After a quiet start, the NHL trade deadline day came alive with a flurry of deals at the final buzzer on Wednesday as teams made final preparations for a Stanley Cup run.
A total of 17 deals involving 30 players and 14 draft picks were made, most only moments before the deadline, saving what was shaping up as a dud day for Canada’s three all-sports television networks, which had dedicated the entire day to tracking trades.
While the number of trades was the highest since the 31 deals made in 2010, the number of players that swapped was the lowest since 21 were moved at the 1996 deadline.
The New York Rangers had the day’s biggest shocker, shipping sniper Marian Gaborik, who has scored 30 or more goals in seven of his past 12 seasons, to the Columbus Blue Jackets, along with defensmen Steven Delisle and Blake Parlett.
In return, the Rangers received center Derick Brassard, young defenseman John Moore and forward Derek Dorsett, who is out for the season with a broken collarbone.
The Rangers, rated a Stanley Cup contender going into the season, have underperformed and sit two points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Blue Jackets have exceeded expectations and are one point from a playoff berth in the West.
The Buffalo Sabres continued their rebuild by shipping captain Jason Pominville to the Northwest Division-leading Minnesota Wild for draft picks and prospects.
The Philadelphia Flyers, another team expected to challenge for a Stanley Cup, but six points out of a playoff spot, swapped netminders with the Blue Jackets.
Going to Philadelphia is former NHL rookie of the year Steve Mason, while Columbus get Michael Leighton and the Pittsburgh Penguins landed veteran forward Jussi Jokinen from the Carolina Hurricanes.