The Colorado Avalanche and Anaheim Ducks broke the silence of the NHL Trade Market Monday afternoon with a deal that sent Josh Manson to Denver. I like this deal for the Avs, Manson is a solid young defenseman, but I will leave the analysis to Adrian Dater and Colorado Hockey Now.
I think what this trade did for a lot of fans, media members, and even players across the league is that it reminded us to look at our calendars. The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is now less than a week away.
With names like Claude Giroux, John Klingberg, Phil Kessel, and Jakob Chychryn, there are some quality names out there this year. Who knows we could even see Marc-Andre Fleury or Patrick Kane traded?
But why does it seem like this year’s deadline is quieter than others?
For that, I will give you my own personal theory as to why I think this is the case, and the answer is heavily related to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Patient General Managers
Back in February, there were two options for general manager Kelly McCrimmon to free up cap space for Jack Eichel. They were to a) trade a guy or b) use LTIR. Call it a coincidence or the Golden Knights cheating the system, or whatever you want but Mark Stone was placed on LTIR a month ago today.
Assuming this was not an entirely planned move, it shows that McCrimmon was patient enough to see his problems “fade away” as a convenient solution came to be. Now does it stink that the Golden Knights captain is out- Yes. But could you have imagined if McCrimmon were to have traded a guy like Evgenii Dadonov or Reilly Smith to free up cap in mid-February?
That would leave the Golden Knights with just Jonathan Marchessault, William Carrier, and Keegan Kolesar as NHL wingers on their current roster.
Everyone is Cap-Strapped
I think what this shows is that general managers will be waiting up until the deadline itself to make deals. And I think fans are aware of this. Every year we sit here and hypothesize about how this team could get player A or player B. But with the way most teams are structured, that being up against the salary cap, it is almost impossible to predict their plans for a deadline.
That’s why I think the New York Rangers are getting so much attention when the deadline is discussed. They are one of the few buyers at this year’s deadline that actually have cap space and seem to be linked to every big name that is out there. And it’s overall easier to link them in trade rumors when you don’t have to predict salary cap movement.
Claude Giroux could be coming to the Golden Knights for all we know but that would require an elaborate three, maybe even four-way trade with salary retained, conditional picks, and the whole kit and kaboodle. Or he could be going to the Rangers for Nils Lundkvist, Vitali Kravtsov, and a first-round pick.
Another thing that causes general managers to wait for the day of the trade deadline is injuries, which are never predictable. Maybe Frank Seravalli was right after all and the Golden Knights will be going after a goaltender at the deadline because Robin Lehner is out again.
Take John Klingberg for instance. In early January, it was almost certain that he would be traded after he allegedly requested a trade out of the Dallas Stars organization. But now Miro Heiskanen is out for the Stars, and it looks likely that Klingberg might be staying in Texas after all.
Jakob Chychyn in Arizona is also now out two-four weeks with a lower-body injury and teams could back off from acquiring as a result. Tomas Hertl may re-sign with the San Jose Sharks as well.
General managers don’t make gut decisions like Ron the hockey fan in section 216.
Some Fans Understand
I wouldn’t call hockey fans smart, but I wouldn’t call them stupid either.
Most fans understand what is going on. We’re getting to a point where even the casual fan understands how the salary cap works, and with the ever-so-popular “Kucherov LTIR” approach, I think more teams and their fanbases are willing to go that extra mile if it means a better shot at the Stanley Cup.
But just because this year’s deadline is unpredictable doesn’t mean it won’t be a whole lot of fun to see unfold. Stay tuned with Vegas Hockey Now on Golden Knights updates for the 2022 Trade Deadline.