Things seem awfully quiet on the trade market in advance of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft. Although teams are talking trying to see what’s available, nothing huge has happened yet.
There is a good reason for that. Teams are waiting on the answer to the biggest question coming into Thursday night’s first round. Who are the Montreal Canadiens going to take first overall?
Setting the Scene
Even up to this late hour, the Canadiens have done a good job keeping everything around the first pick quiet. Credit to GM Kent Hughes and his staff for sticking to their word when they said they’d take all the time they had in order to make this all-important decision.
Not only is it a big decision for the Canadiens, it’s a big decision that affects everyone else once the pick is made. What if Shane Wright is not the first pick of the draft? Tom Fitzgerald and Bill Armstrong better have good plans on their phones for how many calls they’re going to field.
Although it seems the majority of people you speak to believe the Canadiens will take Wright first overall, there’s a belief that Juraj Slafkovsky could still go first. There’s even some that believe Logan Cooley will go first.
As long as this remains unknown, the trade market is going to remain willing but quiet. Teams are going to have to wait to see how this plays out. Let me give you a few examples to consider.
Teams Waiting on Montreal
Let’s say you are the New Jersey Devils. You have the second pick. If Slafkovsky becomes the top pick, Wright and Cooley are both available to you. But you already have two star centers on your roster. Do they draft a top defenseman? Or are they more open to a trade of the pick?
The Devils are going to take calls from the field. Anyone in the top-10 that covets one of the centers will call about availability. If that possibility still exists, they can’t make other moves yet. They don’t want to miss on a potential once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to land a top center.
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The Coyotes are going to talk to a lot of teams also. There’s a great chance one of the top centers is available for them. But teams are going to call them about the possibility of a deal. The Coyotes will listen. If the offer is good enough, third overall could be had, although it would take a Brinks truck to pry the pick away.
What if you’re the Seattle Kraken? What if you’re the Philadelphia Flyers or Columbus Blue Jackets and Wright is available after the Canadiens? You have to do your due diligence. It may not work but you have to try.
The Canadiens hold the keys to the castle as they say. Not only are they the draft hosts, they’re literally holding up the trade market until their draft decision is known. We won’t know who the pick is until they get to the stage and announce it. But once that moment passes, it’s game on for all teams.
Expect Lots of Noise But Little Action
Thursday night is still a little ways away. The hockey world is waiting to hear what big moves might be coming. We’re going to hear rumors. We’re going to have huge moves eventually. But Wednesday and most of Thursday likely won’t come with the heavy fireworks you think it will. You have the Canadiens to thank for that.
Once we get to Friday and day two of the draft and then right into free agency, all bets are off. We’re going to see some big moves. There will be many faces in new places which will take fanbases time to adjust to. There will be moves no one saw coming. With an unpredictable draft waiting, it’s a matter of time before the fireworks go off.
But we’re not there yet. Enjoy the calm. Because starting Thursday night at 7 P.M. eastern, the hockey world is going to be anything but calm.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.