Volume 93, Issue 86

Tuesday, March 14, 2000


SPORTS

Western clinches CIAU spot

Western consoled at CIAUs

NHL trade deadline to have little excitement or big deals

NHL trade deadline to have little excitement or big deals



Next to the beginning of the playoffs, today is the most important day in the hockey season – it's trade deadline day for the National Hockey League.

However don't expect to see any blockbuster deals. Instead be prepared to witness a bunch of losing teams trading aging players for draft picks.

In the past, the trade deadline was interesting because it marked a time when teams would swing surprise deals, or there would be a blockbuster trade of one superstar for another big name player.

That was the old NHL.

The new NHL has a bunch of players with big contracts, no trade clauses and teams looking to constantly rebuild. Last year saw a big move in defenceman Chris Chelios leaving the Chicago Blackhawks to play for the Detroit Red Wings. Other than that, there were few memorable deals.

This year should be more of the same. The Blackhawks recently traded centre Doug Gilmour to the Buffalo Sabres in order to rid themselves of an aging player as well as his $6 million contract. The Boston Bruins have also dumped salaries by trading defenceman Ray Bourque to Colorado.

At this point in the season, most of the traded players are those approaching the end of their long term deals, who will become unrestricted free agents. Most teams would rather trade now and get a young player, rather than risk losing a valuable part of their team at the end of the season.

Using my infinite wisdom, I'm going to suggest how some NHL teams can improve themselves through the following trades.

First on my list is the Philadelphia Flyers – get a goalie. John Vanbiesbrouck was an amazing goaltender five years ago when he led the Florida Panthers to the Stanley Cup Finals. Now, he's one season away from retirement and is too old to handle the rigours of the playoff schedule. The past few years of post-season play have proven they need a goalie. Stop talking and start shopping! I'm sure some team would be willing to part with a proven goalie for a nice price.

The Toronto Maple Leafs need one thing – another big scorer. They have numerous young defencemen they could swap for a proven winger who would work well on a line with centre Mats Sundin and winger Steve Thomas and be able to put the puck in the net. The Leafs could also use a strong stay-at-home defenceman who could help limit the amount of rubber goalie Curtis Joseph sees in a game.

Similarly, the New Jersey Devils need another big goal-scorer. The Devils need a marquee offensive player who could take the pressure off the brilliant goaltending of Martin Brodeur.

The psychology of trading could be why there aren't many blockbuster deals anymore. Why shake up the chemistry of your team when they are playing well? However, many teams are not willing to make one trade for a player who could move them from contender to favourite.

The sad part is, today will be like every other trade deadline – some small deals for future considerations, but very few notable acquisitions in the end.


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