The trade deadline now more than ever is a tough time to impact your team. With the tightening cap structure, long-term deals for young players and league-wide parity (however falsely constructed), finding a deal that works for both teams in a time-sensitive manner is a struggle. While every year there are one or two big name players moved, shocking deals (in the manner of Shea Weber for P.K. Subban) usually wait until the summer.
It’s because of this that fans and media alike must learn to love the small deals, the hockey swaps and the fresh starts. In these trades, teams can find a player that fits perfectly into their system and adds depth for a playoff run. Under-performing teams can take chances on fallen stars, prospects who have been labeled as early busts, or veterans who can make an impact in the development of a young player.
Though deals for Kevin Shattenkirk and Matt Duchene might sound fun, it’s often the Patrick Eaves or Ron Hainsey addition that makes a meaningful impact. To take a page from baseball, adding value anywhere is equal; upgrading the bottom pairing by a lot may be as important as improving your first line by a little. Last year, there were several deals of this nature.
Anaheim added goal scoring to their lineup by bringing in Jamie McGinn and Brandon Pirri on deadline day. The two would score 11 goals in 30 games (total), with McGinn scoring another pair in the playoffs. Edmonton would benefit from the deals as it let the Ducks part with Patrick Maroon later that day. Maroon made an immediate impact for the Oilers and has continued it with an 18 goal season this year (though playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl doesn’t hurt).
Florida was only able to deal Pirri away because they’d added depth of their own in Teddy Purcell and Jiri Hudler. The pair of upcoming UFAs would each perform quite well for Florida down the stretch helping them lock up first place in the Atlantic Division.
Pittsburgh may have been the biggest winners in late-February without making a huge splash. On the 27th, just a couple of days before the deadline they made the small move of acquiring Justin Schultz. It only cost them a third-round pick (which would be #91 after the Penguins won the Cup). Though Schultz made an impact down the stretch with eight points in 18 games, this season that he has really shone. It’s been 35 points in 47 games for the former Edmonton Oiler.
It’s interesting to watch all the fanfare surround deals like Andrew Ladd, Kris Russell and Eric Staal. None of those deals worked out that well for their teams, despite the huge price tags. So when approaching this deadline don’t shrug off the little deals. They may be just as important, and much more affordable, than going after the big fish.
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