The 24 trades made Monday that moved 43 players in the hours before the NHL trading deadline were more strategic than splashy, nothing that justified the hype that has grown around this annual day of reckoning and nothing that will immediately transform a franchise.
The price of doing business was hefty — Tampa Bay gave Philadelphia first- and third-round draft picks for Braydon Coburn, a middling defenseman on a bad team — but several teams turned assets into potential postseason depth, led by Detroit, Montreal and the Ducks. Others, like Arizona and Buffalo, conceded the season and looked to the future by collecting prospects and draft picks.
"Every year it just goes up and up and up," said Ducks General Manager Bob Murray, among the most active executives with four trades that reshaped his defense with muscle, size and power-play oomph. "I remember when it was a single asset for a player. And you got them for third-, fourth-round picks and stuff. Now it's the first and seconds and a prospect on top of it."
"Everybody knows that if you can get into the playoffs you've got a great opportunity to win. Teams are going for it," he said.
"I've always said it. I think it's one of the most overrated areas in the building process," Kings GM Dean Lombardi told The Times' Lisa Dillman.
Among the noteworthy deals Monday, Minnesota nabbed winger Chris Stewart from Buffalo and got the Sabres to keep part of his salary, and the St. Louis Blues got defenseman Zbynek Michalek from Arizona, which kept part of his salary.
Montreal, seeking size on defense, got rental defenseman Jeff Petry from Edmonton and gave the ever-rebuilding Oilers two draft picks. Detroit filled a need and did well to acquire veteran right-handed-shooting defenseman Marek Zidlicky from New Jersey for a conditional 2016 draft pick, with New Jersey keeping $1 million of his salary.
The New York Rangers made the biggest pre-deadline splash Sunday when they acquired puck-moving defenseman Keith Yandle, defenseman Chris Summers and a fourth-round pick from Arizona for defenseman John Moore, elite prospect Anthony Duclair, a second-round pick in 2015 and a lottery-protected first-round selection in 2016. Arizona kept half of Yandle's salary so he could fit under the Rangers' cap total.
Yandle's defensive game is dubious, but his value as a power-play catalyst attracted the Rangers, who lost to the Kings in last season's Stanley Cup final.
"I think the New York Rangers got better for sure," said Murray, who had kept an eye on Yandle but thought the Coyotes wouldn't trade him within the West.
Also better are the Chicago Blackhawks, who made clever use of the cap space they gained from putting Patrick Kane (broken collarbone) on long-term injured reserve. Last week, they acquired defenseman Kimmo Timonen from Philadelphia for a second-round pick this year and a conditional pick next year, and got two-way center and faceoff whiz Antoine Vermette from Arizona for a first-round pick and a prospect. Both were strategic moves that will be worth the high price if they fuel a run at another Cup title.
And the best trade of all was …
Defenseman Jordan Leopold left his family in Minnesota when he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in November, and his four children missed him. Daughter Jordyn, 11, wrote a letter to the Minnesota Wild coaching staff this season and sent it to Twin Cities radio station KFAN, pleading for the team to bring her father home. Addressing "you lovly[sic] coaches," she said the Wild needed defensemen, "So can you please, please, please ask the jackets if you guys can get him!"
She thanked them and signed her name, with a smiley face.
On Monday, the Blue Jackets traded Leopold to Minnesota for defenseman Justin Falk and a fifth-round pick in the June draft. Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen tweeted a picture of Jordyn's letter with the words, "It isn't always just about business."
Murray was angry that Ben Lovejoy learned the Ducks had traded him to Pittsburgh for Simon Despres when word leaked to the media, before the deal was official. Murray said he owed it to Lovejoy to personally inform him. "That is wrong in our business today," Murray said.
Slumping Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said he's considering legal action against websites that published rumors about his personal life and rifts within the team. "As a hockey player, as a professional, you're out there and you're up for grabs for on-ice play. I'm OK with that. Trade rumors, talk about my play on the ice, I'm fine with that, I can handle that," he told the Chicago Tribune. "But when people delve into your personal life and make up rumors and things that are completely false and untrue, it takes a toll on you. ... You hear things said about people all the time, it's like anybody can type something on a computer and get away with it and not be held responsible or accountable."