Wednesday was the day, the final opportunity for 30 NHL general managers to change the fate of their respective teams.
As became evident just moments after the 3 PM trade deadline, many of them didn't hesitate at the chance.
The news wires exploded throughout the afternoon with shocking trade after shocking trade after sluggish morning wore off.
Which blockbuster deals went down? Which teams came out ahead in each of them? A breakdown and judgment on every trade deadline transaction falls on the coming slides.
The San Jose Sharks have acquired defenseman Scott Hannan from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a conditional sixth or seventh-round pick, per TSN's Darren Dreger.
Hannan, a 34-year-old journeyman rearguard, has been virtually invisible this season in Nashville, registering just one point (an assist) in 29 games for the Predators.
In San Jose, he'll help fill the void left by Douglas Murray in his trade to Pittsburgh last week. He's a good shot-blocker (his 47 blocks ranked fourth on the Preds prior to Wednesday) who can help the Sharks improve on their 16th-place ranking in average shots allowed, and is easily worth a bottom-of-the-line draft pick.
Just don't expect him to score much.
Hannah fills the key “no goals” role for San Jose vacated by the Murray and Clowe trades.
— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) April 3, 2013
Winner: San Jose
The Edmonton Oilers added some experience to their fourth line Wednesday with the addition of Jerred Smithson. Per Sportsnet's Hockey Central via Twitter:
Edmonton Oilers acquire Jerred Smithson from Florida Panthers for a fourth-round pick.— Hockey Central (@SNHockeyCentral) April 3, 2013
Smithson, 34, isn't much of a player. He's managed only five points and a minus-four rating in 35 appearances this year, and one of his mere two goals was actually an empty-netter (via Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal). His faceoff percentage (54.8 percent on 363 attempts) is about the only noteworthy part of Smithson's resume.
It's outrageous that he fetched a selection two or three rounds higher than Hannan.
Winner: Florida Panthers
After clearing waivers unclaimed last month, the Carolina Hurricanes have finally found a taker for Jussi Jokinen.
The 30-year-old forward, who can play both center and wing, had a respectable six goals, 11 points and (albeit on just 283 attempts) an impressive 59.3 faceoff percentage. He's also a minus-eight, though, and the 'Canes no longer had the patience and cash to handle his $3 million cap hit through 2014.
As a result, they've dealt him to the Penguins for, essentially, nothing—a sixth or seventh-round conditional draft pick that, either way, is pending on Pittsburgh making it to the Stanley Cup Final (via NHL.com)
Jokinen's versatility is underrated; he'll be able to improve the Pens' depth on faceoffs and in shootouts.
Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins
As Miikka Kiprusoff and Roberto Luongo slowly faded off the trading block, young Ben Bishop quickly emerged as the goaltender of choice.
The Tampa Bay Lightning won the lottery and landed the promising netminder, but not without paying a staggering price. Per Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun:
The Senators got Conacher and 4th for Ben Bishop. #TRADETRACKER— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) April 3, 2013
Bishop, 26, is 8-5-0 with a .922 save percentage this season, and will provide an instantaneous boost to Tampa Bay's precarious goalie situation. Anders Lindback, who was acquired by GM Steve Yzerman last summer from Nashville for a bundle of draft picks, has struggled mightily in his first season as a full-time starter.
Conacher is quite a return for the Senators, though. In his rookie season, the undersized but Jeff-Skinner esque 23-year-old has 15 assists and 24 points; upon stepping into Ottawa, he'll immediately become the Sens' leading scorer.
Both teams get what they were looking for in this deal, but it's hard to argue that the Senators didn't come away with the advantage.
Winner: Ottawa Senators
Oh, the irony.
Last year, in desperate need of goaltending help, the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Sergei Bobrovsky from the Philadelphia Flyers.
