Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
One week from now, the NHL Trade Deadline will be here. NHL GMs will have until 3 P.M. ET to make their final moves for their rosters. The buyers around the league will want to load their rosters up in hopes for a deep playoff run, and the sellers will want to trade existing players for picks and prospects for the future.
It is an exciting time for fans around the league, but it is a very stressful time for managers, players, and coaches inside the NHL locker rooms. The players that circulate in the rumors the most have to try to tune out the noise before the Trade Deadline, and remain focused on hockey.
So, what is likely going to happen at the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline? Are hockey fans going to see some big splashes this year, or will there just be some minor moves made among teams?
I think this Trade Deadline is likely to be a dud. I think there will be some minor moves made, but no big splashes. Here is why I think this Trade Deadline will be rather uneventful:
The Avalanche are the worst team in the NHL this year, and they are looking to move their two biggest stars – Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. GM Joe Sakic is not budging on his asking prices for both players. He wants at least 2-3 pieces for each player.
Both players have contracts that are north of $5 million. These contracts are very tough to move during the season. Joe Sakic is probably going to hold off until the NHL Draft to move both players. There will likely be more teams involved at the NHL Draft, and I am sure Sakic wants both players to have the biggest markets possible.
The Avalanche desperately need help on the blueline, and both players should be able to draw quality top-4 defenseman via trade, as well as a high-end prospect or draft pick. I am not expecting the Avalanche to move either of these players at the Trade Deadline, unless Joe Sakic gets an offer that blows his socks off.
Duchene and Landeskog are the two biggest fish in the NHL’s trade rumor pond this year, but I expect them both to not be moved until the summer months.
A VETERAN FREE AGENT CLASS
As the NHL has become a young man’s league, the veterans of the league are competing harder to hold down roster spots.
A lot of GMs today are hesitant on giving up draft picks in trades, especially for veteran players.
Some of the rumored forwards in the trade winds this year include Jarome Iginla, Alex Burrows, and Patrick Sharp. These players have all been productive in previous seasons, but these players are all at least 35 years of age or older. The market for established veterans has shrunk in today’s game, and not many younger players hit the open market routinely.
SALARY CAP RESTRICTIONS
Per CapFriendly, there are 14 teams in the NHL that are within $1 million of the maximum salary cap number of $73 million.
That is almost half of the NHL’s teams that are that close to the maximum salary cap. With that in mind, many GMs will watch what dollars they bring in and shell out. Many teams simply do not have much wiggle room to add, and a lot of transactions that will be made must be near dollar for dollar.
The trades can also become complicated because a lot of veteran players have no-move or no-trade clauses in their contract. The players can have some say in where they would want to be moved or not be moved.
FINAL OUTLOOK FOR THE TRADE DEADLINE
I expect to see some movement with some of the veteran players on expiring contracts. I can see players like Jarome Iginla or Alex Burrows get traded to Cup contenders.
These veteran players on expiring contracts will probably get moved for mid-round draft picks, as they will add some much-needed depth to the Contending teams.
If any young players on bridge or entry-level deals get moved, it will be in a “hockey trade” that will involve contracts that are almost identical. I doubt that hockey fans will see many young players moved at the Deadline.
I do not expect many moves to be made, but it will be interesting to see what direction bubble teams will go. Will the teams that are on the playoff bubble decide to be sellers or buyers? The bubble teams will impact how exciting this Trade Deadline could be.
And then, there is always Las Vegas. If Las Vegas is active in their very first Trade Deadline, that could potentially set off some fireworks in the trade circles.
By: George Foussekis