The Vancouver Canucks addressed big needs - size and toughness - at the trade deadline yesterday, acquiring rookie right wing Zack Kassian and stellar checking-line center Samuel Pahlsson in separate deals.
The Canucks, sitting atop the NHL standings with 19 games left in the regular season, also added defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani and forward Andrew Gordon. However, they dealt talented rookie forward Cody Hodgson (selected 10th overall in 2008) to the Sabres for Kassian, a 6-foot-3-inch, 228-pound monster who had three goals, seven points, and two fighting majors in 27 games with Buffalo. Kassian was the 13th pick in the 2009 draft.
In a physical battle against the Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals last season, the Canucks were outmuscled in the seven-game series, going down with a whimper in Game 7 at home, 4-0. Daniel and Henrik Sedin were manhandled in the series. Enter Kassian, who comes with the reputation of a heavy hitter. He was suspended 20 games in 2010 while playing in the Ontario Hockey League for a violent collision that left a player with stitches and a concussion.
Pahlsson, 34, was acquired from Columbus for two fourth-round draft picks and minor league defenseman Taylor Ellington.
The Canucks picked up Gragnani from the Sabres for defenseman Alexander Sulzer. Gordon was acquired from the Ducks.
Predators add offense
The Predators won their first playoff series last spring. Now general manager David Poile said he thinks three trades within the past two weeks put Nashville in position to do much more this season.
“We’ve certainly got ourselves in a real good position here in the playoff race, and I think with these trades we’ve certainly given us a chance to play with the big boys this year when we get in the playoffs,’’ Poile said after making two trades before the deadline.
The Predators paid a big price, sending a first-round pick in the 2012 draft to the Sabres for center Paul Gaustad and a fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft. Earlier in the day, Nashville picked up forward Andrei Kostitsyn from the Canadiens in exchange for a second-round and conditional fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft.
Nashville had received the conditional fifth-round pick from Montreal 10 days ago along with defenseman Hal Gill.
Poile said he believes he filled the need for a big defenseman in Gill, added more scoring with Kostitsyn in re-teaming him with his brother Sergei in Nashville, and obtained a strong center in Gaustad who can fight and move up and down the lineup while handling faceoffs in the final minute.
Gaustad is in the final year of a four-year, $9.2 million contract. He has seven goals and 10 assists in 56 games this season.
Nashville gave up nothing but draft picks in the three trades, though the Predators did send forward Jerred Smithson to Florida for a draft pick Friday.
No deal is big deal
Everyone expected the Blue Jackets to make a deal before the trade deadline.
They did. But it did not involve star Rick Nash.
Nash was the most prized player available but despite reports of strong pushes from several teams, Nash stayed put.
Perhaps an even the bigger shocker - something almost no one knew until it was revealed by general manager Scott Howson after the deadline - is that Nash had asked the Blue Jackets to trade him.
Howson said he was surprised when Nash asked for a trade in January.
There were rumors that Los Angeles, the Rangers, San Jose, and Toronto, among others, had expressed interest in the four-time All-Star. But Howson made only one small deal. He dealt Pahlsson to the Canucks.
The Blue Jackets, with far and away the worst record in the league at 18-37-7 for 43 points, still might shop Nash this summer.
Rangers opt for Scott
After weeks of speculation of a deal for Nash, the price tag for the Blue Jackets captain proved to be too high for the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers. So New York settled on hulking defenseman John Scott, who had one assist and 48 penalty minutes in 29 games this season. New York sent a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft to the Blackhawks for the 6-8, 270-pound Scott.
Sharks add depth
The struggling Sharks acquired forwards Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi from the Avalanche for forward Jamie McGinn and two prospects in a move to bolster their depth and penalty killing. San Jose also acquired Anaheim’s 2013 seventh-round pick previously held by the Avalanche. Winnik, who turns 27 next month, is a proven penalty killer. He has five goals and 13 assists in 63 games this season. He has 34 goals and 62 assists in five seasons with Phoenix and Colorado and will be eligible to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Galiardi, 23, has eight goals and six assists this season and is known for his speed as a skater. The Avalanche added a physical young forward in McGinn, who was fifth on the Sharks with 12 goals and also had 12 assists. McGinn, 23, has 27 goals and 22 assists in 204 career games.
Oduya to Blackhawks
The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Johnny Oduya from the Jets for picks in the second and third rounds of the 2013 draft . . . The Lightning traded forward Carter Ashton to the Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Keith Aulie. In other moves, Tampa Bay acquired defenseman Mike Commodore from Detroit for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2013 and obtained defenseman Brian Lee from Ottawa for ex-Boston University blue liner and 2009 Hobey Baker Award winner Matt Gilroy . . . The Wild traded their longest-tenured player, defenseman Nick Schultz, to the Oilers for defenseman Tom Gilbert. The franchise’s all-time leader with 743 games played, Schultz has appeared in at least 79 games in each of the last six seasons and played in all 62 this season . . . The Capitals opted to pass on any deals, despite placing center Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) on the long-term injured list.