When Can NHL Teams Make Trades? (Moves Like Jágr)

Posted on January 3, 2023 by Dan Kent
NHL League Minimum Salary

One of the most exciting aspects of following the NHL is keeping track of trades. But with so many rules surrounding these transactions, it can be tough to track when a team can make a deal. It’s not clear to the casual observer when NHL teams can make trades – so let’s dig in and find out everything you need to know. 

When Can NHL Teams Make Trades?

NHL teams can make trades during the regular season, with a deadline on March 3. There are rules to follow, such as the salary cap and a trade deadline for playoff eligibility in early April. Players traded after this deadline are not eligible to play in the playoffs for their new team.

What is an NHL Trade?

An NHL trade is an agreement between two teams to exchange players, draft picks, or other assets. Trades are a standard part of the league and can be used to acquire talent, create salary cap space, or shake up a team’s roster.

Definition of A Trade

A trade in the NHL involves one team sending players, prospects, draft picks, or other assets to another team in exchange for similar items from that team. Both teams must agree upon the terms of each trade before it can become official.

Types of Trades

There are several different types of trades that occur in the NHL. These include player-for-player trades (where one player is exchanged for another), prospect-for-prospect trades (where young players who have yet to make their debut with an NHL club are exchanged), and draft pick swaps (where teams agree to swap future selections). Teams may also choose to add cash considerations into any deal as well.

Making a trade can provide numerous benefits for both sides involved in the transaction. For example, if one team needs more scoring depth, they may look to acquire an experienced forward via trade rather than waiting until free agency opens up at the season’s end; this allows them to address their need immediately instead of waiting months for help.

Additionally, trading away unwanted contracts can help clear up valuable salary cap space, which could be used on new acquisitions. Finally, making moves before the start of free agency gives clubs more time and flexibility when negotiating deals with potential targets during that period. It allows them more control over who they bring onto their roster in the future.

How Do NHL Teams Make Trades?

NHL Player
Photo by Amanda licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Process Of Making A Trade

NHL teams typically make trades through the league’s trade deadline, usually at the end of February or early March. Teams can also make trades throughout the season, but they must be approved by the league.

The process begins when two teams agree to a deal and submit it to the NHL for approval. Once approved, both teams must confirm their acceptance of the trade in writing before it becomes official.

Factors To Consider When Making A Trade

Several factors go into making an effective trade in hockey. Teams should consider how much salary cap space they have available and whether or not they need to move players with higher salaries out to acquire new talent.

They should also look at potential chemistry issues between players and assess risks associated with trading away critical pieces from their roster. Finally, teams should evaluate each player’s current performance and prospects for success on their team before deciding if a trade makes sense for them.

Another pitfall to avoid when making a trade is overvaluing certain players due to past performances or reputation rather than looking at current production levels and future potential impact on your team’s success rate.

Additionally, undervaluing draft picks can be detrimental; At the same time, these may seem like small pieces compared to established stars, but they can still provide valuable assets down the line if used correctly within your team’s overall strategy.

Lastly, it is essential to properly assess risk versus reward before making any decisions; At the same time, taking chances can pay off big time sometimes; other times; it could leave you regretting decisions that seemed promising at first glance but ended up being detrimental in hindsight.

Who Can Be Traded in the NHL?

nhl draft

When it comes to trading in the NHL, certain players, draft picks, and prospects can be traded. Players eligible for trades include any player on a team’s active roster or injured reserve list. This includes players under contract as well as those who have been placed on waivers.

Draft picks and prospects eligible for trades include any future draft pick owned by a team and any junior or college hockey prospect who still needs to sign an NHL contract.

Other assets that can be included in trades include salary cap space, which allows teams to take on more salary than they otherwise would be able to; cash considerations; and conditional picks, which are contingent upon certain conditions being met, such as a player reaching a certain statistical milestone.

Trades involving players must also adhere to the league’s salary cap rules. Teams cannot exceed the salary cap’s upper limit when making trades involving players with existing contracts. Additionally, teams may only acquire up to 50% of another team’s remaining payroll obligations when making such trades.

