MONTREAL - The NHL trade deadline is March 3 this year.
But NHL general managers could find themselves working with a different, self-imposed deadline, because this is no ordinary year.
The March 3 deadline falls just three days after the end of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver during which there is a roster freeze starting Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. through 11:59 p.m., Feb. 28, the date of the gold medal game in men’s hockey.
Trades will certainly be discussed, but cannot be consummated in that time.
Dressing rooms will be closed from Feb. 15-23.
Teams can recall their players for practices starting Feb. 24, five days before the gold medal game will be played and the trade embargo lifted.
“It’s a weird year as far as the trade deadline goes,” said one NHL executive with a team on the playoff bubble. “We’ll be looking at doing something, but we would like to get it done before the Olympic break because I think there is a clear advantage to doing that.”
The advantage is if a team trades just before the roster freeze for a player not involved in the Games (or whose country is subsequently eliminated), they can bring the player in and have him practice for a solid five or six days before the resumption in NHL play.
Quality practice time is always at a premium at that time of year - especially with a compressed schedule in an Olympic year - so having a new player in place for the resumption of practice is a clear bonus. There’s also the luxury for a player with family to have some time to settle into a new city.
“It sure sounds good in theory and that’s what you would like to do. It will be interesting to see how many teams can do it,” said another executive.
“But you know, just like every year, it’s only going to be the pressure of the deadline that gets things done.”