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Dreger: In trade market, buyers currently outnumber sellers

Darren Dreger
2/8/2012 7:46:22 PM
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On a daily basis, I'm asked to address the various trade speculation that is generated either in-house through various sources, or through the imaginations of some through social media. 
 
It's a great time of year as we all squeeze our contacts league-wide in search of the first big pre-deadline deal. 
 
This week, the New York Islanders have been lumped in with a couple of juicy rumours, specifically involving veteran goalie Evgeni Nabokov who made 45 saves Tuesday in a 1-0 shutout win over the Flyers. Nabokov is giving the Isles a chance to win with every start and because of that and the belief there is time to claw back into the post-season mix, Islanders general manager Garth Snow insists he has no interest in trading his star goaltender. Things may change on that front if New York drops out of the picture in the next two weeks...but, until then, Snow emphatically states he is committed to this group.
 
The Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning and pretty much all of the teams we can assume to be sellers...aren't selling...at least not yet and this is contributing to the frustration some of the NHL's labelled buyers are feeling.
 
Contending teams are trying to make trades, but no one is biting. Case in point, Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks are eager to deal and recognize goaltending and a defenceman as their primary needs, but Bowman hasn't been able to find the right fit.
 
It's not a cap issue, at least not for the Hawks, whose road winless streak stretched to six games on Tuesday night in Colorado with a 5-2 loss to the Avs. It's simply supply, albeit temporarily, cannot meet the demand.
 
At the moment, the buyers outnumber the sellers and the parity that exists in each conference still provides a glimmer of hope for all but the bottom feeders in each conference. Teams are reluctant to pull the plug too early for a few reasons.

Number one: Although, statistically not a lot may change between now and end the season, it is possible, and the benefits of a late season push both financially and developmentally has an impact on team growth. Number two: the hungrier the buyers get, the more willing they will be to pay a higher premium when the true list of available players surfaces in the coming days.

This game of poker seems to change from year to year and may also be a reflection of lessons learned by wary general managers who concentrate their shopping in the off-season and free agency. However, teams are becoming increasingly skeptical on what the unrestricted free agent market can provide and because of that seem more interested in keeping what they have...as evidenced in Carolina's recent signing of veteran defenceman Tim Gleason and the Islanders extending Frans Nielsen's contract by four years.
 
Trades are coming. For the sake of quality television, here's hoping most of them happen on Deadline Day and what we're experiencing now is merely the calm before the storm.

Darren Dreger

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