Mark Stone was considered the best player available as the NHL trade deadline approached, a 26-year-old forward with 60 regular points per season.
The Vegas Golden Knights made a calculated bet to acquire it on Monday in one of the league's most daring moves, simply because of the high price paid for their victory in the Stanley Cup. Vegas dropped 19-year-old defenseman Erik Brannstrom, a coveted hope, a second-round pick of 2020 and striker Oscar Lindberg, rarely used.
"This type of player is not available very often," said George McPhee, General Manager of the Golden Knights. "We think he's one of the best full NHL players."
Columbus, meanwhile, deepened their depth by signing New York Rangers defender Adam McQuaid and New Jersey goaltender Keith Kinkaid after previously signing forwards Ryan Dzingel and Matt Duchene.
"I think we have a very good team and that gives us the opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup," said Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen.
The Winnipeg Jets, who lead the Central Division, have signed a big deal with the acquisition of striker Kevin Hayes and a series of smaller ones to keep pace with contenders at the Western Conference such as Calgary, San Jose, Nashville and Vegas.
"This is an exciting time for many league franchises that have added players," said Ken Holland, Detroit Red Wings General Manager, who traded forward Gustav Nyquist and defenseman Nick Jensen to San Jose and Washington. "Many teams have added a lot of good players, so we are preparing for exciting playoffs."
JACKETS BLUE COLUMBUS
Columbus chose not to treat star striker Artemi Panarin and goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky, as well as their expired contracts for high selections and promising hopes. Dzingel, 26, is perhaps the most important addition, placing a player with a record of 44 points in training.
In a subtle move for a team with a strong playoff position, striker Marcus Johansson was acquired from the New Jersey Devils for a second round pick this year and a fourth round pick next year . Johansson has 27 points this season and is capable of doing more, producing a career-high 58 points with Washington two years ago.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, the NHL's leader, held out, seeming to be content with a double-digit lead over the rest of the league with a team stacked back and forth. And the New York Islanders, leaders of the metropolitan division, did not conduct a transaction in the only division of the NHL with five teams with more than 70 points.
CONFERENCE OF THE WEST
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
The team in freefall should get a quick return on its investment in Stone. He has 62 points – two less than his career high this season – and 311 points in 366 career games.
"You hope this will bring something," said Gerard Gallant, Vegas coach. "Of course, players know who Mark Stone is, they know he's a great player. One of the best players in the league and it should definitely bring a lot of energy to our room. "
This seems to be a step forward for the short and long-term goals, because Stone told TSN, of Canada, that he had agreed to an extension of the long-term contract with the second-year franchise.
"We would not have rented it," McPhee said. "Too many risks in that."
PREDATORS OF NASHVILLE
Nashville became stronger in front, acquiring wingmen Mikael Granlund (Minnesota) and Wayne Simmonds (Philadelphia). Granlund, who has 49 points, averaged 68 points the previous two years. If he can do it again, it may be enough to help the Predators survive the division's Jets.
Hayes was perhaps the second best player available, averaging more than 43 points in five seasons with the New York Rangers, and it cost him a package that included a first-round pick.
"You have to be comfortable with the price of acquisition," said Jets CEO Kevin Cheveldayoff.
Winnipeg In the playoffs, last year for the first time since moving to Atlanta in 2011, he knows he needs all the help needed to reach the top of the race of the year that ended against Vegas at the conference finale. The Jets made six trades on the day of maturity.
FLAMES OF CALGARY
The leaders of the Western Conference added only Oscar Fantenberg of the Los Angeles Kings because they do not need much help. Fantenberg, a defenseman with three points in 46 games this season, provides insurance on the blue line in case of injury.