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Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Grading the deadline day deals

By Scott Burnside
ESPN.com

TORONTO -- It was the trade deadline of the gritty defenseman and the depth forward.

On a day that lacked star drama after top players Dion Phaneuf, Ilya Kovalchuk and Olli Jokinen were dealt before the Olympic roster freeze, there were plenty of "character" deals completed on the day. And, in the end, those are the kinds of deals we may look back on in June and say, "Gee, remember that deal we thought was a nothing deal? Well, it looks pretty sweet now, doesn't it?"

Here's a look at the major deals of the day:

Toronto sends Alexei Ponikarovsky to Pittsburgh for Martin Skoula and Luca Caputi

Breakdown: It cost Pens GM Ray Shero a nice prospect in Caputi, who had 47 points in 54 AHL games this season, but he got another top-six forward to play with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. For two straight years, Shero managed to upgrade his offense at the deadline and parlay those moves into two trips to the Stanley Cup finals and one Cup itself. This move could make it three in a row. Ponikarovsky has 19 goals and 41 points in 61 games. Grade: A-minus

Colorado sends Wojtek Wolski to Phoenix for Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter

Breakdown: In what may be the most significant deal of the trade deadline because it was a straight hockey deal, the Colorado Avalanche sent former first-round draft pick Wolski to the Phoenix Coyotes for another former first-rounder, Mueller, and former Hobey Baker Award winner Porter.

Wolski is the most significant piece of this trade; he will add offense to a Coyotes lineup that is starved for it, especially on the power play. Wolski had 17 goals for the Avs this season, but fell out of favor with the team and did not fit in to their long-term plans. Wolski, the 21st-overall pick in 2004, will immediately become a top-six forward for the Coyotes and should thrive under coach Dave Tippett.

Mueller, the eighth-overall pick in 2006, had a terrific rookie season with 22 goals; but his production has fallen off the past two seasons, and he has just four goals this season, unable to produce a consistent level of play. Grade: A-minus

Anaheim sends Ryan Whitney and 2010 sixth-round pick to Edmonton for Lubomir Visnovsky

Breakdown: This is a great deal for the Ducks. They got a significant upgrade in Visnovsky, who had 32 points for a bad Edmonton team this season. Whitney, dealt to the Ducks during last year's deadline from Pittsburgh, has seen his development stall somewhat even though he has 28 points. Although he was added to the U.S. Olympic team, Whitney did not play all that much for the Americans in Vancouver. He will get a chance to reinvent himself in Edmonton with a team looking to rebuild itself, as well. Grade: A-minus

Florida sends Jordan Leopold to Pittsburgh for 2010 second-round pick

Breakdown: Another nice tinker move by Shero, who identified defensive depth as an issue for his club and brought in Leopold, who has bounced around the NHL, not quite fulfilling his tremendous promise. Still, he will fill in nicely in a depth role behind Sergei Gonchar, Kris Letang and Brooks Orpik. Grade: B-plus

Columbus sends Raffi Torres to Buffalo for Nathan Paetsch and 2010 second-round pick

Breakdown: The Sabres, in a battle with Ottawa for the Northeast Division crown, added a nice piece in Torres, who has 19 goals and adds a gritty presence to the Sabres' lineup. The move allows Buffalo to keep pace with Ottawa, which has also upgraded its squad over the past couple of days. The Blue Jackets, looking to shed salary in the middle of a disappointing season, get a defenseman who will challenge for playing time. Grade: B-plus

New York Islanders send Andy Sutton to Ottawa Senators for 2010 second-round pick

Breakdown: Andy Sutton is a big, big body (6-foot-6) who will help the Sens come playoff time. He's not going to score much, but that's not what he's there for. Along with Matt Cullen, added before the Olympic break, GM Bryan Murray has done a nice job for his surprising Sens, who remain a significant challenger for the Northeast title. Grade: B

Buffalo sends Clarke MacArthur to Atlanta for 2010 third- and fourth-round picks

Breakdown: Nice addition for the Atlanta Thrashers and GM Don Waddell, who pledged to be a buyer even though he was forced to deal Ilya Kovalchuk before the Olympic break. MacArthur had 13 goals and 26 points for the Sabres this season and may get a chance to play a bigger role with the Thrashers, perhaps logging some power-play time for the playoff-hopeful Thrashers. The Sabres could afford to move MacArthur with Torres coming aboard from Columbus. Grade: B

Carolina sends Joe Corvo to Washington for Brian Pothier, Oskar Osala and 2011 second-round pick

Breakdown: Corvo will give the Caps another big gun on the power play and adds size and experience along the blue line for the Cup-hopeful club. Pothier will get a chance to be part of the rebuild in Carolina, as will Osala, a winger from Finland who has played the past couple of seasons with Hershey of the AHL. Grade: B

Tampa Bay sends Jeff Halpern to Los Angeles for Teddy Purcell and 2010 third-round pick

Breakdown: The Los Angeles Kings, expected to be in the market for a top-six forward, added a veteran defensive forward in Halpern early in the going on Wednesday. The Lightning received Purcell and a third-round pick, which is a significant return for a player who can be an unrestricted free agent. Halpern will provide face-off depth and help out on the penalty kill for a team that should be in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Purcell put up good numbers in the AHL and will get a chance to help a Lightning team that has struggled with offensive depth this season. Grade: B-minus

Florida sends Dennis Seidenberg and Matthew Bartkowski to Boston for forwards Byron Bitz and Craig Weller

