|Stars (left to right) Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators, Tomas Kaberle of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins are rumoured to be on the trade market. (File photos)
LOS ANGELES -- All talk, no action.
As the NHL draft wrapped up Saturday at the Staples Center, all the predictions of big deals with big names changing sweaters fell through for the umpteenth straight year.
The salary cap era has all but killed off the blockbuster trade.
"Guys still talk," said a league executive. "It's just every deal has make sense money-wise."
It's an issue no team can escape.
The names of stars like Boston's Tim Thomas and Marc Savard floated around all weekend, but deals didn't get done because teams are trying to figure out ways to pick up contracts while shedding them at the same time.
Toronto GM Brian Burke did everything he could to move defenceman Tomas Kaberle, but he didn't get an offer he found acceptable, so the Leafs are going to hang on to Kaberle until someone ups the ante.
The Lightning need a goalie, but can't afford to take on Thomas' contract, so the Bolts will have to go in another direction.
Senators centre Jason Spezza was also in play, but he has five years and $33 million US left on his deal. And as Ottawa GM Bryan Murray knows, the market is pretty small for those kinds of contracts.
There was a time the draft was a beehive of activity. Now, it's mostly become about moving the No. 119 pick for the No. 166 and No. 172 pick.
This is what happened last year when the draft was held at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Teams burned up the phone lines and then served up very little on the draft floor.
Blues president John Davidson said the best way to have success is to build from within, hang onto your players and then make trades or free-agent signings at the right time to put your team over the top.
"That's what Chicago did. They drafted well and then they were able to sign Marian Hossa to help put themselves over the top to win the Stanley Cup," Davidson said during a break in the "action" Saturday.
"You have to draft and develop your players. That's the best way to have success. Once you draft those players, you just hope that you're able to hang onto them all when they get good."
So what trade fans have to hope for is that NHL GMs used draft weekend to set the table for deals later this week or in the summer after the free agency has settled out.
With such a thin free-agent market, the chatter was there would be plenty of trades.
And Keith Ballard going from Florida to Vancouver isn't going to appease anyone, except maybe Tomas Vokoun.
Burke said GMs weren't "focused" on trades and that's why he was unable to deal Kaberle.
Here's hoping a couple of GMs toss some big bucks at free agents beginning Thursday so we can get the trade juices flowing again.