Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Parity Results in Waiting Game for Buyers as Trade Deadline Approaches

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Parity Results in Waiting Game for Buyers as Trade Deadline Approaches

Article excerpt

Standings crunch squeezing trade market

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With the NHL standings legitimately crunched three weeks before the trade deadline, teams looking to add a piece for a playoff run might be left waiting to find a seller.

As Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill sees it, this is the new normal for the league.

"I think it's changed the market and I think this is the way it's going to be going forward," said Nill. "Parity, it's in there now. Every team has a chance. I really think moving forward this is what our league is going to be. It's going to be tight. The difference is going to be 3-5 wins for everybody."

Of the 16 teams in the Eastern Conference, all but three are either in a playoff spot or within five points of one. It's even tighter out West, with bottom dwellers Calgary, Winnipeg and Edmonton still vying for a post-season position.

Parity in the league, and a generous system that awards a point for an overtime or shootout loss, is keeping more teams in the thick of the playoff race for longer. That results in a trade market with few legitimate sellers leading up to the Feb. 29 deadline, and potential buyers like Nill's Stars left waiting.

There were an average of 26 trades in and around the in the five seasons that followed the 2004-05 NHL lockout, including a high of 31 in 2010. Over the ensuing five seasons that number plummeted to 19 on average, though with a spike of 24 trades at the March 2 deadline last year.

Nill said the dynamics of parity are increasingly changing how the trade market operates. He said teams are waiting longer to determine their approach -- buying, selling or neither -- for the trade deadline. He estimates a group of eight to 10 teams in good position at the moment, those who are willing to consider just about anything. Most everyone else waits.

The scarcity of sellers could mean fewer options and higher prices for buyers.

"That's going to be the unknown," said Nill, whose Dallas squad sits comfortably in a playoff spot at the moment with 71 points. …

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