Deadline passes with no Wild moves; Jokinen to Calgary; Olvecky clears waivers

Posted on March 4th, 2009 – 11:31 AM
By Michael Russo

(updated) 

As you know, Peter Olvecky cleared waivers.

Two gems so far from practice:

Marc-Andre Bergeron looked at me and said, “I made it.”
Jacques Lemaire said, “I wasn’t traded. You have to accept me for at least a month-and-a-half more.”
What do you think that means?

Real quick update from practice: Andrew Brunette didn’t practice today but is expected to play tomorrow. Also, Lemaire announced, “This is our crew.”

He also said something tells him Marian Gaborik will skate with the team when the Wild returns from Minnesota. Asked if it’s “something’s telling him or someone,” he said, “someone.”

Now, can the Wild, which has lost four in a row and three in a row on the road trip, weather the rest of this trip?

I’ll be on KSTP am 1500 tonight at 7 for Russo Radio.

The deadline came and went without the Wild making a move. I just got off the phone with GM Doug Risebrough, and he said, “This is our team.”

Risebrough said it was quiet for him all day. The team maintains that it will not trade its core players like Mikko Koivu and Brent Burns or its young talent like James Sheppard, Colton Gillies and Tyler Cuma.

What that left were UFA’s like Stephane Veilleux and Marc-Andre Bergeron, and there clearly wasn’t a market or the Wild would have likely moved them. Risebrough said there just wasn’t a “fit.”

This has been the quietest trade deadline leaguewide I’ve ever seen. It clearly has to do with how many teams are close to the salary cap ceiling and how uncertain the economic future is in the league. Teams are also not willing to give up prospects and high draft picks unless it’s guaranteed they’re going to go far.

I was told by a very good source that Marian Gaborik was in play, but clearly the Wild wasn’t able to find a market. Asked if he tried to trade Gaborik, Risebrough would only say, “No.” Like I said, I trust my source though, and it would make no sense that the Wild wouldn’t at least dangle a carrot.

Assistant GM Tom Lynn said the Wild was in a “major deal” up until this morning, and then it fell through. Talking just now to Risebrough, and reading between the lines as you’ll read tomorrow, I think it was for Jokinen again. The Wild was just not willing to give up a young player and definitely not willing to give up a first-round pick in any big deal, Risebrough said.

Biggest trade of the day as you know was Jokinen going to Calgary for Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust and a first. Big price, big get.

To me, this automatically elevates the Flames to a true contender. They’re flying right now, and Jokinen, I bet, will become the Jokinen of old simply because he’s reunited with coach Mike Keenan.

I covered the two of them in you know where. Jokinen literally was preparing to quit the NHL before Iron Mike delivered his tough love. Jokinen took to it immediately, and Keenan massaged a star out of him.

The other huge move of the day thus far is Columbus acquiring center Antoine Vermette for goalie Pascal Leclaire and a second. I heard this the other day from a stellar source, so much so, that I emailed my editor just as he was leaving for the weekend on Friday and asked him to insert a line into Columbus for my Sunday column that the Jackets were pursuing Vermette. 

The Jackets need to make the playoffs, and they desperately needed a center. With Steve Mason established in goal and the team’s future in goal, they were able to parlay an asset like Leclaire into Vermette.

Other interesting move of the day was Brendan Morrison being picked up by Dallas. Morrison, whom the Wild pursued as a free last summer, has struggled dramatically this season in his return from reconstructive knee surgery. But clearly the Stars, in need of a center, were willing to take a gamble with him.

OK, the Wild plan just landed. Practice is at 3:30 CT. More later.

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