Forget about college basketball, the NHL trading deadline has come and gone, and now the real March Madness can begin, along with the April Madness, and the May Madness, and the…well you get my point!

As usual there were rumors and then there were actual deals. The biggest trades actually went down weeks before the deadline, with a few last ditch attempts to either make or break a team’s roster with seconds to go. Here then, I give the lowdown on what, if anything, the deals made will mean to their respective teams. The circus has left town, now it’s time to get down to business and play hockey!

The trades, as they happened:

Jan 30 – Anaheim acquires D Sandis Ozolinsh and LW/D Lance Ward from Florida for C Matt Cullen and D Pavel Trnka and a 4th round draft pick in 2003.

The lowdown: Anaheim has helped bolster their defense for the stretch drive with veteran Ozolinsh, and find themselves in a position to actually quack their way into the postseason. Ozolinsh has Stanley Cup playoff experience which should help pay dividends. Florida clearly will be looking to rebuild, with or without Mike Keenan. Matt Cullen can score, but is still a young developing player. Watch Florida at the draft to see if they gain any benefit from this trade. Watch out for the Ducks in the first round.

The winner: Anaheim will be able to ruffle more than a few feathers with this one.

Feb 5 – Philadelphia makes two small deals. First, they acquire D Chris McAllister from Colorado for a 2003 6th round pick, and then they get LW Todd Warriner from Vancouver for future considerations. They later would dangle Warriner out there as further trade bait closer to the deadline, but would anybody bite? Keep reading to find out.

The lowdown: Philly does this every year, a little tweaking here and there to add to their depth. Quite frankly, these are both players their respective teams didn’t want and didn’t feel were worth paying for. McAllister can be inserted on D if a veteran goes down to injury. If the Flyers go far in the playoffs, don’t count on either one of these players to be dominating the playoff scoring race, however, one or both could turn into overtime heroes.

The winner: A tie, but only if Philly gets out of the two players what they hoped to get when they dealt for them, otherwise, give future considerations the winner’s circle for both Vancouver and Colorado.

Feb 7 – Philadelphia deals again, this time sending RW Pavel Brendl and D Bruno St Jacques to Carolina for LW Sami Kapanen and D Ryan Bast.

The lowdown: Immediate dividends were paid to Philly as they quickly found out what a prolific scorer Kapanen is. Carolina clearly looking to rebuild as it appears their Stanley Cup final appearance was a fluke after all. In Brendl they get a fast skater who can put the puck in the net.

The winner: Philadelphia for the stretch run and playoffs, Carolina for the future. Call this one a draw.

Feb 9 & 10 - Pittsburgh starts to clean house, as they get D Shawn Heins for a draft pick from San Jose on the 9th, and sends Andrew Ference to Calgary on the 10th.

The lowdown: As you’ll read in the next section, Pittsburgh is in financial trouble and has to free up some salary dollars just to break even. Ference’s physical presence could be just what the doctor ordered in Calgary, but not this year.

The winner: Calgary, for gaining some grit. This should help them next year as they’re too far out of the race right now to be able to do anything.

Feb 10 – Pittsburgh makes a blockbuster deal as they send RW Alexei Kovalev, C Dan LaCouture, D Janne Laukannen and D Mike Wilson to the New York Rangers in exchange for RW Mikael Samuelsson, RW Rico Fata, D Joel Bouchard, D Richard Lintner, and four million bucks.

The lowdown: We’ve only been hearing about this trade since training camp, and finally the Pens have done it. We actually thought this would go down before or during the All-Star break. Well better late than never. Kovalev rejoins the team he won the Stanley Cup with in 1994, and the Rangers get a good solid defenseman in Laukannen, when he’s healthy. LaCouture could be inserted on the third or fourth line. The Pens get younger talent in return for cheaper and get some money to be able to make their payroll.

The winner: The Rangers, even if they don’t make the playoffs. From a financial standpoint, Pittsburgh eases the debt load a little bit. Don’t let Mario retire just yet, maybe the Rangers can lure him to Broadway before they have to fold the Dome.

Feb 17 – Nashville gets F Jon Sim from Dallas for D Bubba Berenzweig and a conditional 2004 draft pick.

The lowdown: Dallas needed to make room on their roster for Claude Lemieux, who was acquired earlier in the year strictly for the playoff run. Nashville needs all the help they can get as they are making the stretch run very interesting. Could this be a first round matchup?

The winner: Call it even.

Feb 24 – New Jersey gets C Pascal Rheaume from Atlanta for a conditional 2004 draft pick.

The lowdown: Atlanta is already in the rebuilding phase, and New Jersey needs some help for the playoffs. For some reason, the players don’t like and can’t buy into Pat Burns’ system.

