PHT’s Top 10 trade deadline storylines

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The 2011-12 NHL trade deadline has come and gone. Here are the top 10 storylines to emerge from it:

Columbus doesn’t deal Rick Nash (and Scott Howson steals the spotlight)

First, the Jackets GM reportedly turned down the Rangers’ offer of Brandon Dubinsky, three prospects and a first-round pick. Then — in an unprecedented move — Howson threw the Blue Jackets captain under the bus by saying it was Nash that asked Columbus for a trade, not the other way around. Good times in Ohio!

Vancouver, Buffalo swap first-round picks

On a deadline day that was defined by moderation, the Sabres and Canucks were two notable exceptions. Both teams rolled the dice by exchanging highly touted youngsters – F Cody Hodgson went to Buffalo (with Alexander Sulzer) in return for F Zack Kassian and D Marc-Andre Gragnani. The Sabres received the best NHL player today, which is odd considering it’s the Canucks that are the Cup contenders. However, it’s possible Vancouver ends up getting two impact players for the price of one.

No blockbusters

The biggest deal happened before the deadline, when L.A. acquired Jeff Carter for Jack Johnson and a 2012 first-round pick. After that, things got awfully quiet. Big names rumored to be in play (Nash, Dustin Brown, Tomas Plekanec and Derek Roy) stayed put and phrases like “the Johnny Oduya sweepstakes” started popping up, which is never a good sign.

Motor City silence

If Detroit falls short in the playoffs, Red Wings fans might look back at the deadline and wonder why GM Ken Holland wasn’t more aggressive. Here’s his explanation after doing nothing more than ship out Mike Commodore: “There wasn’t a fit. We tried to do a couple of moves, but either our (draft) picks weren’t high enough because our team is high in the standings, or we didn’t have the young players (other teams wanted).”

Nashville goes for broke

There was heat on GM David Poile to show his players — specifically Shea Weber and impeding UFA Ryan Suter — that Nashville was serious about contending for the Stanley Cup. Well, mission accomplished. Poile paid a big price to rent Paul Gaustad, Andrei Kostitsyn and Hal Gill for a couple of months.

A lack of action

Only 32 players were traded today, the fewest on a deadline since 2000 (23). When all was said and done, the glut of bubble teams meant a dearth of assets being sold for cheap. Of course, you could argue whether some of those bubble teams are actually on the bubble, but there’s something noble about never saying never.

Boston adds depth, experience

The Bruins needed bodies given injuries to Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley and Johnny Boychuk. But Peter Chiarelli wasn’t prepared to pay large, so he scored three veteran NHLers — Brian Rolston, Mike Mottau and Greg Zanon — without giving up any draft picks or full-time roster players. Not the deadline’s flashiest moves, but ones that could be crucial for Boston’s Stanley Cup defense.

Goalies problems go unsolved

Toronto, Philadelphia and Chicago each went into the trade deadline with goaltending concerns, yet neither did anything about it. In fact, no goalies were traded today. To be fair, there weren’t many temporary solutions available. The Islanders didn’t want to give up Nabokov and a general manager would have to be pretty desperate to go after Edmonton’s Nikolai Khabibulin. Josh Harding was a possibility, but he hasn’t been very good since Christmas.

Washington stands pat

GM George McPhee’s silence was deafening, especially with his team fighting for the playoffs. (Or in Roman Harmlik’s case, fighting with the coach.) Many expected McPhee to get some help at center to replace the injured Nicklas Backstrom, or to move one of his eight healthy defensemen…but neither move happened. In fact, no moves happened. A strange day all around.

Expiring assets

The pressure will be on for GMs like Jim Rutherford (Hurricanes) and Garth Snow (Islanders) to re-sign their pending UFAs that weren’t dealt at the deadline. Despite their teams’ slim playoff hopes, Rutherford didn’t trade defensemen Bryan Allen and Jaroslav Spacek while Snow held on to forward P.A. Parenteau and goalie Evgeni Nabokov. If those guys walk for nothing on July 1, it won’t look good.

Related:

PHT’s NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

PHT Morning Skate: What’s holding the Islanders back?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• University of Alabama hockey player Jon Lovorn is dedicating this season to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. (SECCountry.com)

• It’s time for the NHL to give all 31 teams an outdoor game next season. (Vice Sports)

• Philly.com takes a look at Sean Couturier‘s “well-balanced” life and how it got him to the NHL. (Philly.com)

• A strong end to 2017 could help the Predators land home ice advantage in the playoffs (Predlines)

• If/when Seattle makes it to the NHL, there might be too many teams in the Pacific Division. How would realignment look? (Five for Howling)

• One of the reasons the Oilers have struggled for so long is because of their inability to select solid players late in drafts. (OilersNation.com)

• The only thing that appears to be holding the Islanders back is goaltending. (The Hockey News)

• The Hershey Bears released their 2018 Outdoor Classic Jersey for their game against Lehigh Valley next month. (RussianMachineNeverBreaks.com)

• The Rangers’ recent struggles prove that they need to be sellers before the trade deadline. (NY Post)

• The Devils and Coyotes swapped minor-league forwards yesterday. New Jersey got Michael Latta while the Coyotes got Ryan Kujawinski. (NHL.com/Coyotes)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

The Buzzer: Saros, streaks, shutouts

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Player of the Night: Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators

You can criticize the Edmonton Oilers for taking too many perimeter shots and/or having their defensemen fire the puck far too often, and you’d probably have a point.

