NHL Trade Deadline Culture Change

Brad Richards headlined the not traded list following this year's NHL Trade Deadline

Even though the 2011 version of Canada’s second Christmas ended up being more like my great aunt’s birthday party, it may have signalled the beginning of a new culture in the NHL.

The NHL and NBA essentially switched positions this year as it was the NBA drawing headlines from a flurry of deadline deals. Generally, the NHL trade deadline is filled with intense madness as the clock strikes 3, with every Canadian sports channel and website giving you up to the minute updates and analysis on the most recent happenings around the league.

The lack of flare from this year’s trade deadline could be explained by the short supply of marquee and impact players on the trading block. That’s the easy explanation.

It seems to me though that the increasing acquisition of rental players by teams in recent years not translating to playoff success has led General Managers to realize the downfall of selling the farm for 2 months of a star player that you will most likely be unable to retain in the off-season. It has become apparent that, in the new millennium, past Stanley Cup Winning teams have not been forced to make major acquisitions in order to take home a title.

Whether it’s the inability for the acquired player to mesh well with the current roster, the team’s roster simply not being good enough, or luck being the cause of the failure of rental players, NHL front offices have taken notice.

This year’s most prominent moveable asset was soon to be free agent forward Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars who currently sits 8th in league scoring. The Dallas Stars are very much in the playoff race, sitting at 8th in the Western conference coincidentally, and the dilemma of trading or keeping Richards had caused the price for the Star forward to be quite steep.

The New York Rangers, who were rumoured to be the front-runners in the Brad Richards sweepstakes, would have had to pay a pretty penny to attain him. It didn’t happen. The Rangers decided to continue with their strategy of building around their young core of players.

Well, it’s about time.

In 2008, deadline day acquisition Marian Hossa was a key component in the Pittsburgh Penguin’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. It sure worked out for the Pens in 2008, but more often than not we see the teams that take on rental player’s finish their season more like Peter Forsberg and the Nashville Predators did in 2007. The Predators gave up Ryan Parent, Scottie Upshall, as well as their 1st and 3rd round picks for Forsberg and were eventually ousted by the San Jose Sharks in the first round. Through the beauty of hindsight we see that in actuality the trade was not all that bad. Nevertheless, it’s the process that counts not the result.

The overwhelming amount of failed deadline day shake-ups appears to have had a significant effect on the NHL. Teams are starting to place more importance on keeping prized prospects and quality draft picks while acquiring the steady, bottom 6 players that could be that slight difference between Lord Stanley and a 12:30 tee time.

Even the Toronto Maple Leafs and Brian Burke have shifted gears. Prior to the common insanity that accompanies the trade deadline, Burke traded away proven current NHLers Tomas Kaberle and Kris Versteeg in exchange for prospects and draft picks. Much to everyone’s surprise, Burke stood pat on deadline day.

There was only one striking trade this year with Dustin Penner’s tenure in oil town coming to a close. The Los Angeles Kings gave up first round draft pick Colten Teubert (13th overall) in addition to their 1st and 3rd draft picks to attain the 28-year-old power forward.

The number 1 seed Vancouver Canucks acquired Christopher Higgins and Maxim Lapierre, a couple of veteran depth forwards, in return for some minor prospects and mid-round draft picks.

This feeling of the need for a top defenseman or renowned forward seems to be slowly deteriorating and the 2011 trade deadline could very well be the start of this changing philosophy around the NHL.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. You can also follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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About Chris Ross
Questions, comments, suggestions? Send yours to cross_can15@hotmail.com. Follow me on twitter @paintstheblack

4 Responses to NHL Trade Deadline Culture Change

  1. Definitely a less-than-exciting deadline this year. You’re completely right. The NBA Deadline completely overshadowed the NHL one, and Penner to San Jose is the only newsworthy deal, really.

  2. I agree with you. I don’t follow the NBA at all (I didn’t even know Melo got traded to New York until a day later), but it certainly seemed more active than the NHL. I think a huge factor is that with the races as tight as they are, many GMs wanted an extra week or two out of players like Fisher or Kaberle, even if it cost them a little bit more. I think this is going to be a trend.

    The networks got away with great ratings this year, but I think they will go way down next year, especially if there isn’t a lot of activity.

  3. Totally agreed. Though I was disappointed by the lack of activity at the deadline, I wasn’t really surprised. Almost every name on the “most likely to be traded” list had been either traded or re-signed before the deadline and that was why nothing really exciting happened. The difference now as opposed to past years and another reason why not much happened is that teams have to make smarter trades, both for the team and being able to fit players under the cap, and to do that, that takes more time as opposed to a last minute frenzy

  4. BackCheck says:

    Hey Canada, was it worth a vacation day?

    One good thing this year is there seemed to more hockey trades. Colorado/St. Louis shook up their respective cores going forward. A lot of D-men were acquired. We all know D wins championships. Other teams filled needs. Vancouver added some sandpaper while improving it’s 4th line. Higgins is a guy who can move up the roster if somebody slumps. Los Angeles got its long sought after winger in Penner. Caps improved down the middle with Jason Arnott.

    Another trade I liked was Klesla joining Phoenix and Upshall going to Columbus. The Coyotes finally replace Michalek and Scotty is exactly the kind of agitating two forward the Blue Jackets need.

    While the day didn’t have the volume it still produced some smart hockey trades. You Canadians, such grumblers, eh. Must be the cold, eh ;)

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