New Reality Dawns at the NHL Trade Deadline?

Agostino Di MariaCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2009

Many hockey fans flocked to their televisions and computer monitors hoping to familiarize themselves with the blockbuster trades occurring during this year's trade deadline.

Sadly, most fans were dissapointed. In terms of winners and losers, the losers would definitely be the individuals who decided to play hooky from work and school to stay informed on the on-going rumors and trades from the deadline frenzy.

The inactivity was expected by many. There are many valid reasons why the trade deadline saw very few blockbuster deals such as previous years with the movement of big name players such as Marian Hossa and Ryan Smyth.

Firstly, the upcoming draft set in Montreal this June promises to feature many promising young talents. Many scouts peg this year's draft as very deep in the first round. Names such as John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene, and Evander Kane are only a few examples of talent available in the first round.

General managers were certainly aware of this factor, thus making them reluctant to move their first round selection unless they would receive a strong return.

The Calgary Flames were the only team to move their first round selection on deadline day. By doing so, however, they filled a strong need for a No. 1 center in Olli Jokinen to play with all-star winger Jarome Iginla. The deal also arguably transforms the Flames into a serious contender in the western conference.

Another factor which played a role in the lack of major trades in the deadline was the economy. Many general managers are fearful of the effects the economy will have on the salary cap once the 2010/11 season gets underway.

At this point, many are forecasting a steep salary-cap drop of about $8 to $10 million. This fear caused most teams to proceed with caution when taking on long-term contracts, most general managers immediately rejected players whose deals extend past the next season.

The looming salary-cap decrease, furthermore, forces teams to develop their own young and cheap talent. This alone increases the value of higher draft picks in the first or second rounds.

The moves we witnessed today could very well set the stage for the future of the league in terms of player values. For the first time in recent memory, sellers were the ones scrambling for takers as buyers were able to acquire good talent at relatively cheap prices.

General managers are finally understanding the importance of developing home-grown talent for success. The question remains, will this understanding continue through next season, or will this trade deadline just be viewed as an isolated event for lack of major player movement?