Caps, Kings big trade deadline winners

The Capitals filled a need at centre by acquiring veteran Jason Arnott from the Devils. (ERIC...

The Capitals filled a need at centre by acquiring veteran Jason Arnott from the Devils. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI Agency file photo)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:08 PM ET

If you are a Washington Capitals or Los Angeles Kings fan and are reading this, you have reason to be excited about your teams.

If you are a supporter of any of the 28 other NHL clubs and are reading this, you must have just snapped out of your coma courtesy of the snoozefest otherwise known as 2011 trade deadline day.

Cue the snoring.

In one of the most disappointing overhyped events we’ve see in years, only Caps general manager George McPhee and Kings colleague Dean Lombardi caused significant ripples throughout the National Hockey League landscape on Monday.

On an otherwise sleepy day when most of the league’s 16 trades were of the minor variety, the Caps easily were the big winners moving forward, acquiring puck-moving defenceman Dennis Wideman from the Florida Panthers and veteran centre Jason Arnott from the New Jersey Devils.

Arnott cost the Caps forward David Steckel and a second-round pick while the cost for Wideman was a reasonable package of forward prospect Jake Hauswirth and a third-round pick.

With the race for the Stanley Cup as wide open as it has been in years, those were small prices to pay for a talented Caps team that addressed a couple of significant holes.

Arnott scored a Stanley Cup winning goal for the New Jersey Devils; is a former captain of the Dallas Stars; and brings some much needed muscle up the middle that will take some of the pressure off first-line centre Nicklas Backstrom. With Backstrom likely centring Alex Ovechkin and Arnott expected to line up with Alexander Semin, the Caps will have two formidable scoring units heading into the post-season.

Wideman, meanwhile, can step in for sidelined defenceman Mike Green, who will be out about two weeks with a head injury. Along with being a power-play quarterback, Wideman can move the puck quickly up to the team’s cache of fast-skating forwards.

“We did not give away a first-round pick,” McPhee said. “We did not give away any of our ‘A’ prospects ...

“I’m very happy with what we’ve acquired.”

He should be, given that every top team in the east has its share of warts heading down the stretch toward the post-season.

The rival Pittsburgh Penguins have lost Evgeni Malkin for the rest of the season and Sidney Crosby, well, who knows when he’ll be back. The Philadelphia Flyers arguably have the most depth in the league but does the goaltending duo of Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher really scare anyone? The Tampa Bay Lightning has an inexperienced blue line while the Boston Bruins are still looking to advance past the Eastern Conference semifinal.

Good on McPhee for being so proactive.

The same could be said for Lombardi. In a Western Conference where the difference between fourth and 11th is just five points, picking up hulking Dustin Penner from the Edmonton Oilers was a bold move, not to mention a shrewd one.

Yes, the price was a steep - a 2011 first-round draft pick, a 2012 conditional second-rounder, and defenceman Colten Teuber. Having said that, would you want to be an opposing goalie with big bodies like Penner, Ryan Smyth and Michal Handzus standing in your face? No way.

Here’s a look at some of the other highlights and lowlights from the 24 hours leading to Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline:

Winners

1. Capitals: Dream day for Ovie with Arnott, Wideman coming on board.

2. Kings: Penner won a Cup in Anaheim; now he’s just up the freeway.

3. Canucks: Good depth players in Chris Higgins, Maxim Lapierre.

4. Hurricanes: Bryan Allen brings much-needed beef to blue line.

5. Sabres: Expect Brad Boyes to flourish in the Queen City.

Losers

1. Panthers: Wideman for a minor-leaguer and a third-rounder? Ugh.

2. Canadiens: Arnott would have been good fit for team lacking forward size.

3. Stars: Brad Richards stays ... but can they afford him next year?

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/zeisberger


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