It was a ton of work, and now the next couple months for the Coyotes, well, they could be miserable.
“I think you’re being kind,” joked Maloney.
It’s not going to be easy winning games without Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle. Things weren’t going particularly well when they were around, after all.
But during the course of the weekend and Monday’s deadline day, no team did more to improve the future outlook of their team than the Coyotes. It was dramatic, and the rebuild in Arizona was absolutely fast-tracked.
“You always hope so, No. 1,” Maloney said when we chatted on Monday evening. “It may depend on how this draft goes and where we end up drafting. Obviously, if we draft very high in the top couple slots, that’s when you can really jumpstart this reset.”
Even if they don’t, the Coyotes loaded up on picks and prospects to join an organization that already has good young players coming, and a franchise defenseman in Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Add Connor McDavid to Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Maxim Letunov, Brendan Perlini and Henrik Samuelsson, and this won’t be a five-year process. It may not be a two-year process. In all, the Coyotes added Letunov, Duclair, John Moore, a 2015 first-round pick, 2016 first-round pick, 2015 second-round pick and already had an extra third-rounder from the Devan Dubnyk trade.
The deadline is usually about the contending teams loading up to win a Stanley Cup. That’s usually the focus. But the Coyotes won the deadline. It might not have even been all that close.
Here’s how the rest of the teams rank in their performance during the last few weeks of the trade season, and for those who missed any of my trade grades, click here.
2. Philadelphia Flyers.
Saad became a 20-goal scorer for the first time in his career Monday. He just missed that special number last season finishing with 19 goals in 78 games. He notched No. 20 in his 64th game this season.
The 22-year-old Saad didn’t downplay the significance of the number afterward.
“That means it’s big,” Saad said. “It’s a milestone to get there. It felt good for sure. Just want to continue to progress.”
Saad’s career has mostly been a progression over the last three seasons. He came in a rookie and was a contributor in his first season in 2013. He upped his play in his second season and took on a larger role. He’s taken another step this season and has consistently produced. He's third on the team in goals and fourth with 43 points.
As nice as 20 goals sounds, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews expects much more from Saad in the future.
“That’s great for him,” Toews said. “I think he knows he’s the type of player who is capable of 30 and even more. But that’s the first step in his career to get to that level. He’s meant a lot for our team so far this year.”
CHICAGO -- Losing Patrick Kane for three months could have meant losing a grasp on the season for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Subtracting Kane, who was playing at an all-time elite level, from a team that had been sputtering along since Jan. 1, wasn't likely to yield favorable results. But instead of seeing how things would play out, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman acted and found some positives to add to the equation. By getting forward Antoine Vermette and defenseman Kimmo Timonen -- addressing two needs -- prior to Monday afternoon's trade deadline, Bowman delivered a message to his team that he has faith in it.
The Blackhawks, who said they felt energized by the new players, went out later Monday and showed Bowman they’re still capable of turning their game on. The Carolina Hurricanes might not be the best measuring stick, but the Blackhawks put together one of their more complete efforts, on offense in particular, in some time Monday with a 5-2 victory at the United Center.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who accounted for two goals and an assist, described Monday as a new beginning for the team.
“I think in some ways it means a fresh start for us,” Toews said. “We’re happy to have the two guys -- I should say the three guys [forward Andrew Desjardins was obtained Monday from San Jose] eventually -- to come in our locker room. I think going into any situation like this, you feel like you got the group, you got the guys in the room that you need to have success, and you believe in that every day.
“Changes happen, and you got to go with it and make the best of it. So, like I said, we’re excited about the experience that Kimmo and Antoine bring especially. They showed that tonight. Great for Kimmo to play the way he did the first time he did in a long time. I think it’s a great win for our team and we need to build off wins like that.”
Vermette and Timonen will certainly have better days as Blackhawks. Vermette lost 12 of 17 faceoffs. Timonen saw his first action of the season after sitting out due to blood clots. Monday was more about their presence.