Still, on nights like these, you also have to acknowledge that the Oilers have also run into some tough luck and even tougher goalies. When it came to Thursday, Saros was that tough goalie, and he reminded the NHL that’s he capable of being more than “just a backup.”

The Finnish goalie set a new Predators record by making 46 saves for a shutout, collecting the second goose egg of his blossoming career.

The Predators (specifically Kyle Turris‘ new second line, which might need to be called a 1B line at this rate) are on a roll, beating Edmonton 4-0 to grab at least one point (7-1-2) in nine of their last 10 games.

Highlights of the Night

Nice play finished by Patrick Kane, as the Blackhawks cooled the Jets:

Jakub Vrana‘s goal was pretty sweet, and a taste of the Capitals’ recent dominance of the Bruins.

Josh Bailey‘s hat trick is worth watching here, even if it wasn’t enough to propel the Islanders to a win against the Blue Jackets.

Scary moment

Here’s hoping that Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Ryan Callahan are OK:

The Lightning kept their hot streak going with a W over the Coyotes.

Factoids

Brayden Point gets the Lightning their … well, you probably know. Their points.

The Wild are picking it up, and it’s not just the power of Bruce Boudreau. Probably.

The Flyers are weird, and so is hockey.

Scores

Capitals 5, Bruins 3
Flyers 2, Sabres 1
Blue Jackets 6, Islanders 4
Canadiens 2, Devils 1 (OT)
Ducks 3, Blues 1
Wild 2, Maple Leafs 0
Blackhawks 5, Jets 1
Avalanche 2, Panthers 1
Sharks 3, Flames 2
Predators 4, Oilers 0
Lightning 4, Coyotes 1
Golden Knights 2, Penguins 1

Fleury gets revenge against Penguins, Vegas grabs 20th win

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If you’re the fussy type, you might object to the word “revenge” in the headline.

It feels wrong to say that Marc-Andre Fleury got “the last laugh” against the Pittsburgh Penguins, being that this game happened in mid-December. So feel free to soften the verbiage; maybe you’d prefer to say that Fleury and the Vegas Golden Knights merely “got the best” of the Penguins.

Either way, round one goes to “MAF.”

The instinct might be to ding this game because it came in Vegas instead of Pittsburgh, but you could say that there was a healthy offering of Penguins fans tonight:

Whatever way you slice it, there was reportedly a fascinating atmosphere in Vegas, even if the game was a bit “low-event” at times, at least when you consider sheer pucks on net; Fleury stopped 24 out of 25 shots on goal while Murray gave up two goals on 26.

This odd-angle goal by Ian Cole was the only puck to beat Fleury, who was lights out in a second straight victory since returning from concussion issues that … we thought might have been the end of the Golden Knights’ hot start.

If the scene wasn’t nostalgia-laced enough, consider that Fleury evoked the save he made against Nicklas Lidstrom in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final:

Sheesh, some of this stuff almost seems on the nose, doesn’t it?

Remarkably, the Golden Knights improve to 20-9-2 while the Penguins fell to 16-14-3. Writing that almost made me pass out from the unlikelihood of it all; honestly, if someone told Golden Knights management that their record could be 16-14-3, they’d probably take it, right?

In case you’re wondering, yes, this marks another record.

So, the Golden Knights are 12-2-1 in Vegas so far. This doesn’t guarantee that there’s some sort of … sickness that comes from playing a team located in Sin City, yet it doesn’t exactly slam the door shut on such a conversation, either.

Now, Marc-Andre Fleury? He’s done quite a commendable job of shutting the door so far for the Golden Knights. His old buddies found out the hard way tonight.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Now Flyers are on a five-game winning streak

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It wasn’t pretty, but every NHL coach prefers the aesthetic value of a “W” over an “L.”

After a bewildering 10-game losing streak, the Philadelphia Flyers are now on a very different run, as a 2-1 victory against the Buffalo Sabres makes it five straight wins. Fans probably aren’t calling for Dave Hakstol’s head right now, not with his team a mere two points out of a playoff spot.

Interestingly, it seems like the Flyers may be approaching things in a way that would make Bill Parcells nod in approval: lifting themselves up when down (see GM Ron Hextall’s optimism during the losing streak) while keeping heads straight amid success.

Really, it might just come down to Thursday’s win being “no frills,” as the rest of their five-game run has been pretty impressive:

Dec. 4: 5-2 win at  Calgary
Dec. 6: 4-2 win at Edmonton
Dec. 7: 4-1 win at Vancouver
Dec 12: 4-2 home win vs Toronto
Tonight: 2-1 home win against Buffalo

A three-game road trip through Western Canada can sometimes be deadly; instead, the Flyers buckled up and turned things around, including winning games on back-to-back nights (and three victories in four evenings).

To some extent, the players who’ve been performing well all season are showing up during this winning streak. There have been strong outputs from Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, and others who we’ve come to expect to produce.

The most interesting hot streak might be that of Brian Elliott.

Elliott is responsible for all five of the Flyers wins during this run, allowing eight goals in five contests. Early on, he had to put on a show at times (stopping 43 shots against the Flames), yet he’s only needed to turn aside 39 of 42 shots for his last two wins.

Overall, it’s been an up-and-down first season in Philly for Elliott, a goalie who teams seem almost strangely eager to give up on.

Last season, Elliott played a huge role in the Calgary Flames turning their season around to make the playoffs, including generating 10 wins in the month of March. Ultimately, the team saw enough between a tough start and some postseason struggles to cast the veteran netminder aside.

Perhaps Elliott is a lot like his still-new team in the Flyers: best when people leave you for dead.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.