The NBA can shift its entire axis in a trade deadline — like Brooklyn shipping Kyrie Irving to Dallas and Kevin Durant to Phoenix — or in free agency. The NFL is starting to put more jazz into both its deadline and offseason. MLB could if any owner wanted to actually spend money outside of Queens. The NHL certainly has its own free agency and trade deadline, and the latter approaches and arrives in two weeks. But rarely does it shake the Earth as its winter counterpart can.
There are various reasons for that. One, one player has a harder time shifting a team’s fortunes in hockey. You could transplant Connor McDavid over to a middling team like the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, — in this case, say the New York Islanders — and they would merely become a playoff team instead of a favorite, because McDavid is only on the ice for at most a third of the game. Two, NHL players simply don’t throw their weight around like their comrades in other sports and rarely ask out or demand to be moved. It’s just not in their DNA. for better or for worse. Thirdly, the hard cap makes mega-deals nearly impossible, as you’ll soon see. There aren’t exceptions, there isn’t a luxury tax, and GMs have to cram everyone into the room they have with no legs or helmets sticking out. Flexibility, it does not generate.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting tales to be told around the March 3 landmark, and we’re here to tell them. So who are the boys for sale?