Skip to main content
Trade Coverage

Deadline Day latest letdown in Canada

Uneventful trade market adds to dire playoff prospects

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / NHL.com Columnist/Historian

MONTREAL -- "Canada: Loaning the Stanley Cup to the United States Since 1993!" 

Yes, it's a motto that accentuates the positive in the most perfectly polite, excuse-me Canadian way. But then, it's probably better than viewing the painful reality of the Not-So-Great White North's championship record over the past two-plus decades.

As the NHL Trade Deadline arrived Monday, ultimately sounding more like elevator music than metal, Canada's seven teams knew in their hearts, and their wallets, that they were on the outside looking in. None was mathematically eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but each faced this harsh truth: It was building for the future. 

Video: Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello on deadline inactivity

And none seemed prepared to strip-mine its prospects for a rental in a season that is bound for nowhere. 

As the clock neared 3 p.m. ET, then slipped quietly into the usual overtime as trade calls with the League massaged deals that were in the works, Canada's teams were conspicuous by their relative silence. 

But they weren't alone on this mostly peaceful day that, often in the past, has been nothing less than frantic. 

Early Monday evening, a total of 19 trades had been made involving 37 players. It was the quietest Deadline Day since 2002, when 17 trades were made with 35 players moving. 

As of April 10, the seven Canada teams, from Montreal to Vancouver, and seven more in the United States, will be packing up for the season. 

Some players will be headed to Moscow or St. Petersburg to represent their country at the 2016 IIHF World Championship in May. Others will be setting their sights on the eight-team World Cup of Hockey in September. 

But many more will simply be heading for the hills, watching -- or not watching -- the 16 survivors who will begin the playoffs 16 wins from the Stanley Cup. 

Video: Brian Burke provides an update on the Trade Deadline

The Canadiens won their 24th, and most recent championship, in 1993, defeating the Los Angeles Kings in a five-game Final. 

Since then, four Canadian teams have advanced to the Final a total of five times: the Vancouver Canucks lost twice in seven games, in 2011 to the Boston Bruins and in 1994 to the New York Rangers; the Calgary Flames lost in seven to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004; the Ottawa Senators fell in five to the Anaheim Ducks in 2007; and the Edmonton Oilers lost in a seven to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. 

Canadian teams were involved in six of the 24 Deadline Day trades made last season, including nine players of the 43 who were moved on March 2. The Canadiens were busiest, making three trades, with the Toronto Maple Leafs making two, and the Flames, Oilers and Canucks one each. The Senators and Winnipeg Jets made none. 

In Canada on Monday, deadline "action" was a letdown for the thousands of dreamily optimistic fans parked in front of their TV or glued to their mobile device for what has become an annual seven-plus hours of live coverage in English and French. 

The realistic fans understand this year that their teams are playing out the string, evaluation of talent from now through season's end the prime directive. 

Not even the acquisition of, say, a Jonathan Toews or an Alex Ovechkin or a Henrik Lundqvist would have been enough to push a Canadian team into an 83rd game this season, though that doesn't mean there weren't those hungering for the preposterous blockbuster trade out of nowhere. 

Blame much of the silence on the previous three days, eight trades involving Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton made during an eventful stretch from Friday through Sunday. 

From Sept. 9 through Sunday, the seven Canadian teams made a combined 26 trades. 

So Monday didn't promise to be a fireworks show, and indeed the first move from Canada, coming just after noon ET, fell a long, long way down the pyrotechnics scale. 

Video: RAW | Peter Chiarelli Media Availability

The Canadiens' claim off waivers of veteran depth forward Mike Brown from the San Jose Sharks was a curious acquisition, to say the least. 

Montreal suggested it wanted a little protection for the young players up from the American Hockey League who will play from now through season's end. Which begs the question: Why not simply bring up high-profile, Jan. 15 trade acquisition/good-news story John Scott from St. John's; he probably could fill that role for less money. 

"A different player," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin would say of Brown when asked that question, speaking to reporters after the deadline passed. 

The acquisition of Brown would grease the skids for another player cut from roughly the same cloth. Forward Devante Smith-Pelly, who was traded in the final moments to the New Jersey Devils for forward Stefan Matteau, fought back tears in San Jose, where Montreal was preparing to play the Sharks. 

It would be 94 minutes after that noon transaction before another Canadian team would move on Deadline Day: Calgary traded defenseman Kris Russell to the Dallas Stars for defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, forward Brett Pollock and a 2016 draft pick. 

The Canadiens' trade for Matteau at 2:24 p.m. seemed like it would be the last twitch from north of the border. But with the ticking growing louder, Ottawa made a couple back-to-back: First they acquired forward Michael Keranen from the Minnesota Wild for defenseman Connor Allen, then nine minutes later shipped forward Shane Prince and a seventh-round pick to the New York Islanders for a third-round selection. 

Alberta mopped up as time expired, the Flames landing goalie Niklas Backstrom and a sixth-round pick from the Wild for forward David Jones, and the Oilers getting forward Patrick Maroon from the Anaheim Ducks for prospect Martin Gernat and a fourth-round pick. 

That left the Maple Leafs, Jets and Canucks going forward with what they had on hand before Monday, Winnipeg, which traded captain Andrew Ladd to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, making it two consecutive deadline days that they didn't make a trade. 

It wasn't for a lack of willingness that the Canucks failed to get a deal done. They hoped to move defenseman Dan Hamhuis and/or forward Radim Vrbata, each an unrestricted free agent at season's end but were unable to find a buyer. 

Toronto was busy with the recall from the AHL of four rookies who made their NHL debut Monday against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning. 

"Everybody's going to get a full opportunity," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. 

There should be a lot of that going around in seven northern markets between now and April 10, when a country that lives for hockey will drop a very early curtain on live NHL action and turn its eye enviously to the south. 

To the chagrin of many Canadian fans, it's there -- again -- that the Stanley Cup will be awarded in June. Tougher still is not one of their seven team will drop a single playoff puck. 

View More