Islanders coach Ted Nolan wasn't the only one who was sporting a wide smile upon learning New York had acquired Ryan Smyth.
"I was quite pleasantly surprised that we got (Smyth)," Nolan said on an NHL conference call with reporters yesterday. "I told some of the players just after the trade deadline that we'd gotten (Smyth) and they were really excited.
"They looked like six-year-old kids who just learned they had a big superstar coming to their team. They were quite pleased."
Do you think that was the reaction in the Ottawa dressing room when coach Bryan Murray delivered the word GM John Muckler had picked up Phoenix winger Oleg Saprykin?
Not likely. No, you can never have enough depth for the playoffs, but if anybody in the Senators dressing room believed the club was one player away from winning a Stanley Cup, Saprykin's name wouldn't have been the first to roll off their lips.
That honour belonged to Gary Roberts.
Murray said yesterday that he addressed the possible disappointment of not getting Roberts with the players before the club's victory Tuesday over the Hurricanes in Raleigh because there was a strong belief the deal would get done.
"We've got a pretty good hockey team," Murray said before last night's rematch with Carolina at Scotiabank Place. "We've won 20 of our last 27 games. We've got what we have now and we're going to try to play accordingly."
To make matters worse, one of the players the Senators wouldn't part with to land Roberts -- winger Patrick Eaves -- was a healthy scratch last night.
"(Saprykin) gives us depth," said Murray. "The players have to see this guy play, but I think when they see him play, they'll see he's a real (competitor)."
PANTHERS WANTED WELCH
Now, to be fair to Muckler, there are a lot of question being raised in Ottawa and Toronto as to whether the Panthers actually planned to send the 40-year-old Roberts to either team because Florida wanted prospect Noah Welch from Pittsburgh all along.
So the contenders in the East have loaded up for a run to the post-season. Winger Keith Tkachuk is with Atlanta, the Sabres added Dainius Zubrus while Roberts and tough guy Georges Laraque landed with the Penguins.
"Roberts going to Pittsburgh helps them, no question, it gives them a veteran guy fitting in with the young players and it certainly adds a dimension to their team," said Murray.
The Islanders, meanwhile, are sitting on the playoff bubble and decided they couldn't afford not to make a run now.
"We're here to win a Stanley Cup," said Isles GM Garth Snow.
Paying the asking price of prospects Ryan O'Marra, Robert Nilsson and a No. 1 pick doesn't seem high for a guy like Smyth because it significantly improves the club's chances of playing past the first week of April.
"He'll make our whole team better and our whole organization better," said Nolan. "This type of player exemplifies what I'm all about. He works hard and he goes out there and plays hard-nosed every shift. He wants to get the job done."
So when Oilers GM Kevin Lowe called Snow to offer up Smyth, the goalie-turned-executive didn't hesitate.
"That was the going rate," said Snow. "We had a situation where we like the direction our team is going and had a chance to add one of the top forwards in the game and we paid the price."
Muckler, on the other hand, wasn't willing to pay the price, which he considered to be inflated, and it might just come back to haunt him.