The winner: New Jersey but only if Rheaume continues to be a sneaky little sniper. Whether or not he likes it, he should fit well into Burns’ style of play.

Feb 25 – Ottawa gets F Vaclav Varada and a 5th round draft pick in 2003 from Buffalo in exchange for C Jakub Klepis.

The lowdown: One of the Senators’ biggest criticisms is they aren’t tough enough, aren’t gritty enough and don’t have anybody to mix it up along the boards. Well with Varada, this all changes, albeit temporarily. He helped fire up the team in a 3-2 overtime win against Dallas, but then was virtually non-existent against Tampa Bay and left the game vs Toronto with a leg injury and is listed as day-to-day. The Sens got him for the playoffs, and with him and a healthy Senators lineup, this team will be a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference. Buffalo gets young talent as they get the Senators’ first round pick from 2002 in Klepis, who has yet to see NHL action. It goes to show you the amount of depth the Senators have when they can deal future assets and not mess with their existing chemistry. There are very few teams who can do that, and we can applaud the Senators for their scouting and careful draft picking.

The winner: Ottawa. Bring on the playoffs and whatever you do don’t blink!

Mar 1 – Philadelphia gets D Dmitri Yushkevich from Los Angeles for a 2003 4th round draft pick and a 2004 4th round draft pick.

The lowdown: Since it appears likely the Flyers will meet the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, I think this trade was made more to enable Philly to intimidate their probable opponent. If you’ll recall, the Leafs sent Yushkevich packing in the off season, and he apparently wants an opportunity to show Toronto they were wrong to give up on him. Los Angeles will get some future talent depending on who they pick up with the draft picks.

The winner: Philadelphia gets even stronger on defense. Look out Toronto.

Mar 3 – Nashville gets RW Oleg Petrov from Montreal for a 2003 4th round draft pick.

The lowdown: Nobody knows for sure what happened with Petrov in Montreal, and neither side is talking. What we do know is Petrov for some reason or another was no longer welcome in Habs-ville, and their loss is the Predators’ gain. I figure since Montreal will be extremely lucky to even qualify for the postseason, better clean house now and at least get a draft pick out of it rather than lose him to free agency.

The winner: Nashville if they make the playoffs, Montreal if they don’t.

Mar 4 – Ottawa gets F Joey Tetarenko from Florida for G Simon Lajeunesse.

The lowdown: First Florida gets Jani Hurme out of Ottawa earlier in the season and now they get another young goaltender in Simon Lajeunesse. I mentioned before the Senators have more depth than most teams in the NHL, especially in the goaltending position. With Lalime and Prusek holding the fort on the big club, the Senators have at least five good goaltenders in their minor league system, and can afford to give one up. With Tetarenko, the Sens get another tough customer. Marian Hossa knows him very well, he captained the 1998 Memorial Cup Champion Portland Winterhawks, which Hossa was a part of. Maybe the Brad May rumors will go away now, but word out there is the Sens are looking to make one more deal before the deadline.

Mar 5 – Toronto sends C Alyn McCauley, D Brad Boyes and a 1st round draft pick to San Jose for RW Owen Nolan.

The lowdown: First the Buds make fools of themselves in Ottawa, then they go and trade for an injury riddled rent-a-forward who didn’t look too good last time I saw him play. Nolan took a hit against Calgary and need to be helped off the ice with back spasms, and the Leafs think this guy can help them win in the playoffs? Granted, he had two goals in his Leaf debut. Look for Alyn McCauley to have a breakout year next season with the Sharks, now that he doesn’t have to play for the Goon Patrol. Brad Boyes is an exciting young player who will prove to Toronto they were wrong to give up on him. After all, he only has 23 goals and 28 assists in 65 games in the minors with St. John’s. In comparison, Nolan has 24 goals 20 assists in 62 games. Oh well, Toronto can afford the escalated salary, or can they? Then there’s the draft pick. San Jose has as good a chance as anybody to wind up with the first overall pick. Clearly this is not the type of scoring the Leafs are looking for, but who really knows the kind of logic going on in Pat Quinn’s head? To add insult to injury, most Leaf fans are behind the deal 100%, thinking for some reason this will bring a Stanley Cup to Toronto, although Nolan’s production has shown promise. Did I miss something here?

The winner: San Jose, as Toronto has proved once again they aren’t ever going to win the Stanley Cup again in this lifetime, not if they keep employing trade deadline rental players. If San Jose wins the draft lottery, they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank over this one. What Toronto really needed was a solid defenseman or two. Where’s Dmitri Yushkevich? Oh yeah, I forgot, he’s playing musical teams, the latest stop being Philadelphia.

