2013 Trade Deadline winners and losers

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The NHL’s general managers resembled college students waiting until the last night to start cramming for a final exam on trade deadline day, stuffing big deals into the last couple hours. In fact, it’s possible this post might be dramatically changed by a late-breaking swap.

Still, with the information we have in front of us, here’s a look at the winners and losers:

Winners

Columbus Blue Jackets

For what has to be one of the first times in franchise history, the Blue Jackets were “buyers” during the deadline … and they landed a huge potential difference-maker. For all his warts, Marian Gaborik can be an elite scorer when healthy and happy. They also managed to get rid of Steve Mason, which is a victory in itself.

Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild greatly improved their chances of holding onto the Northwest Division crown by landing Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville. He brought six straight 20+ goal seasons into this condensed campaign, so he could push them closer to contender status.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Many believed that the Pens won the deadline before Wednesday rolled around with Jarome Iginla, Douglas Murray and Brenden Morrow added to the mix. With all that size and grit, Pittsburgh decided to inject a little more finesse today by acquiring Jussi Jokinen. Not bad.

Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators

The Cory Conacher-for-Ben Bishop trade is a great example of a deal where both teams won. The Bolts get a big goalie who has put up great numbers this season while the Senators received an intriguing young player for a netminder made redundant by the Craig Anderson/Robin Lehner combo.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks managed to turn Murray, Ryane Clowe and Michal Handzus into a bevvy of picks without blowing up their playoff chances. Dealing a third-round pick for Raffi Torres doesn’t seem wise, but overall, they did very well.

Boston Bruins

They didn’t make huge gains, but Jaromir Jagr can really help their power play and Wade Redden might fill at least some of those offensive defenseman needs.

Calgary Flames

Sure, the Flames probably waited too long to do it, but they probably get the gold medal among the few selling/rebuilding teams with a nice haul of picks for Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester.

(And yes, we understand the inherent irony of associating the Flames with winning.)

St. Louis Blues

Defense has been a problem for the Blues a season after it was a big strength in 2011-12. Adding Bouwmeester (and to a lesser extent, Jordan Leopold) could change that.

James Reimer

No Roberto Luongo trade? That works.

Losers

Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider

The Vancouver Canucks got better by adding Derek Roy, but their goalie duo still has to deal with all that awkwardness, whether they display good humor or not.

New York Rangers

In the grand scheme of things, the Rangers traded Gaborik for Clowe. That’s a big step back.

Detroit Red Wings

GM Ken Holland admitted he was aiming for a high-end forward and/or defenseman. That didn’t happen, so Detroit remains a team that is a little thin beyond its big names.

New Jersey Devils

Steve Sullivan isn’t likely to stem the tide for a team that’s hurting without Ilya Kovalchuk.

Anyone who took the day off

You probably could have gotten your fill with a few PHT page refreshes in the last couple hours. Hopefully you at least slept in.

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Video: Johansen, Fisher join in Predators’ conference title celebration

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After reaching their first ever Western Conference Final, the Nashville Predators topped that in a big way, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

There were a lot of firsts and rarities along the way.

In ousting the Anaheim Ducks with a 6-3 victory in Game 6, GM David Poile’s team advanced to the championship round for the first time in his lengthy time as an executive.

Peter Laviolette also became the fourth coach in NHL history to bring three different teams to a Stanley Cup Final. The Predators are also the first 16th seed to make it this far.

Yep, that’s a long list of milestones (and not a comprehensive one). And, to think, the Predators haven’t even been on the brink of elimination during the postseason yet.

It’s special stuff, so don’t be surprised by the boisterous celebration you can see in the video above this post’s headline.

P.K. Subban: No city in the NHL ‘has anything on Nashville’

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If there’s one thing we can agree upon about the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s that these months have really cemented just how hockey-mad Nashville has become for its Predators.

(Yes, you can call it “Smashville” if you’d like.)

The scene at Bridgestone Arena was as boisterous as ever in the Predators’ 6-3 Game 6 win against the Anaheim Ducks, with legions of fans packing and surrounding the building.

