Until the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks shook things up just as the 3 p.m. deadline hit with their big four-player deal, Monday's NHL trade deadline was mostly a dud. There were largely minor moves and lots of chatter about the one big name that was on the block but didn't get sent elsewhere.
Winger Rick Nash remains in Columbus after the Blue Jackets were unable to work out a deal with the New York Rangers for their captain. San Jose and a few other teams were reportedly in the mix as talks heated up in the final two hours.
Later Monday, Jackets GM Scott Howson stunned reporters by revealing that Nash actually asked to be traded in mid-January; it was widely assumed Columbus was cutting bait with its franchise player simply to retool after yet another lost season.
Nash, remember, has a no-movement clause and has a $7.6 million cap hit through 2018.
"He approached us and asked us to consider trading him," Howson said. "We agreed to accommodate his request, as long as we could get a deal that would provide us with the cornerstone pieces to help us compete for a Stanley Cup championship in the coming years.
"This is too important to our franchise and our fans to do a deal that is not in our best interest. We pursued a number of options, but none provided the value back that we could justify."
Nash practiced with his team Monday and declined to speak to reporters afterward. The Blue Jackets are expected to revisit a Nash deal in the offseason, likely either in the days leading up to the Entry Draft or at the draft itself in Pittsburgh in June.
The Rangers, who lead the Eastern Conference, simply found the price for Nash to be too high.
"We weren't going to dismantle things," said Rangers GM Glen Sather. "We like the chemistry we have."
The market is getting tighter on deadline day as there were 16 trades made for the second straight year. Before then, there had not been fewer than 20 deals since 2002.
A big winner was Nashville, which had picked up defenseman Hal Gill last week. The Predators added winger Andrei Kostitsyn from Montreal for a second- and fifth-round pick Monday in addition to Paul Gaustad from the Sabres.
The Predators, who won the first playoff series in their 14 seasons last year over Anaheim, are six points out of the Central Division lead and fifth in the West.
"We've certainly got ourselves in a real good position here in the playoff race," said Nashville GM David Poile. "And I think with these trades we've certainly given us a chance to play with the big boys this year."
Two teams on the playoff bubble that basically stood pat after plenty of speculation were the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals.
"All the teams that we're chasing or in the hunt with us took people out of their room and brought people in they thought could do the job better," said Toronto GM Brian Burke. "We elected not to do that. So if I'm a member of the Leafs, I look at this as an endorsement from management that this group is capable of making the playoffs."
Toronto's inactivity was particularly surprising, given the Leafs' 2-7-1 slide in the last 10 games that's dropped them to 10th in the East. The Leafs' made two minor-league deals, getting defenseman Mark Fraser from Anaheim for forward Dale Mitchell and trading blueliner Keith Aulie to Tampa Bay for forward Carter Ashton.
"Panic can't be part of your vocabulary if you're a general manager," Burke said. "If you want to win a championship, that can't be part of it. Setbacks for 10 days or 12 days, that can't be how you guide the ship. You can't change your course because you have 10 bad days out of 180 or 190 days in the season."
In other deals:
*Vancouver got Sami Pahlsson from Columbus for two fourth-round picks, and winger Andrew Gordon from Anaheim for defenseman Sebastian Erixon.
*The Rangers got 6-foot-8, 270-defenseman John Scott from Chicago for a fifth-round draft pick and the Hawks then replaced Scott by getting defenseman Johnny Oduya from Winnipeg for a second- and third-round pick in 2013.
*Boston got defenseman Greg Zanon from Minnesota for Steven Kampfer and then landed winger Brian Rolston and defenseman Mike Mottau from the Islanders for Yannick Riendeau and defenseman Marc Cantin.
*Ottawa got Matt Gilroy from Tampa Bay for Greg Lee in an exchange of defenseman. The Lightning also landed veteran defenseman Mike Commodore from Detroit for a 2013 seventh-round pick.
*San Jose got forwards T.J. Galiardi and Daniel Winnik from Colorado for forwards Jamie McGinn, Mike Connolly, Michael Sgarbossa, and a 2013 seventh-round pick.