Yesterday was one of the stranger NHL trade deadline days in recent memory. On one hand, many called the day a bust, dreadfully boring and a waste of time. Yet, the final tally was 41 trades since the Olympic roster freeze was lifted. How can that be boring? 30 deals were made during the day yesterday, 1 between St. Louis and Montreal went down late in the evening the night before, and the other 10 occurred in the two days leading up to March 3. Remember; those numbers aren’t including the flurry of trades (12) that were made between Jan-31 and the day the freeze went into effect, which was Feb-12. That’s a grand total of 53 trades in just over a month!
Having said all of that, I do understand where the casual fans are coming from. People wanting excitement saw very few hockey deals involving multiple “impact players” or high end prospects. The closest to fit those criteria were the Wolski-Mueller trade and the Visnovsky-Whitney trade; and even those deals are from earth shattering. On behalf of the NHL, I will offer 3 explanations as to why nothing major went down yesterday.
2 deadlines: This year was a bit of an exception because of the Olympics. The 12 trades that were made before the roster freeze that was implemented took a bit of the drama away from deadline day itself. Some GMs wanted to get the majority of their shopping done before the freeze; which partially explains why big names like Kovalchuk, Phaneuf and Cam Barker were dealt before the Olympics, as opposed to on deadline day.
The Cap: This one is obvious. Having restrictions on team payroll will affect how many trades teams can make, but more importantly, will also affect the quality of the players dealt. The best teams usually can’t afford to bring in that top-6 forward or a top-4 defenseman that would put them over the top, simply because they are too expensive. The solution would be to allow GMs to trade cap space which would facilitate trades. For example; the Florida Panthers trade Tomas Vokoun to the Flyers (who have limited cap space), and in order to make the trade work, they offer to pay $2 million of Vokoun’s salary in exchange for better return.
Parity: Because of the NHL’s flawed point system where some games award 2 points and some award 3, more teams feel like they are in it, less teams feel like they have a legitimate shot to win a cup, and fewer teams identify themselves as pure sellers. If most teams (which is the case) feel that they are in the playoff hunt, they would rather make small tweaks via trade rather than the big splash. Two examples are Atlanta and Dallas who seem to be in the playoff hunt, but if you eliminate the sympathy point awarded for an overtime or shootout loss, those 2 teams would have changed their approach at the deadline. If/when the point system is fixed, that’s when fans will see more excitement at the deadline.
At the end of the day, I thought it was an exciting day but I was disappointed to see certain players not moved who were rumored to be available. I look forward to the draft and July 1 which is when the next set of major player moves will happen. As for winners and losers, I thought Phoenix, Washington and Pittsburgh did very well while I was very disappointed that Boston did not land a scorer, Philly and Chicago did not address their goaltending needs and unlike most, I believe Nashville should have dealt Ellis and Hamuis. That will hurt them in the long run.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.