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Rumors fall flat as talked-about players stay put

by Dave Lozo
The biggest names making news on Deadline Day were the ones that didn't go anywhere.

Carolina's Ray Whitney, Toronto's Tomas Kaberle and Florida's Tomas Vokoun were among the players who were rumored to be packing their bags Wednesday, but 3 p.m. ET came and went without any of them having to file any change-of-address notices with the post office.

A lot of experts believed Whitney was headed for Los Angeles to play for the playoff-bound Kings. The 37-year-old left wing, who is one goal away from his ninth 20-goal season in the NHL, seemed to be a perfect fit with the youthful Kings. Whitney was part of Carolina's Stanley Cup championship in 2006, and he instantly would have become the King with the most postseason experience.

"There were a number of teams, probably a handful of teams that expressed interest in Ray," Hurricanes President and GM Jim Rutherford said. "I took the same position right to the deadline as I took all along, that unless we got what we felt he was worth, we weren't going to move him. He's one of the most popular players on the Hurricanes, he's one of our best players.

"We did not see a deal that made sense for us, so Ray remains a Hurricane, which will make a lot of people happy, including myself."

Instead, the Kings added 35-year-old left wing Fredrik Modin from Columbus and 33-year-old center Jeff Halpern from Tampa Bay.

With the Panthers dealing defensemen Dennis Seidenberg to Boston and Jordan Leopold to Pittsburgh, it seemed as if it only made sense to part with Vokoun, who leads the NHL with a .931 save percentage. A couple contenders who could've used goaltending help, the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks, opted to go with what they had.

"[The Hawks' front office] is laughing about it," Blackhawks Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations Scotty Bowman said of the Vokoun rumors on Toronto's 590-AM. "They've got their goalies in place right now."

While the Blackhawks decided to go with the tandem of Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi, the Flyers have pinned their hopes on journeyman goalie Michael Leighton. The 28-year-old is 13-3-1 with a 2.18 GAA and .926 save percentage since he was claimed off waivers by the Flyers from the Hurricanes in December.

With Ray Emery out for the season, the untested Leighton is the man in Philadelphia.

"He's been playing very confidently since he's been in the net, and I see no reason for that to change," Flyers GM Holmgren said.

In Toronto, Kaberle, who has a no-trade clause, informed the Leafs on Wednesday morning that there were three teams to which he would accept a trade. General Manger Brian Burke said nothing could be worked out with any of those organizations, but he was happy to keep Kaberle.

"We did not ask Tomas Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause. We did not ask him for a list of players," Burke said. "I believe organizations are bound by those things. I believe the organizations should honor it even though I wasn't the GM at the time.

"We think the world of Tomas Kaberle. He's a great guy and he's a good player at a good price. We're not going to change anything now."

Now being the key word. There is a clause in Kaberle's contract that voids his no-trade clause during the upcoming offseason if the Leafs miss the playoffs, something that looks like a certainty at this point.

Other players who had their names mentioned in potential trades and stayed put included Islanders goaltenders Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron, Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis, Canadiens goalies Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak and Thrashers winger Slava Kozlov, who last week asked Atlanta GM Don Waddell to trade him.

Islanders GM Garth Snow was likely handcuffed by the latest setback to goaltender Rick DiPietro, who experienced swelling in his surgically repaired left knee recently.
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