When is the “right” time to pull the trigger on a trade?
The simplified answer is that every situation is different and so is the “right time.”
Waiting until the trade deadline can be rolling the dice. The market changes. People get hurt. A player’s value can change.
Trading early in the season could be selling yourself short. Or it could be capitalizing before the market is flooded.
Guelph Storm general manager George Burnett is going through that now. The Storm has a bunch of older players who would bring draft picks and young players to help with the team’s rebuild.
Anthony Popovich, Liam Hawel and, most recently, Owen Lalonde have already been dealt. You can be sure there will be interest in the team’s remaining older players as we head toward the Jan. 10 trade deadline.
“All three were great kids and we could very easily have kept them, but then where are we next September if we stay the course?” Burnett asks.
The Popovich deal was likely the easiest, given that the team had two other goalies that need the playing time. Plus Popovich is trying to get a pro contract.
“It would have been easy to keep Poppy around but we know we needed to develop a young goalie and we needed to do the best we could for Anthony,” Burnett said.
The question with the Popovich deal has been did they get enough in return?
“It’s easy to say we could have got more for Poppy, but we might have got less and we might have had three goalies for two months and then we would have disgruntled people.
“Maybe you get an extra round in a draft pick (if they held onto Popovich longer), but I think part of our responsibility is providing him with an opportunity. I wouldn’t think he’d be happy sitting.”
Another consideration is whether or not holding on to a player like Lalonde, with potentially two years of OHL eligibility remaining, do more to help the rebuild than the return you get for him would?
After all, young players need leadership and guidance to develop correctly.
“It’s got to be part of it,” Burnett said of that element.
The Storm did make the decision to stay the course following the 2014 Memorial Cup, holding on to Tyler Bertuzzi and Jason Dickinson in their final OHL seasons rather than dealing them.
“I don’t want to comment on the past. I know it’s been talked about, and it’s not pointing a finger at anybody, but I think the last championship that they won they made the choice to stay the course a little bit,” Burnett said.
Each situation is different. There are so many variables that go into a deal, and when it is made.
“Everybody has a no-trade (clause),” Burnett said. “Some deals are initiated by teams, some are initiated by players, families and agents. There’s lots of different circumstances.”
An older player without an NHL contract might want to be moved sooner rather than later to a situation where he can attract more attention.
We assume every player wants to take a run at the Memorial Cup in their final year. That’s not always the case.
Players might not want to move somewhere else. They might be happy to finish out their career in the place they have become accustomed to, perhaps have a girlfriend, and don’t want to be a rental somewhere else.
Slater Koekkoek didn’t want to come to Guelph in 2014. Ryan Parent played out the string here in 2007 despite the fact he would have brought a king’s ransom in return.
At the end of the day you make deals when you are close and accept the risk they might not work out. You don’t know when you will be close again.
Mark Woolley and Barret Kirwin would look great in Storm jerseys this year and next. But the bottom line is, trading them to Owen Sound helped Guelph get to Halifax.
Says Burnett: “when we sit here now, would it be wonderful to have Mark and Barret in our lineup? Absolutely. But if you’re going to make a push and try and win, where would have been if we hadn’t made that final move? Who really knows.”
Burnett said that over his career he hasn’t made a lot of trades at the deadline, for various reasons. This year shouldn’t be any different.
“Last year, I think, was the exception,” he says.