NHL.com: Preds, Canucks early winners with deadline deals

Monday, 02.27.2012 / 11:48 PM / Features

Trade deadline day included 16 trades involving 19 teams. You can argue only one was truly of the blockbuster variety, but several teams fared well enough to end the day with high hopes for both their short-term and long-term futures.

Here are five teams NHL.com considers "winners" on deadline day 2012:

Nashville Predators
Predators GM David Poile knew he had to accomplish two things at this year's deadline:

1) Bolster his team for what they believe can be a long playoff run.

2) Convince star defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber that the organization will do all it can to win.

Poile did all he could on Monday to get a high grade on both. He paid a price in draft picks, most notably a first-round pick this year and a second-round pick in 2013, but he brought in scoring depth and size in Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad to help the Predators' offense.

Kostitsyn reunites with his brother, Sergei, who has taken his career to the next level since arriving in Nashville at the start of last season. Kostitsyn had only 12 goals and 12 assists this season for Montreal, but he is a three-time 20-goal scorer and many believe just needs a jolt of motivation and energy to get his career back on track.

Joining a playoff race with his brother may do the trick. He is an unrestricted free agent following the season.

Likewise, Gaustad is an unrestricted free agent following the season, but he brings the necessary size and grit the Predators lacked in the playoffs last season. Gaustad cost the Predators a first-round pick, but he has the ability to fill the net and use his body around the blue paint to cause havoc.

Poile also bolstered his defense last week in the trade for Hal Gill.

Vancouver Canucks
Just as he did a year ago, Canucks GM Mike Gillis added experience and grit at the trade deadline. The only difference is this season he pulled off a blockbuster to do so.

Gillis started by getting Samuel Pahlsson from Columbus for a pair of fourth-round picks this year. Pahlsson, 34, is a former Stanley Cup champion and good friends with Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin. He is a third-line checking center that can win faceoffs, giving Vancouver experience down the middle with Henrik Sedin, Kesler, Pahlsson and Manny Malhotra.

However, to put Pahlsson in the proper position, Gillis pulled off what many consider to be the biggest trade of the day by sending Calder candidate Cody Hodgson to Buffalo for rugged 21-year-old right wing Zack Kassian. Hodgson was a favorite among Canucks fans and a first-round pick in 2008, but Kassian gives the Canucks a feisty edge while also bringing some of his skill.

Hodgson likely fits in better in Buffalo anyway because he wasn't getting the proper amount of ice time playing behind Sedin and Kesler. Pahlsson will fill in there without complaint and Kassian could join him on the third line, giving Vancouver a far different look, just as it got last season with the additions of Maxim Lapierre and Chris Higgins.

Buffalo Sabres
It took them some time, but the Sabres got what they believe will be their front-line center of the future in Hodgson along with a first-round draft pick for Gaustad, a guy that they likely weren't going to re-sign.

GM Darcy Regier told reporters in Buffalo that he believes top-end centermen and goaltenders are the hardest pieces to find in the NHL. The Sabres clearly have a need for a pivot, and Hodgson will be given an immediate opportunity to prove he can play a top-six role.

Kassian was a first-round pick by the Sabres in 2009, but they gave up his size and grit for Hodgson's playmaking ability.

Buffalo also acquired depth defenseman Alexander Sulzer from Vancouver for Marc-Andre Gragnani.

Boston Bruins
The concussion defenseman Johnny Boychuk suffered Saturday against Ottawa likely forced Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to scramble for a defenseman. Chiarelli found two of them, including shot-blocking specialist Greg Zanon from Minnesota.

Zanon, who has 104 blocks in 39 games this season, is in the final year of a three-year contract. He's a rugged blueliner who was well-liked in the Wild dressing room because he'll throw his body in front of just about any puck that moves. The Bruins will be happy to have him join the lineup, especially with the uncertainty they now face with Boychuk.

Boston also got Mike Mottau and 39-year-old forward Brian Rolston from the New York Islanders in exchange for a pair of minor-league prospects. Mottau played Sunday for the first time since suffering a concussion in December. Rolston, who has 9 points this season, cleared waivers on Monday before being traded.

If Rolston, who played four-plus seasons in Boston from 2000-04, can find some type of scoring touch he would be a nice addition to a lineup that is currently missing Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman made three trades on Monday, including two with an eye to the future. He's clearly looking to stockpile assets to both build around Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman as well as secure what could be a franchise goalie (Cory Schneider? Jonathan Bernier?) in a trade this summer.

Yzerman started by getting veteran blueliner Mike Commodore from Detroit for a seventh-round pick. This is a cosmetic deal as Commodore, who is unrestricted following the season, will help the Lightning's banged-up 'D' for the last 20 games this season. Tampa is six points out of a playoff spot in 11th place.

The next two deals were made to secure future defensive assets. Yzerman acquired Keith Aulie from Toronto for Carter Ashton, who was Tampa Bay's first-round pick (No. 29) in 2009. He then got Brian Lee from Ottawa for Matt Gilroy.

Aulie is the guy that Yzerman and the Lightning's scouts have had their eyes on for some time. Yzerman said he's going to come right in and play for the Lightning because they believe he's NHL ready now. He has been up and down between the NHL and AHL all season.

Yzerman also said he believes Lee, 24, is still a good prospect that has a chance to grow into a full-time NHL player. He has 8 points in 35 games with the Senators this season and 28 points in 167 career games since making his NHL debut in 2007-08.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Senior Writer

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