Oilers acquire Athanasiou, Senators deal Pageau ahead of NHL trade deadline
Ottawa Senators forward Jaen-Gabriel Pageau (44) celebrates his goal during the first period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, N.Y., on January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jeffrey T. Barnes
John Wawrow, The Associated Press
Published Monday, February 24, 2020 2:28PM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 24, 2020 11:17PM EST
Ken Holland has watched his players grind through 62 regular-season games.
The general manager of the Edmonton Oilers hopes Monday's moves prior to the NHL trade deadline help push them over the post-season hump.
“My message today is we're trying to win,” Holland said after making three deals to improve his roster before the 3 p.m. ET cutoff. “Our players have worked extremely hard, bought into everything the coaching staff has asked of them.”
In the nation's capital, the Ottawa Senators were at the opposite end of the spectrum for the second consecutive year with a trio of trades - including one that saw popular homegrown talent Jean-Gabriel Pageau sent packing as that franchise's rebuild continues.
“Today was good in advancing the plan,” said Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion, who netted as many as five picks Monday. “It was important for us to do that.”
In his first season with Edmonton following a long tenure with Detroit, Holland swung two trades with the Red Wings, acquiring speedster Andreas Athanasiou and defenceman Mike Green.
The Oilers, who sit second in the tightly-packed Pacific Division and have made the post-season just once since 2006, also got depth winger Tyler Ennis from Ottawa.
“We've got a great nucleus, and they've played hard to put ourselves in this position where we compete for a playoff spot,” said Holland, who made a fourth swap with the Anaheim Ducks involving minor-leaguers. “The last three years I was a seller in Detroit. We made the playoffs for 25 years before.
“It's fun to be in the playoffs. It's fun for the fans, for the players.”
Set to become a restricted free agent July 1, Athanasiou cost the Oilers second-round picks in 2020 and 2021, along with forward Sam Gagner. Forward prospect Ryan Kuffner also heads to Edmonton in the deal.
Green, 34, was acquired for winger Kyle Brodziak and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020, while Ennis, 30, went for a fifth-rounder in 2021. Both are pending UFAs.
“No risk, no gain,” Holland told reporters in Anaheim, Calif.
Selected 110th overall by Detroit in 2012, Athanasiou had 10 goals and 24 points in 46 games to go along with a league-worst minus-45 rating this season for the last-place Red Wings. The native of Woodbridge, Ont., has 83 goals and 154 points in 294 career NHL games, and could slot in on a line beside Oilers captain Connor McDavid.
“He's got great speed, he's got high-end skill,” Holland said. “We're hoping that his best years are ahead of him.”
The Senators received a conditional first-round pick in 2020, a second-round selection in 2020 and a conditional third-rounder in 2022 for Pageau, 27. The Ottawa native was set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, but signed a six-year, US$30-million contract extension with the Islanders a few hours after the trade was announced.
The 2020 pick heading to the Senators will slide to 2021 if it falls in the top-3 at June's draft, while the third-round selection in 2022 hinges on the Islanders winning the Stanley Cup this spring.
Ottawa also traded Vladislav Namestnikov - like Ennis, another pending UFA - to the Colorado Avalanche for a fourth-rounder in 2021.
Dorion gutted his roster prior to last February's deadline, sending star winger Mark Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights, while centre Matt Duchene and forward Ryan Dzingel were traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The moves came after Ottawa shipped captain Erik Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy winner as the league's best defenceman, to the San Jose Sharks in September 2018.
The Senators got a haul of picks and prospects in those deals - including San Jose's first-rounder this June, which should be in the lottery. Coupled with the Pageau trade, Dorion could have as many as 13 picks, and seven in the first two rounds, at June's draft at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
“We've looked at a lot of scenarios,” Dorion said during a media availability in Ottawa. “It's always been part of the plan to have as many picks in this year's draft because we know this draft is very deep.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs were rumoured to be looking at moving pending UFA defenceman Tyson Barrie, who was acquired in the Nazem Kadri exchange last summer with Colorado, but the blue-liner remained on the roster past the deadline.
GM Kyle Dubas made three minor deals, including one that sent third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson to the Avalanche for minor-league defenceman Calle Rosen, who was traded to Colorado as part of the Barrie-Kadri trade.
The Leafs did, however, make one move of note, signing blue-liner Jake Muzzin to a four-year, $22.5-million extension.
In a battle for its playoff life, Toronto's talent-loaded roster has been under intense scrutiny following a string of lacklustre performances that culminated with Saturday's embarrassing 6-3 loss to Carolina where the Hurricanes were forced to use emergency backup goalie David Ayres - a 42-year-old Zamboni driver - for nearly half the game after both of their netminders were injured.
“I'm not going to come up and bulls- and tell you I have some kind of magical solution,” Dubas said of his team's inconsistency. “We have to go through this and we have to find our way to be our best on a daily basis.”
The Vancouver Canucks, meanwhile, acquired goalie Louis Domingue from New Jersey for a conditional seventh-rounder in 2021 in a depth move with starter Jacob Markstrom out with a lower-body injury.
The Calgary Flames got some blue-line help by acquiring Erik Gustafsson from Chicago for a 2020 third-rounder and Derek Forbort from Los Angeles for a conditional fourth in 2021.
In other moves of note on a record-setting deadline day that saw 32 trades and 55 players change hands - but no blockbuster deals - Carolina got centre Vincent Trocheck from Florida, snagged defenceman Sami Vatanen from New Jersey and acquired blue-liner Brady Skjei from the New York Rangers.
The Golden Knights shored up their goalie situation by acquiring Robin Lehner from Chicago to support starter Marc-Andre Fleury.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, added some veteran leadership by netting winger Patrick Marleau from San Jose.
Montreal, which traded sniper Ilya Kovalchuk to Washington on Sunday, dealt Nate Thompson to Philadelphia and fellow forward Nick Cousins to Vegas. Winnipeg, meanwhile, didn't make a move of any kind Monday.
Currently six points back of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Buffalo acquired UFA winger Wayne Simmonds from New Jersey.
A number of teams did their shopping early, with defencemen Dylan DeMelo (Winnipeg), Brenden Dillon (Washington), Marco Scandella (St. Louis) and Alec Martinez (Vegas) getting plucked off the market last week, while Vancouver made its big move with the acquisition of winger Tyler Toffoli from Los Angeles.
Rangers forward Chris Kreider was one of the top prizes still on the trade board heading into Monday, but he agreed to a seven-year, $45-million extension that will keep him in the Big Apple.
Back with Holland at the Oilers, Edmonton has made the playoffs only once since McDavid, who just returned after six games out with a quad injury, and fellow star forward Leon Draisaitl joined the team.
Holland wanted to do his part in the wide-open Pacific race.
“Our team comes to work every day,” Holland said. “I had an obligation to try to pitch in and help out.”
-With files from Lisa Wallace in Ottawa
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2020.