Quantity over quality at deadline

TERRY KOSHAN, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:15 PM ET

Hockey fans expecting blockbusters as the NHL trade deadline approached on Wednesday afternoon probably couldn’t help but feel the urge to start throwing things at their televisions.

A record 31 trades were made on deadline day, but there was nothing compared to the deals a few weeks ago that saw Ilya Kovalchuk join the New Jersey Devils or Dion Phaneuf become a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Phoenix Coyotes, who were supposed to be dead and buried this season, but instead are solidly in contention for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, were winners on the day, acquiring forwards Wojtek Wolski from the Colorado Avalanche, Lee Stempniak from the Leafs and defenceman Derek Morris from the Boston Bruins.

Wolski will give the Coyotes instant offensive punch while the Avs are taking a chance on Peter Mueller, whose desire appears to have stalled after a good rookie season. Mueller and another forward, Kevin Porter, went to Colorado in exchange for Wolski.

The Wolski trade was a nice break from the order of the day, as most trades saw players who have expiring contracts on the move. Few of the 55 players who changed addresses will make large impacts with their new teams. Just because the networks devoted hours on end to trades on Wednesday does not make the players any better than they really are.

The Buffalo Sabres strengthened their forward corps by landing Raffi Torres from the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenceman Nathan Paetsch and a second-round pick.

The Washington Capitals acquired two gritty forwards, Scott Walker and Eric Belanger, and two defencemen, Joe Corvo and Milan Jurcina.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford cleaned house, trading Corvo, Walker, Andrew Alberts, Aaron Ward and Stephane Yelle.

The Leafs didn’t keep Martin Skoula long, dealing him to the New Jersey Devils for a fifth-round draft pick this summer, less than 12 hours after they acquired him and Luca Caputi from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Alexei Ponikarovsky trade.

Sidney Crosby, meanwhile, told TSN that he likes the deal that saw the Pens get Ponikarovsky.

“From playing against him, I know he is a big strong guy with good hands around the net,” Crosby said. “He can play in any type of situation.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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