How Joe Sakic, Vegas expansion draft ruined NHL trade deadline

Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic was asked whether he needs to have a conversation with Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog about the NHL trade deadline, now that the drama has subsided.

“I’m not the one going out there, throwing names around,” he said. “I keep things internal.”

Well, yeah, but we all knew. Matt Duchene, in particular, was in play. Teams were asking. Sakic was listening. And in the end, the fact that Duchene didn’t move was one of two major influences on an NHL trade deadline that didn’t live up its minimal expectations for hype, given that we know the annual event never lives up to it anyway.

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There were no concrete indications that Duchene was close to being traded, but you could feel the influence of that potential transaction throughout the day. Like in the way the New York Islanders ended up on the sidelines for the deadline, and in the way the Montreal Canadiens decided to become a Brian Burke team rather than adding significant goal scoring, and in the way the Boston Bruins waited until the deadline to simply add Drew Stafford from the Jets.

In the Islanders’ case, they gave it a shot. A real shot.

“We went down a couple avenues to see if there were hockey deals to be made but nothing really made sense,” general manager Garth Snow told Newsday. “We weren’t in the rental market because we like our guys better.”

There’s been a lot of reporting on what the Islanders offered, and it appears they offered what the Avalanche were asking. There may have been multiple deals on the table, all hitting the Avs’ targets: a top-four defenseman under 25 with NHL experience, a top prospect and a first-round pick.

From BD Gallof:

The NY Islanders only had Ryan Pulock to offer the Avs, but this did not fulfill #2. This is why they stalled. The Avs had made it clear they did NOT want Travis Hamonic. He is 26, injured yearly, and to be quite honest, not a top pairing defenseman.

The truth of the matter is that the NY Islanders were the Colorado Avalanche’s fallback. What they really seemed to want were players like Brandon Carlo from the Boston Bruins. Someone the Bruins were not going to deal, and certainly not while trying to claw their way back to a playoff spot.

In this instance, Sakic’s reluctance makes sense. Maybe the Bruins ante up higher for Duchene or Landeskog in June. Maybe the Nashville Predators get involved. Maybe another team that fits these requirements looks at their roster and believes they’re a Matt Duchene away. Why accept an offer they don’t really want from the Islanders just to make this move at the deadline?

But Sakic ended up doing very, very little for a team that needs to do a lot to repair itself.

The Jarome Iginla trade was a favor – there’s a chance the fourth-round pick the Avalanche acquired won’t exist if conditions aren’t met. This was a Team Canada player doing his former teammate a solid now that he’s a suit.

After that, nada, and BSN Denver isn’t down with that:

While Yzerman danced his way between the upcoming free agent rain drops, Sakic’s failures in the July hockey version of Black Friday only stick out even more. Failing to generate any trade interest were high-profile free agent signings Francois Beauchemin, whose overall game has fallen off a cliff this season and is the proud owner of a no-movement clause that will force him to be protected in the upcoming expansion draft, and Carl Soderberg, who has a limited no-trade clause of his own kicking in this summer for the remaining three years of his contract at just under $5 million per season. That’s the same Soderberg who has been a healthy scratch recently and has scored just 11 points in 59 games.

The final results have tallied zero additional 2017 draft picks, meaning the Avalanche will have just two of the top 92 selections in this summer’s NHL Draft after the failed Eric Gelinas trade at least year’s trade deadline cost them their third round selection this year. Meanwhile, fellow bottom-feeders Arizona, Detroit, and Carolina will have five, five, and seven selections, respectively, in the first three rounds of this year’s draft. All of this just goes to show how lost this franchise really is.

Ouch.

So while the Avalanche jammed up the market by not making moves, you had the Vegas Golden Knights jamming up the market with the moves they’ll eventually make.

“I think maybe expansion did cast a shadow over the league and made it difficult for some teams to do things,” said GM George McPhee on Sirius XM on Thursday.

The way we saw it, the expansion draft influenced the day in two ways. First was the jockeying for the draft, in which teams made moves that were clearly influenced by the necessities for it.

Moves like the Brandon Davidson trade between the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens. Moves like the Philadelphia Flyers re-signing Michal Neuvirth, whom McPhee drafted with the Capitals. Moves like the Dallas Stars shipping out Jordie Benn to Montreal for Greg Pateryn. Moves like Steve Yzerman needing to clear salary and an expansion draft spot in trading Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Outside of that last trade, these were minor deals. This was tweaking. And we saw too much of it at this deadline, and it’s not outrageous to assume the expansion draft was an influence.

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But the other thing the Golden Knights and the looming expansion draft did was put a lot of things on hold.

“I think there’s going to be deals that potentially could’ve gotten done or may have gotten done in another situation that may not get done because of the expansion implication,” Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving said before the deadline.

Part of that was teams knowing they have to meet the requirements for the expansion draft. “The expansion draft coming up. You have to expose certain players that you might have traded for a pick, but you decided to keep them instead,” said Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin on Wednesday.

Then there were the Golden Knights themselves, who were open for business for the first time at the deadline but didn’t make a move.

“We don’t want to get hamstring by doing deals with some teams, and then realizing there’s more there than we thought [at the draft],” said McPhee.

In the end, it was a weird year for the deadline, with more paralysis than pushing chips into the middle of the table. That sucked for March 1. But it’s going to be one hell of a June in the NHL.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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