“In the end what you’re seeing is a quieter market that’s trickier to navigate for everyone. Cap space is at such a premium it wouldn’t surprise me to see teams becoming more comfortable letting players freely walk at the end of their deals each summer in NFL-esque fashion rather than suitors picking them up at the trade deadline. Everyone keeps their draft picks and no one hastily overpays.” – My blog, back on February 9th

No surprise here. The NHL trade deadline sucked this year. It really did. No marquee names, no franchise altering moves. Even Peter Chiarelli didn’t do anything dumb. Kevin Shattenkirk to Washington provided the lone fireworks display, yet it was expected that he’d be dealt.

We have a flat salary cap to blame. It’s just not going up. And every team in the league inevitably has a bad or problematic contract on their books that hinders their flexibility as well. That combination contributes to teams staying put. Bruins fans are fortunate that staying put was exactly what the team needed to do. 

Gone are the days where general managers could spend like the once upon a time 19-year-old me in Montreal after midnight, when there weren’t any salary cap consequences. Today, something like the ability to retain salary for a player your willing to trade almost feels like a prerequisite for any deal to be made.

Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog remain in Denver. Radim Vrbata wasn’t dealt. Marc-Andre Fleury stayed put. And there were no takers for Matt Beleskey’s contract. No team loaded up with a pair of crucial deals and no team finally cleaned out the expired goods in their refrigerator either. It’s not to say teams didn’t accomplish anything at all, but the times and magnitude of movement has changed.

Until the salary cap significantly, and regularly, increases it’s going to be harder for general managers to work the trade market. It’s not league parity that’s the true excuse because any GM will deal if it’s right for their club. It’s the financial landscape and upcoming expansion draft that has constricted trade options and limited partners for a lot of teams.

This may be the new trade deadline norm in the new NHL. Let’s hope not. 

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