A rather quiet NHL trade deadline only further proves a point I've been making for a while now: The real shake-and-bake now comes in June in this salary cap-driven league.
It's been like that for a few years now. Think of the trades that involved the likes of Tyler Seguin, Phil Kessel, Jason Spezza, Milan Lucic, Dougie Hamilton and others in the offseason, when more teams can get involved in trade discussions, not just a handful like is the case on trade deadline day.
Which is why this offseason should have some fireworks. A look ahead at a few teams who will make moves:
Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli isn't even hiding his intentions. He has openly talked about entertaining trade offers for some of his core players come June. I think he's quite serious.
A culture of losing during a miserable decade in Edmonton won't be allowed to continue under the first-year GM. He's seen enough. Which means for the right offer, preferably for a top defenseman, the likes of Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, maybe even Taylor Hall, might be moved this offseason.
Hold onto your hats. It could be a wild June/July in Edmonton.
Habs GM Marc Bergevin said Monday he will use the final six weeks of the season to evaluate his team as he decides what kind of makeover it needs in the offseason.
Obviously, this is a much different team with a healthy Carey Price in net. But as I've written before, this season without Price has allowed Bergevin to look under the hood a little more closely, and he obviously didn't like the look of some parts.
Most interesting to me was other teams telling me Sunday and Monday that Alex Galchenyuk's name came up in trade-deadline discussions. My impression is that the name came up because other teams brought it up, not Bergevin.
Still, something to keep in mind come June. Either way, I expect Bergevin to be aggressive this offseason in helping reshape his club.
It was a quiet trade deadline for normally-active Blues GM Doug Armstrong. That's in large part because of the long-term injury predicament his team was in, and the fact that basically if he was going to make a trade it would have to be dollar-in and dollar-out, which isn't your normal trade-deadline deal. He was ready to move out a second-round pick for a forward at the deadline if that forward was an upgrade for his top nine. That deal just wasn't there.
I expect Armstrong to potentially be active come June, depending on how the playoffs go.
For starters, veteran center David Backes is a pending UFA. Can the Blues re-sign him? Will they want to? Again, the playoffs might answer that question. The speculation on defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk will intensify, too, as he enters the final year of his contract next season.
Again, to my mind, the playoffs will dictate where this whole thing goes.
Few teams can live on forever with two No. 1 goalies, especially when it comes time for both to be paid like No. 1 goalies. That's tough in a salary-cap system.
Petr Mrazek is an RFA this summer, and it's time for him to make real money. The question is: Do the Red Wings sign him to a long-term deal now, or do they do a bridge deal?
The answer to that question might impact the future of fellow netminder Jimmy Howard. If Mrazek gets an economic bridge deal, maybe the Wings can live on for another year or two with their talented 1-2 punch in goal. If Mrazek gets a more expensive long-term deal, no question the Red Wings have to trade Howard, who has three more years on his deal at a $5.29-million cap hit.
And perhaps Howard is traded no matter what, if for no other reason than he needs a chance to be a No. 1 somewhere else. The Calgary Flames will be among the teams looking for a No. 1 goalie this summer. That's a place to start.
Perhaps no team will be more interesting to watch in June than the Bolts.
Not to mention star blueliner Victor Hedman will be one year away from UFA status, so you can imagine the Lightning will try and get him signed this summer. Starting goalie Ben Bishop will also be one year away from UFA status.
These are good problems to have. They mean you've built a heck of a hockey team, and also that GM Steve Yzerman might be seen walking around with a calculator taped to his forehead in the offseason.
There are a ton of other storylines this summer, too, and it should prove to be a wacky June and July across the NHL.