Dallas – – Leading up to the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, there was a sense that a lot of movement would happen.
But nothing noteworthy happened on day one with teams appearing to be waiting for Ilya Kovalchuk to make a decision. Once that finally happened on Sunday, there was a sense of anticipation as pundits waited for that first trade to drop.
We did have a fairly large deal between Carolina and Calgary. With the management groups coming to an agreement that saw Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm heading to Alberta in exchange for Dougie Hamilton, Michael Ferland and Adam Fox to Carolina. Aside from that and a handful of draft pick maneuvers to move up and down the draft board, there wasn’t any other real player movement.
It was a multitude of factors that led to the soft market despite there being so many rumors leading up to the day.
With the free agent ‘wooing’ period opening up on Sunday morning, teams were not in a rush to trade assets for players when they had a chance to add someone in the UFA market in the coming days. Los Angeles had Kovalchuk as their priority and if they weren’t able to add him, they would explore trades. Since they added the Russian winger for nothing but cap space, they were immediately eliminated from the trade market.
There were other teams pursuing Kovalchuk, who may jump on the trade market in a few days but will explore the free agent market first.
Another factor was the fact that so many first and second round picks were moved during the season that there weren’t many tangible picks to move. Teams in a win now position would normally try and peddle those first or second round picks for a now player, but they didn’t have it anymore. If they did, the organization’s likely wanted to make sure they walked out of the event with some sort of top prospect. Furthermore, the teams that had a multitude of picks in the top 93 are in rebuilding mode and thus prioritizing adding prospects.
The value in these players has skyrocketed over the last few years as teams search for players on entry level contracts that can contribute.
Those are the two major reasons why the market flopped this season. Usually, we see a plethora of action over a couple of days as teams look to shape their roster for next year. This year has the free agent market opening the day after the draft, already moved assets, and teams’ patience killing that usually active market
We could see those rumored trades soon as teams realize that their UFA targets are going somewhere else. It’s just a matter of waiting for the dust to settle.