This year, in desperate need of goaltending help, the Philadelphia Flyers acquired Steve Mason from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch first reported the trade:
First deal is G Steve Mason to the Flyers for G Michael Leighton and a third-round pick.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) April 3, 2013
Mason, 24, is 3-6-1 with an .899 save percentage this season. Bobrovsky, also 24, is 12-8-6 with a .927 save percentage this season.
Over the calendar-long span, one team clearly got the better end of the deal.
Winner: Columbus Blue Jackets
TSN's Darren Dreger first reported the deal via Twitter:
Gaborik to CBJ pending he waives and trade call.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) April 3, 2013
Gaborik has agreed to trade, but paperwork still has to be filed.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) April 3, 2013
Per TSN's Bob McKenzie, the Blueshirts have been sent a four-item package in return:
NYR trade Gaborik to CBJ for Brassard, John Moore, Dorsett and 6th round pick.#tradecentre— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 3, 2013
Per Andrew Goss of the New Jersey Record, Gaborik will have a little company headed with him to Ohio:
As part of Gaborik trade, D Steven Delisle, 22, and D Blake Parlett, 23, also headed to Blue Jackets.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) April 3, 2013
One year ago, the Blue Jackets finished 30th in the NHL by a mile.
Just less than 12 months later, they're one point out of a playoff position and are now loaded with one of the NHL's most explosive scorers.
Indeed, the Blue Jackets did give up plenty in return for Gaborik. Brassard is five years younger and actually has just one fewer point this season; Moore, 22, has the potential to develop into a solid top-six defenseman; Dorsett is a quality player among any cast of bottom-six forwards.
Yet it is, without doubt, Columbus who steals the headlines and send a message to the rest of the NHL with this trade.
Since their inaugural season in 2000 (ironically, the same year Gaborik was drafted), the Jackets have never won a single playoff game. They've played in a small market, struggled with attendance and struggled even more with winning.
And now, loaded with Gaborik and an overperforming roster of castaways and journeymen, they're arguably now a front-runner in the Western Conference playoff race.
Winner: Columbus Blue Jackets
Last summer, it was Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. This spring, it's Jason Pominville.
Time and time again, the Minnesota Wild are proving they're contenders to be reckoned with. Already 21-12-2 on this year and now loaded with another first-line scorer in 30-year-old Pominville, watch out for the Wild come May.
"The Buffalo Sabres traded their captain Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for goaltender Matt Hackett and forward Johan Larsson.
In 36 games this season, Pominville has 10 goals and 23 points, but the forward has cooled off of late after starting the year with 14 points in the first 10 games."
According to Gord Miller of TSN, a 2014 fourth-round pick is headed to Minnesota while a 2013 first round pick and 2014 second-round pick are also shipped to Buffalo.
We expect Pominville to be dynamite alongside Parise and Dany Heatley, who together should compose one of the most unheralded, multi-faceted first lines in hockey. Even Parise himself knows it:
Smiling Zach Parise on Pominville as he was coming off the ice: "Heck of a player. HECK of a player. #mnwild— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) April 3, 2013
However, Hackett, 23, will help push the Sabres' struggling goaltending duo of Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth and Larsson, 20 and a former second-round pick, has shown promise as a consistent scorer in the AHL.
Add those two noteworthy prospects into a package also including two high-profile draft picks, and it's hard to say that the youth movement-bound Sabres shouldn't be satisifed, either.
Winner: Both Teams
The Columbus Blue Jackets wrapped up their wild Wednesday with one third and final deal, although it was largely buried behind a plethora of Gaborik headlines.
Per TSN's Aaron Ward:
Comeau, 27, scored four goals and seven points in 33 games this season for Calgary. The former second-round pick exploded into stardom in 2010-11 with a career high 24 goals for the Islanders, but has struggled with injuries and poor teammates since then.
It's an extremely low price for Comeau, though—consider that even Jerred Smithson garnered more in return—who, despite his recent statistics, does have the talent to be a game-changing player at times.
Let's just say that new Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen just recorded his first career hat trick.
