These are times like no other. These are hockey seasons like no other. And now, we have a trade deadline like no other.
The formula has existed for years: teams with a serious shot at an OHL championship surrender draft picks and/or younger players in exchange for experienced, more productive players at the deadline.
They sacrifice potential future gains for potential immediate rewards. Given the cyclical nature of junior hockey, it’s a yearly occurrence.
But now we have a season where there may not be any immediate rewards to reap. That you may be trading in hope of chasing something that might not be there to chase.
The OHL trade deadline comes Jan. 10 and right now nobody knows what the future holds for the rest of the season.
It could restart after the holiday break and continue as planned. It could be delayed. It could be shortened or extended. Or it could end up being cancelled altogether.
The general managers of those teams feeling they are in a position to challenge for a title now have to take that last possibility into account: that they may be sacrificing talent and draft picks to be more competitive in a postseason that might never happen.
It’s unlikely, but it is a possibility.
Also complicating things is the fact there really is no one or two frontrunners this year like we often see, no one or two teams ahead of the pack who could really put themselves over the top with a player or two.
Both the East and West have four or five teams with a shot at winning their conference.
That could mean ‘sit pat and take your shot’ or it could mean wanting to make a big deal to separate from the pack.
The urge to get better is there, but it might be more about tinkering than going “all-in.” The risk is just too great this year and a lot of those good teams are pretty young and should be contenders for the next year or two. Why jeopardize with so much uncertainty in the air?
Any big deals are likely to include a whole whack of conditional draft picks, with that condition being that the season actually gets completed.
The Guelph Storm position seems set: the Storm isn’t going to trade any of its key young pieces for a rent-a-player. The core coming up is too good for that. But they are in a situation where they have spots for two more overage players, which traditionally come at a cheaper price than 19 year olds.
It all makes for an interesting deadline, and, hopefully, an interesting second half to the OHL season.