See what the St. Louis Blues started?
By make the blockbuster Ryan Miller deal early, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong sent the trade dominoes tumbling for goaltenders.
Several netminders changed teams before this NHL trade deadline.
The Vancouver Canucks made the big move, off-loading Robert Luongo and his onerous contract on the Florida Panthers. Luongo welcomed his return to the Sunshine State. That struggling franchise gained a marquee player to sell to its withering fan base, albeit at staggering cost.
“It is huge,” Florida GM Dale Tallon said. “He's a big name down here, and it sets the tone for our franchise. [We] want to win the Stanley Cup, and talk is cheap, so we're acting and we're following up on what we said we would do.”
This would have been a much better deal a year ago, when Vancouver still owned emerging star Cory Schneider.
Now the Canucks have the tag team of Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, who came from Florida in this trade. These two played together in the Swedish Elite League.
Markstrom has been a highly regarded prospect who has been unable to find traction playing behind the suspect Panthers. It will be interesting to see what he can do with this fresh start.
“There’s going to be a drop-off in experience, for sure,” Canucks GM Mike Gillis told reporters in a conference call.
Luongo, 35, had nine years and $40.5 million left on his contract heading into this season. The Canucks had to eat 15 percent of that to facilitate this swap.
He took the high road out of town, remembering the 2011 playoffs that nearly brought Vancouver the Stanley Cup.
“There are a lot of great things,” Luongo told the Vancouver media. “We had a great run and fell short and that’s going to hurt me for a while. I wish we could have done more to win that (Game 7). There was a lot of stuff that happened in between and I have nothing but good things to say about the fans who were really supportive to the end and it didn’t go unnoticed for sure. The organization brought my game to another level. It’s all positive stuff.”
With Luongo in the house, the Panthers shipped veteran Tim Thomas to Dallas where he offers insurance behind the injury-prone Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen
The Buffalo Sabres tried to pitch Minnesota Halak to the Wild, but that team opted for Ilya Bryzgalov instead, paying the modest price of a fourth-round pick to get him from Edmonton. The Wild showed faith in fill-in Darcy Kuemper while opting not to acquire more significant insurance in the form of Halak or New Jersey Devils icon Martin Brodeur.
The Oilers then spent third- and fifth-round picks to pry Viktor Fasth out of Anaheim. Fasth’s return from the injured list gave the Ducks three quality goaltenders and that team opted to take the picks now rather try to move one of them in the summer. Frederik Andersen played well this season for the Ducks and team also has prospect John Gibson tearing up the AHL.
Buffalo GM Tim Murray finally moved Halak to the Washington Capitals, getting goaltender Michal Neuvirth in return.