It's the night before "Deadline-Day", and all is not quiet in the NHL. Two teams who many thought would be very active, jumped right into the fray. The current cellar-dwellers of the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning got things started by re-signing highly sought after, pending free agent Dan Boyle. Boyle was one of the top defensemen supposedly available and the Lightning made a wise move locking him up. But by doing so at almost 7 million per year, it appears that they have some clearing to do salary cap wise before next year.
The Bolts started the fire sale by moving disgruntled winger Vaclav Prospal to the Philadelphia Flyers for prospect Alexandre Picard and a conditional draft pick in the 2009 draft. While Prospal scored a respectable 29 goals, he has also been openly feuding with coach John Tortorella and already had one foot out the door. Could Brad Richards be next? Someone big has to go in order to make room for Boyle's huge new contract.
The Flyers need all the help they can get right now and probably won't be done dealing. My feeling is that Prospal will not be enough to make any notable difference for them.
In other big news, Toronto's Mats Sundin refused to release his no trade clause and will not be going anywhere on deadline day. Sundin stated that he did not believe in the "rental player" system and did not want to leave the Leafs. While I would never question the big Swede's integrity, I do question his logic. This was a golden opportunity for the Leafs to improve themselves for the future, and Sundin just squashed it. If he truly loved the Leafs and intended to play in Toronto again next year, how does this decision help the franchise? How does it help him to win a Cup? Mats has every right to make the decision he did and not be questioned about it, but personally I think that if he really loved the Maple Leafs, then it's a dead-end move for the organization.
At least Sundin has been consistent with what he has been saying. An agent for another high-profile player, Peter Forsberg was quoted just a week ago saying that the player's foot injury was too shaky for him to be making a comeback in the NHL this year. Apparently "Peter the Great" made a miraculous recovery though because he just signed with his former team, the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs are also activating Joe Sakic and will be making a big playoff push, but will their inconsistent goaltending hold up any better than Forsberg's creaky feet?
This is one of the most interesting and exciting days in hockey, and hopefully I will be able to leave some comments and opinions about some of the deals that transpire. It's fascinating that there are some teams like Chicago and Atlanta who have almost their entire rosters available for the taking, and other teams like Montreal and Ottawa, ready to bet the farm so that they can get the one key player they think will put them over the top. (Marian Hossa).
On top of all of this, the Hurricanes have a big game tonight at the RBC against those dreaded Devils. I'll have my normal pre-game thread up after lunch.