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Jets make biggest splash among Canadian teams on deadline day

Tyler Toffoli Tyler Toffoli - The Canadian Press

The NHL's Eastern Conference heavyweights loaded up prior to last season's trade deadline.

The Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils all made big splashes with an eye toward long playoff runs.

Western Conference general managers took the lead in 2024.

The Winnipeg Jets secured the services of Tyler Toffoli from the New Jersey Devils, while the Vegas Golden Knights continued to add following an already busy stretch by getting Tomas Hertl in a blockbuster from the San Jose Sharks just before Friday's 3 p.m. ET cutoff.

"We knew going in the West was tough," Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said. "We knew coming out the West was going to be tougher.

"But that's hockey. That's the exciting part."

Vegas also made significant moves for defenceman Noah Hanifin and forward Anthony Mantha in the days leading up to the deadline. The Jets added depth to their defence by getting Colin Miller in a separate Friday deal with New Jersey.

The Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche also made decisive swaps over the last 5 1/2 weeks as part of the West's roster-bolstering arms race.

"It's unbelievable," said Flames GM Craig Conroy, who dealt away four key veteran pieces this season. "Every call was from the West. It just felt like everybody was loading up."

Calgary traded Hanifin to the Knights after also dealing fellow blueliner Chris Tanev to Dallas. The Flames shipped centre Elias Lindholm to Vancouver last month and traded Nikita Zadorov to the same club back in December.

"It would be nice to have our (former) guys go out East and not see them as often," Conroy continued. "But in the end, you have to do the best deals and it seemed like the West was the most aggressive this year.

"You've even seen it right up to the end of the deadline."

The Jets made the day's first significant move — Friday culminated with 23 trades involving 33 players — when they got Toffoli from the Devils following the deal for centre Sean Monahan from the Montreal Canadiens in February.

New Jersey received a second-round pick in the 2025 draft and a 2024 third-rounder for the 31-year-old pending unrestricted free agent. The Devils also retained 50 per cent of his US$4.25-million cap hit.

Toffoli, who won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, joins a Jets team currently sitting second in the Central Division and third in the West.

"It feels like everybody is trying to stack up and do whatever they can to win," he said. "It's not going to be easy."

Vegas got Hertl plus third-rounders in 2025 and 2027 from San Jose for a prospect and a 2025 first-rounder. The Knights also got Mantha from Washington this week.

Edmonton pushed its chips in Thursday by adding forwards Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick from Anaheim.

Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said it's a balancing act to see where all the pieces fit, especially when stars join a new team.

"You see so often a big-name player come in and it just disrupts your room, your chemistry," he said. "You're adding a really good player, but it often takes away from your team dynamics."

Colorado acquired defenceman Sean Walker from Philadelphia and added centre Casey Mittelstadt from Buffalo this week.

"We all know that those teams were good coming in," Canucks GM Patrik Allvin said. "The West has shown that there are several teams capable of competing for a Cup this year."

Montreal, meanwhile, traded goaltender Jake Allen, who has a year left on his contract, to New Jersey for a conditional 2025 third-rounder, bringing an end to the Canadiens' three-headed crease monster that also featured Sam Montembeault and Cayden Primeau.

"We had been talking with teams for months," Canadiens GM Kent Hughes said. "But it's really this week that we received offers."

The Carolina Hurricanes made a statement in the East on Thursday by acquiring Jake Guentzel from the Pittsburgh Penguins before adding fellow forward Evgeni Kuznetsov from the Washington Capitals on Friday.

Washington shipped Kuznetsov to Carolina for a 2025 third-round pick after he passed through waivers earlier this week.

Carolina, which sits second in the Metropolitan Division and lost to the Florida Panthers in last year's conference final, got Guentzel from Pittsburgh for winger Michael Bunting, a trio of prospects and two conditional draft picks.

Florida acquired winger Kyle Okposo from Buffalo, and Boston got bruising forward Pat Maroon from Minnesota. Arizona shipped forward Jason Zucker to Nashville and defenceman Matt Dumba to Tampa Bay.

But the earthmoving manoeuvres were mostly all in the other conference.

"That doesn't break my heart," said Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving, who acquired some forward depth by adding Connor Dewar from Minnesota. "Really good teams are going to miss the playoffs and really, really good teams are going to be out in the first round.

"Lots of moves. A lot of the bigger ones were out West."

With files from Gemma Karstens-Smith in Vancouver, Daniel Rainbird in Montreal, Judy Owen in Winnipeg, Steven Sandor in Edmonton and Darren Haynes in Calgary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2024.


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Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had Noah Hanifin's last name spelled incorrectly.