The biggest trade of the day -- by far, if you ask me -- came down some 40 minutes after the deadline. The Vancouver Canucks shipped young star Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer to the Buffalo Sabres for former No. 1 draft pick and top prospect Zach Kassian as well as defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani.
Even on a more normal (see: busier) trade deadline day, that deal is going to make a lot of news. Hodgson is a big-time player who has been blocked from getting good ice time in Vancouver. But the idea of trading him didn't seem to be much of a good one with his potential. The problem is he plays center and the Canucks sort of have some good ones ahead of him. You might have heard of Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler.
This season playing bottom-6 minutes, Hodgson has 16 goals and 17 assists. He has been a player that the fans in Vancouver have rallied behind to get more ice time, but again there wasn't much of it for him to take.
So he gets sent to Buffalo for Kassian, who won't be blocked at the center spot. He's a true power winger who is rough and skilled. The best way to describe him is as a freight-train type on the ice, he isn't soft out there to be sure.
The addition of Gragnani for Sulzer in the deal makes it a lot more appetizing for Vancouverites. Sulzer is a bit of a journeyman defenseman who plays in the No. 5/No. 6 role when he actually does play (only 12 games with Vancouver this season) while Gragnani is inexperienced but still very young. This was the first season in which he played more than 10 games, appearing in 44 so far for the Sabres while scoring a goal and 11 assists while sporting a plus-10.
Giving up Hodgson definitely comes as a surprise but apparently he was expendable. And it helps the Canucks get something they could use, a little more grit and toughness. It's hard not to view this addition of Kassian as partly in preparation for a possible rematch with the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final based on last year's series. Bruins or not, it's a move to get a little tougher.
For Buffalo, it will be interesting to see if this satisfies the fan base's desire to see the team do something. It's been a very disappointing season, particularly based on the expectations for the Sabres so it was expected they'd do something. They waited until the very end by first trading Paul Gaustad to Nashville for a No. 1 draft pick and then this bombshell.
It's pretty easy to say that Hodgson is the big piece of this deal and he goes to Buffalo. But Kassian will have a role to fill in Vancouver without a doubt.
For the Canucks it was part of a busier day where they were determined to add some forward punch. In addition to the Kassian/Gragnani acquisition, they also landed Sami Pahlsson from the Blue Jackets and finished the day by getting Andrew Gordon from the Anaheim Ducks.