Easing of quarantine restrictions should make Trade Deadline more interesting

Matt Dumba #24 of the Minnesota Wild. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Matt Dumba #24 of the Minnesota Wild. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Life has just been made a whole lot easier for NHL teams when it comes to the Trade Deadline.

It was announced on Friday that the federal government has now relaxed its quarantine rules somewhat, with any player acquired by any one of the seven Canadian NHL teams now only required to undergo a seven-day quarantine period, which should spice things up when it comes to the Trade Deadline.

Previously, any player acquired by one of the Canadian franchises would have to quarantine for 14 days, as was the case for center Pierre-Luc Dubois who was acquired by the Winnipeg Jets as part of the blockbuster trade that saw elite winger Patrik Laine and forward Jack Roslovic head to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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Now, however, players will only have to self-isolate for seven days and will also undergo daily testing for COVID-19, in addition to being subjected to daily testing the following week once they are allowed to suit up for their new teams.

This is a huge boost for all seven teams in Canada, stretching across the five provinces, with these new rules also applying to players called up from the American Hockey League from teams south of the border, but there is no doubt that this latest development blows the Trade Deadline right open.

In what is a weird, weird year thanks to the ongoing Pandemic, all 31 teams are having to navigate a shortened 56-game schedule which presents a plethora of challenges, and the same applies to the Trade Deadline with players having less time to fit into a different system with their new team. The pressure will be on to hit the ground running more than ever in 2020-21.

Easing of quarantine restrictions should make Trade Deadline more interesting

That problem was accelerated somewhat by the border issues in Canada, with the prospect of not being available to play or practice for two weeks due to having to self-isolate a real problem for Canadian teams, especially those locked in an intense battle for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For instance, Dubois missed more than five games after being acquired by the Winnipeg Jets and, while that may not sound a lot, five games can be the difference between making the postseason or just missing out in a truncated schedule.

Another example is, say the old 14-day rule remained in place and the Toronto Maple Leafs traded for forward Taylor Hall from the New Jersey Devils at the Trade Deadline on April 12, he would miss around eight games and would only be available for the final seven games of the regular-season, meaning he would need to adapt to his new surroundings quickly in order to make an impact down the stretch and then be ready to light it up in the postseason. There would be no room for a slow start or a prolonged bedding-in period.

Even if the Maple Leafs pulled the trigger on that deal today, Hall would still miss a large chunk of the regular-season, but the new seven-day quarantine ensures that the forward or any player acquired in a trade would only miss a handful of games and would be available for the last chunk of the regular-season.

Taylor Hall (4)
Taylor Hall #4 of the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

It means that all seven teams in Canada, particularly those currently battling for one of the four postseason spots, should be a lot more active now given that there is a hell of a lot of a difference between a seven-day and a 14-day quarantine period, and it could translate to a busier Trade Deadline.

Granted, it will probably be a lot quieter than previous years given the fact that we are living in a flat cap world coupled with the reality that every team will be in a different situation, but if you look at most of the Playoff hopefuls in the North Division, the most games a player would miss if they are required at the Trade Deadline would be three or four, while if they make a move before then the new quarantine rules just ensure that there is more time for that player to get used to his new teammates and settle in before the most important time of the year rolls around.

We’ve already seen teams take advantage of the seven-day quarantine with the Montreal Canadiens trading for veteran center Eric Staal from the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, with the 36-year-old likely to only miss two games now as opposed to the five or six games he could have missed if the rules were not eased.

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So, not only should we see a little bit more activity at the Trade Deadline from teams in Canada thanks to the quarantine period now being a lot more manageable, it is also feasible that we could see some moves being made over the coming days as teams north of the border look to ensure that they can get new faces into the facility without missing too much time as the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs really begins to get interesting.