Finally, all NHL trade transactions must be approved by both teams before becoming official and recorded in the league’s transaction logbook. Any trade that does not meet these criteria will not be accepted by the league office and will remain unofficial until all requirements are met.

The Salary Cap 

For the 2022-2023 season, each team can spend a maximum of $83.5 million on player salaries. This amount is referred to as the salary cap. If a team tries to add a player to their roster through a trade or other transaction that would put them over the salary cap, the NHL will not allow the move to be completed.

There used to be many more trades in the NHL before the salary cap was introduced in the 2005/06 season (then just $39 million). 

What Are Some Recent NHL Trades?

Bruins Warm Up
Photo by Amanda at licensed under CC BY 2.0

Notable Recent Trades Involving Players

The NHL is an ever-changing landscape, with teams constantly looking to improve their rosters. In the past few years, some of the biggest trades have involved players moving from one team to another.

One of the most notable recent trades was Toronto Maple Leafs acquiring defenseman Conor Timmins from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Curtis Douglas

Another notable player trade happened earlier this year when Blake Coleman was sent from Tampa Bay Lightning to the New York Islanders for two draft picks and a prospect. The Islanders were looking for depth on their forward lines, and Coleman has been able to provide that while also adding veteran leadership.

What Are the Rules Around Trading in the NHL?

NHL Playoffs
Photo by Gary McCabe licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Trading is an integral part of the NHL, as it allows teams to acquire new players and assets that can help them win games. But teams must follow a few rules when trading in the NHL.

Salary Cap Considerations When Trading Players

The salary cap is one of the most important factors when making trades in the NHL. Teams must ensure they stay within their salary cap limits by considering any salaries being traded away or acquired through an exchange.

This means that teams may need to make additional moves to clear up space under their salary cap before making a trade, such as trading away other players or sending prospects down to their minor league affiliates.

Rules Around Trading Draft Picks and Prospects

There are rules around trading draft picks and prospects in the NHL. For example, teams can trade up to two first-round picks in any given season, and they can trade future draft picks up to three years from now without both sides’ permission.

Additionally, teams cannot receive compensation for losing an unsigned prospect who has been drafted but has yet to sign with his team. This rule was put into place to protect young players who have yet to commit themselves fully to playing professionally at an early age.

Photo by Amanda licensed under CC BY 2.0

FAQs about When Can Nhl Teams Make Trades?

Can Trades Be Made After The Deadline NHL?

No, trades cannot be made after the NHL trade deadline. The NHL trade deadline is a set date and time when all trades must be completed for them to be official. After this point, further trades can only occur once the next season begins. This ensures that teams have a fair chance to make their final roster decisions before the playoffs start.

Do NHL Teams Have To Trade?

Yes, NHL teams do have to trade. It is part of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players that all 30 teams must adhere to. Teams can make trades to acquire new talent or shed salary. Trades are also used as a way for teams to restock their farm systems with young prospects or draft picks. Additionally, trades may be made during the season if a team needs an immediate boost in performance due to injuries or other factors.

Can You Make A Trade After The Deadline?

No, you cannot make a trade after the NHL’s official trade deadline. The league sets the deadline, and all trades must be completed before that time to be valid. Any trades made after the deadline are not recognized or allowed by the league and will not count toward any team’s roster changes for that season.

What Time Does The NHL Trade Deadline Start?

The NHL trade deadline for the 2023-2023 season is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. ET on April 12th, 2023. All trades must be completed by that time for them to be eligible for the upcoming playoffs. This year’s trade deadline is earlier than usual due to the condensed schedule caused by COVID-19. Teams have until this date and time to make any moves they feel necessary to improve their rosters before postseason play begins.

Edmonton Oilers Rookies


In conclusion, NHL teams can make trades as long as they follow the rules and regulations set by the league. Trades involve players, draft picks, and other assets that can be exchanged between two or more teams.

Players of all levels are eligible to be traded in the NHL, with recent examples including star players like Taylor Hall and P.K Subban being moved from one team to another. Ultimately, it is up to each team’s front office staff to decide if a trade is beneficial for their organization and whether or not they should pull the trigger on a deal

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada, Stocktrades.ca.

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