Mar 8 – Phoenix acquires D Brad Ference from Florida for LW Darcy Hordichuk and a 2003 second round draft pick.

The lowdown: I guess Florida wasn’t very impressed with Ference’s tussle with Mario Lemieux, as they’ve shipped him off to the desert for a mediocre forward who may have better years ahead of him. Both teams essentially are cleaning house as neither have any hope of making the playoffs this year. The key in this deal is the draft pick.

The winner: Florida, but only if they use the draft pick wisely. Otherwise call it even.

Mar 8 – Colorado gets D Bryan Marchment from San Jose for 3rd and 5th round draft picks in 2003.

The lowdown: Well I guess the Avalanche weren’t satisfied with the Claude Lemieux-Kris Draper incident from a few years back! I guess they felt they have to do whatever it takes to keep the everlasting rivalry alive between themselves and Detroit. After hearing of this deal I got a sickening thought and felt sick to my stomach. Picture Marchment in a seven game series vs the Wings, he decides to go knee on knee with either Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan or even, dare I say it, Draper. Immediately the blood boils and I see visions of Chris Chelios going after Marchment and pounding him into the ice, attempting to make his face a permanent part of it (no zamboni will be able to get the red out). A brawl erupts on the ice, with even Curtis “Cujo” “Mad Dog” Joseph duking it out with Patrick “I can’t hear you due to the fact I have four Stanley Cups ringing in my ears” Roy. Think it can’t or won’t happen? Consider Marchment’s history. Some say he’s a great defenseman who won’t take any crap from anybody. Others (myself included) consider him to be a dirty, cheap shot artist who may play hard and competitive, but more often than not at the cost of another team’s player. I’m still waiting for the day when Marchment angers the wrong player and gets banished from the league a la Marty McSorley. It will happen, just a matter of when. For the sake of the game, I just hope it’s not at the expense of somebody’s career. Bad, bad move, Colorado; this is a definite step backward, not forward. No Stanley Cup for you!

The winner: San Jose, for not only getting rid of a cancer on their team, but for getting something back in return in the way of future players, hopefully one of them a good rugged defenseman.

Mar 9 – Toronto gets D Glen Wesley from Carolina for a 2004 4th round draft pick

The lowdown: Carolina is obviously in a rebuilding stage. They’ve gone from nearly champs last season to chumps this season. Wesley waived his no-trade clause for the chance to play for a contender. In fact, apparently the clause was only waived in the event a trade to Toronto could be worked out. Edmonton and Tampa Bay were interested as well, but Wesley was not. Now I have just one request for Glen. Don’t break a perfectly good hockey stick across the crossbar of the net when the Leafs are eliminated in the first or second round and one of either Tampa Bay or Edmonton or both advance. Although it’s a good move for Toronto, maybe one more move for another solid defenseman is what they really need. Granted, Wesley has experience in getting to the finals. Quite frankly, the Leafs will only go as far as their goalie Belfour can go, period. If the regular season is any indication, “The Eagle” still has some work to do and had better settle down once April rolls around, not to mention the entire team has to do something they haven’t been able to do all year, be disciplined and stay out of penalty trouble.

The winner: Toronto, but it’s still not going to get them into the finals. One of these days Pat Quinn will realize you can’t buy the Stanley Cup, you have to win it first. However, you can’t blame them for trying, and it should be interesting to watch.

Mar 9 – Nashville gets G Wade Flaherty from Florida for D Pascal Trepanier

The lowdown: I have a question. When you’re right in the middle of the race for a playoff spot, why make a trade, especially when it involves one of your best defensemen? Trepanier has been solid all season long on the blue line for the Predators. Sure, he’s not Andy Delmore, but he’s been there for the team. And I thought Nashville had faith enough in their goaltender Tomas Vokoun? I don’t understand this trade at all. I know Florida is rebuilding, but Nashville at the time I’m typing this is only five points out of 8th in the West! This is certainly not time to be tinkering with chemistry. OK, granted, the Predators will get a solid backup goaltender, but when a team is as close as they are to getting to the dance, you ride with the goaltender who has got you this far and hope for the best. I guess the folks in music city haven’t learned this yet.

The winner: Call it even, Florida is too far out of it, and Nashville better pull up their socks and stop making silly trades like this and go with the team they have. They may surprise themselves and the league if they do.

Mar 9 – Philadelphia gets C Claude Lapointe from the New York Islanders for a draft pick. The Islanders then get Randy Robitaille from Pittsburgh, also for a draft pick.

