Waiting For the Deal That Never Came
Sure, it was news that Vesa Toskala headed East to Toronto to audition for the starting job with the Maple Leafs. The deal that reunited Adrian Aucoin with Mike Keenan in Calgary is one that's got tons of upside if Aucoin can straighten his game out under Iron Mike. And the trade that shipped Tomas Vokoun to Florida seemed to make sense, then none at all once Preds owner Craig Leipold started making noises about possibly finding another buyer for his team.
At one point on Friday morning, Anaheim General Manager Brian Burke started a mini-stampede of writers out of the media workroom at the Hyatt Regency when he mentioned that Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli was holding court in the lobby to possibly announce a deal that would have sent Minnesota goalie Manny Fernandez to Boston. Video camera in hand, I shot out of the room with a knot of others to get to the lobby, only to discover that it was all a false alarm and Chiarelli was doing nothing more than fielding questions while not having a lot to say.
With that, I headed over to the Nationwide Arena for the first round. Having checked in early the night before, I got waived inside without a problem, while my fellow Fanhouser Greg Wyshynski was stuck in registration Hell just inside the front door. After getting set up, I was able to get away from the media riser long enough to visit with a knot of bloggers who were in town for the draft.
Believe me folks, that's tougher than it looks. Such is life for the NHL GM in the 21st century.
I'll always maintain that the best part of sports blogging has been getting the chance to meet like-minded folks from all over the country who love hockey as much as I do. Thanks to End of the Bench and Army of the Ohio for putting on a nice little get together, one that afforded me the opportunity to also meet the famous Acid Queen from Carolina and Tapeleg from Colorado.
I also found out that I look like Tony Soprano. Such advice you cannot buy. I guess it might be time to invest in that hair weave.
After saying my goodbyes it was off to the media riser, set up all the way across from the arena from the stage. In the back of my mind was an interview Caps GM George McPhee did with Mike Vogel the night before where he pegged the chance of trading the team's top pick, #5 overall, at 40%. And before McPhee made his way to the stage to announce the pick, he stopped to chat with Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe for a while.
Here it was, the deal I'd been waiting for. Here was the moment where the team was going to kick their rebuilding plan for 2007-08 into gear, and flip that fifth pick for an NHL player who could step in and play major minutes right now and plug one of the big holes in the lineup -- perhaps this was the deal that would bring a top-line center to Washington to play alongside Alex Ovechkin?
But alas, it was not to be. McPhee left Lowe behind, and promptly took Karl Alzner with his top pick -- one that I couldn't help but be impressed with later on when I got a chance to see him up close.
Later on, there were a couple of trades, but only swaps of picks as teams moved up and down, and positioned themselves for the 2008 Entry Draft in Ottawa, one that promises to feature a far deeper talent pool.
By the time I left town on Saturday morning, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed at not seeing any big deals materialize. Then again, it's clear that we won't have much more time to wait, as another clock begins to count down to July 1.