Heard any good trade rumours lately? Any of those rumoured deals actually happen?
Perhaps it's best to ignore all those alledged hot deals out there unless you're looking to drive traffic to certain web sites, you're a fan of Bruce Garrioch or one of the the trade deadline or the NHL draft is right around the corner, but I'm getting ahead of myself....
I presumed that these rumoured deals (well, at least the reasonable ones) were safe to ignore because post-lockout, trades in general weren't happening. Then I crunched the numbers (ok, I counted lists) and I was rather surprised to find that, on average, between October and February five trades happen each and every month in the NHL.
That might seem like a lot of trades (and it's way more than I expected to find) but then I took a closer look who is changing jerseys - it’s like I discovered a new game called "spot the AHLer."
This is a list of every player traded between the opening game of this season and today (February 11, 2009). How many of these players do you recognize? Is there a single super star among them? Belak doesn’t count.
David McIntyre (traded twice)
Nick Tarnasky (traded twice)
Clay Wilson (traded twice)
I recognized just 17 of the 40 names on the list and I think of myself as a pretty tuned-in hockey fan.
Lee Stempniak, with 27 points (on pace for 40) is the player with the highest point totals and, I suppose, one of the most recognizable names.
Lee Stempniak. Seriously.
I’ll let the soak in for a minute.
Next time you read that Khababulin is headed to the Sens, Hossa is going to Montreal or Gomez is headed to the Canucks, remember that Alex Steen and Carlo Coliachovo for Lee Stempniak is the "blockbuster" deal of 2008.
Clearly, these are not the names that fuel hockey daydreams, click throughs, message board chatter and media columns.
This is not to say that big deals don't happen, rather trades between October and February tend to be small beer. But things certainly heat up at the trade deadline.
In fact, that little window represents about 55% of regular season trade activities.
In 2005-06, there were 35 regular season trades and an additional 35 trade deadline deals.
In 2006-07, there were 30 regular season trades and an additional 46 deadline deals.
In 2007-08, there were just 21 regular season trades and an additional 26 deadline deals.
This year, there have been 28 trades to date. I suspect the trade deadline will come close to eclipsing that total (a chart for those of you with a blurry General Shwartzkopf fetish):
Save Your Rumours for the Off-Season
This is where the rumours should be circulating. Nothing like talking hockey in June, because on average, 22 trades are made each June - that's four times the in-season monthly average.
Last year, a stunning 45 deals went down around the NHL draft. You read that right, more trades happened in and around the third week of June 2008 than transpired between all of October and May of 2007-08 combined.
Here's what an active trading calendar looks like from October 2005 to February 2009:Not hard to spot the trade deadline and NHL draft day.
Free Agency Season
And to get a bit more perspective on player transactions (or lack thereof) let's look at the number of players who change teams through free agency each off-season (excluding players who re-sign with their own teams).
The total is just slightly more than the number of players that are traded throughout the entire year: 139 in 2006-07; 112 in 2007-08; and 129 this past off-season.
What do these numbers tell us?
Burke has two upcoming windows to make a mark on this club: the trade deadline and draft day. More trades take place on draft day and trade deadline day than the rest of the year combined.
Teams are slightly more likely to acquire a player via free agency as they are through trade.
In the regular season, marginal players are far more likely to be traded than front-line talent.