals, thus giving Carey Price the job.
Cristobal Huet video highlights

The goaltending reins in Montreal will now be handed to rookie goaltender Carey Price and second-year netminder Jaroslav Halak, with Price expected to be the No. 1 goalie. While GM Bob Gainey acknowledged the inexperience of both Price, 20 and Halak, 22, he is confident they can handle the responsibilities.

"There is a risk there," Gainey told the media. "They're not experienced but there's only one net and only so much time to play. We made the same decision last season when we put Price in the net in Hamilton."

Price led Canada to gold at the World Junior Championships last year, then took Hamilton to an AHL title. He made the jump straight to the NHL this season, but was sent back to the AHL briefly in January for extra work and to regain his confidence.

"We definitely believe that our future in goal is with one of these goaltenders, or maybe both in tandem," Gainey added.

As for not being able to pull of a trade for Hossa, Gainey simply felt the price was too high for a player he couldn't lock in for the future.

"I'm disappointed," Gainey said. "We thought that we were able to put a package together for a team that had an impact player. But that team decided to go in a different direction."

Huet, 32, was 21-12-6 with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage this season, but in his last four games, he was 1-3-0 with an ugly 4.50 average and .859 save percentage. Huet is an impending UFA, but he admitted being surprised. "I expected the unexpected, but when I got the call, I was a little shocked," Huet told the media. "I had three great years here."

But Huet has no ill will towards his former employers.

"It's a class organization," he said. "I can't say anything bad about them. I'll miss that, but it's time to move on and enjoy a new challenge."

Ottawa -- The Senators were another team reportedly trying to acquire Hossa, as well as some possible goaltending help. But instead they decided to bring in some more grit and experience, getting Martin Lapointe from Chicago in exchange for their sixth-round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. As it was with Montreal and Boston, the price for Hossa proved to be too expensive for the Senators.

"I made what I thought was a really good offer (for Hossa)," Senators GM Bryan Murray told the Ottawa Sun. "I wasn't going to give up the No. 1 pick ... and he (Thrashers GM Don Waddell), wanted (Antoine) Vermette on top of everything I offered. I couldn't do it."

As far as goaltending help goes, Murray acknowledged talking to Chicago about goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, but his $6.75 million contract proved to be too pricey for the Senators at this time.

"I talked about a goaltender, yes," Murray said. "The money, as happens too often in this business, gets in the way, with the salary cap going forward. They were just discussions. I don't know if we got into any depth or detail, but we did talk about it." Murray was excited about adding Lapointe though, a player he drafted with the 10th overall pick of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft as the GM of the Detroit Red Wings.

"I drafted Marty Lapointe back in Detroit and I said to him maybe we can end our careers together," Murray said. "He's a terrific man. He came as a young player and I saw terrific character in him. I really like that he's won. He's not afraid to step on toes and he's going to fit in well with our leadership group."

The Maple Leafs dealt forward Wade Belak to
the Florida Panthers for a fifth-round draft pick.

Toronto -- After it was determined that Mats Sundin would not waive his no-trade clause and Darcy Tucker, Bryan McCabe and Pavel Kubina would most likely refuse as well, interim GM Cliff Fletcher found it difficult -- if not impossible -- to shed the salaries that media and fans believed he needed to discard in order to start a "rebuilding" process in Toronto.

Instead, the Leafs made three minor deals, trading forward Wade Belak to Florida for a 2008 fifth-round pick, forward Chad Kilger to Florida for a 2008 third-round pick and defenseman Hal Gill to Pittsburgh for a 2008 second-round pick and a 2009 fifth-round pick.

"Honestly, I did not think we could do more because I had a sense of the lay of the land," Fletcher told the media. "I knew what players on our team were attractive and what players were less attractive and when you deduct players who had the no-trade clauses and a couple of players we chose to keep, you're narrowing down your possibilities."

