Perhaps this will put the doubt to rest. This is a quote from Dean in an interview with Hammond:
You heard me say that at the trade deadline this year, that it was a subtle sign of progress. I wasn’t a seller, I was a buyer. It still has to be the right price and the right player, and as you know, I didn’t get the guy who went to New Jersey. I just thought the price, at that time, was too high. I wasn’t moving top players for a guy who could walk on me in two months. I do think that your willingness to sell the house, so to speak, when you see teams really expend part of their reserve list, is because they think they can win the whole thing. So if I had done the deal that was proposed to me, to get that big guy at the trade deadline, the only way I could have conceivably thought about that was, `OK, we’re going to win the Cup here, so I will expend this level of player.’ But I wasn’t prepared to say that, and have this guy walk on me. Then we’re going backwards.”
This was in response to the question and the follow up questions regarding the subject of 5 on 5 scoring.
So, he didn’t want to give up the assets to get him. Pop quiz: does he have to give up assets to get him now? You get the point.