Barring a move late tonight or tomorrow, the NHL’s Holiday Roster Freeze will go into effect without any of the anticipated trades. The roster freeze begins at midnight local time tomorrow, December 19th, and lasts through to December 28th. During that time, the only transactions that teams may make are promotions, as trades, waiver placements, and demotions are all prohibited. Generally, teams see this as a deadline to make any acquisitions they feel they might need to survive a stretch of more than a week during which they are more or less locked in to their current lineup. This year, both the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings expressed interest in making a move prior to the holiday freeze, while other teams have been active on the market as well, but time is running out. Right now, it appears as if the first “deadline” of the season is going to be a quiet one.
- One team discouraged by a lack of trade activity are the New York Islanders. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch writes that new GM Lou Lamoriello would like to be active on the market, but hasn’t gotten much of a response from potential partners. The Islanders are in an interesting situation right now; the team is currently contending for a playoff spot nearing the midway mark of the season, but also have several pending UFA assets that could draw considerable interest at the trade deadline if they have slipped in the standings. Lamoriello is likely looking to add some depth pieces sooner rather than later in hopes of improving his postseason odds and getting a more clear picture of whether his team will be buyers or sellers in a couple months. Whether the market simply isn’t there or whether rival GM’s are avoiding making deals with Lamoriello, a famed NHL wheeler and dealer, the Islanders are not getting the traction on the trade market that they had hoped, but will continue to be a team to watch after the holiday roster freeze expires.
- Garrioch adds that Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is also frustrated with the current state of the trade market. Although Columbus is playing well this season, currently in second place in the Metropolitan Division, the team is unhappy with young center Alexander Wennberg, who has just one goal and 16 points through 33 games. Kekalainen has reportedly been actively offering Wennberg in trades, but hasn’t been receiving the level of interest he expected. Wennberg is only 24 and had a 59-point season just two years ago, but his long-term contract worth nearly $5MM per season against the cap is a major stumbling block for interested teams, especially if he’s already in early decline. Columbus has more than a few intriguing trade chips if they do choose to sell, but the Blue Jackets could be actual contenders this season if they instead retain the likes of Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky and can add a substantial piece or two in return for Wennberg.