Who's Hot? -- The Bruins have won four straight games and are 5-0-1 in their last six games. Defenseman Zdeno Chara has added some offensive punch from the blue line with three goals and an assist in three games. In that same time span, center Marc Savard has four helpers. Marco Sturm also has four assists -- and a goal -- in that run.

The Sabres are 2-1-1 in their last four games and are getting offense throughout their lineup. Forward Thomas Vanek is sizzling with four goals and three assists during that stretch, while defenseman Jaroslav Spacek and forward Tim Connolly had six assists each. Derek Roy had three goals and three assists in four games and Jason Pominville had two goals and three assists. Between the pipes, Ryan Miller has held the fort, going 2-1-1 with a 2.69 GAA and .915 save percentage in his last four games.

Canadiens captain Saku Koivu has one goal and three assists in three games and forward Christopher Higgins has three goals and an assist in the same span.

Maple Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala is 2-1 with a 1.68 GAA and .936 save percentage in his last three games.

Shootout Summary -- Last Thursday, the Senators fell to the Blue Jackets in a shootout 3-2. Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev beat Ray Emery in the shootout round.

The Bruins erased a two-goal third-period deficit against Florida last Thursday and won in the shootout on a goal by Sturm.

On Monday, the Sabres blew a three-goal lead and lost in the shootout 4-3. Ales Kotalik scored for the Sabres while Jeff Carter and former Sabres captain Daniel Briere scored for Philadelphia.

Black and Blue


Boston -- Patrice Bergeron continues to recover from the concussion he suffered Oct. 27. This past week, the Bruins forward skated twice; his first skates since the injury. While Bergeron and the Bruins won't rush his return, this was clearly a sign in the right direction.

"I felt good," said Bergeron. "It's tough for me to stop. I want to keep going, but I have to take it easy, obviously. But after the second time in four months, it feels great. It's a great feeling. It's when you get away from it you realize that you miss it so much. It's such a great game and it's my passion. It's great to be back."

Bergeron is still on injured reserve, but a return this season hasn't been ruled out. "We'll see," he said.

Defenseman Andrew Alberts is also making progress as he recovers from a neck injury. While he remains on injured reserve, there's a chance he could return within the next two weeks.


Goaltender Manny Fernandez is also shooting for a return this season as he recovers from knee surgery. He is still on injured reserve. Chuck Kobasew is day-to-day with a groin injury.

Buffalo -- Forward Maxim Afinogenov remains on injured reserve with a groin injury, as does forward Drew Stafford with a sprained ankle. Jochen Hecht is day-to-day with a pulled leg muscle.

Ottawa -- Forward Cody Bass (ankle) is on injured reserve and forward Chris Neil is day-to-day with a knee injury.

Toronto -- Forwards Mark Bell (broken orbital bone), John Pohl (sprained ankle), and Darryl Boyce (dislocated shoulder), all remain on injured reserve and forward Boyd Devereaux joined them with a torn right MCL. Alexei Ponikarovsky is day-to-day with a rib injury.

The Week Ahead -- The Sabres host the Predators tonight and the Maple Leafs face former teammates Wade Belak and Chad Kilger when they play at Florida.

On Thursday, Marian Hossa will make his Pittsburgh debut as he and the Penguins are in Boston. The Senators try to snap a two-game losing streak in Philadelphia.

On Friday, the Sabres host the Canadiens in a divisional tilt, while the Leafs are at Tampa Bay.

On Saturday, the Bruins host the Thrashers in a matinee, the Senators host the Penguins in a later matinee, which is the first game of a triple-header on CBC's Hockey Night In Canada, the Canadiens host the Devils and the Maple Leafs are in Washington.

On Sunday, the Sabres host the Red Wings. Monday, the Bruins play at Washington, the Senators are in Anaheim and the Canadiens play at San Jose. The Panthers are in Boston on Tuesday, the Sabres are in Philadelphia and Toronto hosts the Devils.



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