But the Colorado Avalanche—yes, the same Avalanche that supposedly weren't in the market for any short-term rental help at the expense of any prospects, the same team whose general manager said recently that big trades are just too hard to make now—was the one team with a seemingly win-now mentality on Monday.
While there were bigger trades made in the days leading up to the deadline, with Andrew Ladd to Chicago and Eric Staal to the Rangers being the biggest, Colorado's acquisition of 26-year-old winger Mikkel Boedker from Arizona for Alex Tanguay and prospects Conner Bleackley and Kyle Wood qualified as deadline day's biggest.
In the end, Sakic was right: Big blockbusters just are harder to make now in the tight salary-cap era.
But did he change his philosophy about not mortgaging the future for rental players who might leave after this season as unrestricted free agents?
"Well, we didn't want to trade (our) first-round picks, (our) top prospects, and we didn't do that," said Sakic shortly before boarding a team charter flight to Minnesota, where the Avs and Wild will have a showdown on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center—one that might be termed "The Battle for the Last Wild-Card Spot."
Bleackley was a 2014 first-round pick of the Avs, which presumably would make him one of the organization's top prospects. But the team's estimation of him had sunk so low that it was not going to offer him a pro contract, and he would have gone back into the draft this year.
According to SI.com's Allan Muir, Bleackley showed up to last season's training camp out of shape and was immediately sent back to the Red Deer Rebels. Prior to this season, Bleackley had the captaincy stripped from him by coach Brent Sutter.
Boedker is in the last year of a contract paying $3.75 million, and there are conflicting opinions about his value.
Writing for Sportsnet.ca, Jonathan Willis savaged the deal, saying Colorado badly overvalued Boedker and deeming the trade "lopsidedly in Arizona's favor." However, legendary former coach Scotty Bowman had a different take. "Very speedy. I like him," he told Bleacher Report of Boedker.
The Avalanche desperately want to make the playoffs this year. They don't want to have to tell their fans, "Hey, sorry we didn't make it again, but we're still young and developing and next year will be our year."
That kind of line has gotten old in recent years with what has become a fickle fanbase that doesn't show up to the Pepsi Center if the Avs are not winning.
And the fact is Colorado wasn't all that young. Even after dealing the 36-year-old Tanguay for a player 10 years younger, the Avs remain the third-oldest team in the league at 27.97 years on average, according to NHL Numbers.
While their true core is composed of younger guys such as Nathan MacKinnon, Gabe Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Semyon Varlamov and Erik Johnson, this is Duchene's seventh year in the league now. If Colorado can get into the playoffs, it has a goalie in Varlamov who is capable of getting red-hot and just enough around the edges to be a dangerous team.
The addition of Boedker over Tanguay in the top six is an upgrade, no matter how you slice it.
The Avs should be commended for their risk-taking in this case because teams are so close in talent level now in this NHL age of parity that there truly is an "anything can happen" feel to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Edmonton made it to the Stanley Cup Final as an eighth seed in the first year of the salary-cap era (2006), and the Los Angeles Kings won a Stanley Cup in 2012 after starting out as the eighth seed. In 2014, the Avs entered the playoffs as Central Division champions with home-ice advantage in the first round against Minnesota only to lose in seven games.
Once you're in the NHL's big dance, you have a real chance to go far.
The Avs also added defenseman Eric Gelinas from New Jersey for a third-round pick in 2017. Sakic said Gelinas' booming slap shot will be put to immediate use from the point on the power play, which has struggled mightily of late. On the season, Colorado is a stunning 0-for-13 on five-on-three advantages.
Boedker, one of the league's fastest skaters, will play on a line with MacKinnon and Landeskog.
"We tried to improve our club, and I think we did that," Sakic said. "By getting Boedker, he can keep up with MacKinnon. He can score goals and we're real excited to have him. We know he's UFA and we gave up a young 'D' in Kyle Wood, but we feel we've got a lot of good young 'D' coming up and could afford to do that."
Some other deals trickled out past the 3 p.m. ET official cutoff, but unless David Jones from Calgary to Minnesota for an aging Niklas Backstrom and a sixth-rounder is your idea of a big trade, none generated much buzz.
The day with real buzz in the NHL now, trade-wise, is draft day, when teams have a better idea of their budgets and can get more out of their acquisitions than just a potential two-month rental.
Until then, the NHL's trade market is officially closed for business.
Trade information courtesy of NHL.com's trade tracker.
Adrian Dater covers the NHL for Bleacher Report.
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