Sabres handle deadline perfectly
The Northeast Division appears to be a two-team race between the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators. The Bruins did not get the scoring they could have used while the Senators acquired a puck-moving defenseman and a highly regarded goaltending prospect. As for the Sabres, Canadiens and Maple Leafs, each team has a different trade deadline verdict.
Boston Bruins: Push
After adding complementary pieces last season en route to their Stanley Cup championship, the Bruins were looking for similar additions at this year's deadline. In came veteran winger Brian Rolston and defensemen Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau, giving the Bruins some depth as they look to defend their title. Unlike last season, however, Boston's offense — and thus the team, as well — has struggled of late. With Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley both sidelined, some more scoring would have been welcome.
Buffalo Sabres: Winners
Just the mere fact that the Sabres managed to get a first round pick — even if a late pick — from the Nashville Predators for Paul Gaustad was impressive enough. But then general manager Darcy Regier went out and acquired 22-year-old Cody Hodgson from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for fellow first round pick Zack Kassian. While Kassian adds grit to the Canucks roster, Hodgson's skill and talent boost the Sabres' scoring needs.
Montreal Canadiens: Push
Clearly sellers for the first time in a while, the Canadiens were looking to stock up on assets. They got started in the Hal Gill deal a week and a half before the big day. On deadline day, however, Montreal was only able to move Andrei Kostitsyn for a second-round pick in 2013. Travis Moen's injury and the uncertain timetable on his return — plus reports that the Canadiens wanted to re-sign him at season's end — took a valuable piece out of play. The team had hoped to take advantage of a seller's market to dispose of pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Chris Campoli and the underachieving contracts of Scott Gomez and Tomas Kaberle but not surprisingly, there weren't any takers.
Ottawa Senators: Winners
General Manager Bryan Murray wasn't looking to make a splash at the deadline; he was looking for the right fit at a decent price. After Craig Anderson's kitchen mishap left him sidelined indefinitely, Murray took goaltender Ben Bishop — believed by many to be NHL-ready — off the St. Louis Blues' hands. That acquisition has spurred goaltender Robin Lehner, called up in Anderson's absence, to be his best with the big club, allowing just four goals in his three appearances thus far. The Senators also picked up puck-moving rearguard Matt Gilroy in exchange for fellow defenseman Brian Lee, who never seemed to stick. It gives Ottawa welcome secondary offense on the back end after Erik Karlsson.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Losers
They needed goaltending and defensive help in their quest to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season. They got neither. The only moves the Leafs made were of the minor league variety, trading defenseman Keith Aulie to the Lightning for forward Carter Ashton and forward Dale Mitchell to the Ducks for blue-liner Matt Fraser. While Ashton will be a valuable piece down the road, the here and now of the Maple Leafs remains the same. Their playoff hopes rest on the roster as is — and as guided by new coach Randy Carlyle.