- Scott Burnside, NHL
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Here’s a look at teams that took a step in the right direction before the trade deadline and some that stubbed their toes on a day that failed to live up to expectations because of a small number of sellers and the high prices being asked by those willing to deal.
Having already bolstered the blue line with the earlier acquisition of veteran defenseman Hal Gill Nashville, GM David Poile got a top-six forward in Andrei Kostitsyn. Then, late in the day, the Preds added big center Paul Gaustad from Buffalo. Kostitsyn comes with significant baggage, having fallen out of favor in Montreal, and he will join his younger brother, Sergei Kostitsyn, who has shed his own baggage to come an important part of a Nashville Predators team that has Stanley Cup aspirations. Kostitsyn will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and what better way to ensure a big payday come July 1 then by proving his many detractors wrong? Gaustad cost the Predators a first-round pick (the Preds got a fourth-round pick back in the deal), which is a lot to give up for a player who can become an unrestricted free agent in July but he will give the Predators added depth down the middle and will be expected to provide depth scoring, which will be key come playoff time.
San Jose Sharks
Not able to come up with the goods to pry Rick Nash out of Columbus, the Sharks addressed size and toughness issues by adding two NHL regulars in Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi from the Colorado Avalanche. Both are 6-foot-2 and will help flesh out a Sharks lineup that has been revealed this season as being too top-heavy. The Sharks had to give up Jamie McGinn and a couple of prospects but depth is going to be key for a slumping Sharks team and they got more of that with this deal.
The Avs have done some shuffling in the past few days and completed that roster juggling by acquiring McGinn on Monday afternoon. The earlier addition of Steve Downie from Tampa for defenseman Kyle Quincey (who savaged the franchise after he was flipped to Detroit) has paid immediate dividends, and that move set the stage for GM Greg Sherman to make the moves with the Sharks. The Avs are right in the thick of the playoff race in spite of subtly changing the complexion of the team.
Tampa Bay Lightning
After shipping off regulars Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina and Steve Downie in the days leading up to Monday’s trade deadline, GM Steve Yzerman began the process of restocking his defensive shelf by adding promising defensemen Keith Aulie from Toronto and Brian Lee, who was the ninth overall pick in 2005. Yzerman sent a big forward prospect in Carter Ashton to Toronto and former Hobey Baker winner Matt Gilroy to Ottawa. Nothing to suggest Lee is going to be a Norris Trophy winner, but Aulie will get a chance to be an everyday NHLer with a Tampa team that needed to get younger on the blue line. Yzerman also added veteran defenseman Mike Commodore, who couldn’t break into the Detroit lineup with regularity. That is a move that helps fill out the Lightning roster for the rest of the season.
A bold move for the Vancouver Canucks late in the day Monday as they were rebuffed in their efforts to land Dallas forward Steve Ott -- and instead brought in big, rugged winger Zack Kassian and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani from the Buffalo Sabres for promising center Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer. Kassian is 6-foot-3, 228 pounds and having watched the Canucks get pushed around by the Boston Bruins in last season’s final, this is the kind of player GM Mike Gillis was looking for to ensure that won’t happen again. The Canucks also added veteran checking center Sami Pahlsson. Now, Pahlsson is not the same guy who was such a key part of the Anaheim Ducks’ run to the Stanley Cup in 2007, when he was part of the game’s best shutdown line with Travis Moen and Rob Niedermayer and scored two game winners. But the Vancouver Canucks, who acquired the veteran checking center for two fourth-round draft picks and defensive prospect Taylor Ellington, don’t necessarily need him to be that player. But his experience in the trenches and defensive responsibility has the potential to be another important piece to what the Canucks hope will finally be a Stanley Cup puzzle.
