Friday, March 18, 2022

The 12 players you should be ready to meet at every NHL trade deadline

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It’s deadline week, which means that it’s every hockey fan’s Wendel-given right to lose their minds. It’s what we do at this time of year, and to be honest, it’s kind of fun. We devour every rumor, think through every scenario, and break down every move that does or doesn’t happen in the leadup to the big day.

Then Monday arrives, and… it’s fine. It’s always fine. But that’s ok, because the deadline itself isn’t really the fun part. That’s right now.

So sure, lose your mind for the next few days. But do it responsibly.

After all, you don’t want to be one of those fans who goes completely off the deep end and embarrasses themselves. You’re not some rookie, and this isn’t your first deadline week. Or maybe it is, and you’d like to convincingly fake it. Act like you’ve been here before, and all that.

Either way, it’s important to remember that most deadline weeks are pretty much the same, and we should know what to expect. So today, let’s run through the 12 people you might get to meet as the hours count down to trade deadline day.

The guy who’ll fetch a first-round pick and years later none of us will remember why

There’s a concept in psychology called the anchoring effect that basically says that the first price we hear for something ends up sticking with us more than it should, even if it’s unreasonable. It’s fair to say that some NHL GMs are very familiar with this concept.

It happens every year. You hear a player’s name floated in the runup to the deadline, and the rumored asking price is a first-round pick. You kind of laugh it off, because that’s ridiculous and no team would ever give up that much. But then you hear it again, and then again, and next thing you know everyone is just kind of going with it without question. And then some team actually pays up.

At the time, everyone nods along. Yes, the price was high, but that’s what it was always going to cost. What else was anyone supposed to do? It’s only a few months or years later that you go “Oh right, that guy wasn’t all that good”.

History is filled with guys like this; there are usually at least a couple most years. This year it’s Ben Chiarot. Last year it was Nick Foligno. A few years before that, we had guys like Ryan Hartman, Martin Hanzal and Kyle Quincey. My all-time favorite was the year that we somehow had a leaguewide bidding war for Paul Gaustad.

The key point here is that a player’s value is just whatever some other team will give up for him. Aim high, and with a well-run marketing campaign, you never know.

(Note: This guy is not to be confused with his cousin, the guy who’ll fetch a first-round pick and nobody will remember why but it’s fine because the team wins the Cup. That club includes names like David Savard, Antoine Vermette and an old Tomas Kaberle. There’s no such thing as a bad deal for a team that wins it all.)

The big name you’re kind of getting sick of

We all love a big trade, and that means that at least one player involved has to be a reasonably big star. When those names first start appearing in the rumor mill, it’s exciting. Fans start churning through possible destinations, arguing over price tags, and throwing out increasingly wild possible deals.

It’s fun. For a while. Then you realize it’s only December.

Days turns into weeks turn into months, and you keep hearing about this same name. By the time the deadline arrives, you’re just about sick of it. You just want the team to pull the trigger and end it. In extreme cases, you may find yourself screaming “Yeah we get it!” at Pierre LeBrun on TV.

Also, there’s about a 90% chance this guy doesn’t end up getting traded after all. I’m not completely sure who this year’s version is, but I think it might be John Klingberg.

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