We're all sitting here pining for NHL trades because nothing gets our juices flowing more than a good deal. Or even a bad one.
Right now, the question is: pre-Olympics or post-Olympics?
The league's temporary trade freeze arrives on Feb. 7 and lifts on the 23rd, 10 days before the true trade deadline. The quirk in this year's schedule means there will be one pay period while the non-Olympians are working on their tans.
And that's an added factor in all of this.
NHL players, whether in Sochi or at a poolside bar, get paid on Feb. 15, right in the middle of a stretch with no games played.
The season is 195 days (Oct. 1 to April 13), with 16 of them during the freeze. Sixteen into 195 is a little above eight per cent. So let's say you have a $5-million skater available for trade. He's going to collect $410,000 during the freeze. How much does your owner care about that? Some won't, not at all. But some will, affecting both buyers and sellers.
Let's say your owner does care. If he's got a tradable commodity, does he push the general manager to get something done? "Hey, if we're going to deal him anyway, why don't we do it now? Let the new team handle this."
Of course, the opposite works, too. If our make-believe owner is a buyer, he might tell the GM to wait until after the Olympics so he only gets in-game bang for his buck.
There are a couple GMs who will be affected by this, although one said if he really wanted a player, he could probably convince his boss. Another exec added there may be better reason to do it for a non-Olympian because you can get him acclimated to your city and practising with your team.
But it's something else for teams to deal with in this "Double Deadline."
1. When the San Jose Sharks re-signed Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, the obvious follow-up was, "Okay, what's the story with Dan Boyle?" His concussion obviously affected this process; he wasn't as healthy as the other two. Boyle's also 35, which means his next contract carries greater salary-cap risk. The belief is Sharks GM Doug Wilson wants to offer Boyle a one-year deal plus bonuses which, to a player that age, can carry over to the next season.
2. It's sensible for San Jose to try this. But Boyle's better move is to wait. He's a right-handed shot who can move the puck and those aren't easy to find. If he finishes well, he easily could get three years in free agency. Now let's say Wilson goes for two years at a little less than market, which is what Marleau and Thornton took. Would that get it done?
3. Boyle had some interesting comments about his return from concussion to David Pollak of The San Jose Mercury News. Watching Rick Nash of the New York Rangers, you can bet he went through the exact same things. He looks like a completely different player and you can't help but wonder if both came back to help their teams and impress Olympic brass. Another Ranger said Nash was convinced he wasn't going to make Team Canada. Healthy and relaxed, he's a beast again.
4. Dominic Moore (not the source for No. 3) on the game that finally convinced the Rangers they were OK, that being a 3-2 victory in Chicago on Jan. 8. "We were starting to win before that," he said. "But when we won there, we knew." New York's won six of nine since.
5. The Blackhawks, by the way, recalled Brandon Pirri on Monday. He loses waiver-exempt status for next season, so it's a big moment for him and for the organization's evaluation of him. Remember, the Anaheim Ducks traded Peter Holland rather than lose him for nothing.
6. I asked a couple of capologists what they think a 90-cent Canadian dollar (or lower) will do to next year's cap ceiling. Both said it's not insignificant. One predicted it could drop the total by $1 million, while the other said he ran a model that put it closer to $1.5 million. Something to keep an eye on.
7. In the midst of last week's craziness in Edmonton, Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe offered to step away from his position if it would take the heat off the organization. Team owner Daryl Katz refused. There are a couple of other things at play here, too. I think Oilers GM Craig MacTavish also believes in Lowe and wants him there. After the story ran, another exec reached out to say: "I'm not sure if this is part of the plan but if Lowe stays, he's also buying MacTavish time by taking the heat."
8. The next test for the Oilers is San Jose. A tough one. But I'm very curious to see if Martin Marincin-Jeff Petry turns out to be a legitimate pair for the Oilers. You can see why the Vancouver Canucks wanted Marincin in a proposed Cory Schneider trade and Petry's looked very calm with him.
9. Thomas Vanek told Newsday's Arthur Staple he would consider re-signing with the New York Islanders, even if he was traded by them. The same theory exists around Matt Moulson, who's been a good fit in Buffalo, although you never know what happens once a player leaves (leaving any kind of paper trail is a really bad idea, too). A lot of teams like Moulson. As for Vanek, the St. Louis Blues were in on him back in October. I can't see why that wouldn't be the case again.
10. Lots of Ryan Miller to Minnesota rumours. But while you can see the Wild being interested, it's probably too soon. I can't help but feel terribly for Josh Harding, who was having a marvelous season before he needed to step back. It's hard for the organization to plan his return, not knowing how Harding will react to his multiple-sclerosis medication or if it will become problematic again. The Olympic break does, at least, provide time.
11. I heard from a couple of different places that Erik Cole wanted to move on from Dallas. But I got a strong, forceful denial from agent Steve Bartlett.
12. I wouldn't be surprised if interest in fellow Stars forward Ray Whitney picks up after the Olympic break because it sounds like potential landing spots want to use him like Anaheim uses Teemu Selanne. Maybe Whitney doesn't play every remaining game in the regular season, sitting the occasional back-to-back. That way, he can rest a little before the playoffs, when you generally get more days off.
13. Another name that popped up last week was Derek Morris, which makes sense on its face because a) he's eligible for unrestricted free agency and b) Phoenix is trying to shed defencemen to make room for scoring help. Here's the problem, though. As long as the Coyotes feel they're in it, moving Morris could leave Zbynek Michalek as their only veteran right-handed defenceman. And Michalek's been banged up a bit.
