I’m counting on no more trades coming across, as it seems that things have finally quieted down. But the 2010 NHL Trade Deadline was about as anticlimactic as you could get after two weeks of build up of all the talk that’s supposedly been going down between the GM’s across the NHL. That’s not to say there haven’t been a number of trades, because the at last count 52 players and 25 draft picks were exchanged throughout 31 trades. By our estimation that’s a record for total trades at the deadline.
Yet the biggest trade of them all, the biggest name involved was Lubomir Visnovsky, when Edmonton exchanged him with Anaheim for Ryan Whitney. That was it. Some would say (me included) that best trade at the deadline actually happened yesterday, when Alexei Ponikarovsky was traded from Toronto to Pittsburgh.
So why the letdown of a day? Where were the big trades for starting goaltenders or big-name defensemen (besides Visnovsky), or the insane multi-player trades that changes the complexion of a playoff race or the direction of a team? What led to the dearth of big trades?
For one, you’d have to point to the fact that in reality there were two trade deadlines; the one today on March 3rd and the one right before the Olympic break and the NHL roster freeze. You could say that the biggest trade of the year already happened, when the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes was won by the New Jersey Devils. The Dallas Stars made a surprising trade when they acquired Kari Lehtonen from the Thrashers. But since the deadline was essentially spread out three weeks with a break in between the buildup to today was a bit rushed as we all struggled to recover from the Olympics.
But could this also be a sign of free agency and the salary cap truly causing havoc with the major deadline deals we’ve seen in the past? Sure, there was an absurdly high amount of trades but 90% of those involved draft picks or prospects. The assets just were not there across the NHL to justify teams parting with their big name pieces.
Philadelphia was reportedly hungry for Dan Hamhuis, Dwayne Roloson and Tomas Vokoun, yet failed to acquire anyone because they just couldn’t match the prices teams were asking for. The Flyers were handcuffed by the number of valuable players on the team with no trade clauses, who most likely weren’t willing to waive their clause to go from Philly to Florida or Long Island. Broad Street Hockey breaks it down:
With Tomas Vokoun, it came out that Panthers
general manager Randy Sexton wasn’t shopping the goaltender but that
they were listening to offers that came in. The Flyers reportedly made
one of those offers, but Sexton apparently asked for Jeff Carter. Holmgren stuck to his guns on
Carter by not trading him away, but subsequent offers of Scott Hartnell or Simon Gagne were tough because each player has
a no-trade clause.
Vokoun would have waived his NTC to come to Philadelphia, but it’s
hard to believe Hartnell or Gagne would do the same to go to Florida.
Again, no-trade clauses bit the Flyers in the rear. Vokoun wasn’t moved
before the deadline.
There is an increasingly high number of NTC’s being handed out across the NHL and you could really see that hamper team’s actions today. Ray Whitney was willing to be traded but only if he was able to sign a contract extension with his new team. Tomas Kaberle will be traded this summer, but wanted to stick it out this season and the Leafs kept him.
Judging by the assets that the Leafs got back for their other trades, I can guarantee you there were a number of teams calling about Kaberle. “We’ll give you two hot dog vendors, new light bulbs for the jumbotron and a 2nd round draft pick”.
So instead of trades involving multiple players, we saw an abnormally high amount of players traded for high draft picks. In fact, you’d think that a second-round pick is the most valuable form of currency in the NHL after today.
So whether it was the split deadline, a disappointing lack of big name players made available or the fact that the salary cap is holding teams back, March 3rd, 2010 was just as boring as it could be.