Editor’s Note: Ever wondered what it’s like to be inside the locker room on NHL Trade Deadline Day? Deb Placey peels back the curtain and gives an inside look at what transpired with the Devils.
11 AM: The Devils hold a scheduled practice.
And the dry erase board in the locker room says it’s a 1:30 PM bus to the airport. The Devils will charter to Washington in advance of Thursday’s game against the Capitals. With the trading deadline a few hours away, we’re keeping a running timeline of what can be the most stressful day of the year in the NHL. “This is the only day of the year my wife constantly refreshes NHL.com,” Ben Lovejoy said.
There have been some moves already this morning. Nothing that would qualify as a blockbuster, though. Jarome Iginla to LA, Thomas Vanek to the Panthers, Dwight King (from The Kings) to Montreal.
Overnight, colorful redhead Mike Commodore, former Stanley Cup Champion and current Uber driver, continues his list of players who are likely to be traded.
12:15 PM: Steve Cangialosi is in the locker room, chatting with longest tenured Devil Travis Zajac. Travis has been around for 11 trade deadlines now with New Jersey. “Traditionally, it’s been anti-climatic here around the deadline,” he said. “Except for 2010, when Lou (Lamoriello) made the move and brought in Ilya Kovalchuk.” And that was actually a few weeks before the deadline.
Zajac has all the attributes of a “final piece of the puzzle” player, but he wants no part of a trade today. “It’s always in the back of my mind, but I like it here and this is where I want to stay.”
Travis could always be the final piece of the puzzle when New Jersey wins it’s next Cup too.
12:30 PM: Head coach John Hynes meets the media. He says Pavel Zacha (day-to-day with a concussion) will make the trip, but P.A. Parenteau – who has an injured finger and missed the last home game, will not. A terrific offensive player who the Devils scooped up off the waiver wire 48 hours before the season-opener in Florida, Parenteau is a candidate to move because he’s a pending unrestricted free agent P.A.’s added a lot to New Jersey this season and could be a really good add for a contender. The injury doesn’t sound too serious, but you never know.
1:27 PM: Our MSG Networks crew of eight — including John MacLean, who’s making the trip with us to D.C. & Boston, gets a group text on the bus that says our departure time has been delayed about 15 minutes. Not unusual, but adds to the intrigue.
1:28 PM: Everyone gets off the bus. The rain has stopped and it’s actually kind of warm out. Kyle Quincey still hasn’t boarded the players’ bus.
1:47 PM: Now we’re back on the bus, and Devils VP of Info Pete Albietz jumps on with news that they’re sending us ahead to the airport, but the player bus is staying put for the moment.
Very unusual! And definitely, it adds to the intrigue.
2:15 PM: We arrive at Newark Airport.
For the first time all season, we get on the charter first. Ken Daneyko can hardly contain himself — the fruit & cheese plates, yogurt parfaits and sandwiches. He’s actually a really healthy eater.
2:30 PM: The coaches and players haven’t gotten here yet, but we get word on twitter that Quincey’s destination will be … Columbus. Thank you, Bob McKenzie. Good for him. He doesn’t have to pack too much stuff. The Jackets will be at Prudential Center for a 5 PM game Sunday.
In return, the Devils acquire tough guy Dalton Prout. Straight up deal. Johnny Mac is on it. He checked the contract and Prout is signed, at $1.575m, through next year. He’s Ray Shero‘s type of D-man; strong and physical. Can’t wait to chat with the Devils’ GM once this all ends.
2:45 PM: We have an update from the cockpit. No, the pilot doesn’t have any trade info. Just weather info. They’re in a ground stoppage at Dulles. We will get another update in 40 minutes, but we will be on the tarmac here in Newark for at least the next 40. Dano and Johnny Mac change their minds and order a late lunch. We may be here for awhile.
2:49 PM: Confirmation comes in: Parenteau has been traded to Nashville for a draft pick.
NJ trades Parenteau to NSH for 6th round pick, pending trade call.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 1, 2017
Trading P.A. gives the Devs roster space to play young forwards down the stretch and gives Parenteau a chance to play for a contender out West. The Devils now have 11 draft picks for 2017 draft, including one first-round pick, two seconds, two thirds and two fourth rounders.
Ray Shero got a fourth rounder a month ago for Vern Fiddler from the Predators.
2:50 PM: Young defenseman Seth Helgeson walks up to the front of the plane. With his hat and coat on. Uh-oh. He appears to be getting off the plane. Has he been traded? False alarm. We eventually learn he’s been assigned to Albany to make room for Prout.
3:15 PM: Somehow, Mark Streit has gone from Tampa Bay to Pittsburgh. Which is frankly a relief for everyone on the flight trying to figure out what the heck Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was doing, adding a big money UFA D-man for a draft pick. Now it all makes sense. And the Flyers retain 4.7% of Streit’s salary. As if that makes sense.
3:16 PM: The last of the deals have been announced. Toronto ends up getting Eric Fehr. A few other deals here and there.
3:41 PM: Good news, says the cockpit, they’ve lifted the ground stop in Dulles, we will be taking off shortly. Hopefully, we can get going before they change their minds.
3:57 PM: Silence on the flight. Eerily quiet. More concerning that the engines are silent. Not too worried about the people. The players appear to be over the drama, and most of them are now reading, sleeping or watching their iPads and Netflix shows. But apparently, it’s just an auxiliary power unit that shut down. Took about 15 minutes to restart the engines and now we’re up in the air no problem.
5:18 PM: The Devils have landed. The deadline passed two hours ago. Mark Streit is still a Penguin, but he can always say he was traded twice on deadline day. Turns out the biggest names who were dealt this week, were in trades before today.
Kevin Shattenkirk, Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle were traded Monday and Tuesday.
Joe Sakic was thought to be cleaning house in Colorado, but he didn’t like the returns being offered for Matt Duchene & Gabriel Landeskog, so Sakic holds on to them. For now.
And last but not least, Lee Stempniak was NOT traded. It’s the first time since 2013 he wasn’t traded on deadline day. Now in Carolina, the veteran forward isn’t going anywhere. For once.
As always, sometimes the trades you don’t make, are the best moves of all.
Have to figure most of the 20 players still on this flight agree.