“I think it helps,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the impact of the new players on his squad. “It can certainly give everybody the feeling that, ‘Hey, we’re a better team,’ and let’s get some enthusiasm here going down the stretch and get ourselves excited as we go along here.”
Vermette has witnessed such deals giving teams a spark.
“I have seen it in the past,” Vermette said. “Obviously I wasn’t here before. But I think over time it was a game, solid game for us. It’s tough for me to compare, but hopefully we can build our game and head in the right direction here.”
Vermette and Timonen displayed Monday how the Blackhawks can be deeper with them. Quenneville consistently rolled out four lines, and his bottom two lines of Bryan Bickell-Brad Richards-Teuvo Teravainen and Joakim Nordstrom-Marcus Kruger-Andrew Shaw created a number of scoring chances. All six defensemen also played 15-plus minutes.
“It was basically 56 minutes of five-on-five play, so you get in more of a rotation and predictability of the way the lines are going to roll when you get that type of continuous five-on-five action,” Quenneville said. “I didn’t mind the lines. I didn’t mind the consistency of the lines. I was happy for the most part.”
That was Bowman’s objective. He was motivated to make moves that would make everyone happy now -- and potentially three months from now.
“Right now, we’re trying to improve our team,” Bowman said Monday afternoon. “I think we have a good chance here to be even better than we’ve been. We’re bringing in two players, and then we add another one today. We think three new faces to give our group some excitement and push for the playoffs.”
The push began Monday.
Brandon Saad scored his 20th to reach that mark for the first time in his career and Marcus Kruger also connected for the Blackhawks, who have won three of their last four. Toews increased his total to 21 goals.
Corey Crawford made 27 saves for Chicago and lost his bid for a second straight shutout when Carolina's John-Michael Liles scored at 4:29 of the third period. Alexander Semin also scored late in the third for the Hurricanes, who snapped a three-game winning streak.
CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at the United Center on Monday:
How it happened: The new-look Blackhawks broke out of their scoring slump in a big way. The Blackhawks scored more than two goals, excluding empty-netters and shootout results, for the first time since Feb. 11. Captain Jonathan Toews accounted for the first two goals, including a short-hander. Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger added second-period tallies to put the Blackhawks ahead 4-0. John-Michael Liles and Alexander Semin scored the Hurricanes’ two goals, in the third period. Marian Hossa accounted for the Blackhawks’ fifth goal. The Blackhawks killed off a five-on-three penalty for 1 minute, 14 seconds in the second period. The Hurricanes pulled starting goaltender Cam Ward after two periods. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 27 saves.
What it means: Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said earlier Monday that the team seemed to have a more positive vibe after he went out and acquired three players, including Kimmo Timonen and Antoine Vermette, at the trade deadline. The Blackhawks played like it. Saad scored his 20th goal of the season, a career high for the 22-year-old. The Blackhawks improved to 38-21-5, pulling within eight points of the Nashville Predators and four of the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division. The Hurricanes fell to 24-31-7.
Player of the game: Toews has been on a roll in recent weeks, scoring in four of the past five games. He reached 20 goals Monday for the eighth consecutive time in his career. He also tallied an assist in Monday's victory.
Stat of the game: Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival was a plus-3 and had two assists after being a minus-4 over his previous two games.
What’s next: The Blackhawks host the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. The Blackhawks defeated them 7-1 on Nov. 22 and lost to them 5-2 on Jan. 9, with both games in Edmonton, Alberta.
The real answer to the perennial question, who won the trade deadline, cannot be fully known for months and, in some cases, years. It will not, however, stop us from at least providing some discussion about which way the scales will tip for teams around the NHL. Here's a look at the buyers and sellers, and which ones might have swung the balance of power in their direction as the 2015 trade-deadline period comes to a close.
Bowman’ objective was to keep the Blackhawks a Stanley Cup contender despite losing Patrick Kane to an injury for 12 weeks. Bowman believed he accomplished that mission by acquiring defenseman Kimmo Timonen and forwards Antoine Vermette and Andrew Desjardins. In exchange, he gave up Ben Smith, prospect Klas Dahlbeck, a first-round draft pick in 2015, a second-round pick in 2015, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2016 and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2017.
