Saturday in Dallas began like any other gameday this season.
A team breakfast at the hotel. Treatment. Taxi squad on the ice. Virtual meetings. Lunch. It wasn't too far past noon central time when news broke of a trade.
The Carolina Hurricanes acquired forwards Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Ryan Dzingel, a move that shakes up the Canes lineup and frees up valuable salary cap space in the process.
While packing up in my Dallas hotel room on Saturday afternoon, I caught up with Hurricanes President and General Manager Don Waddell over the phone so he could provide some insight into the trade.
How did this trade come about?
Waddell said the Canes had talked to "some teams for a while now" about Dzingel, who totaled 33 points (10g, 23a) in 75 games since signing with the Canes as a free agent in July 2019.
"He was looking for a change of scenery," Waddell said. "He hasn't fit into our top nine, and he's not a fourth-line player. He was a little frustrated with his playing time."
"Zinger was a good player for us. It just wasn't the right fit as far as finding him the right role," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said in his postgame Zoom remarks on Saturday night. "It just didn't quite work out."
Ottawa was a team with which the Canes had regular contact, and the two teams struck up conversation again on Saturday morning. A few hours later, a deal that benefitted all parties involved was done.
"They need goal scoring. They had Ryan before, and he scored goals there," Waddell said. "We were able to figure a deal that made sense."
What are the Canes getting in Cedric Paquette?
Paquette is a gritty, hard-nosed center that can provide depth down the middle and bring a needed element of sandpaper to the forward group. He might not chip in much on the scoresheet, but he doesn't have to given the role that's carved out for him.
"He knows his role, and he plays the game hard. It's something we felt we needed to add to our group, particularly to our forward group," Waddell said. "We score goals. We're not worried about goals; we're worried about defending and being tougher to play against, and he matches that up real well."
Waddell said Paquette is a player the Canes have scouted before, and they got a good look at him in the playoff bubble(s). There, he skated in all 25 of Tampa Bay's 2020 postseason games and recorded three assists as the Lightning captured the Stanley Cup. That winning pedigree carries weight, too.
"You want to surround yourself with winners," Waddell said. "Once you taste winning at any level, particularly at our level winning the Stanley Cup, there's nothing like that."
What do Paquette's new teammates think?
In their postgame availabilities on Saturday night, a couple of Canes were asked about the addition of Paquette.
"Usually I'm not a big fan of Cedric Paquette playing against him," Jake Gardiner smiled. "That's a good sign for a teammate. To have a guy like that is going to be huge for us."
"He's in on the forecheck, he hits and he plays that hard-nosed game. I'm excited to have him," Jordan Martinook said. "To have that heavy fourth line, that's something that's crucial."
Where does Alex Galchenyuk fit in?
It's clear Galchenyuk is a skilled player. In the 2015-16, he recorded career highs in goals (30) and points (56) with the Montreal Canadiens. A player, especially one like Galchenyuk who was selected third overall in the 2012 NHL Draft, doesn't just luck into a 30-goal season in the National Hockey League.
But this is Galchenyuk's sixth team in the last four seasons, and his immediate future with the Canes is still to be determined.
"He's a skilled player," Waddell said. "He has to be put in the right situations to succeed, so we're talking further how that fits in with our group. We'll see how things transpire over the next period of time."
UPDATE: After Galchenyuk cleared waivers on Monday, the Canes traded him to Toronto in exchange for forward Egor Korshkov and defenseman David Warsofsky.
Given COVID-19 protocols and quarantine requirements, when could Paquette make his debut for the Canes?
"I think it could be as early as Monday," Waddell said.
On Saturday afternoon, the Canes were working through logistics of how they could remain compliant with the NHL's COVID-19 protocols and avoid a lengthy quarantine for their newcomers. As of Sunday, Paquette is en route to Raleigh, making the drive down from Ottawa with his dog, Moka.
"If they're either driving with no hotels or flying private, there's no quarantine necessary," Waddell said. "We think we could have them pretty immediately."
How does this trade affect the Canes' salary cap?
Even though the Canes acquired two players in exchange for one, they're actually saving money both in actual cash and on the salary cap. With Dzingel's $3.375 million cap hit heading north, the Canes free up $675,000 in cap space.
Recall, the Canes played down a skater in Columbus on Feb. 8 because of a cap crunch that was handcuffing the team (but in doing so, they unlocked an emergency roster exception, should the team encounter a similar situation moving forward). Any cap flexibility - no matter how big or small - is precious as the season progresses.
"We're giving ourselves some breathing room," Waddell said. "You never know when that one deal might come along, and you want to make sure you're in a position to capitalize on it to make your team better. This gives us much more opportunity as we move forward."