The trade deadline in the NHL is by far the most active of any major sport. The coverage of the day makes it feel like a special event. There are typically literally dozens of trades done on the day and in the days right before the deadline. While many of those deals are obviously not exactly blockbusters, we’ll typically see several big name players change their mailing address. Because of the significance of the day to the league it is important that bettors are properly prepared for the trade deadline. In particular, it’s important to be ready for the first game that teams play right after the deadline. That’s when the impact is particularly fresh, and the potential to find an edge is highest for astute bettors. Here are seven factors to consider as the NHL trade deadline rolls around:
Have the new players arrived? – Travel logistics can be a big issue at the trade deadline. It is one of the very rare times when professional teams are reliant on public air travel. If a player has to travel across the country to join his new team it is quite possible that he won’t make it until right before the game time, or that he won’t make it at all. Often, the immediate impact of a deal in the first game isn’t felt because the old players are gone but the new ones aren’t in the lineup. Before you can effectively analyze the impact of a deal, then, you need to do your research to find out if the players will be in the lineup, and if they will have arrived early enough to get comfortable before the game starts.
Was the departing player key and/or popular? – In the longer term, teams are remarkably resilient, and the can find the way to get over the loss of almost any player with time. In the short term, though, the loss of a player who has been a driving force for a team, or one who is a locker room leader, can hit a team hard. They can play like a kid who has had his favorite toy taken away from them. This can be especially true if the team doesn’t feel like they got good value in return – if the team was a seller at the deadline.
Was the move a surprise? – If a deal has been long rumored, or if the player who was dealt had been asking for a trade, then the team has had time to get used to the possibility of what will happen. They have likely come to terms with what was inevitably going to happen, so they won’t be playing with any shock. If the deal was a real surprise, though, then a team can play like they are off-balance.
What form was the team in before the move? – This is a very important consideration, and probably a good starting point for a discussion in most cases. If a team was in bad form before the trade deadline and they were active at the deadline then it really doesn’t make sense that they would turn their form around in the short term because of the deal. If the team has been playing particularly well, though, then it becomes tougher to determine what is likely to happen. A team could stumble because of the changes, or they could be motivated and inspired by them.
What was the purpose of the trade? – As much as is possible you need to look at why the team likely made a deal, and what they were hoping to accomplish. Are they a strong contender looking to load up for a Stanley Cup run? Are they a rebuilding team looking to add pieces to continue their progress? Are they a desperate team trying to add what they need to grab a playoff spot? Has management given up on the season – are they just trying to turn current assets into less expensive future assets? The more you can understand about what motivated a deal, the better you can guess how the team is likely to respond once the deal is made. A selling team could be disheartened in the short term, for example, while a team fighting for the playoffs could get a real boost in confidence from a deal – even if the player they added isn’t impactful right away.
What’s the chemistry situation? – Once the players acquired join their new team you need to consider what the chemistry situation is likely to be like – chemistry is a massive part of hockey. Has the player played with any of his new linemates or teammates on other teams, or in international play? Did he play with teammates in junior hockey or in college? Has he played for any of the coaching staff in the past? The more ties a player has to his new team, the easier his transition will be, and the easier it is to believe that he will have a strong showing right out of the gate.
How will the public perceive the move? – The NHL betting public follows the trade deadline very closely, and will react strongly to the most obvious situations. If a team made trades that won’t pay off in the short term then the public is likely to react very negatively towards them. If the trade was a particular splashy, exciting one, though, then the public could eagerly jump onto the bandwagon and bet on them enthusiastically – whether it is warranted in the short term or not. By looking at how the public is reacting you can get a sense of where there may be value. You can then look closer to see if that opportunity for value actually exists.
Maddux NHL post trade deadline