Let's be honest: The NHL trade deadline doesn't typically live up to its hype. If anything, it's the fake Twitter accounts that steal the show when hockey's trade market closes for the season.
But the 2020 edition had plenty of entertaining moves to watch and discuss, from big veteran departures from downtrodden clubs to teams beefing up for what could be long playoff runs in just a couple of months' time. While there were storylines aplenty over the last few days, there is a handful that stood out.
Here are 10 takeaways resulting from this year's NHL trade deadline.
1) Tyler Toffoli was the subject of trade rumors for the better part of this season, although it was originally speculated that he would go to an Eastern Conference club. (The Bruins were thought to be one of the forward's top suitors.) But then in a surprise move a week ahead of the deadline, the Kings shipped Toffoli — fresh off registering the first hat trick in NHL outdoor game history — to the rival Vancouver Canucks . The move started the Kings' big makeover ahead of the deadline, which included shipping Alec Martinez to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Really, there's an upside for all parties involved. Cup-winner Toffoli goes to a contending team, while the division-worst Kings get a prospect and some draft picks. L.A. has gone into full rebuild mode, trying to find the perfect balance of veteran experience with young talent as it looks to future seasons.
2) Take it from someone who has talked to Brenden Dillon on a regular basis over the last few seasons: Watching the defenseman get misty-eyed on camera ahead of being traded seriously pulled at the heartstrings.
Nevertheless, the writing was on the wall. Even a dressing-room staple like Dillon wasn't safe from the overhaul the San Jose Sharks were due after how disappointing their season has been, which exploded on Monday when Mr. Shark himself, Patrick Marleau, was sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins and penalty kill staple Barclay Goodrow was sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The long and short of it here is that San Jose tried its best at the deadline to give these players the opportunity to go to Stanley Cup-contending teams. Following up a Western Conference Final appearance by being one of the worst teams in the league is extremely disappointing, but the Sharks deserve props for giving these players the chance to vie for the Cup.
3) After months of speculation and rumors, the saga between Jean-Gabriel Pageau and the Ottawa Senators came to a whirlwind finale. Sure, reports surfaced before the deadline that Ottawa was finally engaging in talks about a contract extension with the 27-year-old center. But nothing came to fruition as the Sens — who we will discuss more later — traded Pageau to the New York Islanders.
The move to get Pageau, who is having a career year, shows how committed the Isles are to pushing into the playoffs this year. While New York is currently sitting in the first wild-card spot in the East, there's not a lot of room for error down the stretch. Adding depth down the middle with Pageau takes some of the pressure off Mathew Barzal and gives New York another young offensive weapon.
4) Zach Bogosian was a player Yardbarker highlighted a month ago as a likely trade candidate — he did request a trade earlier this season and then refused to report for an AHL stint after all. So perhaps it wasn't too big of a surprise when the embattled blue liner left the Sabres on Sunday evening after clearing waivers for the Lightning. The question now: What exactly can he bring to Tampa Bay?
Sure, the Bolts are in need of depth with Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta sidelined with injuries. However, Bogosian has played only 19 games this season and has tallied five points through that span, in part due to his own health woes.
This opportunity with Tampa Bay could be Bogosian's shot at a fresh start after a rough season in Buffalo. How he fits into the Bolts lineup could, no doubt, be interesting.
5) Netminder Robin Lehner was another player YB predicted would be traded at the deadline. He was solid between the pipes despite how mightily the Blackhawks have struggled this season, and with Chicago needing room under the salary cap, a move made sense.
And while the Lehner trade to Vegas for Malcolm Subban might have come as a surprise, it also sets the former up to be part of one of the most intimidating tandems in the entire league.
Vegas is in the midst of a six-game winning streak that had them atop the Pacific Division on deadline day. With Marc-Andre Fleury riding a four-game stretch of victories, including a shutout against the Islanders, the Swedish netminder can serve as a solid backup and give Fleury some breathing room as VGK preps for a playoff run.
6) Zach Parise really took the hockey world by storm on Monday when he waived his no-move clause and prepped to join the Islanders with less than an hour left before the 3:30 p.m. EST deadline. Then talks fell apart at the last second, and no trade was finalized.
But this saga likely isn't over, and a departure from the State of Hockey could be in Parise's future despite still being in the midst of a 13-year contract . As Michael Russo of The Athletic explained, the move makes sense for both parties: Minnesota needs to gear up for a serious rebuild, and the 35-year-old winger isn't going to get a taste of glory if he stays there. In fact, his one shot at a Cup came before he joined the Wild, making the need for a move more imminent.
"I’ve had one chance to win it all, and that wasn’t in Minnesota, and that’s how hard it is," he told The Athletic. "When I went to the Finals my last year in Jersey, and you think just from how fun it was, how great of an experience it was, you crave to get that again.”
7) The Winnipeg Jets' trade possibilities remain open despite the deadline passing. Sure, they made a few moves, adding depth in the form of forward Cody Eakin and D-man Dylan DeMelo ahead of Feb. 24. But the ongoing saga between the Jets and Dustin Byfuglien remains ongoing.
The polarizing player has remained a rumor staple all season after having ankle surgery in October and subsequently not returning. According to Hockey Night in Canada's Sean Reynolds, the two sides will likely still part ways once the market opens back up.
8) If there's one team that sold big to build for the future, it was the Senators. With the Pageau trade alone, Ottawa got a top-three, lottery-protected draft pick, a second-round pick and a conditional third-rounder all in the upcoming 2020 draft, which could set them up to have three first-round and four second-round picks.
Now whether these moves instantly jump-start the Sens rebuild is a whole other story. Ottawa has three UFA contracts and five RFA contracts to contend with in the upcoming offseason, so there are likely many more changes to come. At the very least, while they are currently second-worst in the Eastern Conference, the steps to stay out of that hole in the future are already in motion.
9) As far as who gets the award for making the most noise right at the deadline, the Hurricanes are an obvious winner.
Carolina got Brady Skjei from the New York Rangers and Sami Vatanen from the New Jersey Devils just as the last trades of the day came trickling in. With their blue line being beaten up and their current wild-card standing not quite solidified, grabbing two competent defensemen to fill the void is huge.
One could argue that the aforementioned Sharks were big winners at the last second by getting a much-needed first-round pick in the Barclay Goodrow deal. However, as The Athletic's Kevin Kurz pointed out, losing an established depth forward and penalty-killer in Goodrow could also potentially hinder San Jose as it tries to bounce back next season.
10) You really have to give the Canadiens props for how they handled the Ilya Kovalchuk trade to the Capitals.
Montreal, which was an active seller at Monday's deadline, doesn't have the best track record when it comes to parting ways with big-name players. But GM Marc Bergevin clearly kept the Kovalchuk in the loop when it came to potential landing spots for him.
The Russian skater, who started the season with the Kings and had just been picked up by the Habs in January, went so far as to say he wouldn't mind returning to Montreal when he becomes a UFA.
"When I'll be a free agent it will be one of the destinations that will be in my mind for sure," the 36-year-old told NHL.com of the rebuilding Montreal club. "The fans here, the players, the younger players, the direction the team is going, really, I like it a lot."
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