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Trade winners, losers

By TOM JONES
Published March 12, 2006


Despite a record 25 trades on Thursday, deadline day, the balance of power did not shift. But there were winners and losers. Here's our take:

Winners

OILERS: Give GM Kevin Lowe credit for being aggressive. He got a No. 1 goalie ( Dwayne Roloson) and a speedster ( Sergei Samsonov) who will fly on Edmonton's good ice. Maybe the Oil isn't a Cup contender, but at least it's trying.

HURRICANES: After picking up Doug Weight last month, the 'Canes proved they are going for it all by picking up reliable scorer Mark Recchi, who easily will fill the hole left by the injured Erik Cole.

AVALANCHE: Goalie Jose Theodore has had several good seasons and only this season has been bad. This move might not pay off this season, but it will in future seasons.

PREDATORS: Defenseman Brendan Witt is just what they needed. (And what the Lightning could have used.)

Losers

LIGHTNING: It needed a goalie for the short-term and the long-term. It needed some insurance on defense. It needed a spark. Plenty of goalies and even more defensemen moved, but the Lightning stood pat as the season slips away.

ISLANDERS: The fire sale was not surprising, but still was disappointing for the long-suffering fans on Long Island.

MAPLE LEAFS: The Leafs are not quite good enough to make the playoffs, yet they were neither buyers nor sellers, unless you count picking up sixth defenseman Luke Richardson (which we don't). Standing pat makes no sense.

Around the league

JOSE, CAN YOU SKATE? Speaking of Theodore, he is walking without crutches after breaking his heel and thinks he could be back in three weeks. And he seems happy to be out of Montreal.

"At this point, I think a change was good for my career," he said.

PRICE TOO HIGH: Lightning GM Jay Feaster said the price for rent-a-defensemen was too high and Rangers GM Glen Sather backed Feaster's claims.

"We kicked the tires for a lot of defensemen, but a lot of prices for a lot of defensemen that could all be free agents at the end of the year seemed to be pretty expensive," Sather said. "We weren't willing to give up a first- or second-round pick to get one of these players."

That's what Feaster said, although the Rangers did give up a third-round pick for Sandis Ozolinsh.

SEE YA: Wild coach Jacques Lemaire turned defenseman Willie Mitchell from a jittery, raw kid into a solid defenseman over three seasons. Lemaire thinks Mitchell is among the top 10 in the league. But Lemaire wasn't all that broken up that Mitchell was traded because a new contract could not be worked out, especially after Mitchell left in a huff.

"It's (Mitchell's) decision," Lemaire said. "He feels he could get $3.5-(million), good for him. That's it. I won't lose sleep because we lose a player. He wants to go for the money, go for the money. You know, the Earth is still going to turn. Players, they come and go."

BRIGHT FUTURE: The Panthers re-signing Olli Jokinen to a four-year, $21-million deal and bringing back Chris Gratton for $3-million over two years sent a good message to goalie Roberto Luongo, who will be a free agent this summer.

"It's a positive for the organization that I'm going to take into consideration," Luongo said. "Not only the fact they were able to get (Jokinen) signed, but that there was not a fire sale this year. Those are two huge factors. ... If everything goes well, I'm sure I'll be signing long-term in the future, also."

SO WHAT? The Oilers gave up a first-round pick to get Roloson, and if they don't acquire one, they won't have a first-rounder for the first time in team history.

"The optics of giving up one this year don't bother me," Lowe said. "It's not supposed to be a deep draft."

SECOND PLACE: Flyers GM Bob Clarke was disappointed not to land Recchi and even more disappointed to see him go to Carolina.

"We tried," Clarke said. "We made our best shot and it wasn't enough. ... (Carolina) had a better offer to make than we could have."

ICE CHIPS: St. Louis' Keith Tkachuk stood behind his no-trade clause even though the Blues are lousy. "I want to be a part of this organization," he said. ... Vancouver's Todd Bertuzzi stayed put, but the Canadiens nearly got him for a package that included defenseman Sheldon Souray. ... Of the 25 prominently featured players in Phoenix's media guide, only 11 remain. Twelve have been traded, one ( Brett Hull) retired and the other ( Chris McAllister) is in the minors. ... The Sabres reached the 40-win mark Thursday for the first time since they had 46 in 2000-01. The team record is 49, set in 1974-75 when they lost to the Flyers in the Cup final. In 1998-99, when they lost to Dallas in the final, they had 37 wins.

Information from the Denver Post, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Edmonton Journal, Delaware County Daily Times and St. Louis Post-Dispatch was used in this report.