If I could describe the NHL’s trade deadline, it’s like when fighting your significant other.
The day starts out well with hardly any need for shouting, then there’s a point an hour later where the dishes aren’t done and they get mad. Then it subsides, until out of nowhere at around 11:50 a.m., there’s more shouting and chaos until around noon. By that point, you’re either not talking for the rest of the day, or all is forgiven once the hilarity stops.
That was how this trade deadline went down. A total of 32 trades involving 55 players happened on Monday with some early action, particularly from the Ottawa Senators. Vladislav Namestnikov was traded to the Colorado Avalanche, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau gets traded to the New York Islanders and decides that the situation is better than Ottawa to sign a six-year, $30 million extension.
Meanwhile, the Senators have three first-round picks in this year’s NHL Draft. Signs point to Ottawa finally understanding how rebuilds work.
Much of the hype leading up to Monday was what the New York Rangers planned to do with Chris Kreider, the supposed top target on the trade market. Not only did Kreider not get moved, he signed a seven-year, $45.5 million extension to stay with New York. Talk about a thud.
But the boredom wouldn’t stick for long. The Islanders came within moments of acquiring Zach Parise from the Minnesota Wild, which would have brought the rebuild from Wild general manager Bill Guerin into its highest focus.
After two hours of non-activity that could’ve been better used for a nap, the deals went wild. Sami Vatanen to Carolina; Erik Gustafsson to Calgary; Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis to Edmonton. I didn’t even get to Vincent Trocheck also getting flipped to Carolina, as well as the Hurricanes landing Brady Skjei from the Rangers. What a day for Carolina.
Then, out of nowhere, Robin Lehner is a Vegas Golden Knight.
Watching “Lehner to Vegas” appear on my phone was the most unexpected aspect of this deadline. It would’ve made sense for Lehner to appear in trade rumors, but so far as I know, his name was never a point of conversation, especially for Vegas.
The Golden Knights made the biggest win-now move of the deadline in the most unexpected way. There needs to be a parade down Las Vegas Boulevard come June, with Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury sipping the finest bubbly out of Lord Stanley’s cup. Because if the Golden Knights don’t win this year, Vegas could’ve given up a second-round pick to let one of the best goalies in the NHL walk.
Vegas is the hottest team in the league right now. It’s also about to be the most-watched team in these final 20 games.
This deadline was the definition of an arms race. Teams may not have made the big blockbuster splash, but they made smart moves to put them right in the thick of the playoff race. Carolina gave up a lot, but you have to like what they did. Edmonton responded to what the Vancouver Canucks did earlier in the week. The Golden Knights reminded everyone that they’re still one of the top dogs in the West.
If you enjoyed the season so far, it’s about to get even more exciting.
Maple Leafs at Panthers: After losing to a Zamboni driver on Saturday, I’m selling way low on Toronto. The Leafs have three games this week against playoff-caliber teams, and I’d expect Florida to come out with a fire lit under its collective backsides after trading Trocheck. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Florida getting somewhere around the -160 range. PANTHERS
Avalanche at Hurricanes: Barring a ridiculous outing by whomever Carolina puts in net, consider the over in this one. Carolina scored at least three goals eight times this month, and this is a perfect chance for the new-look Avs to get some goals, as well. Colorado might be road favorites in this one, and if that’s the case, don’t be afraid to put a little bit of money on Carolina at home. HURRICANES
Penguins at Sharks: Patrick Marleau returns to San Jose (again) after getting shipped to Pittsburgh. This might be a home game of sorts for Pittsburgh based on that. But there’s this crazy sense of a letdown coming for Pittsburgh. It might take a few games to put all that newly-acquired talent together. It’s a long shot, but money on the Sharks might not be so bad. SHARKS
Last week: 1-2