There have been a record 25 deals on NHL trade deadline day in each of the last three years, with the occasion inspiring wall-to-wall sports coverage in Canada.
So it's clear the deadline has been full of sound and fury in recent years, but to keep the Bard reference going, what does it all signify?
Does the sound of Willie Mitchell for Martin Skoula or Andrew Ladd in exchange for Tuomo Ruutu get your pulse racing? Because those have been two of the more mutually beneficial trades in recent years.
An analysis of recent trade deadlines — which includes deals around the actual day — reveals that most of the transactions are ephemeral or transitory.
Teams that obtain draft picks in exchange for veterans quite often use those picks as surplus and then trade them on draft day to enhance their position. Veterans picked up for the post-season usually don't re-sign with the clubs that acquired them once summer comes.
Increased parity keeps more clubs in the postseason hunt, sometimes making them reluctant to part with everyday players. Florida GM Jacques Martin acquired Phoenix's Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton (as well as a pick) for Olli Jokinen at last year's draft, a deal that couldn't have been done at the deadline as both teams were still clinging to faint playoff hopes.
Still, there have many deals that have stood out, for different reasons.
Trade deadline activity of Stanley Cup champs and finalists since the 2004-05 lockout:
- 2006: Mark Recchi, Doug Weight (Carolina); Dwayne Roloson, Sergei Samsonov (Edmonton).
- 2007: Brad May (Anaheim); Oleg Saprykin (Ottawa).
- 2008: Brad Stuart (Detroit); Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis, Hal Gill (Pittsburgh).
Summary: The Stanley Cup winners in recent years have acquired role players that filled a specific need, though you'd be hard-pressed to argue the teams wouldn't have won it all without them. But in most cases, all it cost the championship teams were draft picks and prospects that haven't yet panned out or have been traded away, or minor league players.
Edmonton in 2006 and Pittsburgh last season prove why the trade deadline can be alluring — both clubs nearly won the championship after making major moves.
Bad deals since the lockout
- Braydon Coburn (Philadelphia) for Alexei Zhitnik (Atlanta), 2007.
Thrashers GM Don Waddell must wonder very often how nice Coburn's sandpaper style would look alongside the skills and promise of young Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian on the blueline.
- Kris Versteeg (Chicago) for Brandon Bochenski (Boston), 2007.
Boston had a surplus of young forwards but that doesn't excuse GM Peter Chiarelli from getting fooled by Bochenski a second time (both were previously in Ottawa).
- Andrew Ference, Chuck Kobasew (Boston) for Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau (Calgary), 2007.
Might have made some sense at the time but Stuart bolted and Primeau has played just over 90 of 160 games for the Flames since. Ference and Kobasew have both been key depth players for the Bruins.
- Glen Metropolit and 4 draft picks (St. Louis) for Keith Tkachuk (Atlanta), 2007.
Tkachuk promptly re-signed with the Blues after his brief time with Atlanta, which reduced it to three picks. It was a costly move from Atlanta, but it'll be years before it can be determined if it's an outright theft for the Blues. Depending on how Ian Cole, Brett Sonne and Phil McRae pan out for St. Louis, it could be one of the worst deadline deals ever.
- Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent, first- and third-round picks (Philadelphia) for Peter Forsberg (Nashville), 2007.
The asterisk in this deal comes from the fact that Nashville soon encountered money woes and weeks later gave the Flyers negotiating rights to Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timmonen in exchange for getting the first-round pick back, which they used on Jonathon Blum.
Philadelphia traded away the third-round pick. Upshall is a regular while Parent, who could be a cornerstone in years to come, has played less than 40 games for the Flyers since the deal.
Most impactful deadline trades of the decade
The following weren't all the biggest deals at the time — though some were — but they were the most impactful trades of each deadline this decade, meaning that one or both clubs benefited greatly in the long term. Insignificant parts of some deals are omitted.
- 2000: Brendan Morrison (Vancouver) for Alexander Mogilny (New Jersey).
