Nash Headlines NHL Trade Talk

Nash Headlines NHL Trade Talk

The NHL trade deadline has come and gone, and for casual sports fans, the news didn’t exactly dominate their Monday afternoons. After all the talk of blockbuster deals leading up to the 3 p.m. deadline, virtually none went through, leaving NHL analysts all over TSN and the NHL Network flabbergasted. The most talked-about player these past few weeks, Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash, was expected to leave his last-place team for greener pastures in either New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles or San Jose. By early evening on Mon­day, however, the six-time 30-goal scorer was still a Jacket, as General Manager Scott How­son couldn’t find a suitable deal for the young rebuilding squad.

Though Nash’s lack of movement grabbed many of the headlines this week, some trades actually did occur. The Nashville Predators were among the most active teams in the trade market this season, acquiring veteran defenseman Hal Gill from Montreal earlier in the month before trading draft picks (again to Montreal) for forward Andrei Kostitsyn on Monday. Kostitsyn, a three-time 20-goal scorer, will join his brother, Sergei, as top wingers in the Music City. The Predators also traded a first-round draft pick to Buffalo in exchange for possible third-line center Paul Gaustad.

Another team out west, the Los Angeles Kings, also made moves in an effort to bolster their roster before April. Though he lost out on the Rick Nash sweepstakes, Kings General Man­ager Dean Lombardi was able to snag another talented scorer from Columbus, Jeff Carter, in exchange for up-and-coming defenseman Jack Johnson and a draft pick. A surprisingly large number of Kings fans were less than pleased with the move, but clearly Lombardi’s decision was a good one. While Johnson has been a staple in the Kings defense the past few years and still has tremendous potential, the addition of Carter (a two-time 30-goal scorer and one-time 40-goal scorer) will be great for a team ranked dead last in goals scored.

Two more deals, both involving Western Conference teams, wrapped up Monday’s ne­gotiations nicely. The Minnesota Wild sent stay-at-home defenseman Nick Schultz to Ed­monton for a more offensive-minded D-man in Tom Gilbert, filling both teams’ needs per­fectly moving forward. One of the last deals of the afternoon was also one of the most notable, involving two top prospects swapping clubs. The Sabres traded away forward Zack Kassian and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani to re­ceive Vancouver center Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexader Sulzer. Hodgson, who was drafted 10th overall by the Canucks in 2008, has impressed in his rookie season, tallying 33 points with minimal ice-time.

Overall, there’s no denying that this year’s trade deadline was at least somewhat disap­pointing. Only 32 players were moved in 16 deals, making this the least active trade dead­line since the 2003-2004 season when 32 play­ers were moved in 20 deals. A major cause of the idleness, however, should also give us more reason to look forward to the last month or so of the season. According to general manag­ers around the league, the lack of trades sim­ply occurred because teams are currently too close to playoff spots to give any players up. In both conferences, it would be fair to say that at least 10 of the 14 teams currently outside of the playoff picture still have a shot at get­ting in before the end of April. With too many teams believing they could still sneak into the playoffs, the pool of available players willing to be shopped around was limited to only a few teams. Though the tightness of the playoff race caused a shortage of entertaining blockbuster deals, one thing can be certain – we’re in for quite a show from playoff hopefuls in these last 20 games.

Contact Ben Glassman at [email protected].