The salary cap, retirement, injuries, personality conflicts, and variable motivation are all among the factors that can and do lead to NHL trades. But how do you evaluate who needs to go in any given situation?
Unless you’re going for a pure salary dump and going for an advantage in the draft
- Does the trade provide the replacement for the player(s) being moved?
- What is the time table for integrating the replacement(s) into the system?
- What is the cost of replacement ?
- Where do the differences lie in talent between departing and incoming players: is the player a right or left shot.
- Skating ability: Is one player better laterally than the other faster, better turning, weaker going backward?
- Physicality: Does one player resemble Clutterbuck in hitting and the other is more like Jaromir Jagr?
- How much do they want to be on the ice at all times? Are you getting or giving up a Rich Peverley who has a heart attack on the bench and wants to keep playing or the guy who gets cramps and wants to leave a playoff game?
- What zone or zones doe this player do their best work in ?
- North-south player or east-west?
While in some cities this will make less impact than others, if you are trading away or for a major name you need to be prepared for it good or bad.
- Is your guy selling more jerseys than some teams?
- Will this guys playing style sit well with the local fans and media?
Some teams think they can win on pure talent, (see Capitals, Washington, Sharks, San Jose) but this isn’t quite true.
- Are you getting a party boy?
- How is the balance of leadership going to change?
- How is the ice time shift caused by changing personnel going to impact other players?
- Will off ice activities and or religious beliefs interfere with their integration into team culture?
- How much happier will your key players be with someone being moved out gone?
Interwoven into all of these is what you plan to accomplish your goals, short term, long term and in between. If you’re shaking up the roster because you think apathy is the order of the day but you’re not expecting a big swing in the standings, who goes and who stays isn’t nearly as big a deal. Are you tanking? Making a run for the playoffs? Is the goal to sacrifice a bit of high end talent for more depth? Or are you making that nearly mythical trade to bring in The Guy who will take your team to the promised land? No matter what the level of player(s) or pick(s) moved, there is no such thing as a zero impact trade.