NEW YORK — In the end, the Lightning never really got close to making a deal before Monday's trade deadline.
Oh, there was the Hurricanes' offer of a draft pick for defenseman Randy Jones. And there was a two-trade scenario in which, as Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman described, "If we could do this and add this, then we were prepared to do that.
"The 'this' never materialized."
So Tampa Bay was quiet.
It did not get a depth forward, meaning it is more important than ever that injured wing Ryan Malone is ready for the playoffs. It did not jettison a defenseman, meaning when injured blue-liners Mike Lundin and Mattias Ohlund are back from injury, coach Guy Boucher will have to manage nine.
Then there are the Capitals, in hot pursuit of the Lightning for first place in the Southeast Division, who got better by adding forward Jason Arnott and defenseman Dennis Wideman.
Yzerman did not seem perturbed. "We got up (Monday) morning and said, 'These are the things we'll look at and try to accomplish. If we can't do them, worst-case scenario, we stand pat,' " he said from the team's Manhattan hotel. "Every one of us said, unequivocally, if that's the worst-case scenario, we're fine.
"We like the way our team plays. We like the chemistry. All aspects of our game have improved. That's why we didn't want to force a deal just to get a deal done."
It should be noted the Lightning made significant additions with goalie Dwayne Roloson and defensemen Eric Brewer and Marc-Andre Bergeron.
Yzerman also has been adamant about not trading away high draft choices, though he said Monday that he would have made an exception had he found "a young player who would have been with us a long time."
"We weren't trying to outsmart ourselves," Yzerman added. "We've got a pretty good team. We're trying to find players who will fit in and improve us, and take into account what we have to give up and the salary you have to bring in. It wasn't a fit."
That is fine with Boucher.
"The one thing I was scared of was changing our chemistry," he said. "Unless you have the perfect fit, it's very difficult. The upside wasn't big enough for us to do anything. I'm very happy to go with what we've got right now."
As for Malone, out with what is believed a stomach muscle injury, word is he will be ready the first week of April.
As for carrying nine defensemen, Boucher said it is no problem because he dresses seven for games and equated it to teams that dress the usual six and carry eight.
"Defensemen fall like flies in the season and into the playoffs, so that's where you need the most depth," Boucher said. "It's a great situation; the best situation for our team."
Added Yzerman: "We didn't want to reduce our defensemen from nine to eight just to do that and weaken our team. Any opportunity we had wasn't making us better for the playoffs."
That, in the end, was most important.
Claimed: The Senators picked up Lightning goalie Curtis McElhinney off waivers.