Tuesday's NHL deadline yielded 25 trades for the third straight year. This time 45 players changed addresses and 24 picks or future considerations were exchanged. All but five teams participated on Tuesday, and three of those made trades within the last week. The teams are ranked based on their ability to get accomplished what they wanted by the deadline.
In some instances that meant acquiring talent to go for the Stanley Cup now, clearing out veterans for something in return or staying the course and not giving in to the temptation of a quick fix. Each team is assessed a grade, too.
1. Dallas Stars – Grade: A+: The Stars made the big strike by acquiring arguably the best player available for now and moving forward. Center Brad Richards was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner when Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup in 2004. He's 27, skilled and durable – just a perfect fit for any team. Never mind that $7.8 million owed for each of the next three years. The Stars parted with backup goalie Mike Smith, who may emerge as a No. 1 with the Lightning, Jussi Jokinen, Jeff Halpern and a fourth-round pick. Dallas did not have to surrender any of its young defense, another key. That deal makes a lot more sense than what Pittsburgh gave up to Atlanta in the day's other blockbuster.
2. Atlanta Thrashers – Grade: A: Whereas GM Don Waddell made some questionable moves that set the team back a bit at last year's deadline, he may have made up for it Tuesday. He said he wouldn't deal pending unrestricted free agent Marian Hossa unless he could get players who could help right now, and he did that in fleecing Pittsburgh for Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen, which doesn't mention prospect Angelo Esposito, who could emerge as a player in a year or two.
3. Washington Capitals – Grade: A-: GM George McPhee made some nice, subtle pickups addressing roles. Don't underestimate what the Capitals did in four separate deals on Tuesday. The addition of Sergei Fedorov is intriguing, especially considering the number of prominent Russians already on the roster – Alexander Ovechkin, Viktor Kozlov and Alexander Semin. Matt Cooke is certain to get under the skin of opposing Southeast Division and Eastern Conference forwards, and Cristobal Huet provides goaltending insurance.
4. Colorado Avalanche – Grade: B+: Quite the reunion tour the Avs have going – first Peter Forsberg on Monday, then Adam Foote on Tuesday. Colorado added toughness on the back end, not only with the addition of Foote but also with the acquisition of Ruslan Salei from Florida in exchange for one-time ironman Karlis Skrastins. A third-round and conditional first-round pick went out the door, but the Avs sent a message to Colorado fans that the team is trying to get back into the postseason this year.
5. San Jose Sharks – Grade: B: GM Doug Wilson took care of two problems. He improved the power play and probably acquired a piece that will fit now and later in Brian Campbell from Buffalo. Campbell was emotional on Tuesday, and the Sharks have to hope he brings the right attitude to San Jose. Having ex-Sabres Mike Grier and Curtis Brown on board could help. Campbell's skating and power-play ability will make him valuable to the Sharks for years to come if they can get him to sign an extension like Craig Rivet did after the Sharks acquired him at last year's deadline. The loss of Steve Bernier is not difficult to overcome, especially because the team expects Ryane Clowe back shortly. Brian Boucher was signed to back up Evgeni Nabokov, and now 21-year-old Thomas Greiss can go back to playing and developing in the minors. Wilson found a home for the loyal and hard-working Rob Davison on Long Island. San Jose picked up two picks (both seventh-rounders) and dealt a first-rounder.
6. Columbus Blue Jackets – Grade: B: While there were some contract talks with Adam Foote, the Blue Jackets eventually did what most expected – dealing away their veteran defenseman who was captain and 38-year-old once star center Sergei Fedorov. Columbus' better days still are ahead. The best thing the Jackets could have done was hold on to their young players and prospects, and that's what they did despite the temptation of a first postseason visit, which is a long shot at best in the competitive West.
7. Carolina Hurricanes – Grade: B: The Hurricanes picked up an agitator in Tuomo Ruutu from Chicago in exchange for underperformer Andrew Ladd. That, coupled with a deal they made two weeks before the deadline with Ottawa, might be enough to win the weak Southeast Division, but they can't make it through the conference finals without Rod Brind'Amour getting healthy again.
8. Chicago Blackhawks – Grade: B: The Blackhawks didn't wave the white flag, but they were realistic in their actions Tuesday, shipping out a pair of forwards – Tuomo Ruutu and Martin Lapointe – who might help others in the short term in exchange for Andrew Ladd and a draft choice. Ladd is an upgrade in size when compared to Ruutu. Chicago knows it's an uphill battle to reach the playoffs this season, and it wasn't going to mortgage any future for a longshot stab at more gains than the organization already has made this season.
