With two (albeit minor) trades today, it seems as if the annual pre-NHL Trade Deadline flurry of activity is underway. NHL analytics guru Rob Vollman was ready for it yesterday, releasing some new, interesting statistics related to trade deadline trends. With the last day to make deals this season coming up on Monday, February 26th, these correlations may indicate what we can expect in the coming weeks.
Vollman’s first chart shows the distribution of deals made in the month leading up to the trade deadline. On average, there have been close to 41 trades in the month leading up to the deadline since 2005. There tends to be nearly a trade per day beginning 30 days prior to the deadline and going throughout the month, with the numbers increasing exponentially in the final three days. In 2016-17, there were five trades made in the month of January, which slowed down the early February pace somewhat. However, deals came with a more torrid pace beginning in the middle of the month, leading to a total of 41 trades made in the month – on par with the trend over the last decade plus. On average, one can expect 12 trades over the next month leading up to 29 swaps over the final two days prior and deadline day combined. On the 26th, it would be reasonable to see more than 20 trades made, as that has been the trend of late.
So who will be making those deals? Vollman’s second chart shows the frequency that each NHL team has made trades since 2005. The Anaheim Ducks stand out as having made far more deals in that time than any other team in the league, including quite a few deals prior to deadline day. Could the Ducks make a deal this deadline season? Of course, although GM Bob Murray and company may need some more clarity on the Western Conference playoff picture before deciding to be buyers or sellers. The last-place Arizona Coyotes, also common deal-makers, aren’t in that position, but with no impending free agent rentals outside of Brad Richardson, Luke Schenn, and maybe Antti Raanta, there may not be many trade options for GM John Chayka unless he makes some bigger splashes. Eastern Conference contenders Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Washington have all been known to make a few trades, so don’t expect anything different this season. On the other hand, the Red Wings, Stars, and Predators have a history of being hesitant to make moves. If Dallas does make a deal, expect it to come early, as they have far more trades made earlier in February than at the deadline. Conversely, the Avalanche often wait until the last minute, which should be no different in 2017-18 with Colorado being a team that could benefit from a clear look at the Western race.