Hall lands in Boston, but most teams opt for depth
General managers worked into the wee hours ahead of the NHL’s trade deadline.
Deals started flying left and right — six in all — after on Sunday afternoon, and didn’t stop until well after midnight. The teams involved in that flurry of activity were no doubt pleased with the results, but it certainly made for a quiet Monday.
The 17 trades consummated before the noon PT cutoff were the fewest since the league’s lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign, while the 23 players changing teams were the fewest since 2000.
The NHL’s pandemic deadline day largely featured depth moves as teams manoeuvred around a variety of challenges unique to 2021, including a flat salary cap, a condensed schedule, drastically reduced revenues, quarantines and an expansion draft looming just over the horizon.
“It seemed like a lot of the top teams this year that think they have a chance to win their divisions were adding players,” Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said. “What we’ve seen in past years is teams that were playing for playoff spots were trying to add, too, for that push to make the playoffs. I don’t think we’ve necessarily seen that this year. It was a buyer’s market.”
There was, however, a flurry of activity before Monday’s trade trickle. The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired veteran winger Nick Foligno from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a three-team swap to get things going Sunday evening before the Boston Bruins wrapped up the deluge by announcing they’d secured the services of 2018 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall in a deal with the Buffalo Sabres.
In between, the Bruins also got defenceman Mike Reilly from the Ottawa Senators, the Leafs nabbed goaltender David Rittich from the Calgary Flames, Ottawa shipped blue-liner Braydon Coburn to the New York Islanders, and the Pittsburgh Penguins added centre and two-time Stanley Cup champion Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings.
The trade for Hall, who was dealt along with winger Curtis Lazar to Boston for forward Anders Bjork and a 2021 second-round pick, was officially announced at 5 a.m. PT on Monday. Viewed as the top rental asset on the market, the Sabres agreed to retain half of Hall’s remaining one-year, $8 million US salary.