Record day high on quantity, low on quality

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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.

The Buzzer: McElhinney with the McShutout, Schenn scores again

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Players of the Night: 

Curtis McElhinney, Toronto Maple Leafs:

McElhinney turned aside all 41 shots that came his way as the Leafs shutout the Edmonton Oilers 1-0. The Leafs backup improved to 3-2-0 on the season and his save percentage jumped from .900 to 9.25. Toronto has now won three straight and six of their past 10.

Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues:

Schenn notched his sixth goal in his past four games and extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with a goal 40 seconds into the game. The Blues are now winners of four straight and six of their past 10.

Eric Stall, Minnesota Wild & Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks: 

Both scored twice for their respective teams in an entertaining 4-3 win for the Wild in overtime.

Highlight of the Night: 

Vladimir Tarasenko catches the Sabres defense sleeping in overtime, scoring his first non-empty net goal in nine games:

Factoid of the Night: 

Patrick Kane didn’t score, but his two assists were instrumental in giving the Chicago Blackhawks a victory on Sunday.

Scores: 

Blackhawks 3, Coyotes 1

Blues 3, Sabres 2 (OT)

Maple Leafs 1, Oilers 0

Wild 4, Sharks 3


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Alex Burrows fined $5,000 for roughing

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Alex Burrows won’t be on Dylan DeMelo‘s Christmas card list this year.

Not after Burrows swiped DeMelo in the face with the butt-end of his stick on Saturday night.

Burrows got slapped with a $5,000 fine for roughing on Sunday night, the maximum permissible under the CBA. The money is one thing, but Burrows and the Senators have bigger issues at the moment.

It didn’t help the little incident happened in the third period and the game all but over for the Senators. Here’s the slow-mo shot of the infraction:

DeMelo suffered a scratch cornea and narrowly missed a major eye injury, according to Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer. 

DeMelo was in the lineup for the Sharks on Sunday against the Minnesota Wild.

Burrows’ $5,000 goes to the player’s Emergency Assistance Fund.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Is it a slump or is regression setting in for the Winnipeg Jets?

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Might regression be hitting the Winnipeg Jets at the moment?

It’s a question Jets fans are asking themselves after a three-game road trip that produced just a single point and a goose egg in the win column.

It’s the first time the Jets have lost three straight all season. In year’s past, this wouldn’t have come as much surprise, but the Jets have thrown the status quo out the window this season and have sung a different tune.

The analytics would suggest the Jets were due for a fall back to earth.

For most of the season, they’ve been near the bottom of the league in terms of Corsi, with only recently climbing up that ladder with a help of a very lopsided game against the Ottawa Senators.

Regression in goal is also starting to happen, and a lot of Winnipeg’s early-season success had to do with how well Connor Hellebuyck had been playing.

Hellebuyck has been sensational most of the season and his 15-3-4  record supports that. But his save percentage has been trending in the wrong direction lately. In five of his past six starts, Hellebuyck has only achieved a .900 save percentage or better once, and that came in that 5-0 shutout against the Senators.

Nov. 27 vs MIN: .895
Nov. 29 vs COL: .885
Dec. 1 vs VGK: .871
Dec. 3 vs. OTT: 1.000
Dec. 5 vs DET: .844
Dec. 9 vs TBL: .857

The Jets give up a lot of shots, so the odds that Hellebuyck’s early season numbers would survive throughout the year were low.

The sky is by no means falling in Winnipeg. The Jets showed they can go toe-to-toe with the league’s best on Saturday. Overtime has just been the bane of their existence this season with a 0-5 record in free hockey.

The Jets touched the summit of the Western Conference last week, a pipe dream around these parts in recent times. They also possess two of the league’s top point-producers (Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler) and one of the league’s top goal scorers (Patrik Laine), not to mention having a rookie just outside top 10 in rookie scoring (Kyle Connor).

Prior to the road trip, Winnipeg’s power play had scored eight times in 19 attempts.

The Jets have also been largely healthy. Defenseman Toby Enstrom is the midst of an eight-week spell in the press box — and there’s a pending diagnosis coming for Dustin Byfuglien after he left Saturday’s game in Tampa Bay with a lower-body injury — but the Jets gotten by relatively unscathed thus far and managed well when Mathieu Perreault and Adam Lowry missed several games.

The Jets have made too many strides this season to regress too far away from where they are right now. Asking a team to go from outside the playoff line to tops in the division might be asking a tad too much. But with that said, the Jets are simply a good team these days and stacked with high-level talent.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Calgary Hitmen fans make 24K stuffed animals fly during Teddy Bear Toss (Video)

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Congratulations, Vladislav Yeryomenko, you were this year’s Teddy Bear Toss goal scorer for the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen.

Yeryomenko’s goal at 9:36 of the first period during their game Sunday vs. the Moose Jaw Warriors was the sign for Hitmen fans to launch their teddy bears inside the Saddledome. Boy, it sure did rain plenty of fur.

Here’s what it looked like:

And here’s a fan’s eye view:

After a clean up delay of approximately 40 minutes , the game resumed but the Hitmen would fall to the Warriors 6-3. The counting, as you would imagine, took some time, but when they were finished it was announced that an astounding 24,605 stuffed animals were collected, which will go to 60 local charities.

“It’s an unforgettable moment,” Yeryomenko said via the Hitmen website. “It’s possible it can only happen once in your life and it happened to me. I enjoyed the moment of it all.”

There were 23,924 stuffed animals tossed during last year’s game, and the Hitmen hold the record of 28,815 bears, which was set in 2015.

The Hitmen have been holding this event since 1995 and are their fans are the true leaders in tossing those bears. Including this Sunday’s total, the team has collected 347,948 stuffed animals for local charities. Just last weekend the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears held their Toss event and fans there set a team record with an impressive 25,017 stuffed animals hitting the ice.

This once again proves that the Teddy Bear Toss is the greatest promotion in all of sports.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.