The 2013 NHL trade deadline is fast approaching, and there have already been a lot of deals made over the last few days.
Even though many teams have made moves prior to the deadline, there's no reason to expect a shortage of deals to be made before 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Over the last two years, there were 31 trades with 67 players and 23 draft picks dealt on trade deadline day.
Since there are so many teams in the playoff race in both conferences, expect a lot of general managers to be active in trying to improve their rosters on Wednesday.
Let's look at a recap and analysis of the trades that have been completed, and be sure to check back to this article for updates as more deals are made before the deadline.
The New York Rangers have never been shy about making a major trade, and they completed a blockbuster deal on Wednesday by sending top-line winger Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Derek Dorsett, John Moore, Derick Brassard and a 2013 sixth-round pick, per TSN.
These players won't give the Rangers (who rank 30th in goals scored) much scoring, but they all bring toughness and defensive ability to John Tortorella's lineup. Even though he has scored 40-plus goals twice as a Rangers player, Gaborik's skill set was not a good fit in Tortorella's defense-first system that requires physical play, shot blocking and grit.
The Rangers needed to add bottom-six depth and toughness to their roster at the deadline, and this trade addresses both of those areas. Tortorella will now be able to use all four of his forward lines and be confident that his team will play well defensively.
As for Columbus, this is a fantastic trade for a team whose fans are accustomed to their club being sellers at the deadline. The Blue Jackets rank 29th in goals scored and needed a superstar forward to improve the club's scoring depth. Gaborik is still in the prime of his career and should be a good fit on the team's first line alongside veteran center Vinny Prospal.
Not having to give up any of its three first round picks for the 2013 NHL Draft was another victory for Columbus in this deal.
Acquiring a star player like Gaborik also sends a strong message to the team and its fan base because management has made the decision to be aggressive and competitive this season. Columbus is one point out of a playoff spot and has a 5-2-3 record in its last 10 games. The hiring of John Davidson as President of Hockey Operations has changed the culture of the Blue Jackets franchise, which is now committed to winning, but the process will be done in a smart and responsible manner.
The Minnesota Wild will be a team that no one wants to meet in the playoffs this year. General manager Chuck Fletcher has done a tremendous job of building a contending team in Minnesota by making a number of smart trades, major free agent signings and good draft picks over the last few years. Now you can add the acquisition of former Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville (per TSN) to that list of good moves he's made.
Fletcher's impressive drafting has given the Wild strong prospect depth, and they used it to acquire an impact player who will strengthen the team's ability to score goals. Pominville has failed to tally 60-plus points in a season just one time since 2006-07, and in a normal 82-game schedule, he should score 20-plus goals with at least 40 assists in an impressive top-six forward group in Minnesota.
In addition to his impressive offensive skill set, Pominville also has just one more year remaining on his contract with a manageable $5.3 million salary cap hit (per Capgeek). Fletcher has acquired a top-line winger in a move that didn't force the team to make a major financial commitment or cost the Wild any of their top three prospects.
Minnesota is one of the best defensive teams in the NHL thanks to its strong goaltending, and now the club has the right amount of high-end offensive skill to make a deep playoff run in 2013.
As for the Sabres, general manager Darcy Regier got a tremendous return package for his captain. He acquired two top-tier prospects in forward Johan Larsson and goalie Matt Hackett, while also getting the Wild's 2013 first-round pick and their second-round selection in 2014. For a player with just a year left on his contract, Reiger was able to add some great depth/talent to the Sabres' prospect pool and give the team some more quality draft picks for its future rebuild.
This is a classic example of a trade that will benefit both teams.
According to John Shannon of Sportsnet, the Rangers have made a trade for veteran forward Ryane Clowe.of the San Jose Sharks.
TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported what New York had to give up to acquire the Sharks winger (h/t CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz).
Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet tweeted about a possible contract extension for Clowe.
The 30-year-old left-winger will add grit, penalty killing, third-line depth and playoff experience to the Rangers lineup. His physical style of play will be a nice fit in the Rangers' current system.
