Inflating a player’s value at the Deadline

January 18, 2012, by

There’s an old adage that states, “believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” When it comes to trade deadline articles and rumors – that saying couldn’t be more accurate.

While the deadline is without a doubt a stressful time for General Managers who need to retool their rosters before the final playoff push, teams on the outside looking in are facing considerably more pressure internally. It is at these critical moments where a GM has to do everything in his power to get back the value his team needs before the media and fans start kicking down his door.

And it isn’t easy. You know your team is years away from contending. You know your marquee star is probably going to sign elsewhere this summer either for more money than you can offer him, or because he wants a chance to hoist the Cup. Finally, you know that you somehow have to sell the idea to your owner that hope and patience aren’t counterproductive to selling tickets and corporate partnerships.

So what is the GM of a “deadline seller” to do?

Control the message

The last thing any seller wants are rumors getting out that his star player is only interested in playing for a specific team. It pretty much kills his maximum return. The Brad Richards situation last season was a perfect example.

There were tidbits in the press that Richards wanted to come to New York to play for John Tortorella, or because he was friends with Avery, etc. All of a sudden Los Angeles and other teams were no longer dangling that first rounder they were initially offering. Why give up picks/prospects if you think there is a good chance Richie is going to end up in NY come July anyway?

Of course GM’s can plant nuggets in the press to boost a player’s appeal as well. Say Sather stays away from certain players, believing that they can’t be resigned in the offseason. Then all of sudden you’re hearing about how player X grew up a Rangers fan, has family in Westchester, a goomah in Howard Beach, etc.

That’s the seller controlling the message!

On a serious note, pay attention to how certain players become “available” like a Statsny did last season, only to apparently be pulled off the market. GM’s negotiating a trade for player X could conceivably plant a nugget in the press that they are also interested in another team’s player Y. What that does is it gives the illusion of more candidates on the market thus driving down the cost of player X.

Increase Ice time

When a perennial losing team starts playing a third liner on their top power play unit in the days leading up to the deadline, it probably isn’t to win games.  Well, other than the Islanders it probably is to win games, but it’s also an effort to inflate that player’s value. You think Chris Kelly deserved the extra ice-time in his final days as a Senator? Um no.

GM’s with zero leverage have to manufacture ways to get available players’ stock up.  Even if it seems far fetched, there’s always a sucker willing to believe it. Or maybe you really did believe Frolov’s problem in LA was “he just didn’t fit the system!”

While the approaching deadline will certainly produce some perfunctory trade rumors, if you peel back the layers you may be able to figure out who is really available and who’s name is being dropped just so Canadian newsies can sell more papers.

Categories : Analysis


  1. Chris says:

    nice point. A lot of people perhaps don’t realise the wranglings and manoeuvrings before the deadline.

    You definitely see a lot of teams hike ice time around February that’s for sure. I’ll be watching teams like the Ducks, Flames, Coyotes, Canadiens and perhaps even the Lightning for depth players being given more prominent roles.

  2. Bobby Tux says:

    Even more compelling this year is the nature of the new salary cap system.

    The Rangers have some players with high priced contracts that end this year that might be valuable to teams that want to retool. It might be a pipe dream but maybe the lightning is willing to unload Stamkos to start again. Or the flames with ignlia. Or the Ducks etc

    • The Suit says:

      Doubt Stamkos is going to get moved. The Lightning could move Malone if they plan to be a seller.

      I don’t see Iginla getting moved now that the Flames have reacquired Cammalleri.

      Bobby Ryan will likely be on the market for sure.

      • Sioux-per-man says:

        Ryan would be a nice fit for this team, he scores 30-40 goals a year, 60-70 pts a season. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of our D men are in a package deal with the Ducks.

  3. The Suit says:

    The Sabres (who are spent to the cap & awful) should be unloading certain players. The Ducks, Flames, Canes & the Blue Jackets would be smart to sell high on some players as well.

  4. The Wrage says:

    If we see Dominic Moore getting top line minutes and 1st PP unit time, we know something is up…

  5. Sioux-per-man says:

    Columbus has to rebuild, they are the worst of the worst. How do they not deal Nash, for players and high draft picks? Prospal has been there top scorer all year long, I could see Torts bringing him back for a rental. If they can’t get a Ryan / Nash / Doan type of player.

    • The Suit says:

      CBJ has had a lot of injuries. I don’t think they are going to trade Nash. I think they’ll make moves to give him more support. Ryan could be dealt, but he’ll be pricey.

      Doan is interesting. In most scenarios you’d figure a guy like that would want to join a contender, but every year he’s adamant he and his family want to stay in AZ. Not sure why this year would be any different.