Did You Miss What Happened on NHL Trade Deadline Day?
As the NHL trade deadline came and went this year, the big news seemed to be “no news”. It was a long, quiet day that saw the TSN panel struggle to find ways to entertain its audience for the better part of ten hours. All of the “big fish” that were rumoured to change hands this year ended up staying with their respective clubs. The trade clock did tie last year’s low mark of 16 trades, but as far as significant players being traded it was an all time low. So why was there a lack of activity?
The main reason there was so little action has to do with the salary cap, and the level of competitive parity across the NHL. Similar budgets make for similar results in the standings. Also with almost every team in the league still in the hunt for a playoff spot, teams are pretty cautious with what they do to their rosters. This results in there being a lack of sellers, and that drives prices up. Another reason not much happened this year was the holdouts on some of the big pieces like Rick Nash. If Nash had moved early, many of his suitors would have looked elsewhere and explored other options before the deadline. It would have also helped establish a price guideline for similar players.
It was surprising to me that Nash didn’t get moved by the trade deadline, especially since the rumours that he asked to leave turned out to be true. I know Columbus was asking for a lot, but there were teams out there willing to pay it, at least until Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson decided to raise the price midway through negotiations to try to maximize his return. I understand he wanted a big return for his franchise player and only asset, but it’s not the buying teams’ fault that Columbus has failed to obtain another star despite numerous top ten picks. I think the original asking price was more than fair, and I think Howson was perhaps a little greedy in this situation. But only time will tell, as after a startling press conference with Howson, he admitted Nash had asked him to be moved out of Columbus. Turmoil in the dressing room seems inevitable, and almost assuredly will spell a one-way ticket out-of-town at the end of the season. Now that teams know for sure that Nash wants to leave, and Howson has to make a deal, will his price tag drop? I guess we will have to wait and see. But one thing is for sure; Nash will not be in a Blue Jacket’s uniform next season.
So with all the big names staying put, were there any significant moves made on deadline day? The answer is, “no, not really”. The only trade of any significance was the trade between Vancouver and Buffalo involving two young prospects. Kassian and Hodgson swapped jerseys on Monday, and both will (or should) be marquee players for years to come. But quite frankly, right now, they are a little too young or raw to make a major impact this season. I do think it was a good trade down the road for both teams, as both players should be a better fit with their new clubs, but like I said it is just way too early to tell. Looking at the trade from this year’s standpoint only, Buffalo got the better deal. Hodgson is already a solid third-line center that can contribute offensively. He would have helped Vancouver on their playoff run, and will now help Buffalo possibly contend for a playoff spot. Kassian on the other hand, won’t be NHL-ready until next season.
This was a minor move. But of course with every reporter and broadcast company in North America waiting intently to report on something, and with TSN’s all-day coverage of deadline day, this move was hyped as some huge blockbuster. Unfortunately with that kind of coverage, the fans are expecting big things from their favorite teams, which puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the GM’s around the League. It is especially apparent for the GM’s on winning teams or in big markets, as they feel obligated to make at least one trade to appease the fans. Which is also why you see a rush of minor deals come in on trade deadline day. And once the day is done, if they haven’t done anything of significance, they have a sad little press conference in where they almost apologize to the fans for letting them down despite (most likely) having done what was best for the team.
Now that deadline day is over, there are no more surprises. These are the rosters that every team is locked in with for the rest of the season. There were some significant moves made over the last month though, but who got better? Which teams are going to make the playoffs? Who is going to win the Stanley Cup?
Stay tuned for “NHL Trade Deadline Day Part 2 – What happened to the Leafs?” And the 3-part special, “Down the Stretch”.
…and that is the last word.