NHL Trade deadline winners

With another NHL trade deadline in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take a look at the five teams that did the best to improve themselves for the stretch drive.

A total of 30 trades went down on Wednesday, but few of them involved big-ticket items.

Most impact players stayed with their teams, either by choice (hello, Tomas Kaberle) or when a fit couldn’t be found (Ray Whitney).

Some of the teams might only reap the rewards down the road like the Toronto Maple Leafs (who shipped out plenty of free agents, cleared some cap space and recouped some draft picks), but there are still some immediate winners:

5) Buffalo Sabres – It was only one move, but picking up free-agent-to-be Raffi Torres for versatile D Nathan Paetsch is an excellent move for a club that wants to make a long playoff run. With Ryan Miller in net, the Sabres are confident and adding Torres’ feistiness and goal-scoring prowess will help.

4) Calgary Flames – We’re not overjoyed by everything Darryl Sutter did at and leading up to the deadline (moving Dustin Boyd for a pick seems a bit odd), but he changed several parts and we’ll see what the results are. After adding D Ian White, C Matt Stajan (already signed to an extension) LW Niklas Hagman and C Jamal Mayers, the Flames upgraded in goal with Vesa Toskala moving in as the backup. Picking up Steve Staios from the Edmonton Oilers gives the D additional depth.

3) New Jersey Devils – Bringing in pending free agent Ilya Kovalchuk for a reasonable package was a stroke of genius by Lou Lamoriello. If he’s a rental, the price tag was worth it and if he takes less money to stay, it’s a huge bonus.

2) Phoenix Coyotes – A second-half swoon doesn’t appear to be in the cards this time around. Despite being run by the NHL, the Coyotes made a splash, picking up Wojtek Wolski, Lee Stempniak, Derek Morris and Mathieu Schneider in moves that bring in a mix of experience and skill. They also added depth with forwards Petteri Nokelainen and Alexandre Picard and AHL goalie Miikka Wiikman. Giving up Peter Mueller seems a bit steep but that move was possible since the Coyotes still have youngsters like Mikkel Bodker and Kyle Turris in the system.

http://blog.canoe.ca/thebrawl/2010/03/03/nhl_trade_deadline_winners