Pity the poor Canadian broadcasters who had to fill hours and hours of TV time Wednesday discussing deals made in the hours before the NHL's noon Pacific time trading deadline. Most of the significant moves took place last week, robbing the final countdown of suspense.
"It's turned into a rental market. It's less of a pure hockey trade market," Brian MacLellan, general manager of the league-leading Washington Capitals, said at a news conference. "I think your trades happen more at the draft."
Blame MacLellan for part of the reason Wednesday was drab: he made his go-for-it trade on Monday, when he acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk from the St. Louis Blues for a prospect, a first-round draft pick and a conditional second-round pick.
NHL clubs on Wednesday made 18 trades involving 33 players, the quietest deadline day since a 17-trade, 30-player tally in 2013. The bottom-feeding Colorado Avalanche kept young stars Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog but gave 39-year-old Jarome Iginla perhaps his last shot at the Stanley Cup by sending him to the playoff-hopeful Kings for a conditional 2018 draft pick. "We're trying to bridge a gap here. It's tough being in this middle layer at the deadline," Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said. "So you're caught between that buyer/seller mentality."
The Montreal Canadiens got grittier by acquiring Kings left wing Dwight King soon after they acquired beefy Steve Ott from Detroit and defenseman Jordie Benn from Dallas. The Florida Panthers, who are vying for an East playoff berth, acquired productive impending free-agent forward Thomas Vanek from Detroit for defenseman Dylan McIlrath and a conditional third-round draft pick.
Many teams made moves with the upcoming expansion draft in mind. Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman continued to manage his assets well after getting draft picks and prospects from the Kings for goaltender Ben Bishop and from Toronto for Brian Boyle, whom he could have lost as unrestricted free agents this summer. On Wednesday, Yzerman traded Valtteri Filppula, who has a $5-million salary cap hit next season, to Philadelphia and cleared space to sign some of his restricted free agents while adding a spot to protect another forward in the expansion draft: Filppula, who has a no-move clause in his contract, would have had to be protected by the Lightning in the draft that will stock the Vegas Golden Knights' roster in June.
The Golden Knights, incidentally, were granted official admission to the NHL on Wednesday as the 31st franchise after making their final required payment to the league. They then received permission to make trades and waiver transactions and conduct other draft-related business.
The Ducks, considered possible traders Wednesday because of their riches on defense, sat out except for a trade of minor leaguers, acquiring center Sam Carrick and left wing Spencer Abbott from the Chicago Blackhawks for left wing Kenton Helgesen and a seventh-round pick in the 2019 entry draft. In addition, they lost forward Joseph Cramarossa to Vancouver on waivers.
Ducks General Manager Bob Murray, who got veteran winger Patrick Eaves from Dallas last Friday, said he found no compelling offers Wednesday. "We were primarily looking for a hockey deal, but it didn't come to fruition," he said. "There were a couple other things we dabbled in but I didn't want to go that high on certain things. We weren't really that close on anything else."
The Nashville Predators, hoping to solidify a West playoff spot, added scoring depth by getting forward P.A. Parenteau from New Jersey for a sixth-round draft pick, and the Pittsburgh Penguins fortified their injury-stricken defense by acquiring Mark Streit from Tampa Bay, which got him from Philadelphia earlier in the day.
Who didn't get traded Wednesday was newsworthy, too. The Arizona Coyotes, who previously dealt defenseman Michael Stone to Calgary and sent forwards Martin Hanzal and Ryan White to Minnesota, kept 40-year-old veteran Shane Doan and impending free-agent forward Radim Vrbata, names that might have added interest to a lackluster deadline day.