Friday, February 23, 2024

The case for and against an aggressive trade deadline, as argued by the teams that won Stanley Cups

We’re weeks away from the trade deadline, the single most important day on the hockey calendar for Stanley Cup contenders, or teams that would like to become one. It’s the one time of year when the floodgates open, and players who’d never be available under other circumstances suddenly shake free, often costing nothing but futures. For a smart GM, this is his time to shine, and make the big move or two or three that will push his team across the finish line and earn him a big shiny ring.

Unless it’s not. Maybe the deadline is a trap, an overrated flea market where bad teams try to dump their overpaid and underperforming junk on desperate suitors, all cheered on by a media and TV networks hungry for a story. It’s when, as Brian Burke once claimed, GMs of contending teams make more mistakes than any other day, paying exorbitant prices for rentals that inevitably have no impact beyond disrupting team chemistry.

You get the picture. Part of the annual deadline story is the debate about whether it should even be a story at all, or whether this is all overhyped nonsense that teams should be happy to sit out. You’ll hear it again this year, when you’ll be reminded roughly a hundred times that last year’s finalists, Vegas and Florida, had quiet deadlines.

We’re going to keep that debate going today. But instead of listening to me, we’re going to let a few of history’s champions make their case. Let’s dig into the pros and cons of an aggressive deadline, as argued by the teams who won it all.

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