Morrison scores 393 points in seven-plus seasons in Vancouver, with several big-game goals. Mogilny wins Stanley Cup with Devils in 2000, scores 43 the next season for New Jersey.
- 2001: Rob Blake, Steven Reinprecht (Colorado) for Adam Deadmarsh, Aaron Miller, 1st-round pick (LA).
Blake was a key cog in Colorado winning its second Stanley Cup and played four strong seasons, with Reinprecht a solid playoff performer over three years with the Avalanche.
The Kings lost the trade but couldn't have predicted Deadmarsh's concussion problems. Miller played over 300 games in L.A., but the Kings didn't benefit from the pick (David Steckel).
- 2002: Jamie Langenbrunner, Joe Nieuwendyk (New Jersey) for Jason Arnott, Randy McKay, 1st-round pick (Dallas).
Langenbrunner is still a valuable player with the Devils; he and Nieuwendyk both contributed to the 2003 Stanley Cup team.
Arnott averaged 60 points over three seasons in Dallas. The pick was used for Daniel Paille, now with the Sabres.
- 2003: Rob Niedermayer (Anaheim) for Mike Commodore and Jean-Francois Damphousse (Calgary).
Commodore gets a mention despite only playing 18 regular season games for the Flames as he was part of the heart and soul of the 2004 Stanley Cup finalist team.
Niedermayer was the most impactful player from that deadline, still a member of the Ducks and a key two-way presence in the Stanley Cup finals of 2003 and 2007.
- 2004: Darryl Sydor, Mike Lundin (Tampa Bay) for Alex Svitov (Columbus).
Sydor provides veteran presence on that season's Cup winners. Trade was in late January, so a bit of a cheat, but the 2004 deadline day was utterly devoid of deals that had any lasting value. You can look it up.
- 2006: Dwayne Roloson (Edmonton) for a first-round pick and conditional 3rd round (Minnesota).
Roloson is the main reason the Oilers are in playoff contention this season, in addition to his stellar work during the 2006 Cup run.
The Wild later dealt the first-round pick (used for Trevor Lewis) and Patrick O'Sullivan to L.A. for Pavol Demitra, helping to contribute to Minnesota's current depth issues.
- 2007: Brad Boyes (St. Louis) for Dennis Wideman (Boston).
Boyes has scored 68 goals in his first 137 games with St. Louis.
Wideman has emerged as a horse on the Bruins blue-line, averaging 40 points and logging 20-25 minutes per game.
- 2008: Brad Richards, Johan Holmqvist (Dallas) for Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen, Mike Smith (Tampa Bay).
Richards helps the Stars to their first Conference final in eight years and figures to be in Dallas for a long while.
Smith has two shutouts and a .916 save percentage on a defensively liable team and has emerged as a darkhorse No. 3 Olympic goalie candidate for Canada.
The future is unwritten
Boston ultimately drafted Milan Lucic with the pick obtained in the Sergei Samsonov trade to Edmonton in 2006, and St. Louis selected David Perron a year later with the pick the Blues got from San Jose in the Bill Guerin deal.
But many draft picks take longer to develop and it will be some time yet before certain deals can be properly evaluated.
Edmonton effectively won the Ryan Smyth deal (2007) when he didn't return to the New York Islanders. Robert Nilsson is developing with the Oilers, but the deal could become more one-sided if first-round pick Alex Plante turns into a solid NHLer.
San Jose didn't re-sign Brian Campbell, but the Sabres didn't keep Steve Bernier, either. The progress of Tyler Ennis, the first-round pick received from the Sharks, will determine whether Buffalo completely whiffed on the 2008 deal.
The previous year, the Sabres drafted T.J. Brennan in the second round, the pick they received for trading Martin Biron to the Flyers.
Washington drafted goalie Simeon Varlamov in the 2006 trade that sent Brendan Witt to Nashville. Witt played only 22 games for Nashville, while Varlamov has looked good in a brief taste of NHL action.