The NHL’s Olympic break for the Sochi Games is scheduled from Sunday, February 9 to Monday, February 24. As per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the “roster freeze” goes into effect from 3 pm ET on Friday, February 7 through to 11.59 pm ET on Sunday, February 23.
That leaves roughly ten days between the end of the Olympic break and the 3 pm ET trade deadline on March 5. It’s prompted anticipation some general managers could try to get the jump on the trade market in the days leading up to the Olympic roster freeze on February 7.
It’s been done before. LeBrun pointed out back in 2006 Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford acquire veteran forward Doug Weight before the scheduled break for the Torino Olympics. Weight became a key playoff rental player for the Hurricanes, helping them win the Stanley Cup later that year.
The Hurricanes weren’t the only club busy in the 2006 trade market before the Olympic break. The Edmonton Oilers, who went on to meet the ‘Canes in the ’06 Cup Final, acquired Jaroslav Spacek and Dick Tarnstrom in late-January. The Philadelphia Flyers shipped Dennis Seidenberg (now a Boston Bruin) to Phoenix in a swap for a fading Petr Nedved.
Four years later, the trade market was considerably more active in the weeks leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Olympic break.
In late-January 2010, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Dion Phaneuf in a multi-player swap with the Calgary Flames, plus shipped Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala to the Anaheim Ducks for J.S. Giguere .
In early-February, the New Jersey Devils landed Ilya Kovalchuk from the then-Atlanta Thrashers in a multi-player deal, while the Dallas Stars pried goalie Kari Lehtonen away from the Thrashers.. The NY Rangers dealt Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik to the Flames for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust. The Philadelphia Flyers picked up Ville Leino from the Detroit Red Wings.
Given the adverse effect the artificially-lowered salary cap has had upon this season’s trade market, it’s possible there could be significant player movement starting later this month and leading up to the February 7 roster freeze.
Some general managers could decide it’s too much of a gamble to wait until after the trade freeze to address their roster needs. That would explain the recent significant increase in trade rumors since the end of the Christmas trade freeze in late-December.
A number of quality players could be trade candidates. Pending unrestricted free agents like Buffalo’s Ryan Miller, Matt Moulson and Steve Ott, Calgary’s Mike Cammalleri and Matt Stajan, Colorado’s Paul Stastny, Columbus’ Marian Gaborik, Dallas’ Ray Whitney and Erik Cole, Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky and Nick Schultz, Nashville’s David Legwand and the NY Islanders’ Thomas Vanek could be available.
Younger players such as Toronto’s Nazem Kadri, Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov and the NY Rangers’ Michael Del Zotto have frequently appeared in trade rumors this season.
Not all of these players will be moved leading up to the Olympic break, but there’s a good possibility several of them could be.