A few points to remember on this, Trade Deadline Eve


Tonight is a lot like Christmas Eve for many hockey fans. Sleep does not come easily, you cannot help but dream about all the gifts your franchise will buy just for you and there are visions of silver chalices dancing in your head.

With this wonderful hockey holiday nearly upon us, here are a few things to remember for the armchair GMs out there.

All contracts are not created equal

If a team is going to take a risk by trading a quality player, chances are it’s going to have to be someone whose contract will expire after this season. If not, that player will often be wildly overpaid. Even if you get past those possibilities, the guy might have a no trade clause. Tomas Kaberle has been the subject of trade rumors for years and don’t forget how much of a headache Dany Heatley’s NTC turned out to be. After all that, the player has to fit under a team’s salary cap.
The standings matter

This is obvious to most, but if you’re hoping for your cellar dwelling team to land a superstar you’re probably wasting your time. Also, with increased parity comes a decrease in the number of sellers. Simply put, if a team thinks it has a shot at making a playoff run it will be less likely to trade pros for prospects.
Context matters

Let’s not forget the human factor, either. Before Jean-Sebastien Giguere was traded to Toronto, I cooked up a half-serious “Giguere for Marty Turco” trade idea. Stars fans and Ducks fans alike were quick to voice their disapproval. You don’t want to upset your fans, even if it helps your team. I’m also willing to say that the Leafs and Oilers probably won’t be calling each other tomorrow, even if Kevin Lowe is no longer the Oilers’ GM.
Feel free to dream up all kinds of wacky trade ideas tonight and tomorrow. Imagining what you would do if you were in charge is a one of the best things about being a fan. Just keep in mind that it’s a little more complicated than it might seem.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado