Wayne Gretzky holds dozens of NHL records. One that he was never a candidate to own is the mark held by Alan May.
May, a former enforcer, is the only player in NHL history to be involved in four of the 459 trade deadline deals since 1980. May was twice dealt at the deadline in back-to-back years; in 1988 (Boston to Edmonton) and '89 (Edmonton to Los Angeles), and again in 1994 (Washington to Dallas) and '95 (Dallas to Calgary).
Four other players have been dealt three times at the deadline. The most notable was Hall of Famer Mike Gartner, who was swapped at the deadline three times in a five-year span -- he went from Washington to Minnesota in 1989, from Minnesota to the New York Rangers a year later, and from the Rangers to Toronto at the deadline in 1994.
Gretzky was never traded at the actual deadline -- Los Angeles sent him to St. Louis on Feb. 27, 1996, a couple of weeks before the deadline, which was later in the season than it is now. In addition to Gartner, other Hall of Famers who've been moved at the deadline since 2000 include Ray Bourque (2000; Boston to Colorado), Doug Gilmour (2001; Chicago to Buffalo) and Joe Nieuwendyk (2002; Dallas to New Jersey). Bourque and Nieuwendyk went on to win Stanley Cups with their new team, though not in the year they were acquired.
Among active players, no one has been dealt at the deadline more than twice. Among those who've been traded more than once at the deadline was Phoenix defenseman Derek Morris, who was dealt in consecutive years -- by Phoenix to Boston in 2009 and from the Bruins back to the Coyotes the next year.
Currency of the realm -- Teams looking toward the future understandably want high draft picks when they make trades at the deadline. But getting first-round picks is easier said than done.
Since 1980, just 22 first-rounders (one this year; Nashville's to Buffalo for Paul Gaustad) have been traded at the deadline, less than one per year. More popular are second- and third-rounders -- there have been 57 second-rounders (two this year) and 59 third-rounders (one this year) dealt. Counting the 11 picks moved on Monday, there have been 286 picks dealt at the deadline since 1980.
Looking for instant gratification -- Every GM who made a deal on Monday will be hoping for the next Lee Stempniak or Peter Mueller.
The Phoenix Coyotes landed Stempniak at the trading deadline in 2010 after he'd struggled to score in Toronto. All Stempniak did was score 14 goals in his 18 games with the Coyotes, the most by any player acquired at the deadline since 1980.
The Coyotes sent Mueller to Colorado for Wojtek Wolski at the 2010 deadline in perhaps the best of the great "helps both teams" deadline deals of all-time. Mueller, who had struggled all season with Phoenix, put up 20 points in 15 games with his new team, the most ever by a player dealt at the deadline. Wolski, who similarly had struggled with Colorado, rediscovered his scoring touch with 18 points in 18 games. Not coincidentally, both teams got hot in the final weeks of the season and made the playoffs.
Though he was a point short of matching Mueller's total, Robert Reichel's performance after being acquired by the Islanders from Calgary in 1997 could arguably have been the best of all time. Reichel put up 19 points in 12 games with his new club. It's the second-highest total ever -- but Reichel did it in just 26 days, 14 days less than the current setup.
Changing the flight pattern -- Six weeks ago, it looked like Anaheim might be a big seller at the trade deadline. On Jan. 6, the Ducks were 14th in the Western Conference at 11-22-6, 19 points out of the final playoff spot and seemingly headed for an early summer vacation.
Fast forward to today. While the Ducks are only one place higher in the standings, they enter the week just four points out of the last playoff berth -- and the talk swung from whether they'll be sellers at the deadline to whether GM Bob Murray would try to add someone to help with a playoff push.
The turnaround has been amazing. The Ducks were 11-22-6 on Jan. 6 and had been outscored 135-104; since then, they've gone 16-3-4 while outscoring their opponents 56-39 -- meaning they've allowed 1.65 goals per game in a 23-game span.
Instead of selling, the Ducks merely tweaked, adding defenseman Sebastien Erixon from Vancouver for forward Andrew Gordon and getting forward Dale Mitchell from Toronto for defenseman Mark Fraser. Said Murray: "A long time ago we thought we’d be sellers and the players responded to the challenge. They deserve this opportunity."
Despite the Ducks' surge, they're hardly a lock to make the playoffs. Since the shootout was adopted in 2005, the biggest deficit overcome by a team to make the playoffs is 11 points by San Jose in 2005-06 and by St. Louis three years later. That's five points less than the hole the Ducks are trying to dig out of.
A sobering precedent for Ducks fans is last year's New Jersey Devils, who had the fourth-worst record in the previous 15 years at the midway point of the season -- and had dug themselves such a big hole that not even a 28-10-3 second half was enough to get them into the playoffs. The Ducks' hole isn't quite as big, but a trip to the postseason would still be a record-setter.