We’re still a week away from the NHL Trade Deadline, but already there have been more than a handful of impact trades.Unlike in past years when teams typically waited until the final hours before the deadline to make their moves, several of the key players on the trading block, and several guys that no one expected to move, have switched teams well in advance of the deadline.
We have no explanation for the sudden change in behaviour by general managers, other than that they’ve finally come to their senses.
It is silly for teams that have determined their obvious needs for the playoff push to wait until the last moment. Logically, they should begin adding the pieces they’ll need at a far earlier date. Of course, not all the league’s sellers are ready to part with their players until closer to the deadline, but buyers should begin working the phones right after Christmas.
The four or five extra games that the teams will get from trades they made last week could prove to be the difference between making the playoffs and not, especially in the ultra-tight Western Conference.
It might or might not be a coincidence that most of the key players added in advance of the deadline have garnered hefty returns (already this year four, first round picks have changed hands, a staggering number). Perhaps the earlier before the deadline you trade, the more you must give up because sellers are not yet desperate to dump their assets.
But there have also been several very good “hockey trades” in which bad teams don’t just auction off their veterans for players and picks, but two teams trade good players so that they’ll both benefit right away. Those are the ones that have come out of nowhere, because they’re so atypical of the NHL in recent years.
Again, we don’t know what this increased trade activity means or if it will continue. Many of the players that were presumed to be available have already been moved, so actual activity as we get closer to the deadline may be much-reduced. That may be disappointing for some (including myself) that view the deadline as a holiday, but the flurry of moves that we’ve already seen will be critical to NHL teams’ success down the stretch.
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