Another NHL Trade Deadline without a signature blockbuster is in the books, but that doesn't mean there wasn't some intrigue to go with plenty of head-scratchers.
For the New York Islanders, the surprise was finding takers for Brian Rolston -- who'd cleared waivers three hours earlier -- and Mike Mottau in a trade with the Boston Bruins. The nervous unknown came when the tea leaves turned prophetic: The Islanders indeed held on to their two most enticing unrestricted free agents in P.A. Parenteau and Evgeni Nabokov, despite not having their names on contracts beyond this season.
Meanwhile, around the league the biggest intrigue may have been the Canucks and Sabres swapping the player selected one slot behind Josh Bailey in the 2008 draft for the player selected one slot behind Calvin de Haan in the 2009 teen meat market. The biggest head scratcher? The blueline-thin Edmonton Oilers trading their most important defenseman for the Wild's third most-important.
A deeper review of the day and the stakes follows:
Nabokov, Parenteau Here and in Driver's Seat; Katic Off IR; Few 1sts on the Table
One thing is clear from Islanders GM Garth Snow declining to take the best offers for Parenteau and Nabokov: He thinks they can be signed. Unless the organization has full hope in a playoff run -- and it shouldn't -- the calculus here must have been that keeping Parenteau at his current contract demands is more palatable than the trade offers Snow turned down combined with the cost -- or risk of failing -- to replace him.
For the record, the few MSM reports were that when the Isles were taking calls for Parenteau, the price was a first-round pick. At this deadline, first-round picks were given for Steve Downie, a young signed forward, and Paul Gaustad, a UFA faceoff/checking center acquired by the Predators.
Nabokov is a little different: He had a no-trade clause, and indeed zero goaltenders moved on deadline day. A contract with him shouldn't be too complex if, like Parenteau, his intention to stick around is sincere. Now both players have the leverage. We'll see which is greater for Parenteau: The allure of an open bidding market, or the allure of sticking around in the place he got his break.
Regardless, we walked into this deadline warned -- or hopeful, depending on your outlook -- that the Islanders would keep both of them. That one played to script. One more time, this time from TSN's Darren Dreger:
Isles told inquiring teams early this aft he was not trading Nabokov regardless of contract status
In other news, officially Mark Katic has come off IR after his seasonlong shoulder injury, so that's another defenseman back on the organizational depth chart. Also in terms of that Bridgeport playoff push, Michael Fornabaio reported "Casey Cizikas and David Ullstrom should be eligible for the Clear Day list but remain up with the Islanders."
Mottau, Rolston Gone
The big shock, minutes before the deadline, was the Stanley Cup champion Bruins taking on not only Brian Rolston but also Mike Mottau. The first temptation here is to ask why the Bruins didn't claim Rolston on waivers -- he'd cleared just three hours earlier. The likely explanation is that Rolston was a backup plan, and the Bruins didn't want to be stuck with Rolston after discovering a better acquisition target between noon and 3 p.m. today. (Which raises the question: How did they not find a better target?)
Ultimately though, this move costs the Bruins nothing but salary and perhaps some false hope, as the two properties heading the other way are minor leaguers in Bridgeport-bound Yannick Riendeau and Marc Cantin. The center and defenseman should respectively give Bridgeport depth for their quite realistic playoff push. Which, one hopes, they'll need as more Islanders prospects graduate over the final 20 games.
Here is Peter Chiarelli's press conference, explaining he liked Rolston because he and Mottau would be "motivated" to earn new contracts. Interestingly, Mottau and Rolston each played 49 games as Islanders -- Mottau's interrupted by facial and head injuries, and Rolston's interrupted by barely a scratch.
Said Mottau to @HackswithHaggs:
"I've always said that I'd take a puck in the teeth to play for the #Bruins. Now I'll get my chance."
'These Are People' Reality Check of the Day
Well in the car on way to visit Wounded Warriors with Motts but now we are swinging back to drop him off..guess I'm going solo #Bruins
...but enough about that "humanity" stuff! The thread of jokes riffing on this comment was priceless.
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Signs Columbus Has Moved On, Glen Sather Really Wanted Cap Problems
Blue Jackets splash page: Hey, this guy is signed and hasn't requested a trade.
Columbus is just a mess. James Wisniewski is now their featured performer. Their captain wants out, his agent tried to hold the BJ's hostage over the weekend, so GM Scott Howson finally disclosed it was Nash who requested the trade and the GM stuck to his price rather than fold under duress. Here's Howson's news conference via TSN.
Columbus GM Scott Howson rejected what is believed a Rangers' final offer of Dubinsky, 21-year-old defenseman Tim Erixon, 2011 first-rounder J.T. Miller, 2010 second-rounder Christian Thomas and a first-round selection in this June's Entry Draft.
Thus, Nash remains in Columbus until the offseason, when interested parties including the Rangets [sic], Sharks, Maple Leafs and Flyers, plus perhaps the Canucks and Bruins, are likely to resubmit offers...
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Humorous Context-Devoid Commentary
Pshhh, the Rangers went into the deadline hoping for Rick Nash and came out with John Scott.
I kinda wish they'd gotten Nash.
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Steve Tambellini is Funny
I'm not sure why the Oilers traded Tom Gilbert for Nick Schultz. Neither is the gang at Copper & Blue. Tambellini praised Schultz's "international experience."
Tambellini also said while moving Gilbert:
"We focused on ways where we could support & upgrade in different areas. Schultz is a dependable, fit, experienced defencemen."
Confusing upgrade. They're thinking Gilbert is offensive oriented while Schultz is seen as a "shutdown" guy, but their records indicate Gilbert is plainly better overall.
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Canucks, Sabres Trade Guy We Coulda Picked for That Guy We Coulda Picked
In the perennial second-guessing that accompanies any draft, the Islanders traded down twice and still picked Josh Bailey over Cody Hodgson. The verdict is still up in the air, but Hodgson has finally started to break out a little this season. The Canucks cashed him in for potential power forward Zack Kassian, who was selected one slot after Calvin de Haan in 2009.
Of course the full deal also included powerplay specialist Marc-Andre Gragnani going to Vancouver and spare defenseman Alexander Sulzer going to Buffalo. With the Sedins and Ryan Kesler, it appears the Canucks did not see Hodgson slotting in behind them long term. They also acquired Sami Pahlsson from Columbus for this playoff run.
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Quiet Move That Could Pay Dividends
The Sharks acquired underrated but very useful bottom-six forward Daniel Winnik along with T.J. Galiardi for Jamie McGinn and a couple of prospects. Not sure how hard the Avalanche tried to retain Winnick, but he will be useful for the Sharks in their quest to finally emerge from the West. McGinn was having a decent year himself, so it's an interesting shift of assets.
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All the Deadline Trades
In the end, it was another fairly slow deadline, as GMs for the most part continued to avoid the splurging this day used to see, with its constant flow of firsts for rentals.
Snow had another tame day rather than add his named to the biggest deadline deals in Islanders history (not like there was a big one to be made). Now the pressure is on for him to get Parenteau signed and retained.
Oh by the way: The Islanders are in Washington. They play the Capitals tomorrow night.