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Everything You Need to Know About the NHL Trade Deadline

January marked the midpoint of the NHL season and a moment for teams to reflect on their performance. As the trade deadline approaches, teams, who have not performed as well as they’d hoped have one last chance to make changes to their lineups. A solid trade deal is the last opportunity for teams to shore up their weaknesses going into the final part of the season. After all, the right trade can make the difference between making the playoffs or starting vacation early. Since betting is a big part of NHL culture, understanding how the best teams stack up against each other is a high priority for fans. For this reason, checking the latest NHL picks and predictions to get an idea of where the best teams stand is one way to keep up with what’s happening across the league. With the halfway mark of the season behind us and the trade deadline looming, now’s a good time to look at how trading in the NHL works.

How Do Trades Happen?

Once two clubs have reached an agreement to trade players, they let the NHL’s League office know the terms of the trade. After reviewing the agreement, the League office schedules a conference call with the teams to review and approve the deal. Before the trade call, the League Office has to be sure the teams have the appropriate salary cap for the deal to go through. 


If a deal includes draft picks, the League office confirms that the team has available draft picks. They also have to ensure that the teams have space to add the player or players to their roster. The League also reviews the following points during the trade call: 


  1. Review each player’s contract terms to be sure the clubs have met their obligations to the player or players involved in the deal 
  2. Some players have a no-trade clause in their contract; the League office will confirm the player has waived this right  
  3. Ensure that all conditions have been clearly defined and agreed upon  


Once the League office has confirmed these conditions are met, the trade becomes official. It’s helpful to look at past trades to better understand how trading in the NHL works. 

Can Trades Happen After the Deadline?

If a player is traded after the deadline, they’re not eligible to play on the team’s playoff roster. A player is rarely traded after the deadline unless a team does it for expansion draft reasons. Teams eliminated late in the playoffs often don’t have much time to prepare their rosters for the draft. If they need a forward or a goalie, they may trade to ensure a particular player is chosen. 

What happens When a Player Has a no-trade Clause?

The moves teams make leading up to the NHL trade deadline are followed closely by fans and the media. When a team considers trading a player with a no-trade clause, the player’s contract must be studied closely. There’s no standard no-trade clause in the NFL; each player’s contract terms are different. One example is players who have a list of teams they’re willing to go to. 


Before trading a player with a no-trade clause, the League requires teams to submit written documentation from the player saying he’s agreed to waive the clause. Sometimes the League requires documentation stating the team a player has agreed to be traded to. This can cause a little confusion and has resulted in a few missed opportunities in the past. 

Can Trades Take Place After the 3 pm ET Deadline?

As long as the teams have notified the League office of the trade, including all details, trade calls can be held after the 3 pm deadline. Trade calls typically last between 10 and 30 minutes depending on complexity, and only a few officials are available to handle these calls. Teams often make last-minute deals leading up to the deadline, making it impossible for the League office to schedule all calls before the deadline. 

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