Star Pieces Move as NHL Trade Deadline Arrives: Stars and Goalies on the Menu as NHL teams complete another trading frenzy
By Brady Stark
The NHL trade deadline came and passed with some very significant players finding new homes to finish off the 2013-14 campaign. Despite the number of trades being fairly low compared to recent years, the quality of players were at a high. The wheeling and dealing actually happened a few days before the deadline with the first significant piece to be moved in the form of all-star goaltender Ryan Miller. Miller, a two-time Olympic athlete and Vezina winner, was traded to the St. Louis Blues along with Steve Ott for Montreal playoff hero goalie Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier and a 1st Round pick (Halak was later traded to the Washington Capitals with a third round pick in 2015 for Michael Neuvirth and Radislav Kesla). This trade put every other general manager on notice and started the frenzy that would ensue until the 5 March 2014 12pm deadline. The next giant domino to fall came from the Vancouver Canucks shocking the hockey community by ending the torture of Roberto Luongo by sending him home to Florida for Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias.
Goaltenders continued to be the trading commodity as the Edmonton Oilers decided to trade their resident Ursophobic (fear of bears) goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, to the Minnesota Wilds and picked up Victor Fasth from the Anaheim Ducks for draft picks. Speaking of goalies who mentally snapped, Tim Thomas has been blazing the comeback trail after leaving the Boston Bruins a year after winning the Stanley Cup, due to personal reasons. The moment that Luongo signed the trade papers to go back to Florida, Thomas picked up the phone and demanded a trade out of Florida knowing full well that he was going to be the back-up if he stayed. Still showing signs of the goalie that won the Vezina and Conn Smythe for playoff MVP in 2011, Thomas wanted the opportunity to play a lot and make a difference to a team that would want him. That team was the Dallas Stars. The Stars are battling a few teams for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference wild card. They already have a goalie in Kari Lehtonen but his inconsistent play was enough to call the Panthers for Thomas.
Another team that has question marks in the goal due to injuries is the Montreal Canadiens, who made a band-aid goalie move by acquiring Devan Dubnyk from the Nashville Predators for a conditional pick depending on what the Canadiens do with Dubnyk for the rest of the season. Goalies being traded left, right and center was not the only story as star forwards were also on the trade menu in the form of the former captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Martin St. Louis was poised to spend the rest of his illustrious career with the bolt on his chest, but that all changed when his own general manager decided to leave him off Team Canada. Even though he ultimately represented Canada because of an injury, the damage was already done. That damage came to a conclusion as he was sent packing to the New York Rangers in exchange for their captain, Ryan Callahan, a 1st round pick in 2015 and a conditional 2nd round pick in 2014. This trade marked the first time in recorded history that two captains were traded for each other. Both teams get star quality forwards, but the winner of this trade will not be determined for at least five years, as draft picks may or may not become NHL stars. Speaking of NHL stars, the last significant trade of the day might have also determined the most lopsided trade as far as winners and losers of the trade deadline go. The New York Islanders traded disgruntled forward Thomas Vanek to the Montreal Canadiens for Sebastien Collberg, with draft picks switching teams. The Islanders were in need of trading Vanek even though they had just traded for him earlier in the season from Buffalo. The Islanders did not get nearly enough for Vanek, who has 53 points in 60 games this season. Normally, a player such as Vanek would require a significant roster player and a 1st round draft pick in return, but because GM Garth Snow had no choice but to accept any offer that came to him, the Canadiens get a steal and bolster their playoff chances. It is hard for anyone to determine who won or lost in a trade due to draft picks being the mystery variable, but it is clear that teams like the St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, and Florida Panthers made strides toward the playoffs. Another NHL trade deadline is in the books, and now it time for the stretch drive. Buckle up fans; hockey time is just starting to heat up.