Breakdown: Seidenberg will occupy the space in the lineup vacated by Derek Morris, who was dealt to Phoenix earlier in the day. Although the two players were separated by just one point, Seidenberg provides an upgrade offensively and should help out the Bruins' power play. The Panthers get a couple of players, especially the 6-5 Bitz, who will be part of the mix for a team looking for character and grit as they rebuild a troubled franchise. Grade: B-minus

Minnesota sends Eric Belanger to Washington for 2010 second-round pick

Breakdown: Think about Pascal Dupuis going to Pittsburgh two years ago with Marian Hossa, and you have a sense of Belanger's value. He is a center with 13 goals, can do a little bit of everything and is yet another piece of what the talented Caps hope is a Stanley Cup puzzle. Belanger is set to be an unrestricted free agent, and the second-round pick is another asset for rookie GM Chuck Fletcher. Grade: B-minus

Columbus sends Fredrik Modin to Los Angeles for conditional 2010 seventh-round pick

Breakdown: If Fredrik Modin can stay healthy, he could be a nice sleeper addition for the Kings. Modin was a key part of the Tampa Bay Lightning's Stanley Cup run in 2004, but the man with the heavy shot has been so injury-prone since that point, it's hard to judge what his effectiveness will be. He did play for Sweden in the Vancouver Olympics and may yet make Kings fans forget Ray Whitney. Regardless, Kings GM Dean Lombardi did not spend much to take a flyer on Modin, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Look for both Modin and Halpern to start out logging bottom-six minutes, but with the potential to move up to a top-six position. Grade: B-minus

Boston sends Derek Morris to Phoenix for 2011 fourth-round pick

Breakdown: A depth move for the Coyotes, which is about all one could have expected from the cash-strapped team. Still, he's a Dave Tippett kind of guy, and the Coyotes need to maintain their hold on a postseason position to make good on their surprising progress this season. Grade: C-plus

Toronto sends Martin Skoula to New Jersey for 2010 fifth-round pick

Breakdown: A year ago, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello shored up his blue line by acquiring Niclas Havelid out of Atlanta. This year, it's another depth move with Skoula coming over from Toronto after the Leafs acquired him from Pittsburgh in the Alexei Ponikarovsky deal. Skoula played for coach Jacques Lemaire for parts of four seasons in Minnesota and will help out. Grade: C-plus

Carolina sends Aaron Ward to Anaheim for conditional 2010 fourth-round pick and goalie Justin Pogge

Breakdown: The Ducks hit the Olympic break playing like a playoff team, and Ward will bring grit and experience to the proceedings. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are thin in terms of healthy goaltenders, and Pogge will get a chance to work himself into the rotation. Grade: C-plus

Carolina sends Scott Walker to Washington for 2010 seventh-round pick

Breakdown: Walker provides another piece to what the Caps hope will be a championship puzzle. He is gritty with playoff experience -- he scored the overtime winner in Game 7 of the second round against Boston last postseason ... and also sucker-punched Aaron Ward in the face during that series. For the Canes, the rebuild continues. Grade: C-plus

Columbus sends Milan Jurcina to Washington for 2010 sixth-round pick

Breakdown: Jurcina started the season in Washington and was dealt to Columbus earlier along with captain Chris Clark for Jason Chimera. Now, Jurcina is back and gives the Caps a lot of size on the back end and better depth than they've ever had. Grade: C-plus

Edmonton sends Steve Staios to Calgary for Aaron Johnson and 2010 third-round pick

Breakdown: The Flames add a warrior in the 36-year-old Staios to their blue line, and the Oilers continued to shed salary, so this should work out for everyone involved. Grade: C




Toronto sends Lee Stempniak to Phoenix for 2010 fourth- and seventh-round picks

Breakdown: The Coyotes continued their trade deadline day reload by adding Stempniak, who has proven to be a useful scorer in the past, scoring 27 times for St. Louis in 2006-07. He struggled in Toronto, scoring just 11 times last season and 14 times this season. He will get a chance for a fresh start in Phoenix, where he will likely get some power-play time. The Leafs continue to pile up draft picks. Grade: C

Vancouver (Manitoba, AHL) sends Mathieu Schneider to Phoenix for minor league defenseman Sean Zimmerman and conditional 2010 sixth-round pick

Breakdown: Vancouver didn't have room for the 40-year-old Schneider, so he will join an interesting mix along the blue line in Phoenix. He's won a Cup, and on a team that will be short on playoff experience come April, Schneider could be a nice, under-the-radar addition. He is recovering from a knee injury, but should soon be ready to join the lineup and will get a chance to help the Coyotes' struggling power play. Grade: C-minus

Anaheim sends Vesa Toskala to Calgary for Curtis McElhinney

Breakdown: Swap of backup goaltenders, which suggests Calgary GM Darryl Sutter either didn't bother to tune into any Toronto Maple Leafs games earlier this season or he thinks he's back in San Jose. Hard to believe Toskala will play any more than McElhinney did as the Flames are do-or-die to make the playoffs. The Ducks are in a similar position, but will have no interest in playing McElhinney. Grade: D-plus

Carolina sends Stephane Yelle, Harrison Reed to Colorado for Cedric McNicoll and 2010 sixth-round pick

Breakdown: Yelle returns to Colorado, where he won a Cup in 2001, and will bring veteran stability for a young Avs team headed unexpectedly to the playoffs. More young assets for GM Jim Rutherford in Carolina. Grade: D-plus




Calgary sends Dustin Boyd to Nashville for fourth-round pick

Breakdown: Depth player for the Preds. Boyd has 19 points in 60 games for the Flames this season. Grade: D

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.