Wednesday, February 23, 2011

After The Whistle: Who won the pre-deadline flurry?

Boston landed defenceman Tomas Kaberle from Toronto during the pre-deadline trade frenzy. (Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

After The Whistle: Who won the pre-deadline flurry?

Each week hockey columnist Scott Morrison and his protegé, senior hockey writer Tim Wharnsby, exchange (mostly) friendly banter on the latest storylines in the NHL.

1. Of the recent pre-trade deadline flurry, which team has improved the most?

MORRISON: I would say Boston probably has improved the most so far, but you have to remember some teams don't have to do much, except minor tinkering if anything. So it is hard to compare. I like Philly adding Kris Versteeg but I think Tomas Kaberle will really help Boston and the Rich Peverley deal is a good one for them, as well.

WHARNSBY: I'll toss my support behind Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero and his pickup of forward James Neal and defenceman Matt Niskanen from the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenceman Alex Goligoski. Playing alongside Sidney Crosby, I could see Neal developing into a 35- or 40-goal scorer.

2. What was your favourite story from the past week?

WHARNSBY: Although Edmonton's three-game winning streak was snapped on Tuesday, it was neat to see the way the Oilers responded to general manager Steve Tambellini's stern address a week ago. Most Edmonton fans probably want their team to finish 30th to have the best chance at the first overall pick in the draft lottery, but it would be good for the development of the young team to at least better its point total of a season ago. The Oilers need 17 points with 22 games remaining to pass last year's 62-point total.

MORRISON: My favourite story is that we actually had a couple of honest-to-goodness "hockey" trades in the Colorado-St. Louis and Dallas-Pittsburgh deals. How refreshing is that? I don't know how they can do it, but in the next CBA the NHL and the Players' Association will have to find a way to allow for more player movement during the season, and for deals like those ones to happen.

3. Do you want to see the Tim Hortons Heritage Classic continue?

MORRISON: I would like to see it continue, but not necessarily every year. I don't think Canadian teams should be excluded from having outdoor games, but I worry that two (or more) every year will start to take away some of the lustre. Like the old cliché goes, sometimes less is more, and that may apply now.

WHARNSBY: I believe the NHL should let every Canadian team have a crack at playing host to an outdoor game, and then after the first tour of duty is completed, the players and owners can take stock. People who criticize this sort of event often forget about what the fans want. If Calgary was representative of the four Canadian cities that haven't yet hosted an outdoor game — Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver — there is an appetite to whet out there.