However, New York's major weakness is a lack of scoring depth, which is something that Clowe will not provide head coach John Tortorella. Clowe has scored zero goals with 11 assists in 28 games for the Sharks this season.
His offensive struggles are a bit of a surprise, especially since he hasn't failed to score less than 45 points in a season since 2007-08. The Rangers are hoping that a change in scenery will benefit him.
As for the Sharks, acquiring draft picks for an under-performing player who probably wasn't going to re-sign in the summer is a good deal for general manager Doug Wilson.
Over the last week and a half, Wilson has made a few moves to acquire draft picks without giving up any valuable parts of his NHL roster. This will help San Jose contend in 2013 and draft young players for the team's future.
Less than a week after the Boston Bruins were unable to land Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla, general manager Peter Chiarelli acquired Dallas Stars winger Jaromir Jagr for forward prospects Lane MacDermid and Cody Payne, along with a second-round pick that will become a first-round selection if the B's reach the Eastern Conference finals this season.
Jagr, 41, has 14 goals and 12 assists in 34 games for Dallas this season. The veteran forward also leads all active NHL players in goals and points.
He will contribute to the Bruins' struggling power play and provide the team with reliable goal scoring, size/toughness, leadership and Stanley Cup experience. The Bruins rank 12th in scoring, but they have scored an average of just 2.4 goals in their last eight games.
Luckily for the Bruins, the price to acquire Jagr was not very high.
MacDermid, who is an NHL-ready prospect, will be able to give the Stars some size and toughness for the team's third and fourth lines. He will benefit from the opportunity to earn a regular spot on the NHL roster, which wasn't going to happen in Boston this season.
Payne has scored 24 goals with 21 assists in 66 games for the OHL's Plymouth Whalers this season, but he should not be expected to feature in a top-six role at the NHL level in his career.
Even though he will likely be a rental for Boston as an upcoming UFA, Dallas did not get a lot of value in return for Jagr, who led the team in scoring. The best-case scenario for the Stars is that the Bruins make the East finals and are forced to send their first-round pick in 2013 to Dallas.
The Vancouver Canucks have finally upgraded at center by acquiring Dallas Stars forward Derek Roy for a second-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft and defensive prospect Kevin Connauton.
With second-line center Ryan Kesler battling injury problems all year (he's played in just seven games in 2013), the Canucks needed to bolster their depth down the middle by acquiring a top-six forward who excels in a playmaking role.
Roy is a perfect fit for the Canucks because he has tremendous vision, passing skills and also plays a responsible defensive game. He scored four goals with 18 assists in 30 games for the Stars this season.
The 29-year-old veteran is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5.
Now that Vancouver has a top-six center for the playoffs, it may not need to get a center in a possible deal involving star goaltender Roberto Luongo, so it will be interesting to see if the Roy trade has an impact on the chances of Luongo being dealt before the deadline.
The price to acquire a rental like Roy was high because Connauton was arguably the Canucks' second-best defensive prospect. He has scored 25 points in 60 games for the AHL's Chicago Wolves this season and would have had an opportunity to make the NHL roster next season in Vancouver.
Connauton is the second top defensive prospect that the Stars have acquired in trades over the last week. Former first-round pick Joe Morrow, who is a talented young defenseman with impressive offensive skills, was acquired from the Pittsburgh last week in a trade involving veteran forward Brenden Morrow.
The Tampa Bay Lightning traded 32-year-old defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday in exchange for forward Adam Hall and a seventh-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft.
Bergeron will improve the Hurricanes power play by adding a powerful shot and puck-moving skills to the team's blue line. He also has 57 games of playoff experience and will be a UFA in July.
After putting Bergeron on waivers earlier in the year, it's not surprising that Tampa Bay traded him prior to the deadline. It was unlikely that he would re-sign with the Lightning in the summer.
Over the last two days, the Los Angeles Kings have made a few changes to their blue line. Per TSN, general manager Dean Lombardi acquired top-four defenseman Robyn Regehr from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for second-round picks in 2014 and 2015. Regehr is a UFA at the end of the year.
