'Dead' line day

Many of the big fish supposedly up for grabs, including Stars forward Brad Richards (top), Panthers...

Many of the big fish supposedly up for grabs, including Stars forward Brad Richards (top), Panthers forward Stephen Weiss (bottom left) and Oilers forward Ales Hemsky, did not switch sides before the NHL trade deadline. (File photos)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:53 AM ET

Call it “dead” line day.

None of the rumoured big deals materialized, but not for a lack of trying. In the end, only 14 trades involving NHL players went down on Monday.

While much of the talk focused on Dallas centre Brad Richards and Florida’s Stephen Weiss, Edmonton’s Dustin Penner and New Jersey’s Jason Arnott were the biggest players shipped.

Most GMs appeared to be content with the status quo or had already made their moves during a flurry of activity in the days leading up to the deadline. There were few sellers with many teams locked in deep and tight playoff races in both conferences.

The Stars did try to trade Richards after failing to sign him to a contract extension, but couldn’t find the right deal. The Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres were in the mix, but the Stars demanded a king’s ransom for Richards, a pending unrestricted free agent making $7.8 million

Dallas wanted two players off the Rangers’ roster — including Brandon Dubinsky — and a pick for Richards.

The Rangers weren’t willing to do that for what could very well have been a rental player.

While New York was willing to sign Richards to an extension, the word around the NHL is he wants a deal in excess of eight years.

- The Sabres wanted to add an impact player, but settled for former 40-goal scorer Brad Boyes from the St. Louis Blues for a second-round pick on the eve of the deadline.

Buffalo GM Darcy Regier tried to deal pending UFA Tim Connolly, but couldn’t find a taker.

Kings GM Dean Lombardi finally pulled the trigger on a big trade. After failing to acquire Richards, Lombardi turned his attention to Penner, who was acquired for prospect Colten Teubert, a first-round pick in 2011 and a conditional second-rounder in 2012.

Oilers GM Steve Tambellini was reluctant to deal Ales Hemsky, who is considered a cornerstone of Edmonton’s rebuilding process.

The word is the Habs also called about Penner, but Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier is a big believer in team chemistry and doesn’t like to add rentals for the post-season.

The Panthers were trying to move money, but weren’t able to get anything done with either Weiss or David Booth. GMs considered the asking price for either to be too high.

There is a belief both the Capitals and Flyers inquired about Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun. While the 34-year-old — who’s also a looming UFA — puts up solid regular-season numbers, he’s yet to advance out of the first round of the players. Neither Washington GM George McPhee nor Philly counterpart Paul Holmgren felt it necessary to take the risk.

“If you’re going to deal with goaltending issues, you’re better off to deal with those in the summer,” said a league executive. “That is one area where you can really screw up any chemistry you’ve got.”

- Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke was surprisingly quiet with his club desperately needing a No. 1 centre for a playoff push. Burke wasn’t a player for either Richards or Weiss, although the latter might not have been a good fit in Toronto.

There weren’t any big winners on deadline day.

The best deal might have been made well in advance when Boston GM Peter Chiarelli acquired defenceman Tomas Kaberle for prospect Joe Colborne, a first-round pick in 2011 and a conditional second-rounder in 2012.

Washington’s McPhee deserves a pat on the back for acquiring Arnott for centre David Steckel and a second-round pick in 2012.There were three or four teams interested. but the Devils held off on asking Arnott to waive his no-movement clause until the end.

Now that the deadline has passed, the table is set for the teams in the final push for the playoffs. The next six weeks will be spent trying to get the new players to work out.

Judging by Monday, you had to strike early this year to maximize your chances in the post-season.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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