New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather struck the first bold move of the weekend by acquiring playmaking defenseman Keith Yandle in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes.
By the time NHL trade deadline struck a day later on Monday, many of Sather’s Eastern Conference-contending counterparts responded with a series of moves to address their needs.
“Anybody got a crystal ball around?” Sather asked, in response to whether he was prepared to predict the Rangers’ chances of reaching the Stanley Cup final for a second consecutive year. “It was nice to get there. And I hope we can do that again.”
But, Sather added, “there are a lot of teams that are going to think the same thing we’re thinking now.”
On a day that featured 24 trades involving 43 players, the Montreal Canadiens countered by acquiring Edmonton defenseman Jeff Petry and Buffalo forwards Brian Flynn and Torrey Mitchell. Pittsburgh stocked up on veteran defense with Ian Cole and Ben Lovejoy. Boston shook up a sputtering team with forwards Brett Connolly and Max Talbot.
The New York Islanders acquired Tyler Kennedy from San Jose, and shored up their goaltending depth behind Jaroslav Halak by landing Sabres starter Michal Neuvirth. And Detroit entered the trading mix. A day after acquiring Erik Cole from Dallas, the Red Wings added Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky.
“The growth of our team and the growth of our younger players, I guess, sent a message to me that we’ve got a good team,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland said.
It was no different in the West, where Anaheim, St. Louis and Minnesota each made several trades to counter moves other contenders made last month.
Anaheim acquired defensemen James Wisniewski, Simon Despres and Korbinian Holzer and center Michael Sgarbossa in four separate deadline deals Monday
“Hopefully we’re capable now to compete against most of the teams in our conference,” GM Bob Murray said despite his team holding a 12-point edge atop the Pacific Division.
The Blues made three trades to acquire defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Zbynek Michalek, and forward Olli Jokinen.
Minnesota, clinging to the West’s second wild-card spot, added veteran defenseman Jordan Leopold and two-way forward Chris Stewart.
Other highlights from Monday:
ADDITION WITHOUT SUBTRACTION: Forward Max Pacioretty was pleased Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin added three players without altering the Atlantic Division-leading team’s chemistry. Montreal gave up a combined four draft picks and minor-league prospect Jack Nevins.
“We’re getting rewarded for our good play right now,” Pacioretty said. “I think (Bergevin) saw a couple of areas he can improve on but not change things too much.”
NO SALE: The Toronto Maple Leafs’ long-expected purge of high-priced talent failed to materialize.
“We did as much as we could. We just hoped for more,” Maple Leafs general manager David Nonis said after being limited to making just two moves, none of which included forwards Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak, or defenseman Dion Phaneuf. “Today, there weren’t deals that were there for any of our players that made sense for us.”
HAPPY HOMECOMING: Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen was pleased to fulfill Jordan Leopold’s daughter’s request in sending the veteran defenseman to his native Minnesota.
The trade for defenseman Justin Falk and a 2015 fifth-round pick was completed just as 11-year-old Jordyn Leopold’s letter asking for her father to be dealt began circulating online.
“The deal was already done when I saw it. Almost simultaneously,” Kekalainen said. “But that’s a touching letter. We wanted to do the right thing with Jordan Leopold.”
OFF THE BOARD: Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello, a pending unrestricted free agent, was a candidate to be traded before signing a four-year contract extension on Monday. He followed up the signing by getting two assists in a 4-1 victory over Nashville.
“This is where I want to be, and I want to be a part of this team,” said Zuccarello.
FLAME OUT: The Calgary Flames mostly stood pat despite announcing that captain Mark Giordano will miss the remainder of the season with a torn biceps muscle. The injury to the Norris Trophy candidate occurred during a 3-1 at New Jersey last week.
“It’s ripped all of our guts right out, that’s what it’s done,” GM Brad Treliving said.
Calgary’s only trade on Monday was dealing 2011 first-round draft pick Sven Baertschi, to Vancouver for a second-round draft pick in 2015.
AP Hockey Writer Ira Podell and Sports Writers Josh Dubow, Rusty Miller, Dan Gelston, Will Graves, Noah Trister, Dave Campbell and Greg Beacham contributed to this report.