The lowdown: At first this deal was shaping up as a three way deal between Philly, the Islanders and Pittsburgh, with the third part of the puzzle being Todd Warriner going from Philly to the Pens. It didn’t happen, and Warriner remains a Flyer, for now. The Flyers add to their scoring depth with Lapointe, as the Islanders don’t lose a player to free agency. Pittsburgh continues to liquidate their assets. Why is Mario still hanging around?

The winner: Philadelphia makes a point; they’re going for home ice in the first round.

Mar 10 – Ottawa gets tough RW Rob Ray from Buffalo for future considerations; later in the day they add C Bob Wren from Nashville, also for future considerations.

The lowdown: Huge deal for the Sens. With Ray, Ottawa can psyche out the opposition and send in Chris Neil for some added goal production. Neil can score, just doesn’t get the opportunity to do so as his role has been primarily enforcer. Since a few players have had to be called up from Binghamton due to injuries, Wren can add some depth. The Senators are sending the message they are for real, and we still have a day to go before the deadline.

The winner: Ottawa. They give up nothing (yet) and gain more of the grit they’ve been criticized for lacking, while presumably gaining some respect from the rest of the league. If they keep this up they may have to consider changing their name to the WWE. Mark April 5th on your calendars, that’s when the Sens meet the Leafs in their final meeting of the regular season, and rumor has it the NHL is planning to try out a three referee system in this one.

Mar 10 – Dallas gives up prospect Mike Ryan and a future prospect in a 2nd round draft pick in 2003 to Buffalo in return for C Stu Barnes; also get D Lyle Odelein from Chicago for future considerations.

The lowdown: “Stuntman” Stu is in the house. Barnes has been a proven playoff performer, and this year he’ll get to play for a change. Those won’t be boos you’ll hear, that will be the sound of the fans yelling “Stu!” in unison. By the same token, Barnes will be able to fill in for Bill Guerin should he not be able to return from injury in time for the playoffs. With Odelein they add yet more experience to their blue line. Buffalo gets some future talent, that’s if they can stay afloat financially.

The winner: Dallas, but somehow I don’t think they’re done.

Mar 10 – New Jersey gets RW Grant Marshall from Columbus for a conditional 2004 draft pick; in a separate deal get D Richard Smehlik from Atlanta for a 4th round draft pick in 2003.

The lowdown: Grant Marshall plays rent-a-player again as New Jersey tries their luck with this proven playoff forward. Ask the Edmonton Oilers how many timely goals he’s scored when it counts. As for Smehlik the Devils possibly set themselves up for more deals on deadline day, as they didn’t really need a defenseman.

The winner: New Jersey. More deals in the works here?

Mar 10 – Philadelphia gets F Tony Amonte from Phoenix for F Guillame Lefebvre and a pair of draft picks.

The lowdown: Amonte reunites with Roenick for what Bobby Clarke hopes will be a lethal one-two punch. If they can ever get John LeClair back in their lineup, they could take off their Flyers jerseys and put on their Team U.S.A. jerseys! Can Tony & Jeremy rekindle the magic from their Chicago Blackhawk days and can they get along with Ken Hitchcock? Time will tell. Personally I think Philly needs a better goalie if they have any hope at all. The dogs of course are and have been rebuilding since the All-Star break. Look for them to continue chasing their tails.

The winner: Philadelphia sends a message to Toronto in response to the Owen Nolan deal, two can play this game.

Mar 10 – Phoenix gets F Chris Gratton from Buffalo for F Daniel Briere.

The lowdown: Buffalo continues to unload hefty contracts and acquire a younger cheaper player who can put the puck in the net.

The winner: Call it even, as neither team will be making it to the postseason.

D-DAY - Mar 11

A record 24 deadline deals were made involving 46 players. There’s never been a busier trade deadline. I’ll line up all the deals done on D-Day, and then I’ll give my two cents. Don’t forget to breathe.

Detroit gets D Mathieu Scheider from Los Angeles for C Sean Avery, D Maxim Kuznetzov and a pair of draft picks, a 1st rounder in 2003 and a 2nd rounder in 2004 – Detroit sells the farm for a has-been-second-rate D-man.

San Jose sends RW Matt Bradley to Pittsburgh for C Wayne Primeau – Anybody left in Pittsburgh other than Mario?

Nashville claims F Todd Warriner off waivers from Philadelphia – Let’s play musical teams!

Atlanta acquires RW Anthony Aquino from Dallas for a sixth round draft pick in 2003 – Who?

Tampa Bay claims D Janne Laukannen off waivers from the New York Rangers – Former Senators D-man joins his fourth team in four years.

Colorado gets F Bates Battaglia from Carolina for F Radim Vrbata – If last year was a fluke, may as well rebuild!