The Bruins would have liked to add a significant piece up front, especially with Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton sidelined with injury, but did come up with veteran Brian Rolston, who returns to the B's for a second go-round. He still possess a hard shot but was recently waived by the New York Islanders and it’s hard to imagine him making a significant impact. Still, all it will take is a timely power-play goal or two and this deal will be justified. We also liked like the addition of veteran rearguard Greg Zanon from Minnesota late in the going on Monday. Zanon adds another hard-to-play-against defender who should quickly become a favorite of coach Claude Julien. Mike Mottau, who came over in the Rolston deal, gives the Bruins even more depth along the blue line, which will come in handy given that GM Peter Chiarelli confirmed Monday that Johnny Boychuk is out with a “mild” concussion.
This has been a nightmare season for the Buffalo Sabres but kudos to GM Darcy Regier for squeezing a first-round pick out of Nashville for Paul Gaustad, who didn’t fit the long-term plans of the Sabres. And then to add a talented center in Cody Hodgson and a depth defenseman in Alexander Sulzer for Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani, that’s a pretty good return. Hodgson was buried on the Vancouver depth chart behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler, so this will give Hodgson a chance to get more quality ice time with the Sabres, and his up-side is extremely high. Buffalo remains a smallish team but perhaps Regier will get a chance to address that in the offseason.
When the clock ticked down to 3 p.m. ET, there were lots of teams that didn’t quite get to where they wanted to go. Here’s a look at the biggest.
Columbus Blue Jackets
In spite of intense pressure from the Rick Nash camp to move the big winger, GM Scott Howson wouldn’t budge off his high asking price, and so the deadline came and went without a move of the unhappy captain. This will set up an interesting few weeks and Howson will take another run at dealing Nash in the offseason. Should Howson, who did well in acquiring Jack Johnson for Jeff Carter before the deadline, backed off to eliminate the ongoing distraction of the Nash saga? Time will tell.
New York Rangers
The Rangers were one of the most ardent suitors of Nash but they would not part with all the pieces that Howson wanted, and then came up empty in an effort to add offensive zip, acquiring hulking John Scott from Chicago as their only roster move of the day. Are the Rangers still the best team in the Eastern Conference? Sure. But that gap might not have been as pronounced as it was before the trade period.
A bit curious that GM George McPhee didn’t unload disgruntled defenseman Roman Hamrlik, although he was good to his word that he wouldn’t trade veteran winger Mike Knuble, who had recently been a healthy scratch under head coach Dale Hunter.
The Stars would really have liked to move Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro, but were interested in making a hockey deal. It’s believed the Stars coveted James van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers but in spite of intense interest in Ott a deal that made sense for GM Joe Nieuwendyk didn’t materialize and so the Stars stood pat. Given that they’re currently a playoff team, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
We know that GM Jim Rutherford thought he had a deal done for Jaroslav Spacek, but that ended up falling through. And so in the end he ended up re-signing Tuomo Ruutu and Tim Gleason, and hanging onto defensemen Spacek and Bryan Allen.
Toronto Maple Leafs
No Rick Nash and no goaltending help, which will further enrage Leaf Nation. But in the end, Brian Burke might end up being happy with his non-moves as he didn’t disrupt the core of his team, even though they have fallen back in the playoff pack. Burke did ship out promising defensive prospect Keith Aulie for a big forward prospect, Carter Ashton, whom Burke likes for his size (he’s 6-foot-3, 215 pounds) and skill.
GM Stan Bowman was in much the same position that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli was in looking to add a forward with some skill and grit, but those players simply weren’t available. Bowman did bring in Johnny Oduya from Winnipeg, where he was averaging 19:20 a night in ice time. He should help boost the Blackhawks’ depth, although this marks Oduya’s third team (fourth if you count the Atlanta Thrashers’ move to Winnipeg) since breaking into the NHL in 2006-07.
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings had significant interest in Paul Gaustad, but having traded their first-round pick in the 2012 draft for Kyle Quincey, Detroit GM Ken Holland didn’t have the resources needed to get a deal done.
Ray Shero has never been shy at the deadline but really his only need this season -- apart from getting Sidney Crosby back on the ice, of course -- was to look into goaltending depth to give Marc-Andre Fleury a break down the stretch, but that didn’t happen.
15hScott Burnside and Craig Custance