The NHL trade deadline is at 3 p.m. EST, and if not another deal gets done, it will have already been a satisfyingly busy trade window. But the fact that so many big names have already moved is a great sign for fans of deadline chaos: the buyers remaining are running out of sellers, so prices should be through the roof.
It's a seller's market. Both conferences, especially the East, are wide open. The draft is supposed to be a strong one. So many of the trades made so far have been of the platonic "we're going for it, and we're going for it now" variety: the Rangers acquiring Keith Yandle from the Coyotes for top prospect Anthony Duclair and picks; Chicago getting Antoine Vermette from Arizona for a prospect and a first-rounder; and last night, Tampa turning a pair of trades that netted them Braydon Coburn.
The prices already seem high, but they've been logical so far. In hockey, a championship window only stays open so long, and cap-crunched, aging teams built for the playoffs like the Rangers and Blackhawks can already feel theirs shutting. The hauls including picks and prospects will almost certainly turn out to contain more talent; the returns featuring established skaters will make their teams better in the short run. But good enough to win a Cup? That's why I love these trades with my whole heart: it won't be long before we know who got the better end. Ask the Kings if they'd make last season's Marian Gaborik deal again, no matter what the picks they gave up turn into.
Just six more hours or so until the deadline, and there's still work to be done. There are bad contracts to move, cap space to be cleared, scoring to be acquired. And none of it is going to be easy, not with so many teams already having made their deals. It's still a seller's market, which means it's a day that can make or break front offices.
We'll see you on the other side.