The trade deadline usually separates teams into one of two categories. The good teams, the ones that are looking at a playoff berth, become buyers. The not-so-good teams, the lousy ones, they become sellers.
The buyers are looking to bolster their respective rosters, and fill in any weaknesses that may hurt them in the playoffs. The sellers are looking to dump higher-paid players, soon-to-be free agents and older players in order to build for the future.
Unfortunately, both sides sometimes come off on the losing end of a trade. After all, no one's thinking perfectly clear with a deadline closing in on him.
Here are the four teams that got worse from the 2012 trade deadline.
New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has actually made a couple good trades this year.
Early in the season, he acquired defenseman Kurtis Foster without giving up a roster player. In late January he got Alexei Ponikarovsky to help with production, and that's worked out wonderfully; in 15 games since joining the Devils, Ponikarovsky has put up five goals and six assists.
The problem is, that's not where the trading ended. With the trade deadline quickly approaching, Lou decided to address a major team need: puck-moving defensemen.
Looking at the available d-men, he apparently saw something in Marek Zidlicky, and pulled the trigger on a deal.
Marek Zidlicky may be a great player for the Devils. He apparently has a long-standing friendship with Patrik Elias and, to a lesser extent, with Petr Sykora. The problem is what was given up.
Ignoring the fact that the deal involved a second-round pick, a conditional third-round pick and Stephane Veilleux, the two main pieces headed to Minnesota were Nick Palmieri and Kurtis Foster.
Nick Palmieri is a young talent and still developing. He hasn't yet been too impressive in the NHL, but he's put up 25 points in 79 games over the last three seasons.
Foster was a mixed bag. On the one hand, during 28 games with the Devils, he posted a minus-nine rating. On the other hand, his presence on the power play helped to drastically slow the pace of shorthanded goals given up by the New Jersey. He put up 12 points with the Devils, including two power-play goals.
Marek Zidlicky is a very capable defender. In his first six seasons, he had 270 points, averaging fewer than 20 minutes a game only once. Since then, though, he's seen a drop-off, with just 38 points over the last two seasons. He also has not yet scored a goal this season.
Zidlicky is talented, but until he proves that he can play at the level he's played at previously, this goes down as a bad trade.
I usually trust Lou on trades, but he's not infallible. Time will tell if this works out, but it certainly doesn't look even right now.
The Montreal Canadiens have had a pretty disappointing season.
For a team with perennial playoff expectations—at least from its fans—last in the Eastern Conference is a nightmare.
While they are only 10 points out of the playoffs, there is nothing to suggest the Habs are up for any kind of late-season run. Accepting that fact, the Canadiens were sellers, and they gave up a couple of important players.
Ten days ago, the Canadiens traded defenseman Hal Gill to the Nashville Predators. On deadline day, they sent Andrei Kostitsyn there as well. Neither trade came as much of a surprise, but both players played rather large roles on the team.
Gill is a stay-at-home defender, so his numbers have always been nearly inconsequential (180 points in 1051 games), but he can contribute a lot on the defensive end.
He's currently tied for 13th in the league in blocked shots with 159. He's a reliable, veteran defender, and is a solid addition for the Preds.
Kostitsyn has been somewhat disappointing this season in the last year of his contract: 12 goals, 12 assists and a minus-six rating in 53 games. He also averages more than 15 minutes per game.
In exchange for Gill and a fifth-round pick, the Canadiens received Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney and a second-round pick.
Geoffrion is a Hobey Baker winner with great genes, but he hasn't yet shown he's capable of playing at an NHL level.
In 42 NHL games over the last two seasons, Geoffrion has just 11 points. Six of those were goals, and all of them came last season.
Slaney is a 22-year-old winger who's put up decent numbers in the QMJHL, ECHL and AHL, but hasn't yet made his NHL debut.
The pair will likely pay dividends in the future, but neither will fill the holes in the roster left from the trades.
It can't be easy being a Blue Jackets fans. Since coming into the league, they've had just one winning season and no playoff wins. It looks like, for now at least, the mediocrity will continue.
The Blue Jackets are the cushion at the bottom of the stands that lets Montreal and Edmonton fans feel good about their respective teams. They sit last in the league with just 18 wins and 13 fewer points than any other team.
In the last week, the Blue Jackets have traded away Jeff Carter, Antoine Vermette and Samuel Pahlsson.
Carter was part of one of the biggest trades of the year when he was swapped for Jack Johnson of the Kings. Carter had only joined the Jackets this past offseason when he was traded to them by the Flyers.
Though he never lived up to expectations in Columbus, Carter was one of the most talented players on the roster. In the past three seasons, he's put up 115 goals. That includes his career-high 46 in 2008-09, which was good enough for second place in the Rocket Richard Race.
Vermette is a seasoned veteran—though he's still only 29—who played a large role on the Jackets during his tenure there. He never put up dazzling numbers, but his career-best 27 goals and 38 assists was good for second on the Jackets in points, just two behind Rick Nash.
Pahlsson never put up dazzling numbers, but he was a steady player who could eat a respectable number of minutes, kill penalties and occasionally score.
Jack Johnson is the only good player the Jackets got back—heck, he's the only skater they got back. The only other player they received was career back-up goalie Curtis McElhinney, who at age 28, has only appeared in 69 NHL games and has put up abysmal stats (an .899 save percentage and a 3.1 goals-against average).
Johnson is a good, young defender with a lot of potential, but he's never quite lived up to expectations. Besides him and McElhinney, Columbus received two fourth-round picks, a second-round pick, a fifth-round pick and a conditional first-round pick.
Picks are good, and they'll help build a roster for the future. In the meantime though, the Blue Jackets took a giant leap backwards.
No one was more active than the Tampa Bay Lightning in the days leading up to the trade deadline. There was practically a fire sale in Tampa, where the Lightning have put up surprisingly bad numbers this year.
For a team that was expected to contend for the playoffs, a .500 record isn't so sweet. In preparation for a disappointing postseason, the Lightning sent off many of their supporting pieces.
Where do we start?
Two weeks ago, they traded Dominic Moore to the Sharks. The next day, they shipped Pavel Kubina to Philly. They were then involved in a three-team trade where they sent out Steve Downie. On deadline day, they sent Matt Gilroy to the Senators and Carter Ashton to the Leafs.
All of those athletes had varying roles on the Lightning, but Moore, Kubina and Downie all contributed on a regular basis. Ashton is just a prospect, and Gilroy is a promising young d-man, but that's still a lot of roster spots left open.
Well, they didn't get nothing in return. Through the various trades, they received two second-round picks, a first-round pick, a conditional third-rounder, Sebastien Piche, Keith Aulie, Jon Kalinski and Brian Lee.
The picks are valuable for the future, but no help for the present. Lee is a former first-round-pick defender who hasn't yet turned into anything special. Piche hasn't played in the NHL. Kalinski is a young prospect with little NHL experience, and Aulie is a somewhat-respectable prospect who hasn't yet fully developed.
Additionally, the Lightning also traded a conditional seventh-round pick for Mike Commodore of the Red Wings, and sent future considerations to the Blackhawks for Brandon Segal.
Commodore is nearing the end of his career, and Segal hasn't really done anything thus far, putting up 22 points in 92 games over three seasons.
Though this trade might work out great for the Lightning in the long run, GM Steve Yzerman has taken a lot of important pieces from his team, and hasn't really given them anything back yet.