Avalanche deal while others keep low on deadline day

John Wawrow and Stephen Whyno
Associated Press
Eric Gelinas was traded by the Devils to the Avalanche for a third-round pick in the 2017 draft.

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic was busy attempting to improve Colorado’s bid to make the playoffs, while a majority of his NHL counterparts stood pat as the league’s trade deadline hit Monday afternoon.

The Avalanche completed two trades in acquiring Arizona forward Mikkel Boedker and New Jersey Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas.

Boedker is an eight-year NHL veteran who adds scoring depth to an Avalanche team that entered Monday holding down the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. Gelinas is a hard-shooting third-year defenseman who provides Colorado depth on the blue line.

The acquisitions provided a boost to the Avalanche, who have won five of eight, and held a two-point edge over the ninth-place Minnesota Wild.

“It sends a message to everybody in here that they’re willing up top to give us the best chance possible and go deep in the playoffs,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “And that’s what we want to do.”

The Avalanche sent to the Coyotes veteran forward Alex Tanguay and two prospects, forward Connor Bleackley and defenseman Kyle Wood, who were both selected in the 2014 draft. For Gelinas, Colorado sent the Devils a third-round pick in the 2017 draft.

The Dallas Stars added defensive depth by landing nine-year veteran Kris Russel in a trade with Calgary. The Stars traded second-year defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, forward Brett Pollock and a conditional second-round draft pick to the Flames.

Otherwise, it turned out to be a slow day of trades with only a handful of deals completed a half-hour before the deadline struck at 3 p.m. ET. The final tally of trades was not yet revealed as deals were still being processed by the NHL.

Among the notable players who were on the block and had not moved were Tampa Bay forward Jonathan Drouin, Boston Bruins forward Loui Eriksson, Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis and Buffalo Sabres forward Jamie McGinn.

Drouin is expendable because he was unhappy over being demoted to the minors and has since left the AHL Syracuse Crunch to work out on his own in Montreal. Eriksson, Hamhuis and McGinn were expendable because they’re veteran players entering the final years of their contracts and eligible to become unrestricted free agents.

Of course, numerous teams made a series of high-profile moves in the days and weeks leading up to the deadline.

One of the biggest moves occurred on Sunday, when the New York Rangers acquired Hurricanes captain Eric Staal in exchange for Finnish prospect Aleksi Saarela and a pair of second-round draft picks.

Last week, the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks acquired Winnipeg forward Andrew Ladd in exchange for rookie forward Marko Dano and a first-round pick in this year’s draft.

Boedker was expendable in Arizona because he is in the final year of his contract and eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s third on the team with 39 points (13 goals and 26 assists) in 62 games. Boedker, however, has been slumping having not scored in his past 11 games.

The Coyotes are slipping out of the playoff picture.

Arizona has lost five straight and is 3-10-1 in its past 14. The slump has dropped the Coyotes into 11th in the West, eight points behind Colorado.

It was the second move of the day by the Coyotes, who also acquired winger Sergei Plotnikov from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for prospect Matthias Plachta and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2017.

Signed out of the Kontinental Hockey League last offseason, the 25-year-old Plotnikov has just two assists in 32 games. He is set to be a restricted free agent this summer. Plotnikov carries a salary-cap hit of $743,000.

The Edmonton Oilers re-signed two rookies — defenseman Brandon Davidson and goalie Laurent Brossoit — to two-year contract extensions. They also added two players who were placed on waivers a day earlier: Vancouver forward Adam Cracknell and Winnipeg defenseman Adam Pardy.

Though a number of trades were expected before the deadline, numerous teams spent the previous week adding players and freeing up salaries of players who are in the final years of their contracts.