St. Louis sends D Mike Van Ryn to Florida to St. Louis for RW Valeri Bure and a conditional 5th round draft pick in 2004 – The Cats will laugh all the way to the bank over this one.

Phoenix gets F Jan Hrdina and D Francois Leroux from Pittsburgh for F Ramzi Abid, D Dan Focht and F Guillame Lefebvre – Rumor has it Lefebvre’s luggage will arrive tomorrow.

Edmonton trades RW Anson Carter and D Ales Pisa to the New York Rangers for F Radek Dvorak and D Cory Cross – While Kevin Lowe is at it he may as well ship Marchant, Smyth and Comrie to Siberia for a box of pucks!

Ottawa acquires C Bryan Smolinski from Los Angeles for prospect D Tim Gleason – While everyone else was treating the trading deadline like an auction, John Muckler was adding to rather than subtracting from his team.

Philadelphia gets C Peter White from Chicago for future considerations – Philly needs to stock their farm team too.

Minnesota acquires G Johan Holmqvist from the New York Rangers for D Lawrence Nycholat – The Wild stock up in net as they prepare for their first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Boston gets LW Ian Moran from Pittsburgh for a 4th round draft pick in 2003 – Have the Bruins found a possible line mate for Martin Lapointe?

Chicago sends F Steve Thomas to Anaheim for a 5th round pick in 2003 – Paul Kariya, Adam Oates and Stumpy is a scary line combination.

The New York Islanders get D Janne Niinimaa and a 2nd round draft pick in 2003 from Edmonton for F Brad Isbister and F Raffi Torres – Why do you trade a defenseman when your team is already weak in the position?

Toronto gets D Phil Housley from Chicago for 4th and 9th round draft picks in 2003 – Proof there is life after Geritol and Viagra.

Pittsburgh gets F Brian Holzinger from Tampa Bay for D Marc Bergevin – The wingless birds are breaking up faster than the ice underneath them.

San Jose sends D Dan McGillis to Boston for a 2nd round draft pick in 2003 – Boston bulks up on D for the stretch run.

Toronto gets C Doug Gilmour from Montreal for a 6th round draft pick in 2003 – Killer’s last stand.

Anaheim sends G J.F. Damphousse and D Mike Commodore to Calgary for F Rob Niedermayer – The Ducks are starting to live up to their mighty name.

Calgary gets RW Shean Donovan from Pittsburgh for C Mattias Johannson and D Micki Dupont – “They call them mellow yellow…”

St. Louis gets G Chris Osgood and a 2nd round draft pick in 2003 from the New York Islanders for C Justin Papineau and a 3rd round pick in 2003 – The Blues were going nowhere fast without a goalie and they know it.

Nashville gets D Alex Riazantsev from Colorado for a 7th round pick in 2003 – Did you pick him in your hockey pool?

Chicago sends F Sergei Berezin to Washington for a 4th round draft pick in 2003 – Just what the Caps needed, another fancy forward.

Calgary gets LW Dean McAmmond from Colorado for a 5th round draft pick in 2003 – Wait a minute! Doesn’t this trade violate a clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and a bylaw in the league’s constitution which is supposed to prevent a player traded from one team to another within four weeks of the waiver draft from being dealt back to the same team in the same season? Doh! Apparently there was so much action on D-Day even the league didn’t catch up with this one until two days after the fact. As such the deal will be considered null and void pending an investigation and McAmmond will be banished from playing until next year. Oops, oh my!

And finally, Vancouver acquires the services of F Brad May from Phoenix for a conditional 2nd or 3rd round draft pick – Brian Burke says he is happy with his team the way it is but still couldn’t pass this one up.

As usual were the rumors providing all the hype for D-day which ended up dead long before the strike of three. The list is endless. Players such as Darcy Tucker, Tommy Salo, Jarome Iginla, Miroslav Satan, Magnus Arvedson, Scott Thornton, and more can breathe easy as they will remain with their respective teams, at least until the summer.

Did anybody happen to notice Chicago putting Theoren Fleury on waivers? With all the trading going on how could you? Word out there is the Hawks will buy out Fleury’s contract in the off season, and Fleury will really have one of two choices: retire, or sign with another team for less money. Seems Fleury wants to finish his career in Calgary, and apparently the Flames will welcome him back with open arms. We’ll be sure and keep an eye on this story as it develops.

For now, though, it’s time to forget about the deadline and focus on the stretch drive. Some real treats are in store as the playoffs are just around the corner, and time will tell which team did the smartest wheeling and dealing. By June we will know for sure. Until then, there’s a lot of hockey to be played, so sit back and enjoy! I know I will.

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