NHL - Better Trades
The best time to find a better trade in the National Hockey League is around the league's annual trade deadline in March. That's when general managers are desperately trying to make bettertrades to improve their team's chances to make the playoffs or stock fresh talent for the future.
There were 25 deadline deals made by NHL general managers in each of the last three years. That's enough activity to keep hockey fans happy and television commentators guessing about which team is going to come away with a better trade. Many of the trades made at the last minute are born of desperation, with teams willing to give away up-and-coming prospects for the opportunity chase Lord Stanley's Cup.
A team might work bettertrades by packaging some of their weaker, less-productive players, in any deal on the table. This is an example of thinning the heard, allowing some of the underachieving players go find greener pastures. This sort of better trade works because it permits the traded players to get a fresh start and it allows the teams the opportunity to unload the dead wood and start afresh.
One of the most popular positions sought near the trade deadline is goaltender. A professional hockey team is often only as good as its goalie. A team can find a hot goalkeeper and ride him to a championship. It happens almost every year, so a better trade would be to find another team's reserve goalie and make a trade in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle.
Teams also become active traders when they decide they can no longer make the playoffs. At that point the general manager will survey the roster and scan it for potential trades. This can be a big-name free agent that may be ready to leave at the end of the season. It can be an underachieving player with a big salary. That is when a better trade can emerge. Why not get something for the free agent? He's going to leave anyway, so it's a bettertrade opportunity to at least get something in return.
Poor teams can also move their star-quality players to another team that appears ready to make a playoff run. Many times teams will overcompensate when they trade for a star, which results in a better trade for the lesser team. Again, it's a better trading opportunity for a franchise that is going nowhere to get a fresh start, as well as for a good team to make a rare run at the championship series.
Better trades can also occur when there's a change of management or on the bench. If a coach prefers a fast team, he'll want to encourage the general manager to rid the roster of goonish players and sign those who have more skating and puck-handling ability. If a new general manager prefers a team with a more physical style of play, he's likely to trade for guys who are bigger and stronger.
Weird things will occasionally happen while making better trades, too. In March 2009 Patrick O'Sullivan was actually traded twice in the same day. He was originally traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the Carolina Hurricanes. He stayed there less than a day, as the Hurricanes shipped him to Edmonton. Fans said this was a better trade for the Oilers, who got a forward who had scored 14 goals and had 23 assists.
In the NHL, anything can happen, as each team is looking for a better trade.