Players flew off the board at the NHL trade deadline. But the Blues, having edged back into the West Division playoff race, ended up standing pat as the deadline passed.
Their three-game winning streak convinced general manager Doug Armstrong's not go into sell mode.
"Our fluctuation of play, it had our minds going in different directions," he said Monday afternoon. "Certainly the play in the last three games and being in a playoff spot today was a reflection of deciding to stand pat with this group."
And . . .
"We're in a playoff spot now," Armstrong said. "We haven't played our best hockey on a consistent basis . . . Maybe we're going to get healthy at the right time and get on a roll, maybe the last three games are a reflection of that."
Mike Hoffman was the subject of much trade speculation, but ultimately Armstrong decided not to move him or anyone else for future assets.
"I haven't had any meaningful discussions in the last three days," Armstrong said.
The Boston Bruins landed the biggest name on the trade block, Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall. There had been some buzz with the Blues on that front, back when it seemed Armstrong was firmly in “buy” mode.
The Bruins spent a second-round pick and forward Anders Bjork to get Hall and forward Curtis Lazar.
Hall signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Sabres hoping to boost his stock for a long-term deal in 2021 free agency. Instead, he struggled – scoring just two goals in 37 games – while the Sabres season turned into a raging dumpster fire that filled the air with toxic smoke.
The Sabres retained half of Hall’s money to make the deal. Now the Bruins will see if Hall can come back to life flanking David Krejci on their struggling No. 2 forward line.
Elsewhere on the trade front:
- The Toronto Maple Leafs filled two needs, adding both grit and scoring depth by acquiring Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno. They paid a big price for that, spending their 2021 first-round pick and a fourth-round pick in 2022 while also adding forward Stefan Noesen from the San Jose Sharks in the three-way trade. (The Sharks used their salary cap space as the grease to make this trade work.) Foligno has an expiring contract, so it will be interesting to see where free agency takes him after the season. He's a winger who can bang bodies, check and score some tough goals.
- The Maple Leafs also spent a fifth-round pick to get defenseman Ben Hutton from the Anaheim Ducks.
- The Washington Capitals spent a ton to get winger Anthony Mantha from the Detroit Red Wings. Forwards Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik are headed to Motown along with a 2021 first round pick and a 2022 second round pick. Whew!
- Earlier, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen got a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022 third-round pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning for steady Top 4 defenseman David Savard. So Jarmo is loaded with draft assets as he plots out his complete franchise overhaul. Kekalainen (a former Blues draft czar) is having the sort of trade deadline success that Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong (another former Blues draft czar) needs to have in the desert as he rebuilds that franchise. The Detroit Red Wings got a fourth-round pick for essentially letting the Lightning use some of their salary cap space to make this happen.
- The Lightning also added Sharks defenseman Fredrik Claesson from the Sharks for goaltending prospect Magnus Chrona. (Great name!)
- The Pittsburgh Penguins added scoring depth by getting veteran forward Jeff Carter from the rebuilding Los Angeles Kings. The Penguins spent a 2022 conditional third-round pick and a 2023 conditional fourth-round pick to get Carter, whose contract runs through next season. (The third-round pick can become a second-round if the Penguins play for the Cup with Carter playing at least half the games.) He carries a $5.272 million cap hit, but the Kings are eating half of Carter’s remaining salary. Carter has long been a favorite of Penguins GM Ron Hextall, who was in the Philadelphia Flyers front office when that team drafted him and the Kings front office when that team traded for him. As ESPN notes, Carter may retire to sunny SoCal after this season rather than play for his actual salary of $2 million in 2021-22.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs spent a 2022 third-round pick to land goaltender “Big Game Dave” Rittich from the Calgary Flames. No. 1 goaltender Fredrik Andersen is hurt and the Leafs, who have Stanley Cup aspirations, have been leaning hard on Jack Campbell. Rittich was displaced in Calgary by pricey free agent Jacob Markstrom.
- The Bruins also fortified their blue line by acquiring defenseman Mike Reilly from the Ottawa Senators for a 2022 third-round pick. While the Hall trade was a gamble, this swap was a no-brainer. The Senators also sent defenseman Braydon Coburn to the New York Islanders for a 2022 seventh-round pick and a seventh-round pick from the Nashville Predators for Erik Gudbranson today.
- The Sabres got a third-round pick for sending solid defenseman Brandon Montour to the Florida Panthers – who needed help after losing defenseman Aaron Ekblad to an ugly leg fracture.
- Goaltender Devan Dubnyk is awful, but he keeps getting traded. This time it was the Sharks sending him to the Colorado Avalanche to provide insurance behind Philip Grubauer.
- The Colorado Avalanche reunited with center Carl Soderberg, sending prospects Ryder Rolston and Josh Dickinson to the Chicago Blackhawks.
- The rebuilding Blackhawks also fetched a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 third-round pick for depth forward Mattias Janmark and a 2022 fifth-round pick.
- Flames forward Sam Bennett got his wish. He is off to the Florida Panthers for a second-round pick and propect Emil Heineman. He gets the chance to grind away for coach Joel Quenneville.
- The Philadelphia Flyers sent defenseman Erik Gustafsson to Montreal for a seventh-round pick. Philly also retained half of Gustafsson's salary, which tells how little value he had in the marketplace.
- The Edmonton Oilers spent a conditional 2022 fourth-round pick to get defenseman Dmitry Kulikov from the New Jersey Devils.
- The Anaheim Ducks acquired defenseman Haydn Fleury from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for defenseman Jani Hakanpää and a 2022 sixth-round pick.
- The waiver wire was also busy, with the Dallas Stars claiming Sami Vatanen from the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa claiming Victor Mete from the Montreal Canadiens.