Today marks exactly one month until the NHL trade deadline, which means the only content I’m legally allowed to create until then is trade-related stuff. Sorry, I’m pretty sure it’s in the Canadian constitution.

Today, let’s try a simple roster game: Which deadline in the cap era produces the best starting six of players who were traded? That sounds like a nice easy way to waste a Friday.

But first, a few ground rules ™:

• It’s always tricky to define what “the deadline” actually is, because you want to capture the spirit of the thing but if you just go by deadline day itself you miss out on a lot of the bigger deals. For this piece, we’re going to draw the line at within three days of the deadline.

• We want three forwards, two defensemen and a goalie, and won’t get picky on positions beyond that.

• You’re getting the player as they were when they were traded. That doesn’t mean we’re judging them solely on how they did with their new team, because sometimes the fit just isn’t there. But if somebody was a stud a decade before they got dealt, you don’t get to travel back in time and claim those years. Same with prospects and draft picks that became stars years down the road.

• Notwithstanding the above, when in doubt we’ll lean toward the more recognizable names, because it’s more fun that way.

We’ve got 17 deadlines to work with, which has always been my favorite hockey number. Let’s count it down from the worst squad to the best.


17. 2011

Forwards: Dustin Penner, Brad Boyes, Jason Arnott

Defense: Dennis Wideman, Chris Campoli

Goalie: Anton Khudobin

Ugh. Put it this way, when I got to the 2011 trade list on, I clicked on the little “next” arrow because I assumed there had to be more. Multiple times. The 2011 deadline was the worst. (But you already knew that.)

We end up with a hodge-podge of adequate players, only one of whom was ever really a star. That would be Arnott, who was 36 by this point but still scoring nearly 20 goals a year. We’ll use our name-value clause to nudge him ahead of Radek Dvorak. Other than that, when Dustin Penner is the big name, it should be perfectly acceptable to just cancel the deadline entirely.


16. 2017

Forwards: Jarome Iginla, Martin Hanzal, Valtteri Filppula

Defense: Kevin Shattenkirk, Johnny Oduya

Goalie: Pheonix Copley

Iginla is the big name, but he was on his very last legs. Still, his name value is more than enough to get him a spot in a weak year. How weak? Copley only has one game of NHL experience at this point, but he gets the nod because we miss the Ben Bishop/Peter Budaj trade by a day.