14. If they miss the playoffs, the Coyotes are going to hunt down every tick in Arizona. Shane Doan had 20 points in 18 games before getting Rocky Mountain spotted fever (carried by ticks). He's got four points in his last nine games. It's just so hard to miss that much time while everyone else plays and keep up. Maybe the Olympic reset helps.
15. TVA's Louis Jean reported Monday that the Montreal Canadiens turned down a proposal from Colorado: Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau for Rene Bourque. That's a weird one because it doesn't at all fit what the Avalanche are doing. Bourque is not a match for their speed game and Colorado wanted to address its defence. I could see Montreal being interested in Parenteau, though.
16. I had a funny conversation with a coach a few years back about what happens when someone like Paul Maurice goes into Winnipeg and has immediate success with the same lineup. "Everybody else who is losing panics," he laughed, "because all of a sudden, your owner is thinking, 'If a coaching change helped them that much, maybe we should do it, too.'"
17. That chat came to mind when watching Montreal lose 5-0 to the Washington Capitals this past Saturday. The Canadiens (and head coach Michel Therrien) are under fire, just like the Toronto Maple Leafs (and Randy Carlyle) were two weeks ago. The timing of Guy Boucher going overseas to coach SC Bern in Switzerland really interested me because he's apparently worked hard to keep on top of potential openings. By leaving now, it says he doesn't believe there's going to be change in Montreal or, if there is (at this time), he doesn't believe it will be him.
18. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin, as usual, is looking for size. So are the Pittsburgh Penguins. According to one source, they "don't want to get any smaller."
19. I wondered if it was a coincidence that Edmonton moved Sam Gagner to wing when Pittsburgh came to town, considering the Penguins are looking for a winger (with term remaining on his contract) to replace the injured Pascal Dupuis. Assuming they do want "big," that's not a fit. But it's good to see Gagner producing a bit, with 10 points in 13 games this month. Word is the jaw is much more of a problem than we realize because it wouldn't take much for a re-injury. Maybe he's finally getting comfortable.
20. I asked a couple of teams if they saw Gagner as more of a centre or a winger. The answer was pretty quick: centre. They feel he's not suited to play the wall.
21. I thought of golfer Mike Weir after hearing Martin Brodeur rip the ice conditions after Sunday's outdoor game at Yankee Stadium. Weir would often blame spike marks on the green for bad rounds and a reporter who knew him well explained Weir was taught by a sports psychologist to do so to protect his confidence, which could be fragile. Now Brodeur has never, ever, lacked for self-belief. But this is different. We're getting near the end of a magnificent career and you can see it isn't easy for him. He still wants to play. But after a game like that, he knows the New Jersey Devils will want to lean on Schneider, who's been excellent. It's his time.
22. Nashville Predators assistant coach Phil Housley watched plenty of video on Michael del Zotto and one of the reasons for their interest was the defenceman being "very visible" as the Rangers went to the Eastern Conference final in 2012. "Some players can lose confidence under certain coaches," Housley said. "If you go back a couple years, when he had some good seasons and was a plus player, he was very confident. And I don't think he was a confident player this year and it showed in his play ...It's a process of just building up the player."
23. Housley is right about one thing: del Zotto and Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault didn't click. Housley likes del Zotto's skill set, so maybe he'll find a way to fully unlock it. It's interesting how Nashville wanted to trade a left-handed shot for a right because the Rangers wanted to do the exact reverse. Vigneault and assistant Scott Arniel like Klein and feel it will benefit John Moore, a lefty who can go where he's more comfortable.
24. At the end of the day, it sounds like the only other teams that made serious pitches for del Zotto were the Ottawa Senators and Toronto.
25. If you hate outdoor games, especially warm-weather ones, be prepared to self-combust. Nothing we saw last weekend in Los Angeles is going to convince Phoenix or San Jose or anyone else interested not to have one (NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is on record as saying his one warm-weather worry is Florida). I've been to every one of these, except Dodger Stadium, and I believe it more than ever - each NHL market should get a hosting opportunity.
26. If players decided tomorrow they didn't want to go to Sochi for security reasons, both the NHL and their individual teams would be thrilled. Said one exec: "Of course, we're concerned. But what can we do?" Agents are worried, too. But they've been told that since the arenas and accommodations are inside the main compound, the players will be in the safest possible area. They're putting faith in that.
27. One of the concerns is the plan if something happens after the players get there. NHL charters land on Feb. 10. But they aren't scheduled to return for trips home until Feb. 20. It is believed the U.S. State Department has an evacuation plan for its athletes. However, the process for that (and for other countries) is being kept pretty quiet. Let's hope none of this ever matters.
28. There've been a number of family cancellations in the past two weeks and that's not bothering anyone since players were encouraged back in the summer not to bring them. Families are not going to be in the above-mentioned "safe area."
29. I haven't done it publicly, thank goodness, but I believed teams could use compliance buyouts on any player under contract. That's not true. Anyone signed post-lockout is not eligible. Adjust your wagers accordingly.
30. This blog should not be without mention of Penn State's David Glen, who is from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. Glen is out of the lineup because he was found to be a bone-marrow match for an anonymous female needing help. Glen agreed to become a donor, so he will miss some time but is expected to return. That is great stuff.
Follow Elliotte Friedman on Twitter @FriedgeHNIC
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