9. New York Rangers – Grade: B-: The Rangers made a pair of deals but probably will use only one or two of the players acquired. New York got veteran defenseman Christian Backman from St. Louis for a draft pick. He should help in terms of depth. Out of the five-player swap with the Coyotes and former Rangers assistant GM Don Maloney, New York may get something from versatile young winger Fredrik Sjostrom. The Rangers got physical winger Josh Gratton and minor-league goalie David Leneveu in exchange for underperforming veteran forward Marcel Hossa and goaltending prospect Al Montoya.
10. Buffalo Sabres – Grade: B-: It's arguable what the Sabres learned from the mistakes of letting Daniel Briere and Chris Drury slip away for nothing last season, but at least they got something for Brian Campbell, the defenseman who offered a below-market deal at the start of the season to stay in Buffalo. The Sabres got Steve Bernier, a strong forward who is young but has performed inconsistently in the league so far. They got a first-round pick and parted with a seventh-rounder.
11. Tampa Bay Lightning – Grade: B-: Once the Lightning made the decision to extend Dan Boyle, it was a foregone conclusion one of the Big Three would be out the door. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis stay for now and Brad Richards departs. At least Tampa Bay got a potential No. 1 goalie in return from Dallas – Mike Smith – in addition to forwards Jussi Jokinen, Jeff Halpern and a pair of draft picks.
12. Phoenix Coyotes –Grade: B-: The only deal new GM Don Maloney managed to swing was the five-player swap with his former employers in New York. The Coyotes are steadfast in drafting and developing and were not about to deviate from that plan despite the fact they're on the border for making or missing the playoffs. Goaltending prospect Al Montoya is one to watch in terms of development, and Marcel Hossa is someone Maloney must guess needs a change of scenery. Fredrik Sjostrom became expendable with the emergence of the team's youthful forwards. Scrappy forward Josh Gratton and third-string goalie David Leneveu won't be missed.
13. Calgary Flames – Grade: C+: GM Darryl Sutter stuck to his word when he said Monday that he liked his team and doubted he would get involved. The Flames were one of five teams that did not participate. All Calgary did was get rugged defenseman Jim Vandermeer on Feb. 20 in exchange for a draft pick. Some wonder if the Flames are deep enough at center ice to go as deep as they want. The reunion of coach Mike Keenan and Florida center Olli Jokinen never materialized.
14. Nashville Predators – Grade: C+: Unlike last year when the Predators were a major player on deadline day, this time around they picked up a pair of journeyman forwards right at the deadline – Jan Hlavac and Brandon Bochenski. All they sacrificed was a seventh-round pick and future considerations. Nashville has a lot of cap room and a shot at making the postseason, so it's a guess they'll let the cards fall where they may this season but target talent on July 1.
15. New Jersey Devils – Grade: C: GM Lou Lamoriello made his move early – the first trade of the day Tuesday – and called it a day. He added rugged defenseman Bryce Salvador to his blue line mix. The veteran is playoff tested and can skate, hit and play with a mean streak. He'll be a good addition for the stretch run and into the postseason. The Devils dealt Cam Janssen to St. Louis in exchange for Salvador. Janssen basically is a fighter, and he hadn't been dressing for the Devils anyhow.
16. Anaheim Ducks – Grade: C: It was more a day of housekeeping for general manager Brian Burke, who freely admits he's not often a player at the trade deadline. Burke prefers to assemble his team by the holidays and let them jell before tinkering. Of course, not every GM has the luxury of welcoming back Hall of Famers like Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne without having to surrender any assets. Burke did add offensive defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, a third-string goalie in J.S. Aubin and minor-league depth on defense with Jay Leach, while shipping out Brandon Bochenski, Brendon Segal and three mid- to late-round draft picks.
17. St. Louis Blues – Grade: C: The Blues were more in a selling mode once they re-signed veteran defenseman Barret Jackman for the long term Monday night. Out the door went Christian Backman and long-tenured Bryce Salvador. It's questionable how much Cam Janssen really will play in St. Louis, a roster that already includes D.J. King for the rough stuff.
18. Vancouver Canucks – Grade: C: The Canucks were pretty quiet, making only a one-for-one exchange with Washington as Matt Cooke found himself on the move for Matt Pettinger. The emergence of Alex Burrows in the role of a pesky, agitating forward meant Cooke was somewhat expendable, especially because he was due to be an unrestricted free agent and talks were not progressing toward an extension. Pettinger brings more size to the lineup, something that won't hurt, and he's in the fold for next season at $1.1 million.
19. Ottawa Senators – Grade: C-: The Senators figured they had a good shot to land Marian Hossa, but they were not prepared to pay the huge price Pittsburgh demanded. Instead, the Senators landed playoff-tested Martin Lapointe from Chicago in exchange for a sixth-round draft choice. Really, the deal is similar to the last deadline when all the Sens added was Oleg Saprykin, and Ottawa cruised all the way to the Cup finals. They have to hope they have enough goaltending and time to rectify recent average play in order at least to duplicate the efforts of last spring.
