Canadian clubs pretty quiet on deadline day
Senators and Habs stand pat, while Canada's 4 other NHL teams made minor deals
While teams south of the border were busy on NHL trade deadline day, all was relatively quiet on the Canadian front.
The Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens didn't make a single deal on Wednesday prior to the 3 p.m. ET deadline (although both clubs did make moves on Tuesday), while the NHL's four other Canadian clubs made trades that hardly could be classified as blockbusters.
Senators made their big move the day before
Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray, who also traded for forward Matt Cullen prior to the Olympic break, didn't get caught up in the excitement of deadline day like the Phoenix Coyotes, who led the way with seven deals.
Instead, Murray stood pat, confident that the additions of Sutton and Cullen will help strengthen the Senators' roster as they try to close the 14-point gap between themselves and the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals.
"Getting Matt Cullen, a very versatile forward and a guy who can play in our top six … I think now we're 14 or 15 forwards deep, so if we are in the playoffs and make a run, I think we're fairly well protected in that area," Murray said Wednesday.
"And [Tuesday], being able to obtain Andy Sutton, a big guy and defensive-type defenceman, provides some depth for us in that area, but more than that — I think he'll be a real element on our hockey team. He's big and strong, tougher around the net."
Although Murray didn't make any trades Wednesday, he did speak to several other GMs throughout the day.
"There are guys out there that would have been interesting to our team, but obviously we couldn't pay the price to get them here and I feel fine about that," Murray said.
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson applauded the efforts of his GM, especially the pickup of Sutton, who is generally regarded as one of the league's best shot-blocking defencemen.
"I like the move," Alfredsson said. "I don't know much about [Sutton] except playing against him and he's a hard-nosed player who plays hard, blocks shots, hits and is hard to play against. It's obviously a good addition for us.
"Bryan's given us two players that have been around for a while in Cullen and Sutton to help us and give us more depth, so I definitely like our team."
No moves by Habs
Like the Senators, the Montreal Canadiens didn't pull off any trades on Wednesday, making only one deal in acquiring Aarom Palushaj from the St. Louis Blues for fellow winger Matt D'Agostini on Tuesday.
The lack of movement by the Habs hardly comes as a surprise.
Newly-installed GM Pierre Gauthier is trying to foster an environment of stability. Predecessor Bob Gainey made a slew of off-season changes, and injuries to key players such as Brain Gionta and Andrei Markov have taken their toll on Montreal this season.
As a result, Gauthier is committed to giving this crop of Habs a chance to gel and form some chemistry on the ice before he starts tinkering with the roster in a major way.
"The challenge that we were going to have at the beginning of the season, to establish an identity, establish chemistry and learn a new style of play, has been pushed [back] because of these injuries," Gauthier told reporters in a conference call Wednesday.
"So I told the team that any success we will have this season will come from the group being able to put it together from within. It doesn't mean you're telling them there's not going to be any changes, but you are telling them you are not looking to add to the challenge."
There was speculation that the Habs were looking to offload one of their goalies, Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak.
Gauthier refused to reveal whether he received any offers for either player, restating his belief that the Canadiens will need both in order to make the playoffs.
"These two young goalies are very good and they've been a very strong part of our team in this injury-riddled season," Gauthier said. "Our best chance to make the playoffs this year was to keep both these young guys who give us a chance to win every night."
Leafs end up holding on to Kaberle
In a surprising development, Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke told reporters Wednesday that veteran defenceman Tomas Kaberle was willing to waive his no-trade clause for a move to one of three teams.
In the end, though, Kaberle stayed put.
"There wasn't a deal to be made, and that was the end of it," Burke said. "We were truthful. We never got a list, but we did explore three avenues that the player's agent asked us to explore as recently as this morning."
Burke stressed that he didn't approach Kaberle about waiving his no-trade clause.
"Tomas Kaberle has a no-trade clause, and that was given to him in good faith," Burke said. "I think players can only get them if they have a certain level of seniority and a certain level of expertise. And I think organizations are bound by those things, whether it's the same GM who gave it to the player or not."
With Kaberle remaining a Leaf, Burke made a series of minor deals, shipping forward Lee Stempniak to Phoenix for defenceman Matt Jones and the Coyotes' fourth round and seventh round draft choices in 2010.
In other moves, the Leafs acquired defenceman Chris Peluso from Pittsburgh for a sixth-round draft pick, and dealt goaltender Joey MacDonald to Anaheim for the Ducks' seventh-round pick in 2011.