Bowman acknowledged there was a price to be paid for his new players, but it was one he was willing to pay.
“You don’t like to give up draft picks, but at the same time, it is a draft pick,” Bowman said following the trade deadline Monday afternoon. “It’s something you have time to recoup those down the road. Right now, we’re trying to improve our team. I think we have a good chance here to be even better than we’ve been. We’re bringing in two players, and then we add another one today. We think three new faces to give our group some excitement and push for the playoffs.”
Bowman was enabled to make all of those moves because Kane’s cap hit because available once he was placed on long-term injured reserve. Bowman’s hope is for the Blackhawks to be good enough now to get deep enough in the playoffs for Kane to return to the lineup. For now, the Blackhawks are concentrating on the present.
“I think the goal for us, if you talk to our coaches, it's about the guys that are suiting up that night,” Bowman said. “Patrick Kane's a tremendous player. He's probably having the best season this year. But right now he's not an option for us, so we've got to focus on the guys who are here.
The Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews addressed the rumors on Sunday. Sharp specifically spoke about rumors regarding his personal life and said he would consider legal action.
Keith backed up Sharp on Monday.
“It seems like there’s so much BS out there,” Keith said after the team’s morning skate. “I don’t know where it comes from. I don’t know who makes that stuff up and where they get off saying those type of things. I think Sharpy said it, that it’d be comical and laughable if it wasn’t, you know, you or your family involved in those type of things and it becomes dragging other people into it.
“We’ve got a close group here. We’ve played together with one another for a long time and, I mean, all these rumors and stuff, it’s just a bunch of BS to us players. We’re out here playing hockey. We love our teammates. Whatever gets said outside of our locker room, I mean, shouldn’t really matter. But when it gets to be something ridiculous like that, it needs to be addressed.”
Oduya skates: Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya skated Monday for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on Feb. 22, according to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
“That’s a good sign,” Quenneville said.
Oduya was expected to miss two weeks after suffering the injury during his lone shift against the Boston Bruins on Feb. 22. Oduya has two goals, three assists and is a minus-9 in 60 games this season.
The Blackhawks currently have six healthy defensemen on their roster.
“He’s talking about my defense,” Rozsival said after the team’s morning skate on Monday. “If you look at the stats the last two games I played, I was like a minus-5. I was not defensive, obviously. It was something to be corrected. For whatever reasons, obviously, I was a minus-5. That’s it. I think that says it all.”
Quenneville believes Rozsival can help the Blackhawks if he keeps his game simple.
“Just play,” Quenneville said. “I think offensively he’s got good patience with the puck. Defensively, let’s be consistent. ... Simplicity is probably the best way. Consistency is what we’re looking for.”
Rozsival mentioned being a minus-5 his last two games, but he wasn’t too critical of his own play. He thought that was up to the coaching staff to evaluate his play.
“I don’t know,” Rozsival said. “I never judge my play. That’s the coaches’ job. They let you know what they think. They do their thing when they see something. Sometimes you’re not going to have a great game all the time. I guess they felt like my game should be better. That’s why they made some lineup adjustments, and that’s why it is.”
Rozsival tried to look at the benefits of sitting out the last two games.
“Get myself ready, I’ve been working hard and get some rest as well,” Rozsival said. “Sometimes it helps refresh everything, reset. Hopefully today I feel good. Hopefully we can win this game, too.
“I was excited to be back in the lineup today. I just need to play good hockey. We need the points. We need to win. I’m here to try to do my best to help this team win some hockey games.”
Rozsival, David Rundblad and Trevor van Riemsdyk could be auditioning for the Blackhawks’ final defenseman spot on the right side leading up to the playoffs. The Blackhawks are expected to go with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Kimmo Timonen as their five other defensemen.
“We’ll see how it all plays out,” Quenneville said. “I think they’re all capable of playing there and possibly more. We’ll sort that out between now and then.”