NHL trade deadline day was widely expected to be busy. The day before might prove to be even wilder.
Several big-name hockey players were on the move Tuesday, 24 hours before time for dealing runs out, including star goalie Roberto Luongo, who was ushered out of Vancouver and sent back to Florida eight years after he was sent packing.
The Panthers, on their way to missing the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 seasons, dealt goalie Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthias to the Canucks for Luongo and forward Steven Anthony.
"We're getting a great goaltender, a proven commodity," Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon said.
Luongo is first in Panthers history in games played (317), single-season games played (75), career wins (108), single-season wins (35), and career shutouts (26). He also own single-season records for most saves, most minutes played, and consecutive scoreless minutes.
Markstrom had been considered the Panthers' goalie of the future for several years.
Luongo was the highest-profile netminder on the move Tuesday, but he was hardly alone as several goalies changed addresses in a flurry of trades. In fact, Luongo's arrival in Florida could prompt the Panthers to trade veteran Tim Thomas before Wednesday's noon PST deadline.
Edmonton, which acquired Viktor Fasth from the Ducks on Tuesday, then traded veteran goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to the Minnesota Wild for a fourth-round draft pick this year.
Minnesota General Manager Chuck Fletcher said the team must assume that neither Niklas Backstrom nor Josh Harding will be healthy enough to mind the net again this season. Rookie goalie Darcy Kuemper has played well, but the Wild needed depth heading into a stretch of 20 games in 37 days.
Luongo seemed destined in his mind to stay with Vancouver because of his 12-year, $64-million contract. Now, with eight years left on his contract, the 34-year-old Luongo is headed back to Florida, where he has his off-season home.
The Panthers were already active Tuesday before acquiring Luongo, sending defenseman Mike Weaver to the Montreal Canadiens for a 2015 fifth-round draft pick.
The New York Islanders, well on their way toward missing the playoffs, started their sell-off by dealing coveted defenseman Andrew MacDonald to the Metropolitan Division-rival Philadelphia Flyers for a pair of draft picks and minor league center Matt Mangene.
New York also was expected to deal veteran forward Thomas Vanek, who was acquired earlier this season from Buffalo. Vanek was scratched from the Islanders' lineup at Winnipeg at Tuesday night in anticipation of a trade before the deadline.
In other deals, the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks acquired defensemen David Rundblad and Mathieu Brisebois from the Phoenix Coyotes for a second-round draft pick this year; the Ottawa Senators traded forward Jeff Costello to Vancouver for defenseman Patrick Mullen, who was then assigned to Binghamton of the AHL; and Phoenix received forwards Martin Erat and John Mitchell from Washington for forward Chris Brown, defenseman Rostislav Klesla and a fourth-round selection in the 2015 draft.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun