Some teams were trading to bolster what could be a legitimate Stanley Cup contending roster. Some were trying to acquire players who can help them get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Others were in full sell mode because of massive rebuilding projects.
Here are the five teams who did the best for the situation they're in:
1. ANAHEIM DUCKS
Acquired: D James Wisniewski, D Simon Despres, D Korbinian Holzer, F Jiri Sekac, F Michael Sgarbossa, F Tomas Fleischmann, Columbus Blue Jackets' third-round pick in 2015, Colorado Avalanche's conditional seventh-round pick in 2015
Parted with: D Ben Lovejoy, D Eric Brewer, F Rene Bourque, F Devante Smith-Pelly, F William Karlsson, F Dany Heatley, second-round pick in 2015, third-round pick in 2015, fifth-round pick in 2016
The Ducks became a faster, more skilled team with a deeper, more mobile defense. It's exactly what they needed to do.
Size, strength and snarl have long been some of the Ducks' best attributes, but they were able to trade from a position of strength in order to get some skill in their lineup, particularly on defense.
Wisniewski and his big shot should be able to contribute to getting the Ducks' middling power play (21st in the NHL, 17.4 percent) going in a better direction. He's not a rental; he's signed for two seasons after this one. That's likely why the Ducks were willing to part with Karlsson, one of their prized prospects.
Despres, a first-round draft pick (No. 30) in 2009, has risk in his game, which is likely why the Pittsburgh Penguins were willing to trade him. He also has untapped offensive potential.
Despres was playing sheltered minutes in a third-pair role with Rob Scuderi in Pittsburgh and never was able to gain the trust of coaches Dan Bylsma or Mike Johnston. He was better when he played with a more mobile defenseman such as Kris Letang.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau could have Despres playing sheltered minutes on a third pair, but if everyone is healthy he'd be playing with a more mobile partner than Scuderi.
Here are the Ducks' potential defense pairs when everyone is healthy: Hampus Lindholm - Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler - James Wisniewski, Simon Despres - Francois Beauchemin.
The skill the Ducks added up front also is undeniable. Sekac has already shown it in three games and could find his way into playing regularly with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Tomas Fleischmann will be put in a position to succeed by Boudreau, who knows him from their time together with the Washington Capitals.
Karlsson is the biggest asset to leave the Ducks organization, but the emergence of Rickard Rakell as a center behind Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler made him a valuable piece for a trade.
2. ARIZONA COYOTES
Acquired: F Anthony Duclair, D John Moore, D Klas Dahlbeck, F Maxim Letunov, New York Rangers' 2016 conditional first-round pick, Chicago Blackhawks' 2015 first-round pick, Rangers' 2015 second-round pick
Parted with: D Keith Yandle, C Antoine Vermette, D Zbynek Michalek, D Chris Summers, 2015 fourth-round pick, conditional draft pick
The first step in rebuilding is recognizing you need to rebuild. General manager Don Maloney realized that more than a month ago, if not earlier. The second step is to acquire the necessary assets to start that rebuild. That's what Maloney has done since Saturday, and in the process he put the Coyotes in position for one of the top two picks in the 2015 NHL Draft, which should be potential franchise-changing centers Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.
Maloney traded two players he didn't intend to re-sign after the season (Vermette and Michalek) and Yandle to acquire top prospect Duclair, decent prospects Dahlbeck and Letunov, two first-round draft picks and a second-round pick.
The Coyotes have two first-round picks in this year's draft and two in 2016. They also have Duclair, who played in the NHL this season before teaming with Coyotes prospect Max Domi on the first line to help Canada win gold in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. Duclair and Domi could be future first-line players in Arizona.
This is exactly what the Coyotes needed to do. Maloney used the assets he had to speed up a rebuilding process he hopes won't take any longer than two or three years.
3. DETROIT RED WINGS
Acquired: F Erik Cole, D Marek Zidlicky, Dallas Stars' conditional third-round pick
Parted with: D Mattias Backman, F Mattias Janmark, second-round pick in 2015, conditional third-round pick in 2016
The Red Wings did what all contending teams want to do at this stage: They added important players to their roster without having to trade anyone off it. Detroit, already a serious contender in a wide-open Eastern Conference, is better today than it was yesterday.
Cole and Zidlicky, each scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, are shrewd additions because they fit the style the Red Wings play. They skate well, move the puck, get up in the play, contribute on the power play, and play well enough to limit Detroit's time in the defensive zone. They are veteran players who have been doing this on a consistent basis for years, so odds are coach Mike Babcock will love them. He calls players like Cole and Zidlicky "everydayers."
Cole provides the combination of size and skill in a top-six or top-nine role that the Red Wings are missing with Johan Franzen sidelined with a concussion.
Zidlicky's greatest asset to the Red Wings is his right-handed shot. Until rookie Alexey Marchenko's emergence last month, Detroit didn't have a right-handed defenseman. Now they have two.
