As of 3 p.m. ET today March 1, the National Hockey League’s trade deadline will come to a close and fans of all thirty teams can sit back and mourn the loss of those traded or celebrate those acquired. No matter how the day plays out, the NHL has always had the most exciting yet stressful deadline of any of the professional leagues due to a variety of factors.
First and foremost is the cap space of only $73 million. For comparison, the National Football League has a base salary cap of $168 million, the National Basketball Association gives teams $94 million (though most make use of the luxury tax thus letting them spend as much as they want), and Major League Baseball doesn’t even have one thus giving their teams free reign on what to pay players (although it is reported that most teams operate on a salary cap of $189 million). So with NHL teams only having $73 million to use to sign 12 forwards, 6 defense men, and 2 goalies, and those players signed to two-way contracts with their AHL affiliates doesn’t give teams much money to play with when it comes time to sign guys needed to address any needs teams have. This leads to NHL general managers having to get creative with how to not only pay their star players, but also give their teams the players necessary for the playoff push.
These creative measures are the second reason why the NHL has the corner stone on the trade deadline entertainment. If a team isn’t playing well (i.e. the Dallas Stars), GMs are willing to trade any of their blue line players, which is how Jordie Benn ended up in Montreal and Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues was traded to the Washington Capitals. Neither of these moves were expected, but thus moving these guys opens their former teams up to receive pieces necessary for the playoff push or part of the rebuilding of the team for next year. This unpredictability of movements leads to NHL fans spending the entire week leading up to the deadline on the edge of their seats because there really isn’t a definite way to guess which players could be on the trading block.
And the last reason why the NHL trade deadline is exciting is because of the timing of the deadline. The NFL’s trade deadline usually falls in November right in the middle of the season, while the NBA’s falls in February which is halfway through the season. But the NHL times their trade deadline for March which is right before the last third of the season. Meaning NHL teams have about twenty games left before the playoffs and that is just enough time for new guys to gel with their new teammates in order to dominate in the playoffs and sometimes can play a large part in winning the beloved Lord Stanley (most recently Marian Gaborik was traded in 2014 to the LA Kings who went on to win the Cup).
So as NHL fans wake up this morning and immediately check their NHL and Twitter apps to see what moves have been made overnight, here’s to the conclusion of yet another exciting NHL Trade Deadline countdown and here’s hoping the remaining hours of the 2016-17 trade window provide an anxious excitement leading to the final third of the regular season. And remember NHL fans, it’s all over as of 3 p.m. ET.
You can stay up-to-date on all current trades with the NHL Trade Tracker.