In the end, Martin Brodeur is still a goalie for the New Jersey Devils, Ryan Kesler remains a center for the Vancouver Canucks, Mike Cammalleri is still with the Calgary Flames, and Paul Stastny will be sticking around with the Colorado Avalanche for the time being. Four of the biggest names discussed in rumors over the past several days did not get dealt before the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
But Brodeur, Kesler, Cammalleri and Stastny can form their own little fraternity, because everyone else involved in the rampant rumors that dominated hockey discussions over the past several days did get traded. Twenty-five teams were involved in 20 trades featuring 26 NHL players, 12 prospects or minor-leaguers and 23 draft picks in one of the most entertaining trade-deadline days in recent history.
The biggest trade of the day was one of the first and the most shocking when the Tampa Bay Lightning sent Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers in exchange for Ryan Callahan, their first-round draft pick in 2015 and a conditional second-round pick this year that will become a first-round pick if New York makes it to the Eastern Conference Final.
The trade was a stunner on many levels.
* It's a swap of captains on Stanley Cup Playoff contenders; the Rangers entered Wednesday third in the Metropolitan Division; the Lightning were third in the Atlantic Division. St. Louis led the Lightning with 61 points in 62 games after winning the Art Ross Trophy last season.
* Callahan, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, was believed to be close to signing a six-year contract extension with the Rangers before negotiations broke down Tuesday over a no-trade clause; Callahan wanted one, but the Rangers didn't want to give it to him.
* St. Louis requested a trade to the Rangers, but Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was under no obligation to grant that request, especially because he was pigeon-holed into negotiating with one team in an attempt to trade Tampa Bay's disgruntled captain.
* The trade happened on the same day Lightning star Steven Stamkos was cleared to return to the lineup after missing 45 games with a broken right tibia.
In an interview with TSN, Callahan admitted initial shock at the news he was traded. He said he thought he was going to re-sign with the Rangers.
"I truly thought that we'd work something out that worked for both sides," Callahan said. "I said all along going through this that I wanted to stay there and I wanted to get a deal done, and that was the truth. It's part of the business that unfortunately you have to deal with. We couldn't find a deal that worked for both sides, so I part ways from New York. I have nothing but great things to say about the Rangers."
St. Louis flew from Tampa to New York after he was traded and was in the Rangers lineup for their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden.
"[St. Louis] has been one of the greatest players in the organization's history, but in the end we honored his request today," Yzerman said in a statement released by the Lightning.
That blockbuster did not stand alone Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Kings were particularly active, adding forward Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets and defenseman Brayden McNabb from the Buffalo Sabres. Forward Matt Frattin is the only roster player the Kings gave up in their trades Wednesday.
The hope in L.A. is that Gaborik, who was traded on deadline day last year, will provide some offensive pop to a lineup that needs it. The Kings are 27th in the NHL in goals this season (2.32 per game).
Injuries to his knee and collarbone have limited Gaborik to six goals in 22 games this season, but he's a three-time 40-goal scorer and a seven-time 30-goal scorer who may get the opportunity to play with Anze Kopitar.
"We'll see if Gaborik can fit into our type of game," Kings coach Darryl Sutter told reporters in L.A. "He should be fresh."
For a while Wednesday it appeared three of the bigger names on the market, forwards Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson and goalie Jaroslav Halak, would not be traded. That would have been shocking considering all three are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents after the season and were on teams that are not going to the playoffs.
However, shortly after the deadline passed, news came in that the Sabres beat the buzzer in trading Moulson to the Minnesota Wild and Halak to the Washington Capitals, and New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow finally managed to move Vanek to the Montreal Canadiens.
Vanek, though, did not get the Islanders the return they had to be initially hoping for; Montreal gave them a second-round draft pick and forward prospect Sebastian Collberg. In acquiring Vanek from Buffalo on Oct. 27, the Islanders surrendered Moulson, a conditional first-round pick and a second-round pick.
In the end, the Islanders got 44 points in 47 games from Vanek, a second-round pick and Collberg in exchange for Moulson, a first-round pick and a second-round pick. Snow talked particularly glowingly about Collberg, but added it wasn't the type of deadline day he was expecting and this was the best trade he could make.
"We considered several different options," Snow said during a conference call with reporters. "It wasn't the same type of trade deadline as it had been in the past. This was the best offer we had received."
Sabres general manager Tim Murray, one of the most active leading up to the deadline, picked up forward Torrey Mitchell and two second-round picks in exchange for Moulson and forward Cody McCormick. Murray also acquired goalie Michal Neuvirth and defenseman Rostislav Klesla from Washington for Halak and a third-round pick.