Zidlicky's offensive ability should take some of the pressure to produce off Niklas Kronwall, who leads Detroit's defensemen with 37 points. Danny DeKeyser is second with 23 points; nobody else has more than Jonathan Ericsson's 13.
4. NEW YORK RANGERS
Acquired: D Keith Yandle, F James Sheppard, F Carl Klingberg, D Chris Summers, Arizona Coyotes' fourth-round pick in 2015
Parted with: D John Moore, F Anthony Duclair, F Lee Stempniak, conditional first-round pick in 2016, second-round pick in 2015, fourth-round pick in 2016
The whole idea is to build a team that can win the Stanley Cup. To do that sometimes you have to mortgage future assets. That's exactly what the Rangers have done because they believe they can win the Stanley Cup this season. They believe Yandle puts them over the top, and they might be right.
The Rangers traded their first-round draft picks from 2012 through 2016 to acquire forwards Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis, and Yandle. Nash and St. Louis helped the Rangers reach the 2014 Stanley Cup Final; Yandle could help them get back.
If the Rangers don't win the Cup, they might wind up regretting these trades, but that's the risk-reward you take when you feel you have a team that can contend.
In the short term, Yandle bolsters what is already a deep defense and should make the Rangers' struggling power play better. New York is 11th in the League at 18.8 percent, but 3-for-25 in the past 10 games.
Yandle was tied for the NHL lead with 24 power-play assists; he has 41 points, including 37 assists, in 63 games.
The Rangers have had a hole on the left side of their defense behind Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal with Moore and Matt Hunwick rotating and playing sparingly. Yandle's arrival balances the minutes on defense and gives coach Alain Vigneault options to create pairs depending on the game situation.
Yandle started his first game Monday against the Nashville Predators paired with Kevin Klein. Vigneault has the option of putting Yandle with Dan Boyle if the Rangers are trailing and need a goal, or moving Yandle to play with Dan Girardi.
The cost for Yandle was steep, but Duclair and the draft picks were not going to help the Rangers win the Stanley Cup this season. Moore was expendable.
If Sheppard works out, it could benefit the Rangers' bottom-six forwards in multiple ways:
-- Rookie Kevin Hayes should to move to the wing.
Hayes has been excellent with 13 points in the past 15 games, but he should be better on right wing, where he can play in front of the net and use his big body to win puck-retrieval battles in the corner. If Sheppard doesn't work out, the Rangers can move Hayes back to the middle.
-- The fourth line improves.
If Sheppard works out, the Rangers will have a fourth line that features Dominic Moore or Sheppard, Jesper Fast and J.T. Miller. That gives them a hard-working, skilled line that can score. Tanner Glass becomes the Rangers' 13th forward.
Klingberg likely will play for Hartford of the American Hockey League.
5. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Acquired: C Antoine Vermette, D Kimmo Timonen, F Andrew Desjardins
Parted with: D Klas Dahlbeck, F Ben Smith, first-round pick in 2015, second-round pick in 2015, conditional fourth-round pick in 2016, conditional seventh-round pick in 2017
The Blackhawks had the NHL salary-cap space to add Vermette and Timonen only because right wing Patrick Kane sustained an injury that will keep him out for 12 weeks on long-term injured reserve, until the Western Conference Final, if Chicago gets there.
General manager Stan Bowman gave the Blackhawks a better chance to make sure Kane's season didn't end on Feb. 24 by acquiring Vermette and Timonen. Bowman paid handsomely, particularly for Vermette, a pending unrestricted free agent who cost Chicago a first-round pick and Dahlbeck, but the goal in Chicago is to win now and Bowman took advantage of the system once Kane went on LTIR.
Bowman also made a trade geared toward next season by sending Smith to the San Jose Sharks for Desjardins, also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. In moving Smith, Bowman cleared $1.5 million off Chicago's salary cap for next season, when Kane and Jonathan Toews will start taking up $21 million of space and Brandon Saad is expected to have a bigger contract.
Vermette gives Chicago deeper center depth and, at least for the time being, pushes Andrew Shaw to the wing, where he might be better suited to play his feisty, grinding game. Toews gets some protection from Vermette, also an elite faceoff winner. Brad Richards gets some protection from Vermette because he can move down the lineup and still have a big role in the offense. Chicago's second power-play unit could benefit from Vermette too.
Timonen hasn't played this season because of blood clots, but he has enough time to get up to speed before the playoffs. He'll fit with the Blackhawks' style of quick puck movement and the occasional stretch pass. He should be able to contribute on Chicago's power play, which is surprisingly average (16th, 18.1 percent). Timonen will be fresh, which is important for a player who turns 40 on March 18.
Desjardins is a depth forward who might fit on Chicago's fourth line depending on chemistry and injuries.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl