It was hard to feel joyful immediately after rolling out of bed for the annual trade deadline day festival of speculation followed promptly by mind-destroying boredom. But after about coffee No. 3, the cobwebs subsided, and we all remembered why we do this every year: the trade deadline is hockey’s Christmas.

So thanks, NHL general managers. Yesterday we were toddlers springing from our beds, hoping for a Tickle Me Elmo doll. Instead we were saddled with a hand-me-down Cabbage Patch Kid with one eye missing. At least we received a thorough breakdown of Team Canada’s potential 2014 Olympic roster.

The final tally of the day’s movement was 15 trades involving 30 players and 11 draft picks. As the deadline day hangover begins to subside, it’s difficult to resist lamenting and venting about another dud (see: the last two paragraphs). But although the emphasis is heavily on this one day, the trade deadline inspires a whole season of trading encompassing the entire month of February.

With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the top three buyers on this year’s market, and assess their moves during the yearly late winter roster shuffle.

The deadline’s sellers are on deck for tomorrow.

Top buyers

Boston Bruins

Additions: Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly, Boris Valabik, David Laliberte, Stefan Chaput.

Subtractions: Brian McGratton, Sean Zimmerman, Blake Wheeler, Mark Stuart, Joe Colbourne 2nd round pick (to Ottawa for Kelly), 1st round pick (to Toronto for Kaberle), conditional pick (to Toronto for Kaberle)

A team that has the league’s fourth most points deploys a middle tier powerplay (ranked 14th with a 17.6 success rate). The acquisition of Kaberle to tee up Zdeno Chara’s cannon will greatly help the Bruins to move up the that ladder.

There was a time that Kaberle was paired with a similar boomer from the point, and that worked out pretty well in Toronto when Bryan McCabe tallied 26 of his 53 points in 2003-04 on the powerplay.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Additions: James Neal, Matt Niskanen, Alex Kovalev

Subtractions: Alex Goligoski, conditional 7th round pick (to Ottawa for Kovalev)

The black hole that’s sucked nearly all of Pittsburgh’s key talent into injury oblivion is well documented, with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out long-term, and Chris Kunitz set to miss his 11th game Wednesday night. It’s remarkable the Pens have avoided an implosion, and Ray Shero’s mugging of Joe Nieuwendyk should keep that spark going at least temporarily.

But this is still an offence missing 92 goals from last season because of those three major injuries. Combined Kovalev and Neal scored 45 in 2009-10.

Philadelphia Flyers

Additions: Kris Versteeg, Greg Moore, Michael Chaput

Subtractions: First and third round picks (to Toronto for Kaberle), Tom Sesito

Let’s consider a hypothetical, because they’re always fun, and they’re guaranteed to play out perfectly.

If we were to set the 2011 draft order according to the standings as of today, the Versteeg trade would net Toronto the 29th overall pick in the first round. As first round picks go, that’s clearly a large dart board in a very dark room.

In the last 15 drafts, seven players selected at that position have yet to play an NHL game. Mike Green was taken off the board at 29th in 2004, and he’s scored 244 points over 366 games. Jonathan Cheechoo excelled for a few seasons in San Jose before his career went into a tailspin. Niklas Kronwall has been a sturdy, physical defenceman in Detroit, and Steve Downie has been effective when he’s not being dangerously reckless.

Aside from those four, there have been a combined 733 games played by players taken with the 29th pick over the past 15 years. Here’s the full list:

  • Emerson Etem (2010)
  • Carter Ashton (2009)
  • Daultan Leveille (2008)
  • Jim O’Brien (2007)
  • Chris Summers (2006)
  • Steve Downie (2005)
  • Mike Green (2004)
  • Patrick Eaves (2003)
  • Hannu Toivonen (2002)
  • Adam Munro (2001)
  • Niklas Kronwall (2000)
  • Michal Sivek (1999)
  • Jonathan Cheechoo (1998)
  • Scott Barney (1997)
  • Dan LaCouture (1996)