Quantity trumps quality on deadline day

CanWest News Service
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As difficult to pronounce as to imagine, Wojtek Wolski and Lubomir Visnovsky were the most-discussed names once the dust settled on a hotly anticipated National Hockey League trade deadline on Wednesday.

The NHL's annual swapfest has produced genuine jaw-droppers in the past few years, but this year's trade day seemed to suffer from post-Olympic lunchbag letdown.

With the biggest names already been dealt before the Olympic break, players like Lubomir Visnovsky (left) and Wojtek Wolski came to the forefront Wednesday at the NHL's trade deadline. - Canadian Press file photos

As difficult to pronounce as to imagine, Wojtek Wolski and Lubomir Visnovsky were the most-discussed names once the dust settled on a hotly anticipated National Hockey League trade deadline on Wednesday.

The NHL's annual swapfest has produced genuine jaw-droppers in the past few years, but this year's trade day seemed to suffer from post-Olympic lunchbag letdown.

For hockey fanatics it was like waking up Christmas morning, opening the big colourful present, only to find a pair of socks.

Clearly cap issues played a major role on Wednesday.

With most contenders up tight against the salary cap, big names and big contracts would be staying put.

The day belonged to third- and fourth-liners.

The Wolski deal garnered early-day interest. The 24-year-old has been a consistent scorer in Colorado, a team seemingly intent on building around that type of player.

The former Ontario Hockey League star was sent to Phoenix for another young forward in 21-year-old Peter Mueller. After a solid 22-goal rookie season in 2007-08, Mueller has stumbled. In 54 games, Mueller has scored only four times. Minor-league centre Kevin Porter was also thrown in by Phoenix.

The Coyotes were the busiest team in the Western Conference - they also picked up defenceman Derek Morris from Boston, forward Lee Stempniak from Toronto and Mathieu Schneider from Vancouver - while the East belonged to the Washington Capitals.

Besides goaltending, the target area for the Caps was obviously grit.

Washington feels it plugged that leak with the additions of versatile winger Scott Walker from Carolina, and centre Eric Belanger from the Minnesota Wild.

"It's the first time I've been traded mid-season, so it's exciting but it's tough to leave," Walker said minutes after hearing about the deal. "So many emotions . . . too many."

The 36-year-old though said he was excited to be joining a Stanley Cup contender.

"Couldn't ask for something better. (Washington is) close and my family can come down, and I'm excited."

Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice was happy for his former player.

"For Scotty, he was such a great player for us and such a great person. He dealt with so many injuries this year that he almost really hasn't been able to play for us," said Maurice.

"Obviously it's an opportunity for him to go to a team that has a legitimate shot at the Cup this year. He's just such a great soldier."

The Caps also landed freewheeling defenceman Joe Corvo from Carolina for Brian Pothier and depth defenceman Milan Jurcina from Columbus.

At least two of the NHL's Canadian teams came into the day as sellers.

The Edmonton Oilers expected fire sale was more like a Bic lighter. Edmonton's lone deal saw the previously mentioned Visnovsky - a very capable NHL defenceman - shipped to Anaheim for defenceman Ryan Whitney and a sixth-round pick.

The Leafs rid themselves of Stempniak, and had traded Alex Ponikarovsky the night before to Pittsburgh. Toronto also hung on to defenceman Martin Skoula for about two minutes (coming over in the Ponikarovsky trade) before shipping him to New Jersey for a fifth-round pick. Toronto did add prospect defenceman Chris Peluso from Pittsburgh for a sixth-round pick.

"Being a seller, quite frankly, sucks. I'd much rather be a buyer . . . I'm not comfortable with it. I'd rather be gearing up for a playoff run," said Leafs GM Brian Burke.

Calgary was more seller than buyer. The Flames swapped backup netminder Curtis McElhinney to Anaheim for former Leaf Vesa Toskala, and they traded winger Dustin Boyd to Nashville for a fourth-round pick.

And how odd was it to see the two Alberta rivals hook up on a deal?

Veteran defender Steve Staios was sent south to Calgary for defenceman Aaron Johnson and a draft pick going to Edmonton.

The Ottawa Senators remained quiet, one day after dealing for hulking blue-liner Andy Sutton from Long Island.

Montreal made a minor deal, sending grinder Matt D'Agostini to St. Louis for winger Aaron Palushaj.

Vancouver added big blue-liner Andrew Alberts from Carolina, looking to help out a blue-line missing Willie Mitchell. The Canucks landed minor-league forward Yan Stastny as well from the Blues.

The few big names rumoured to be potentially dealt, stayed put. For example, Nashville was rumoured to be shopping upcoming unrestricted free agent defenceman Dan Hamhuis, but the club, while fielding offers, decided to hang onto him.

Organizations: National Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, Washington Capitals Minnesota Wild Edmonton Oilers Bic Ottawa Senators Canucks

Geographic location: Toronto, Phoenix, Vancouver Washington Colorado Boston Edmonton Anaheim Pittsburgh Calgary Nashville Columbus New Jersey Alberta Long Island Montreal St. Louis

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  • mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Yankees Suck!

  • mark
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Yankees Suck!