March 5, 2009

Deadline deals

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

There weren’t many big winners in yesterday’s NHL trade deadline, but two things are for certain: The Flames have become a true Cup contender and the Maple Leafs have officially given up on this season.

Adding Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold were the two of the biggest moves to go down yesterday and Calgary landed both of them. Jokinen played great under coach Mike Keenan when they were both with the Panthers. He gives them the solid first line centre that the Flames have been missing for a long time and pairing him with Jarome Iginla will give other teams fits. Leopold was one of the best defencemen to be moved yesterday and is a good producer on the powerplay. If I were in the West, I wouldn’t want to be matched up against Calgary come playoff time.

Then there was the Leafs waving the white flag. Toronto dealt away two of their top players – Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore – and got back two second rounders in return. Firstly, the team was sad enough that Moore, who according to scouts is a grinder who can’t hit and a scorer with bad hands, was one of their top guys. Secondly, there was a good chance these guys wouldn’t have been back next season so why not get rid of them. Antropov and Moore aren’t the only two names that won’t be pencilled into a Leafs scorecard this season, their starting goalie Vesa Toskala will have groin surgery and be on the shelf for the season’s remainder. Perfect timing for the Leafs to start tanking and now they have a built-in excuse to.

Toronto also made two puzzling moves before the deadline too. I have no idea how claiming Martin Gerber off waivers was a good idea. The rumour was that they picked him up with the intention of dealing him, but there was clearly no market because he’s been on waivers a couple of times this season and nobody bit. Why did the Leafs think they could turn around and deal him? The Leafs final deal of the day ended up sending a minor leaguer to Tampa for, essentially, Olaf Kolzig, a washed up goalie. When asked if he could explain the deal, GM Brian Burke flatly said, “No.” What a nice guy. So, after the deadline, the Leafs are two men down, two crappy goalies up and have two more picks in the draft. And management has already raised ticket prices for next season.

Leave a Reply