SI.com's David Vecsey tackles three issues from around the league:
Whose deadline moves made the most sense?
Owen Nolan Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI
Once again, because of my Thursday slot, I'm like the 10th guy on the site to say this, but I'll say it anyway. Just like Michael Farber, Stephen Cannella and Jon Dolezar, I really like what Pat Quinn did in Toronto.
When you think of deadline deals, you think of grit, leadership and defense. Toronto just went right down the list, getting gritty Owen Nolan, former Leafs captain Doug Gilmour, and defensemen Glen Wesley and Phil Housley. Now, if Ed Belfour can keep his head about him and Quinn can convince Darcy Tucker and Shayne Corson to not turn the playoffs into a circus, the Leafs should be well equipped to keep up with Ottawa and Philly in the playoffs.
That said, Ottawa and Philly did just enough to fine-tune their already strong teams. The Sens added a little scoring with Bryan Smolinski, and the Flyers got Tony Amonte on the cheap from Phoenix. More on THAT later.
Just taking a quick glance around the East, I don't think New Jersey did enough to help itself (Where did that Teemu Selanne trade go?). Nor do I think the Islanders will benefit much from the great trade for Janne Niinimaa. (How's that going to help Alexei Yashin find the net?) The Rangers got real strong with the addition of Anson Carter, and they just might overtake the Islanders for that last playoff spot in the East. (Did I just say that?)
Whose deadline deals made the least sense?
Anson Carter AP
Forget the teams in all-out firesale mode, like Pittsburgh and San Jose. This is a category reserved for playoff-bound teams who seemed to go against the grain in terms of additions and subtractions.
How in the world can Edmonton justify trading away its best forward and a top-four defenseman a month before the playoffs? The Oilers may have been looking at a first-round matchup with top-seeded Dallas and decided to start their offseason early. But why? The Oilers are always tough in the playoffs, especially against Dallas. The trades of Anson Carter and Janne Niinimaa make me root for Nashville to overtake Edmonton for that eighth-place spot.
And on that subject, while I appreciate Doug Gilmour's return to Toronto, how does Montreal make this deal just three points behind the Isles for eighth place?
Obviously, more practical people might not hold a team responsible for these moves. After all, a practical person assesses the present and thinks of the future. Me? I'm an optimist. I say play like hell to get into the playoffs and see if you can't bottle a little lightning.
One other deal I just can't get my head around was the Blues' acquisition of Chris Osgood. Here's a team that goes into the playoffs every year with its goalie being considered its weak link. And it goes out and pins its hopes on a goalie whose whole reputation is about being a weak link in the playoffs. One 50-foot goal later, and the Blues are going to start wondering what the difference is between Brent Johnson, Fred Brathwaite and Chris Osgood.
Whose deadline deals were just flat-out gross?
Tony Amonte Scott Cunningham/Getty Images/NHLI
The Phoenix Coyotes failed to trade 36-year-old, often-injured Sean Burke because they were asking for way, way too much. Yet, they give away Tony Amonte for one body and two picks? Granted, Amonte has had the worst year of his career by far, but it's a little too early to pronounce him dead. Especially with three years left in his contract.
Nine months ago, Amonte was going to be the cornerstone of Wayne Gretzky's Coyotes. Yet now they're going to go into another offseason looking for a new cornerstone. And by all accounts, this year's free-agent market isn't going to have many of those.
It's just another example of how skittish NHL front offices are. They make a big commitment and then bail at the first sign of trouble. All I ask is for a little commitment from a team. Amonte has scored at least 27 goals in nine of his 11 full NHL seasons. That's got to buy you one off year, no?
Wayne Gretzky has made some really curious business decisions over the past seven years or so: from agreeing to play for Mike Keenan in St. Louis to signing with the Rangers just as they were falling apart at the seams to talking to bubble hockey players (worse, Phil Esposito) in Bud Light ads to buying into a hockey team in the desert and hiring his friend to be the GM. So which was the bad decision here? Signing Amonte? Or trading him less than one year into the relationship?
It doesn't matter, because the Phoenix Coyotes are at Square One and looking for an identity. Again.