Murph’s Musings: NHL Trade Market Clogged Up

Peter Chiarelli
Peter Chiarelli
Chicago IL USA Boston Bruins head coach Peter Chiarelli is interviewed during media day in preparation for game one of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center Jerry Lai USA TODAY Sports

As I sit here watching the Montreal Canadiens practice for their tilt with the Senators at Ottawa Thursday there’s plenty of NHL trade rumors attempting to circulate through the internet and Twitter hoping to stick on the proverbial wall and gain some substance. But I can tell you based on a conversation with one NHL scout Wednesday morning, that while the numerous reports you’ll continue to read that NHL general mangers would love to address their teams’ needs via a trade or two before the February 7 Olympic roster freeze rather than wait until the March 5 trade deadline are true, there has never been such a logjam before. Too many teams in playoff contention are up against the cap and many just can’t decide this early whether they’re sellers or buyers.

As colleague Pierre Lebrun of pointed out in a recent column, the Olympic roster freeze does present the possibility of two trade deadlines and there is chatter, but according to this scout, plenty of GM’s simply don’t know which direction they’re going in yet.

“I know talking to my boss and just other scouts telling me the same right now, that yes we’d like to go out and be buyers but the cap and just the logjam in standings, it’s too hard to tell right now,” said this NHL pro scout who asked to remain anonymous. “Look, there’s a reason they made the deadline a little later right. It was always the situation we have now. Do I think there could be deals before the Olympics and do I think that would be the smarter route before prices go up or a commodity you have could get hurt? Yes. But the reality is that it is hard to make a trade now.”

So without much substance to many of the trade rumors we’re reading and hearing about right now, I can give you some other rumors with more substance. According to a well-placed NHL source, there is a strong movement both on the players’ side and the league side to reevaluate hybrid-icing and a good chance that after the Stanley Cup playoffs, both the league and the NHLPA will decide whether to keep it or go to the European way and institute no-touch or automatic icing, where play is stopped for icing immediately once the puck crosses the goal line.

This source also said that while there’s been a major movement by the mainstream media to rid the NHL of fighting, there’s been none within the NHL office or amongst the players. So for all who continue to bash the NHL for allowing fighting, either accept it and move on or don’t watch. It’s part of the game and in this scribe’s opinion, a part that should indeed be kept.

Finally, I find it amazing that every report you read coming out of Boston is that the Bruins are searching for a defenseman to replace Dennis Seidenberg and fill the void his season-ending injury has left on the Bruins’ penalty kill. That may very well be true and I’m sure Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli would love to replace the monster minutes Seidenberg ate up every game, especially come playoff time. But why is the absence of one of the best penalty kill players in the NHL being forgotten every time the Bruins’ penalty kill woes are brought up? Forward Chris Kelly was amongst the league leaders in penalty kill ice time when he suffered a broken ankle in the now infamous Penguins-Bruins debacle in early December and the Bruins’ PK hasn’t been the same since. It will be much better when he returns, which could be before the Olympic break.

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James Murphy
Jimmy Murphy has covered the NHL in print, radio and television for the last 13 years. In addition to his work here at, he currently hosts The Top Shelf Radio Show heard every Monday-Friday 1-3 PM ET on and 2-3 PM ET on Sirius/XM NHL Network Radio.