20. Montreal Canadiens – Grade: C-: GM Bob Gainey teased Canadiens fans that he might add a big piece to the puzzle, and Marian Hossa probably was the player he figured he could get. Montreal was said to be the leader to land Hossa over Ottawa on Monday night, but Pittsburgh blew both teams out of the water with its offer. Instead, Gainey paved the way for 20-year-old Carey Price to assume the No. 1 netminding role by dealing 32-year-old goalie Cristobal Huet to Washington in exchange for a second-round pick in 2009. That deal turned some heads and led to the assumption Montreal would get another goalie later in the day, a development that never materialized, despite the probable availability of Dwayne Roloson among others.
21. Florida Panthers – Grade: C-: The Panthers, in desperate need of changing their mix, added three veteran role players. The additions of Wade Belak, Karlis Skrastins and Chad Kilger are curious at best. Only draft picks went out the door. There were rumors longtime captain Olli Jokinen would be on the move, but nothing materialized, which is somewhat surprising considering there had to be teams in the West in addition to Montreal and Ottawa who had interest.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins – Grade: D+: No one can accuse the Penguins of being shy at the deadline. Pittsburgh changed more than any team by adding three players and deleting two from the roster and one from the pipeline and parting with three draft picks in two separate deals. Pittsburgh got rental Marian Hossa to play alongside either Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby. They got versatile and dependable Pascal Dupuis in the same deal with Atlanta but surrendered young, popular teammates Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen and prospect Angelo Esposito. You have to wonder what team chemistry will form out of all these moves. In addition, Hal Gill comes aboard to add size and a physical element on defense. First-, second- and fifth-round picks were dealt away.
23. Los Angeles Kings – Grade: D+: You get the feeling GM Dean Lombardi would have liked to unload more than defenseman Brad Stuart and minor-league goalie J.S. Aubin, but there were no takers for what Lombardi was dangling. At least he managed to stockpile three draft picks. It's not much, but it's a start.
24. New York Islanders – Grade: D+: A team in desperate need of scoring didn't do anything to address that need. In fact, the Isles did very little of anything. They shipped out undersized defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, received little-used defenseman Rob Davison and stockpiled two middle-round picks while losing one. The team also cut ties with the controversial Chris Simon, who was not warmly received by the home fans during his return last week from a 30-game suspension.
25. Detroit Red Wings – Grade: D: You get the feeling GM Ken Holland would have liked to do more than just get journeyman defenseman Brad Stuart from Los Angeles in exchange for two draft picks. Holland is counting on his blue line to return to health and for the team to find the same chemistry and jump in their game that had the Wings the best team in hockey for the first 55 games of the season.
26. Philadelphia Flyers – Grade: D: The Flyers apparently were so busy trying to assess all the recent injuries and losses that GM Paul Holmgren didn't know what to do. So he basically did nothing. The only deal Philadelphia pulled off came Monday when it swapped defenseman Alex Picard and a conditional draft pick for veteran forward Vaclav Prospal.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs – Grade: D: In reality, interim GM Cliff Fletcher didn't do anything the fired John Ferguson wouldn't have managed at the deadline, but the Maple Leafs never will admit that. Toronto managed to get rid of some dead weight – Wade Belak, Chad Kilger and Hal Gill – and stockpiled four picks – a second, a third and two fifths. Overall, a pretty underwhelming day in Leaf land again.
28. Minnesota Wild – Grade: D-: The Wild's only move was a surprising one, trading a sixth-round pick to the Islanders in exchange for 36-year-old forward Chris Simon. Minnesota already had toughness in middle-weight Todd Fedoruk and the seldom-used Derek Boogaard. It's hard to imagine Simon will make that much of a difference. The Wild don't have much to fall back on in terms of secondary scoring, but because Jacques Lemaire tries to win every game 1-0 or 2-1, maybe that just doesn't matter.
29. Boston Bruins – Grade: F: The Bruins are the only team in the Eastern Conference that did absolutely nothing on Tuesday or during the days leading up to the deadline. It's a bit of a head-scratcher, really. The team could draw encouragement from the fact that injured forward Patrice Bergeron has gotten back on skates, but there is no timetable for his doubtful return this season. You have to go back to Jan. 2 to find the last time Boston made a trade (acquiring defenseman Shane Hnidy from Anaheim).
30. Edmonton Oilers – Grade: F: The Oilers did absolutely nothing on Tuesday and leading up to the one-day swap meet since making a minor deal on Feb. 1. Maybe Brian Burke banded all the league's GMs together and conspired to ignore Kevin Lowe's offers? Seriously, Edmonton at least was expected to move goalie Dwayne Roloson, but even that didn't happen. One has to wonder what the future has in store for Lowe.
- Brian Campbell