Sights like these have becoming resoundingly normal for a hockey market that was once questioned by media and other fan bases:

Yeah, wow.

As the Predators advanced to their first-ever Stanley Cup Final, plenty of people were making jokes at the expense of the Montreal Canadiens for trading P.K. Subban. Of course, Subban wouldn’t take a shot at the Habs during such a great moment, but his praise for puck-nutty Predators fans says a lot in itself.

“I played in an A+ market my whole career,” Subban said, via Jeremy K. Gover of the Nashville Predators Radio Network. “There’s not a city in the league that has anything on Nashville.”

Whether their opponent is the Pittsburgh Penguins or Ottawa Senators, we already know that Nashville will begin the Stanley Cup Final on the road. That’s OK … Predators fans might need some time to get their voices back and recover from celebrating, so waiting until Games 3 and 4 might be a blessing in disguise.

Ducks’ Cogliano just doesn’t think Predators were the better team

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The Anaheim Ducks battled their way to Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, but Colton Sissons and the Nashville Predators ended their season on Monday.

The Ducks are processing that disappointment – being just two wins away from a trip to the championship round – and some of their reactions might spark a little controversy.

Specifically, it sounds a bit like Bruce Boudreau believing that his Minnesota Wild were superior to the St. Louis Blues despite falling in that series.

Andrew Cogliano, it must be noted, was spurned by Pekka Rinne on some early chances in Game 6. He likely feels as frustrated as any Ducks player right now.

Sisson’s hat-trick goal, making it 4-3 before two empty-netters cemented the 6-3 finish, was the dagger that finally put the hard-working Ducks down.

One can understand some of those feelings from Anaheim, especially considering the frustration of a) getting over Jonathan Bernier‘s early struggles to make a very real game of this and b) occasionally carrying the play in a dramatic way, including in Game 6.

Still, the Predators got the right combination of great stretches of play from Rinne and strong work from the expected and the unexpected, such as Sissons.

For an aging star like Ryan Getzlaf – a player who produced some of his best work late in the season and during the playoffs – you have to wonder how many chances remain.

Predators eliminate Ducks, reach first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history

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Colton Sissons made a serious argument that the Nashville Predators do, indeed, still have a No. 1 center.

At least, he certainly played that way on Monday, generating a hat trick as the Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks via a 6-3 win, taking the series 4-2.

In doing so, the Predators advanced to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

That 6-3 score is very misleading. While Nashville managed 2-0 and 3-1 leads, there was plenty of drama in this one, as the Ducks did not go down easily. Cam Fowler tied it up 3-3 in the third period, briefly stunning a rowdy crowd in Nashville.

Sissons was up to the task, however, settling down a bouncing puck on an otherwise stupendous Calle Jarnkrok pass to score the game-winner, notching a hat trick in the process. Sissons continues to be an unlikely hero for a Predators team dealing with the absence of Ryan Johansen (not to mention Mike Fisher, Craig Smith, and others).

Two empty-netters inflated the score, and they also sapped drama from the closing moments, which must have been quite the relief considering how much resolve Anaheim showed.

Peter Laviolette distinguishes himself as one of the NHL’s most underrated bench bosses, becoming just the fourth coach in league history to take three different teams to a Stanley Cup Final. He couldn’t win it all with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he does have a ring thanks to his time with the Carolina Hurricanes. Perhaps he’ll take another one this spring?

It’s quite the moment for GM David Poile, too, after trading Shea Weber for P.K. Subban and Seth Jones for Johansen, among other pivotal moves.

The Ducks might wonder what could have been if John Gibson played instead of Jonathan Bernier. Bernier struggled early, allowing two goals on the first three shots he faced and generally having a tough Game 6. Pekka Rinne, meanwhile, maintained his mostly great run in the playoffs; he protected a Predators lead even when the Ducks dominated long stretches of play.

Now the Predators get a nice rest, as the Eastern Conference Final continues with a Game 6 on Tuesday (and possibly a Game 7 on Thursday).

They’ll limp a bit toward that final round, but the Predators seem to be embracing new territory. And sometimes new heroes.