Vancouver Canucks’ Adam Gaudette (96) and Calgary Flames’ Mikael Backlund (11) vie for the puck during first period NHL action in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Gaudette was pulled from practice Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Vancouver Canucks’ Adam Gaudette (96) and Calgary Flames’ Mikael Backlund (11) vie for the puck during first period NHL action in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Gaudette was pulled from practice Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Bruins acquire Hall to kick off NHL trade deadline day, Canucks deal Gaudette

The Canucks were the first Canadian team to make a splash on a slow NHL trade deadline day, shipping forward Adam Gaudette to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Vancouver received centre Matthew Highmore in return — just the second deal announced Monday after the Boston Bruins acquired former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall from the last-place Buffalo Sabres.

The Bruins also added winger Curtis Lazar in exchange for forward Anders Bjork and a second-round pick in a swap that sees the Sabres retain half of the remainder of Hall’s one-year, US$8 million salary.

General managers across the league have until 3 p.m. ET to make deals as they look to load up for the playoffs or rebuild for the future.

A fifth-round pick by the Canucks in 2015, Gaudette had four goals and three assists in 33 games with Vancouver in 2020-21. In 153 NHL appearances, the 24-year-old from Braintree, Mass., has 21 goals and 31 assists to go along with zero points in 10 playoff contests.

Gaudette tested positive for COVID-19 on March 30 — the first case in an outbreak that would eventually rip through the team. In all, 26 people — 22 players and four members of the coaching staff — have tested positive, with one additional player being deemed a close contact.

Gaudette was the first member of the Canucks removed for the league’s COVID protocol list Sunday, but teammate Jay Beagle was added. Vancouver — which currently sits sixth in the North Division, well back of the fourth and final playoff spot — hasn’t played since the outbreak.

Canucks GM Jim Benning said last week putting players through the stress of a trade after what they’ve been through recently wouldn’t be ideal from “the human side of things.”

“They’ve dealt with a lot here the last few weeks,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do at this point in time.”

Highmore, 25, had two assists in 24 games with Chicago this season. In 73 NHL outings, the undrafted Halifax product has four goals and 10 points. He’s added three goals and an assist in nine playoff contests.

Hall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, has two goals and 17 assists for 19 points in 37 games, and is in the midst of a 16-game goal drought as he heads to Boston.

The Bruins are fourth in the East Division, four points ahead of the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers in the race for a playoff spot.

The NHL’s pandemic-shortened 56-game season has presented a number of unique challenges, including a flat salary cap and quarantine periods.

A number of players have already been moved as contenders looking to make a push but some, like St. Louis Blues forward Mike Hoffman, remain available.

Any player acquired by a Canadian franchise from a U.S.-based club will have to quarantine for seven days before joining their new teammates.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, who lead the North, made a splash Sunday by adding veteran forward Nick Foligno from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a three-team deal, and acquiring backup goalie David Rittich from the Calgary Flames.

The Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens currently occupy the division’s other three playoff spots.

Late Sunday night, the Los Angeles Kings traded forward Jeff Carter to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a pair of conditional draft picks.

Kings vice-president and general manager Rob Blake said the franchise will have a conditional third-round selection in the 2022 NHL draft and a conditional fourth-round selection in the 2023 draft. Pittsburgh GM Ron Hextall spent seven seasons with the Kings as assistant general manager, including when they won their first Stanley Cup in 2012.

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