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

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

Rasmus Sandin
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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.

Back with Wild, Fleury welcomes big workload as clear No. 1

marc-andre fleury
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — With his ever-present smile, tireless approach and long list of accomplishments in the net, Marc-Andre Fleury has always embraced a heavy workload.

The Minnesota Wild sure haven’t shied away from leaning hard on their new – and 37-year-old – goalie. After arriving in a deadline-day trade in March and re-signing with the Wild in July, the guy everyone calls “Flower” is still fully abloom as he begins his 19th season in the NHL.

“They say, `You play,’ I play, unless maybe I’m hurt or something,” Fleury said. “But other than that, I like playing.”

Wild general manager Bill Guerin initially planned to bring back both Fleury and Cam Talbot, who made the All-Star team and went 13-0-3 in his last 16 regular season starts before being benched in favor of Fleury for the first-round playoff series against St. Louis. The Wild lost in six games, after Talbot got the cold start in the elimination game and gave up four goals on 26 shots.

Guerin changed his mind, though, after signing Fleury to a two-year, $7 million contract. Realizing Talbot’s frustration from the lack of postseason action, he didn’t want to risk any tension or discontent. Talbot was traded to Ottawa for Filip Gustavsson, who will be the No. 2 goalie while top prospect Jesper Wallstedt gets more development in the AHL.

Gustavsson has only 23 career regular-season starts, nearly 200 fewer than Talbot, so it’s a good bet that Fleury will get the majority of the games.

“I was ready to share the load with him, but things didn’t work out and happy to be having the chance to play maybe a bit more. It’s fun to play. It’s more fun than sitting on the bench,” said Fleury, who went 28-23-5 in 56 combined starts for Chicago and Minnesota last season with a 2.90 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.

The Wild reconvened for training camp last week, beginning their quest to recapture the mojo they enjoyed last season while setting franchise records for points (113), wins (53) and goals (305). The only team that finished ahead of them in the Western Conference was Colorado, which went on to win the Stanley Cup, but they never met the Avs in the playoffs because the Blues got to them first.

There’s a strong chemistry in place, at least, to build upon.

“We still have a lot of guys here who were here last year. We’re just trying to make it even better, just trying to listen to everybody,” center Joel Eriksson Ek said. “We want to set a standard and a way for how hard this team’s going to work.”

The Wild start the regular season by hosting the New York Rangers on Oct. 13.

COMINGS AND GOINGS

The most significant roster move of the summer amongst the skaters was the inevitable salary-cap-driven trade of second-leading scorer Kevin Fiala to Los Angeles. Fiala had a career-high 33 goals and 52 assists last season. Guerin otherwise dabbled mostly in two-way contracts in free agency for depth. Former Anaheim center Sam Steel signed with Minnesota last month, one day after defenseman Dimitry Kulikov was dealt to the Ducks.

MORE POWER

The Wild were done in during the playoffs by abysmal special teams. They went just 4 for 24 on the power play against the Blues, and head coach Dean Evason had the team working on that on the first day on the ice. The penalty kill that lagged last season was a focus of the second practice.

“It has to get better, no question,” Evason said.

BLUE LINE SHUFFLE

Captain Jared Spurgeon has been placed with Jonas Brodin on the first pair on defense, and Jake Middleton has joined Matt Dumba on the second unit. Dumba and Brodin are close friends who’ve been paired together for several seasons.

“Dumbs is a shooter too,” said Middleton, who re-signed for three years and $7.35 million. “It’s pretty exciting. I can get some cookies passing him the puck. That’d be a big plus. I think it’ll work well. He loves hitting guys too. He plays a gritty game as well so I think we’ll be a good combo.”

UP FRONT

With Jordan Greenway recovering from offseason surgeries, Tyson Jost will get the first chance to skate with Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno. The departure of Fiala has opened at least one spot for a rookie to make the team, with 2020 first-round draft pick Marco Rossi in line for it.

ON THE SLATE

This is the first time in eight years the Wild will play their regular-season opener at home. After three more games at Xcel Energy Center, they don’t hit the road until a five-game trip that starts Oct. 22 at Boston. The Wild have a season-long nine-game homestand from Feb. 9-21.