(Reuters) – The New York Rangers bolstered their Stanley Cup hopes with the addition of Martin St. Louis while the Montreal Canadiens added some scoring punch by landing Thomas Vanek ahead of the NHL’s trade deadline on Wednesday.
The two forwards headlined a busy day that saw several big names change teams, including Marian Gaborik going to the Los Angeles Kings from the Columbus Blue Jackets and Matt Moulson going to the Minnesota Wild from the last-place Buffalo Sabres.
St. Louis requested a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning after he was snubbed by general manager Steve Yzerman – also the general manager for Team Canada – when the roster for the 2014 Olympic squad was announced in January.
The NHL’s reigning scoring champion was eventually added to the team as an injury replacement and went on to collect a gold medal but that did little to change his mind.
“He has been one of the greatest players in the organization’s history but in the end we honored his request today,” Yzerman said in a statement. “We wish him and his family the best of luck as he continues his career in New York.”
The 38-year-old Lightning captain was traded to New York in exchange for Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and two draft picks.
St. Louis, a six-time All-Star and former Hart Memorial Trophy winner as most valuable player who won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004, joins a Rangers team that is third in the Metropolitan Division.
Callahan, 28, has 11 goals and 25 points in 45 games for the Rangers this season and joins a Lightning team that is sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division.
The Canadiens got a much-needed offensive boost by acquiring Vanek from the New York Islanders for a second round draft pick and forward prospect Sebastien Collberg.
Vanek, a two-time 40-goal scorer who represented Austria at the 2014 Sochi Games, has 17 goals and 27 assists in 47 games this season between the Islanders and Sabres.
After spending the season playing for two teams well outside the playoff picture, the former first round draft pick joins a Montreal team that is second in the Atlantic Division, eight points behind the first place Boston Bruins.
Moulson is also headed to his third team this season after starting with the Islanders before joining Buffalo last October. The 30-year-old forward has appeared in 55 games between the two teams this season and has 17 goals and 21 assists.
Gaborik, a three-time All-Star who has scored at least 40 goals on three occasions, was traded to the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Kings for forward Matt Frattin and two draft picks.
Among the other deals, the Ottawa Senators acquired forward Ales Hemsky from the Edmonton Oilers for a pair of draft picks and Los Angeles acquired defenseman Brayden McNabb and two draft picks from Buffalo for forward Hudson Fasching.
The Sabres also traded goalie Jaroslav Halak and a third-round draft pick to the Washington Capitals in exchange for goaltender Michal Neuvirth and defenseman Rostislav Klesla.
Wednesday marked the final day for the NHL’s 30 teams to make tweaks to their rosters ahead of the final stretch of the regular season.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Julian Linden)