Then on Tuesday, Lombardi sent defenseman Davis Drewiske to the Montreal Canadiens for a fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft.
With veteran defensemen Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell missing a lot of games because of injuries this season, the Kings needed to acquire another blueliner like Regehr for additional depth and defensive skill.
Regehr is a defensive defenseman who plays a physical game and will log a lot of minutes against opposing teams' best forwards. He tallied just two points in 29 games for the Sabres this season, but he does have 50 blocked shots and 65 hits. The 32-year-old forward also has 41 games of playoff experience and will be an important part of the Kings' Stanley Cup defense in the playoffs.
Following the acquisition of Regehr, Drewiske became expendable and the Canadiens didn't have to part with much to acquire him. Drewiske will add more size (6'2", 220 pounds), toughness, penalty-killing ability and experience to the Montreal blue line.
Regehr is the second defenseman that Sabres general manager Darcy Regier has traded over the last few days (Jordan Leopold is the other). Acquiring two second-round picks for a veteran UFA that probably wouldn't have re-signed with Buffalo in the offseason is a good return for the Sabres, as they appear headed for a rebuild in the near future.
The Chicago Blackhawks needed to add another forward to their roster for some additional center depth, and general manager Stan Bowman addressed this need with the acquisition of Michal Handzus from the San Jose Sharks. The price was a fourth-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft, per TSN.
After second-line center Dave Bolland suffered an injury (via Chris Kuc of Chicago Tribune) during Monday night's victory against the Nashville Predators, the Blackhawks' need for more depth down the middle increased.
Handzus adds some much-needed size and faceoff skill to the Blackhawks lineup. The 36-year-old center has won 56 percent of his draws this season, which is better than Chicago's team average of 50.2 percent.
He also gives head coach Joel Quenneville a center with the strength and size needed to defend the most physical centers in the Western Conference, such as Anaheim Ducks star Ryan Getzlaf. Handzus is also capable of playing a role on the Blackhawks penalty kill, which ranks sixth in the NHL.
One of the priorities for the St. Louis Blues before the deadline was to find a defenseman with a left-handed shot that could play alongside Alex Pietrangelo. General manager Doug Armstrong acquired a player who could fill this role over the weekend by completing a deal for Buffalo Sabres veteran Jordan Leopold (via TSN).
The Blues sent a second- and fifth-round pick in this year's draft to Buffalo for Leopold, who is a UFA at the end of the season.
On Monday, Armstrong acquired the best defenseman rumored to be available in Calgary Flames star Jay Bouwmeester. St. Louis gave up prospects Reto Berra and Mark Cundari, along with a conditional first-round pick in the upcoming NHL draft in exchange for the 29-year-old defenseman. TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported the conditions of the draft pick going to Calgary.
Flames also say if Blues miss the playoffs, that 1st round pick in 2013 becomes 4th-rounder this year and a 1st rd in 2014— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) April 2, 2013
Bouwmeester adds more offensive skill (six goals and nine assists in 33 games) and size (6'4", 212 pounds) to St. Louis' blue line, and he will also give head coach Ken Hitchcock a reliable defensive player who can log 20-plus minutes every night against the opposing teams' best goal scorers.
Per Capgeek, Bouwmeester has a $6.6 million salary and a $6.68 million cap hit. His contract doesn't expire until after the 2013-14 season. Since the Blues are usually a low-budget club and have just one player with a cap hit above $5 million (Bouwmeester), it will be interesting to see how this trade impacts the Blues' ability to re-sign key free agents such as Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart over the summer.
As for the Flames, this trade is going to help their rebuild by adding prospects to their organization and giving them more picks for the 2013 draft.
Cundari is a 22-year-old defenseman who tallied 25 points in 56 games for the AHL's Peoria Rivermen this year. If he reaches his full potential, Cundari will be a good third-pairing defenseman at the NHL level.
Berra is a 26-year-old goaltender playing in Switzerland, and he is one of the top goalie prospects outside of North America.
The key part of this trade for the Flames is the first-round pick, and if the Blues reach the postseason, Calgary will have three top-30 selections in the 2013 draft.