With all of the details of the new collective bargaining agreement still coming into focus, it's worth diving a little deeper into the one that could have the biggest impact on the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs: the trade deadline.
So much has changed since the previous time the NHL had a trade deadline in early April that it's tough to draw much from the experience. Following the lockout during the 1994-95 season, the trade deadline was set for April 7. There were 20 trades made that day, none by the eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils.
"Back then, you didn't have as much free agency," said Neil Smith, who was general manager of the defending Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers during that shortened season. "That wasn't hanging over your head all the time. You had a better look [at the standings] -- were you going to make the playoffs or not make it? Now they've got to do things differently than we did it then. I think it's going to be tough for these guys."
As the CBA negotiations stretched toward their conclusion, I checked with a couple of general managers, and they anticipated another early April trade deadline if there's a 48-game schedule. According to an NHL source, time was spent Sunday working on the league's critical-dates calendar, which will finalize things such as the trade deadline and the start of free agency. Colleague Pierre LeBrun reported that the league proposed a trade deadline of April 5 for either a 48-game or 50-game schedule.
What does that look like in what's about to be a whirlwind of an NHL season? It has the chance to be unlike any deadline we've seen lately, deadlines that have been a "frenzy" in promotion only.
The shortened schedule, plus an ability to add even more prorated salary under the cap, along with the looming drop in the salary-cap number next season, means things could be especially active in early April.
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