With the NHL trade deadline coming up, a lot of rumors and speculation has taken over sports websites, blogs and twitter feeds. Trade activity typically picks up around this time with teams deciding if they’ll make a run for the playoffs or start unloading players in the hopes of re-building for next season.
I find this to be incredibly frustrating for a few reasons.
1. Teams shouldn’t have to wait until the deadline to tweak their rosters. In my opinion, you have months in advance to plan things out, make your trades and give a team a chance to mesh together.
2. The rumors that are out there are typically baseless. It makes for great chatter, but really it amounts to nothing. Recently, a bunch of trades went down well before the deadline, which is a rare occurrence. I personally did not hear any rumors or speculation about the players who were traded, which makes me question how good the insiders at TSN and Sportsnet really are. Copper & Blue have a piece on this as well.
3. You can’t trust anybody. NHL teams are known to release names of available players and potential trades through different media to entice other teams and see what the value of their players is. Managers make very calculated moves to get ahead.
Major sports networks such as TSN and Sportsnet will have extended trade deadline coverage all day on their television broadcasts. Their websites will have real-time updates with analysis after every trade. Twitter is being used heavily to share information such as which team has a scout at a game and what trades may or may not go down.
Why so much speculation of potential trades and signings in the NHL?
For one, the trade deadline does have a lot of action. Last year alone, 31 trades went down on the deadline. (Wikipedia)
Second, the way contracts are set up, speculation will always exist. The free agency process, teams re-building and draft classes all contribute to the speculation.
Third, hockey is a game that relies on more than one superstar. To really build a successful team, the right group has to be assembled. From first line scorers, to third line pluggers and second pair defenceman, every position is vital. Speculation is not reserved for top players only. Every position is open to speculation, including minor league teams and junior prospects.
Even when a team gets a new player or loses one, it doesn’t guarantee anything. Picking up a player looks good on paper, but a lot of pairings just don’t work. You can blame this on “chemistry” or perhaps a bad fit in a coaches system. Regardless, this spurs on even more speculation.
Speculation and gossip will always exist in the game because of its business structure as well as the game itself. But being buried with more and more speculation is causing some major information overload. A lot of bad information is on the web and it’s up to fans to build the filters necessary to cut through it all.