The Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs completed a trade on Wednesday, the first day of the NHL's 2015-16 free agency period, that immediately reduced all the signings and reports and chatter and goings-on elsewhere around the league to gentle background static.
Sportsnet's twitter feed broke the news, but soon it was plastered all over every NHL media outlet in the known hockey world - Phil Kessel had become a Pittsburgh Penguin.
Rumors and reports had swirled in the days and hours leading up to the NHL's free agency period of Penguins GM Jim Rutherford's interest in acquiring Kessel, but it still seemed a difficult and therefore unlikely deal for either side to actually pursue. Kessel, 27, is set to enter the second-year of an eight-year, $64 million contract which carries an $8 million average annual value. The Pens, per NHLNumbers.com, had about $12 million in cap room prior to the deal.
Beyond the convoluted combination of picks and players it would take to get a trade done, there was the simple math. Fitting Kessel under the Penguins cap was going to be a significant undertaking, meaning a deal, while it made ample hockey sense, was unlikely.
And yet, here we are.
Kessel is a Penguin, set to perform on a top unit for Pittsburgh likely centered by Sidney Crosby - or Evgeni Malkin depending on the opponent and in-game circumstances - and the Maple Leafs and president Brendan Shanahan and new head coach Mike Babcock are one step farther along their rebuilding path.
The final tally of the deal is as follows, outlined by TSN's Bob McKenzie: the Penguins get Kessel, Tim Erixon and a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and the Maple Leafs get Kaspari Kapanen, Scott Harrington, Nick Spaling and first and third-round picks in 2016.
Toronto will also retain $1.25 million of Kessel's annual salary which, as Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman notes, amounts to 15 percent.
It's a monumental blockbuster of a deal and represents one of those rare instances where both teams gave up ample value but got the same and, really, better and more important pieces in return.
For the Penguins, Kessel, a five-time 30-goal scorer, who has potted 151 markers over the last five seasons, good enough for a fourth-overall ranking in the league. Last season - a down year for the entire Toronto franchise - Kessel still managed to pot 25 goals and add another 36 assists.
The Penguins and Rutherford set themselves a mandate after they finished the 2014-15 season ranked 19th in the league in goals per game that they needed to add scoring on the wing. They did that today, in spades.
"He was our targeted guy. At the end of the season it was obvious we needed to add more speed and skill on our wing," Rutherford said, via the Penguins twitter account.
Kessel very much represents a "Stanley Cup-or-bust" mentality for the Penguins, who have not returned to the finals since 2008-09 despite the over-abundance of talent at the top of their roster, going forward.
For the Leafs, this represents more talent in the AHL/NHL pipeline and another high pick that should aid them ever further in that area.
Kapanen, 18, and Harrington, 22, are both high-level prospects likely to land with the big club sometime in the not-too-distant future. Kapanen registered 39 points in 101 games in the Finnish League over the past three seasons.
Harrington played in 10 games with the Penguins last season and 48 games with their Wilkes-Barre/Scranton affiliate. He has 36 points in 124 career AHL games.
Spaling is also still relatively young at just 26. He appeared in 82 games for the Pens last year and managed 27 points, as well as one goal and one assist in five playoff games.
In short, two teams headed in very different directions managed to come together on a trade that should make both fanbases very happy. It will be interesting to revisit it again in a few seasons and see if the Leafs are yet contenders and if the Penguins gamble paid off in the form of another Cup win.