Is This A Buyers Or Seller’s Market At The NHL Trade Deadline?

Jun 14, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien Brisebois speaks during media day for the 2022 Stanley Cup Final at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien Brisebois speaks during media day for the 2022 Stanley Cup Final at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The biggest trade news of the weekend was the San Jose Sharks sending Timo Meier over to the New Jersey Devils. Nobody could fault you if you didn’t notice that Tanner Jeannot was traded from the Nashville Predators to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That trade fell under the radar and was overshadowed by Meier’s long-anticipated move.

The trade fits Tampa’s modus operandi over the past few years: acquire the bottom six reinforcements with a touch of physicality. They did the same thing with Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman and Brandon Hagel in the not-too-distant past. Frank Servalli tweeted that “multiple NHL GMs” were “stunned by the return.” The Toronto Maple Leafs took a page out of Tampa’s playbook in their recent trades. What caught our eye was how general manager Julien BriseBois justified the price he paid for Jeannot’s services:

"“The reality at the trade deadline is you’re going to have to overpay,” Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said Monday. “The player goes to the higher bidder. Nashville didn’t have to trade him. They controlled his rights for an additional year — he’s a restricted free agent. To acquire the player we would have to make it worth their while. Considering our lack of draft capital the way to do this was a quantity over quality type of offer.”"

It’s understandable why teams might overpay for a player. Some intangibles around the perfect player, and the always fun NHL salary cap, can complicate things. What seemed weird to us was prior to the Jeannot deal, there weren’t really any overpays on the NHL trade market.

Are NHL GM’s overpaying or underpaying as this year’s deadline approaches? For the most part, it appears they’re getting good deals, just don’t tell Tampa that.

In fact, this year’s trade market was gearing up to be a buyers’ market. The New York Islanders trade for Bo Horvat seemed like an even deal, after Horvat agreed to an extension. The trade that sent Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola away from the St. Louis Blues a first-round pick and Sammy Blais seemed to favor the New York Rangers.

Don’t forget this is all before any potential Patrick Kane trade happens. Kane has a full no-trade clause with the Chicago Blackhawks. Not only does he controls his own destination, but any return for the star winger would be much less than what hockey fans imagine a trade for Patrick Kane would have netted for Chicago.

Tampa sent defenseman Cal Foote (a former first-round draft selection) and five draft picks (one in each of the first five rounds, with the first-round pick being condition, spread out over the next three drafts) to Nashville. The scope of the trade makes the deal almost comparable to the Timo Meier trade, where a first-round pick, a second, but conditional, first-round pick and former first-round selection defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin were the main return for San Jose. Meier is a much more skilled and valuable player than Jeannot, however, even if Tampa Bay believes Jeannot is a needed niche role player in their lineup. San Jose also walked away from the trade without their desired target of Dawson Mercer from the Devils.

Maybe BriseBois meant he had to overpay as opposed to other teams. Maybe the other franchises want to charge the Lightning a premium for being the Eastern Conference champs three years running. Still, the Lightning paid a heftier price for Jeannot than previous deadline deals for similar players during their recent stretch of success. Blake Coleman was acquired by the Devils in 2020 for Nolan Foote as a first-round pick. That same year Barclay Goodrow was acquired from San Jose for a single first-round pick.

If the Lightning win the cup, their fans will turn a blind eye on Brisebois’s overpayment. It will be looked at as the cost of winning their third cup in four years, as opposed to the price for one player, almost as if they’re looking at the “big picture”. Even if it leaves the franchise without picks in future drafts, if they once again lift Lord Stanley, all will be forgiven.