St. Louis' message to Lightning fans
Former Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis addressed his departure from the club with the following letter to fans and media:
"Today is a bittersweet day for me. I am sad that this chapter of my career is over. I have had 14 wonderful years in Tampa and have cherished being a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. I would like to thank Mr. Vinik, Tod Leiweke, Steve Yzerman, Bill Wickett, Jon Cooper and the coaching staff and the entire Lightning organization for everything they have done for me through the years and today.
Mr. Vinik is an amazing owner and man, I am and will remain entirely thankful and appreciative of him and everything he has done for me and my family. I am also so thankful to the unbelievable fans of Tampa Bay.
When I arrived here in 2000, you all supported and believed in me when not many did. You have continued to support me through the years and I am extremely thankful for it! I know many of you are disappointed with me for my decision to want to leave.
I would rather not discuss what brought me to that decision, but in the end this is a decision for my family. I respect the fact that many of you do not agree with my decision and are angry with it. All I really can say is that I am sorry and I am very appreciative of the support you have shown me through the years.
Last but not least, I want to thank my teammates and the training staff. I have made some friends here who will be my friends for life. I will miss them all.
My wife, my 3 boys and I will always hold Tampa very near and dear to our hearts. This has been our home and where we have built an amazing life. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you Tampa for everything you have provided me and my family."
Moulson should give the Wild some goal-scoring support as they head into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Neuvirth goes to Buffalo, where he and Jhonas Enroth likely will be the Sabres' goaltending tandem for the foreseeable future; they are signed through next season.
Halak, who can be an unrestricted free agent July 1, stabilizes Washington's goaltending depth and likely will be in a 1 and 1A situation with Braden Holtby.
"He's a good goalie and he can get hot," Capitals general manager George McPhee said of Halak when he spoke to reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. "The objective was to try to upgrade the tandem and we did."
Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill feels the same way after acquiring Tim Thomas from the Florida Panthers for Dan Ellis. It's a straight goalie-for-goalie swap, but the Stars clearly are getting the better end of this deal as they bring in a former Stanley Cup champion, Conn Smythe Trophy and Vezina Trophy winner to push Kari Lehtonen down the stretch and potentially into the playoffs.
Thomas was expendable after the Panthers acquired Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
"Our team, our organization is serious about making the playoffs and making a statement in the playoffs, and I think this helps solidify probably the most important position on the team," Nill told the Stars website.
The Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils also feel they solidified some of their areas of concern heading into the final 20-game playoff push.
Detroit acquired longtime Nashville Predators center David Legwand in exchange for depth forward Patrick Eaves, forward prospect Calle Jarnkrok and a conditional third-round pick.
Legwand, a UFA at season's end, had to waive his no-trade clause to go to Detroit, but the forward who has played his entire 15-season career in Nashville, did so to go back home to Michigan, where he likely will take over as the Red Wings' top line center for the time being.
Henrik Zetterberg is out for the rest of the regular season after having back surgery. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland announced Wednesday that Pavel Datsyuk (knee) will be shut down for at least the next three weeks. Darren Helm sustained an injury Tuesday at New Jersey and his return date is not known. Stephen Weiss (groin) is out of the lineup with no return date in sight.
"With Zetterberg, with Datsyuk, with Helm, and with Weiss, the uncertainty of where we're at, we felt it was important to get a bona fide center," Holland told the Red Wings website. "The news in the last 48 hours, that all factored into acquiring a center. The one we acquired is a local boy, so if we want to keep him beyond this year, we think it's reasonable that can happen, because he had to waive a no-trade clause to come here. He wanted to come home."
Ottawa got a goal-scorer to play alongside Jason Spezza by picking up Ales Hemsky from the Edmonton Oilers for two draft picks.
The Penguins got some depth forwards in Marcel Goc from the Panthers and Lee Stempniak from the Calgary Flames, paying a combination price of two third-round picks and a fifth-round pick.
Boston added defenseman Andrei Meszaros from the Philadelphia Flyers, giving up a third-round pick to get a player who will bolster their battered blue line. The Bruins have been playing with four young defensemen (Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller) because of injuries to veterans Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid.
Colorado picked up goalie Reto Berra from the Flames and he'll presumably take over as the backup to Semyon Varlamov. Jean-Sebastien Giguere has back problems, and the Avalanche aren't sure if they can rely on him should something happen to Varlamov.
Instead of trading Brodeur, the Devils acquired forward Tuomo Ruutu from the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Andrei Loktionov. Ruutu is owed $10 million over the next two seasons, but the Hurricanes reportedly agreed to pick up some of that cost as part of the trade.
"Our intention certainly was to get a top-nine forward with a lot of grit and competes, and has a habit of playing in big games," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said, according to The Record. "We've played enough against him over the years and we feel good about him."