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Northwest: Deadline time saw lots of moves

by Roger Phillips
The NHL's trade deadline has come and gone, and even though some of the Northwest Division's teams were relatively quiet Wednesday, all of them were active at some point in the weeks leading up to the final swap meet.

Following, in order of the standings, is a team-by-team look:
Kings Vancouver Canucks

Hello --
D Andrew Alberts, C Yan Stastny, D Sean Zimmerman, 2010 sixth-round pick.

Goodbye --
LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie, D Mathieu Schneider, 2010 third-round pick.

What it means --
This was a quiet deadline for the Canucks, the favorites to win the Northwest Division title. In Alberts, the Canucks picked up a 28-year-old veteran defenseman who can add stay-at-home depth to the blue line. Zimmerman is a 22-year-old defense prospect, a former Devils draft choice who has yet to play an NHL game. The lack of major movement by the Canucks suggests management feels the pieces already are in place to make a strong postseason run. The team has depth on the blue line and up front, along with gold-medal winning goalie Roberto Luongo. The recent return from injury of Pavol Demitra adds scoring punch, so that was sort of like picking up a player before the trade deadline. If the Canucks can just get through their endless road trip, they should be in great shape.
Kings Colorado Avalanche

Hello --
RW Peter Mueller, C Kevin Porter, RW Harrison Reed, C Stephane Yelle.

Goodbye -- C Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll, LW Wojtek Wolski, 2010 sixth-round pick.

What it means -- The Avalanche got younger and older at the same time. Mueller, 21, is three years younger than Wolski. But Yelle, back for a second stint with the Avalanche, is 35 years old -- so old that his rookie season of 1995-96 was the Avalanche's first in Denver. But given the team's youth, Yelle will provide much-needed veteran savvy and grit. That will come in handy as the team attempts to complete its surprising run to the playoffs, and also will help if they succeed in making it into the postseason. Mueller is not having as good a season as the departed Wolski, but he was the eighth pick of the 2006 Entry Draft and has a big upside if he can regain the form he showed earlier in his career. The Avalanche were frustrated with Wolski's perimeter play.

Kings Calgary Flames

Hello --
LW Niklas Hagman, LW Christopher Higgins, RW Ales Kotalik, RW Jamal Mayers, D Steve Staios, C Matt Stajan, G Vesa Toskala, D Ian White, 2010 fourth-round pick.

Goodbye -- D Keith Aulie, C Dustin Boyd, D Aaron Johnson, C Olli Jokinen, G Curtis McElhinney, D Dion Phaneuf, LW Brandon Prust, LW Fredrik Sjostrom, 2010 third-round pick.

What it means -- Most of the Flames' work was done weeks ago when Phaneuf and Jokinen were traded away. Calgary is on the playoff bubble at this point and management clearly thinks the team should be better than it has performed to this point. The Wednesday deals were interesting. In acquiring Staios, the Flames picked up a long-time mainstay from the Oilers, their provincial rivals. And Toskala has ties to general manager Darryl Sutter and to No. 1 goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, as all were once together in the Sharks' organization.

Kings Minnesota Wild

Hello --
D Cam Barker, 2010 second-round pick.

Goodbye -- C Eric Belanger, D Kim Johnsson.

What it means -- The Wild got younger on defense by picking up Barker and unloading Johnsson. But the moves the Wild made probably won't make a difference in the team's ability to mount a late-season run and reach the playoffs. That's OK, though. The Wild are going through a season of transition with a new coach and GM, and they weren't expected to be Cup contenders this season anyway. If they manage the unlikely feat of rallying for a playoff spot, it will be a bonus. The Wild are looking to the future, as evidenced this week when they signed Cal Clutterbuck and Clayton Stoner to new contracts.
Kings Edmonton Oilers

Hello --
D Aaron Johnson, LW Matt Marquardt, D Ryan Whitney, 2010 second-round pick, 2010 third-round pick.

Goodbye --
D Denis Grebeshkov, D Lubomir Visnovsky, D Steve Staios, D Cody Wild.

What it means -- It started with the Oilers dealing Grebeshkov and continued with Edmonton parting ways with Visnovsky and Staios. This season long ago went down the tubes for Edmonton. The big addition is Whitney, who in three days went from being a U.S. silver medalist and a playoff contender with the Ducks to being an Oiler and preparing for an early summer. It's beginning to look a lot like the end of the 2006-07 season for the Oilers. That season was marked by the Ryan Smyth contract stalemate and eventual trade to the Islanders, and the Oilers went 2-15-1 in the final six weeks of the season. This season, the Oilers' problems began much earlier. After a 5-3 victory at St. Louis, they were 14-13-4 and still had hopes of reaching the playoffs. But in the 29 games that followed leading up to the Olympic break, the Oilers went 4-23-2, giving them the NHL's worst record and evoking memories of their 2006-07 collapse. This season's trade deadline marks the start of what Oilers management hopes will be a swift turnaround.
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