Canadian teams strike out

Tuesday’s NHL trade deadline came and went with a seemingly unprecedented amount of hoopla. With 25 trades involving 45 players and 23 draft picks, it’s remarkable that none of the Canadian teams have improved.

Stanley Cup-winning teams usually don’t make huge splashes at the trade deadline. But given the needs of the six Canadian teams going into the day, here’s why none of them should be feeling satisfied at this point.

Montreal Canadiens: The most baffling trade of the day was when Montreal traded Cristobal Huet, who has been their number-one goaltender for most of the season and was great in the locker room, to the Washington Capitals for a second-round pick. The move hands the goaltending reigns to 20-year-old Carey Price, who has been inconsistent this year to the point where he needed a stint in the minors.

For a team with Cup aspirations, this isn’t the right move. Handing the reigns to Price is fine, but what if he falters? Jaroslav Halak isn’t the guy to take over.

Ottawa Senators: Martin Lapointe, the Senators’ only acquisition at the deadline, is strictly a depth player. He scored 27 goals one year and hasn’t been the same since. He might help a little bit in Ottawa, but there are many more deep-rooted problems there that he can’t even hope to solve. Ray Emery’s act is getting tiresome, and he should have been moved. The team’s in a downward spiral, with the third-worst record in the East since Jan. 1. They were shut out twice in a row for the first time in eight years and have just fired coach John Paddock.

Toronto Maple Leafs: General manager Cliff Fletcher has been handed the keys to a burning house with no hose and no phone to call the fire department, and he’s expected to have the fire out and the place renovated for the next guy.

Getting rid of Wade Belak, Hal Gill and Chad Kilger was a good start, but Toronto failed to get rid of any of their five veterans with grossly inflated salaries. The Leafs now face a much more difficult way to dump salaries, which may involve sending veteran players down to the minors next season.

Calgary Flames: It’s a well-known fact the Flames won’t win the Cup until Jarome Iginla gets a bona-fide centre to set him up. The Flames could have added Peter Forsberg, Brad Richards or Olli Jokinen but lost out on all three. In the super-tight Western Conference, Iginla can’t score by himself. The teams Calgary needs to beat added the likes of Forsberg, Richards, Adam Foote and Brian Campbell. Standing pat wasn’t good enough.

Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers probably did the best they could for themselves. They’re trying to move up in the standings so as not to provide Anaheim with too good a draft pick, so dumping salaries wasn’t really an option. But with no chance to make the playoffs, there was no point in being a buyer. The Oilers certainly didn’t improve through the trade deadline, but they didn’t need to.

Vancouver Canucks: Matt Cooke was a fan favourite in Vancouver: he could grind it out in the corners, kill penalties, score a few timely goals and trash-talk to back it up. Matt Pettinger, his replacement, has two goals in 57 games this year. Cooke’s a player who thrives in the playoffs; Pettinger has never played in the playoffs. The Canucks desperately needed to acquire some scoring at the deadline and didn’t. Roberto Luongo only has so many years left on his contract—they’re going to need some offensive output before he cracks like he did in Florida and refuses to come back.

So with three straight Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup finals, will the Cup finally make its long-awaited return north of the 49th for the first time since 1993?

The answer lies in the hands of a select few: Carey Price, the Senators’ top line, Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, and Roberto Luongo. If any of them pull it off, it’ll be practically by themselves.

Mike Woods would like to clarify he was never asked to waive his no-trade clause and he supports the Journal’s decision not to make any moves at the trade deadline.

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