Burke's major trade deal occurred Tuesday night when he sent winger Alexei Ponikarovsky to Pittsburgh as part of a three-player deal. Toronto received forward Luca Caputi and defenceman Martin Skoula from the Penguins, but then dealt Skoula to the New Jersey Devils for a fifth-round draft pick Wednesday.
Ponikarovsky was slated to become unrestricted free agent this summer and negotiations between the two sides were not fruitful, hence the Leafs sending him to Pittsburgh.
"His agent said he wants a four-year contract extension, and I'm not interested in that," Burke said. "When I see some of the contracts that are being awarded, my guess is that this is the right way for Poni to go, too. He thinks he can get a four-year deal somewhere, and my guess is, he probably will — but I'm not giving him a four-year deal."
Flames bolster blue-line with Staios
The Calgary Flames and Edmoton Oilers made history on Wednesday, when they worked together to complete the first-ever trade between the two provincial rivals.
Calgary acquired veteran Steve Staios from the Oilers for fellow defenceman Aaron Johnson and a conditional third-round draft pick in either 2010 or 2011.
Flames GM Darryl Sutter made the move for Staois in order to help his club prepare to battle for a playoff spot as the regular season enters the home stretch.
"Steve's a player that I've liked for a long time obviously and [I've] seen him in that Calgary Edmonton rivalry lots over the years," Sutter said. "Thankfully we get him."
According to Sutter, Staios's biggest asset is his leadership qualities on the ice.
"There's not very many of that type of quality veteran leadership type of defencemen in the market and if they were, we felt that they weren't as good as Steve or they were making a lot more money," Sutter said.
"You're talking about a top guy in terms of leadership and that's really important to our team."
Also on Wednesday, the Flames swapped goaltenders with the Anaheim Ducks, acquiring Vesa Toskala in exchange for Curtis McElhinney. They also sent forward Dustin Boyd to the Nashville Predators for a fourth round draft pick.
Sutter hopes Toskala can provide the Flames with a solid back-up goaltender to starter Miikka Kiprusoff.
"A lot of it was based on Kipper and how much he's played," Sutter said. "When you look at the big picture, the No. 1 guys in the league all play 60 to 70 games and those other guys just better not be going in to give (those) guys a night off."
Oilers land Ryan Whitney
The only other deadline deal made by the Oilers was a minor one, acquiring defenceman Ryan Whitney and a sixth-round draft pick in 2010 from the Anaheim Ducks for blue-liner Lubomir Visnovsky.
The 27-year-old Whitney is on the move for the second straight year, having been sent from Pittsburgh to the Ducks late in the 2008-09 season.
Whitney has scored four goals and 24 assists in 62 games with Anaheim this season. The six-foot-four Boston native has 38 goals and 150 assists and 283 penalty minutes in 335 NHL games.
Whitney admitted to being a little surprised by the move.
"All of sudden you have to get clothes ready and get stuff shipped out," he told Hockey Night in Canada Radio. "It can get a little hectic which is normal but it's part of our lives and the business we chose."
Canucks bulk up their blue-line
The Vancouver Canucks were somewhat busy, acquiring several depth players, including defenceman Andrew Alberts from Carolina for a third-round draft pick.
Alberts has played 62 games this season with the Hurricanes, with two goals, eight assists and 74 penalty minutes. The six-foot-five defender has also played for Boston and Philadelphia in a 325-game NHL career.
"I think just a little tweaking by Vancouver knowing for the most part they're a pretty good team," said Hockey Night in Canada's Kelly Hrudey. "They're pretty comfortable with their two top [forward] lines. Their fourth line they think is pretty solid.
"Defensively, I think they were looking for pretty darn hard for something."
The Canucks also obtained well-travelled defensive centre Yan Stastny from the St. Louis Blues in exchnage for Pierre Cedric-Labrie.
Vancouver also sent veteran defenceman Mathieu Schneider to the Coyotes.
Schneider played just 17 games with the Canucks after being signed in the summer, dogged by injuries and clashing with Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault. The 40-year-old has been playing with Vancouver's affiliate in the AHL, the Manitoba Moose.
Vancouver acquires Sean Zimmerman and a 2010 conditional sixth-round draft selection in return. Zimmerman, 22, is a defensive defenceman originally drafted by New Jersey.