Florida Panthers superstar defensemen Jay Bouwmeester, the biggest
name that didn't shipped around on NHL trade day.

The NHL Trade deadline is lot like the election – in fact, I’m willing to bet it gets higher ratings in Canada than their election does, but I’ve never followed Canadian politics, so I don’t know.  My point is that, both events are highly anticipated and get extensive media coverage, and at the end of the day (well, usually the end of the day), there is always a winner and a loser.

I spent Wednesday the same way I spend election day on Nov. 4. – my eyes glued to the TV for hours, waiting for … I’m not really sure what. The Pundits chime in, but have nothing legitimate to talk about, and I watch anyway. The only real difference between the NHL trade deadline and the election is that TSN (The Sports Network Canada) actually gets good scoops on the latest trades in the NHL, unlike the American networks that report the exit poll numbers on election day.

The NHL’s trade deadline was slated to be rather slow this year, due to the state of the economy, and because of the NHL’s salary cap, which was instituted after the lockout in 2005. Prior to the salary cap era, the rich teams like the New York Rangers and Colorado Avalanche, would make blockbuster deals with the small market teams—which was always thrilling.

Last year, the only blockbuster deal occurred five minutes before the 3 p.m. deadline. When the struggling Atlanta Thrashers shipped one of its top stars, Marian Hossa, to the up-and-coming Pittsburgh Penguins for Eric Christensen, Colby Armstrong, top prospect Angelo Esposito and a first round draft pick. Some would argue that the trade was worth it for Pittsburgh because Hossa helped them make it to the Stanley Cup Finals where they lost to the Detroit Red Wings. Others believe the Penguins lost the gamble because Hossa betrayed the Penguins and signed a one-year deal with the Devil, I mean the Detroit Red Wings, as a free agent over the summer.

Either way, this year’s trade deadline was void of any such blockbuster moves – much to the chagrin of the 20 or more TSN reports and pundits covering the event live on TradeCentre 09. I’m not kidding, TSN actually had 9 guys in the studio discussing each trade, and when they had no trades to discuss, they made up hypothetical ones. Since I spent 7 hours tracking the NHL trades, and you likely had no idea the NHL even has a trade deadline, here is the breakdown:

The Calgary Flames are arguably the trade deadline winners, as they acquired defenseman Jordan Leopold from Colorado and forward Olli Jokinen from Phoenix.

The New York Rangers are a close second, as they picked up pesky forward Sean Avery off of waivers from Dallas, forward Nik Antropov from Toronto and defenseman Derek Morris from Phoenix. They did have to give up defenseman Dmitri Kalinin, and forwards Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha to acquire Morris. All in all the trades were good ones for New York because the new acquisitions play the style that their new coach, John Tortorella, preaches.

The Pittsburgh Penguins played much more conservatively at this year’s trade deadline, acquiring the New York Islanders captain, Bill Guerin, for a conditional fifth round draft pick. Guerin is expected to play on a line with the Penguins young prodigy forward, Sidney Crosby.

Big Name Fail – A number of other trades were made (Check out TSN for details), but none of the big names that were tossed around in hypothetical deals actually got traded away. Jay Bouwmeester was the name of the day (and a long name at that). He is the Florida Panthers young superstar defenseman that many GM’s would love to add to their squad, however Florida GM Jacques Martin did not receive any offers enticing enough to ship away one of his top talents, even though Bouwmeester may walk away as a free agent this summer.

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