Winner: Columbus Blue Jackets
Controversial veteran forward Raffi Torres has found a new home—the seventh of his unusual NHL career—in San Jose.
Raffi Torres is a San Jose Shark for a third round pick in 2013, according to #TSN— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzCSN) April 3, 2013
Torres, 31, has one of the league's worst reputations for cheap shots and dirty play. He is a consistent contributor in the bottom six, though, and has actually scored at least 12 goals for four consecutive seasons.
The 223-pound winger should fill the role of Ryane Clowe, who was traded to the Rangers Tuesday, for the Sharks. Meanwhile, rebuilding Phoenix should be happy with a moderately high third-round draft pick.
Winner: Both Teams
Given all of the Miikka Kiprusoff, Roberto Luongo and Jason Pominville talk that has engulfed Toronto over the past week, the Maple Leafs one transaction on deadline day was an complete dud.
Ryan O'Byrne to Toronto for a 4th rounder. #tradecentre— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) April 3, 2013
The Leafs were reportedly seeking a depth defenseman, though, and 28-year-old O'Byrne fills the gap well—at 6'5", 234 pounds, the former Avalanche blueliner is, to say the least, hard to get past.
We just won't mention that his career high, in terms of scoring, is one goal.
Winner: Toronto Maple Leafs
If they did it with Sheldon Souray, perhaps they can do it with Matthew Lombardi, too.
Per ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, the Ducks acquired Lombardi in a last-minute deal from the Phoenix Coyotes:
Mathew Lombardi to Anaheim for Brandon McMillan— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) April 3, 2013
The 31-year-old forward may be the biggest flier of deadline day. He scored 53 points as recently as 2009-10, but has battled both injuries and inconsistent effort over the past three years with Nashville, Toronto and Phoenix.
Whether he can turn his career around in Anaheim or not, the Ducks certainly didn't give up much for him. Only Brandon McMillan, a 2008 third-round pick currently playing fourth-line minutes in the AHL, is headed back to Phoenix in exchange.
For the Ducks and GM Bob Murray, this was a risk worth taking.
Winner: Anaheim Ducks
April may well bring a happy conclusion to the long and productive career of Steve Sullivan, as he lands back in the place where he entered the NHL 18 long years ago—New Jersey.
Steve Sullivan traded to NJ for a 7th rounder— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) April 3, 2013
Devils rent Steve Sullivan. Smart, skilled veteran. Can help if he has anything left.— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) April 3, 2013
Sullivan had scored five goals, 12 points and a minus-eight rating in 33 appearances with Phoenix, playing his 1,000th career game earlier this week. For those doubting his ability at this age, though, it's worth remembering he tallied a more-than-respectable 17 goals and 48 points only last season.
If Sullivan, a UFA in July, retires after this season, playing for New Jersey should be a pleasant way to go out. Nonetheless, in the meantime, his presence will provide a little production and a lot of experience for this on-the-bubble Devils squad.
Winner: New Jersey Devils
Nearly two hours after the official deadline passed, the day's biggest blunder finally hit the airwaves.
The Nashville Predators had done the improbable—trade leading scorer Martin Erat.
And the Washington Capitals had done the unthinkable—trade 11th overall pick Filip Forsberg.
F. Forsberg to Nash for M. Erat and M. Latta— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) April 3, 2013
Have spoken with a couple of scouts and others...reaction is that Washington greatly overpaid for Erat.— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_Trib) April 3, 2013
It's an enormous blunder at the worst possible time for the Capitals, who successfully blew away the most prominent piece of their prospect corps for another bound-to-not-fit-in forward.
Erat, 31, may be the Preds leading scorer (he's actually tied with David Legwand and Shea Weber), but 17 of his 21 points this season have come as assists.
The Caps don't need that. The Caps need scoring. The Caps need a player who can fit in with their high-speed, high-pressure system, not a quiet veteran who has spent his entire career in a small market like Nashville.
George McPhee? You just made a tremendous mistake.
Winner: Nashville Predators