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Breaking down a busy deadline day

Dan Di Sciullo, NHL Editor

Dan Di Sciullo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Keeping track of all the activity at the NHL's trade deadline is kind of like trying to follow a tennis match on fast forward.

When the dust finally cleared, there were 25 trades on Tuesday and those deals involved a whopping 44 players.

Sure, most of the swaps involved lesser-known players that will have little or no effect on either team, but there were also a few trades that could lead a team to a Stanley Cup this year or possibly down the road.

The biggest name to switch teams this season didn't happen on Tuesday, but rather on February 15, when the Nashville Predators nabbed former Hart Trophy winner Peter Forsberg from Philadelphia.

Still, just because the Predators landed the most-decorated player before the deadline doesn't necessarily mean that they will be the most successful. After all, these trades are always measured at the end of the season, when the Stanley Cup is awarded to one lucky team.

THE GOOD

Nashville Predators - The Predators struck gold early with the Forsberg deal and didn't venture into the trade market again. But, when a team "only" lands a guy who has won two Stanley Cups and a pair of Olympic gold medals, it's hard to accuse them of not doing enough. Forsberg may have just two points in his first five games with the Preds, but, if he stays healthy, it won't be long until he starts to click with his new teammates.

Bill Guerin
Bill Guerin, who has 28 goals this year and 356 tallies in his career, gives the Sharks a proven scorer.
San Jose Sharks - Picking up veteran defenseman Craig Rivet from Montreal two days before the deadline was a good start, but Sharks general manager Doug Wilson really caught the league's attention when he landed Bill Guerin on Tuesday. San Jose landed the veteran sniper by sending forwards Ville Nieminen and Jay Barriball and a 2007 first-round pick to the Blues. Guerin, who has 28 goals this year and 356 tallies in his career, gives the Sharks a proven scorer who should lead to even more assists for playmaker extraordinaire Joe Thornton.

New York Islanders - Edmonton's loss became Long Island's gain on Tuesday, as Islanders general manager Garth Snow snatched winger Ryan Smyth from the Oilers just minutes before the deadline. The Oilers had been trying to re-sign Smyth up until Tuesday afternoon, but when the two sides were not able to hammer out a deal, Edmonton decided to get something for their star player rather than simply lose him to free agency in the offseason. That something was young forwards Robert Nilsson and Ryan O'Marra and a first-round pick in the 2007 draft. Those players may or may not work out for the Oilers, but it is almost certain Smyth will pay dividends for New York. The 31-year-old has posted four 30-plus goal campaigns and has the type of blue-collar attitude that is always appreciated by fans in the Northeastern part of the United States. More importantly, the Islanders' big-name acquisition transforms the club from playoff hopeful to possible contenders for the Eastern Conference crown.

Pittsburgh Penguins - Pittsburgh already has the NHL's leading scorer in 19- year-old Sidney Crosby, and a pair of blossoming stars in Evgeni Malkin, 20, and 18-year-old Jordan Staal. While the Penguins' treasure trove of young talent has the club in good position to make the playoffs for the first time in six years, general manager Ray Shero decided to complement his phenoms by adding some veteran leadership. On Tuesday morning, the Pens convinced 40- year-old winger Gary Roberts to waive his no-trade clause and leave sunny Florida for the Steel City. Pittsburgh sent defenseman Noah Welch to the Panthers in exchange for Roberts, owner of 13 goals this season and 424 tallies in his 19-year NHL career. Just over an hour after acquiring Roberts, Pittsburgh nabbed veteran forward Georges Laraque from the Phoenix Coyotes for forward Daniel Carcillo and a third-round pick in the 2008 draft. Laraque is best known as an enforcer, a role he may have to resume in order to protect Crosby and the rest of the Pens, but he is also an underrated offensive player.

Detroit Red Wings - General Manager Ken Holland made the gutsiest move Tuesday, when he decided to bring mammoth right wing Todd Bertuzzi to the Motor City. He acquired the 6-foot-3, 245-pounder from Florida for prospect Shawn Matthias and two conditional draft picks. Bertuzzi is the prototypical power forward, and a worthy successor to the departed Brendan Shanahan, who left for the New York Rangers in the offseason. So, where is the risk, you ask? Well, Bertuzzi has played in just seven games this season while battling a herniated disk and it is still uncertain when he will be able to return. However, if healthy, Detroit has gained a bruising physical presence in front of the net and a player that has notched 70-plus points three times in his career. It's a calculated risk for the Red Wings, who could've conceivably challenged for the Cup by standing pat at the deadline. In addition to Bertuzzi, the Red Wings also picked up former Flyers forward Kyle Calder in a three-way deal with Philadelphia and Chicago. Calder is a versatile player who has notched 20 goals twice in his career and provides energy each time he is on the ice.

THE BAD

Ryan Smyth
Edmonton failed to get Ryan Smyth to agree on an extension and was forced to rush into a less than ideal swap with the Islanders.
Edmonton Oilers - Nobody came out of the deadline looking worse than the Oilers and their general manager Kevin Lowe. Edmonton failed to get Smyth to agree on an extension and was forced to rush into a less than ideal swap with the Islanders. And that was just hours before the Oilers were to honor Mark Messier by raising his No. 11 sweater to the rafters. The Messier celebration went on as planned, but Oiler fans still had to be reeling from the trade of the franchise's most-popular active player. Smyth, a native of Banff, Alberta, had played his entire 12-year career in Edmonton and left with the fifth-most goals and seventh-most points in the club's rich history. If Lowe had realized earlier the direction the Smyth contract situation was headed, he could have received more for the face of his franchise than Robert Nilsson, Ryan O'Marra and a first-round pick in the 2007 draft. That's not to speculate on the futures of those players, just simply stating how unlikely it is that those pieces will even approach the level of impact Smyth had on the Oilers for over a decade.

Toronto Maple Leafs - The Leafs missed out on Gary Roberts early on Tuesday and the disappointment did not end there. After the Pens snatched up Roberts, the only trade the Leafs pulled off was one that brought center Yanic Perreault back to Toronto. Don't get me wrong, Perreault is a solid player and the best faceoff man in the NHL, but the hungriest fans in the league would much rather have seen Guerin, Bertuzzi or Smyth with a Maple Leaf on his chest. This isn't the type of trade you expect from a team that is just three points out of a playoff spot.

THE INDIFFERENT

Ottawa Senators - Like the Leafs, the Senators could have used Roberts or Bertuzzi, but at least they are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference and in solid position to make some noise in the postseason. Ottawa did manage to acquire left wing Oleg Saprykin from the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2008 draft. Saprykin has career-highs in every major offensive category this season, notching 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points, but is not the physical presence Ottawa needed.

Buffalo Sabres - It's hard to criticize the Sabres in any way considering they are currently the leading contenders to win the Presidents' Trophy, but the club managed to pull off some underwhelming moves on Tuesday. The trade of Martin Biron to Philadelphia made sense because the goaltender will be a free agent in the offseason was making too much money as the backup to Ryan Miller. However, getting forward Dainius Zubrus and career minor-league defenseman Timo Helbling from Washington in exchange for a NHL roster player in forward Jiri Novotny and a first-round pick in the 2007 draft seemed a bit too high a price to pay. After all, Zubrus will be a free agent in July and was reportedly asking for $5 million a year from the Capitals. Zubrus already reached the 20-goal mark for the second straight year with Washington, but was known as an underachiever before Alexander Ovechkin arrived on the scene.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Dan Di Sciullo at ddisciullo@sportsnetwork.com.
Dan Di Sciullo


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