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The Journeyman: Deadline from player's viewpoint

Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 3:15 PM / The Journeyman

By Sean Pronger - Special to

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The Journeyman: Deadline from player's viewpoint
The Journeyman, Sean Pronger, goes inside the Trade Deadline from a player's perspective.
Sean Pronger played professional hockey for 11 seasons, from 1994 to 2005, after being selected in the third round of the 1991 NHL Draft. During his 11-year career, he played for 16 different teams in five different leagues. To say he saw most everything hockey has to offer -- both the good and bad -- would be an understatement.

In his "The Journeyman" column, Sean Pronger will share his insights about the sport's major storylines and how they affect those that play the game.

In his first installment, Pronger considers the Trade Deadline and the psychological impact it has on the players, particularly those on the periphery of the moves that will be made between now and Monday's 3 p.m. ET NHL Trade Deadline.

"Sean, what are you doing? Are you alright?"


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It seems like every year around this time my wife opens up the closet to find me on the floor in the fetal position, clutching my suitcase, sucking my thumb, mumbling, "I don't want to go, I don't want to go." Or something like that.

That's right folks; it's getting close to the NHL Trade Deadline.

If you've never been traded, the deadline day on the calendar doesn't have much of a psychological impact. You're trained to sit back and enjoy the transactions on deadline day. Before I got traded, I loved deadline day. It was always fun to watch the fireworks.

After you're in the transaction section a few times, you learn getting traded can be a stressful time for some -- and exciting for others.

My view is slightly skewed since my experiences were more of teams trying to get rid of me than teams trying to obtain a usable asset.

I'm going to attempt to give you a little perspective on the effects of trades on those involved, particularly the journeymen as they deal with the process and aftermath.

If you're a journeyman -- probably the extra forward or extra defenseman on the 23-man roster -- and are lucky to be in the NHL around deadline time, there are a few situations that you never want to see:

If you're a forward, you never want to see a defenseman from your team get traded for a forward from another team. Immediately, the new forward is going to be ahead of you on the depth chart. And if you're the 13th forward, don't forget to pack your track suit because you're heading back to the minors.

If you're a forward, you never want to see draft picks or minor-league players from your team get traded for an NHL forward. Again, that player is now playing ahead of you. Just hope it's a direct flight to Binghamton.

Here's a situation that we may end up seeing.

Let's say your star player, hypothetically we'll call him Rick Nash, gets traded. This will be a tidal wave of bad news for some players.

Nash's team probably gets back at least one NHL forward (possibly two), plus at least one prospect that they'll want to get a look at immediately and show off to the fans. And, to top it off, they'll get a high draft pick. So, not only are your short-term plans shot, but so are your long-term prospects. If you happen to be lucky enough to stick with the organization until the following training camp, guess who's going to get a long look from management and every opportunity to make the team. They're going to need to show how much they got in return for Mr. Nash.

Here's another situation: Your team is so far out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs it was mathematically eliminated when your Christmas lights were still up. You are what some call a "depth player" on said team. You can be counted upon when the big club needs a player. You're a known commodity. There aren't any surprises when they throw you on the ice.

Management, though, knows there's very little upside. They know you're not going to shock someone one year, scoring 30 goals. It's been a tough year but, with that, you've had the opportunity to get some games. You're thinking that you'll finish out the season in the NHL and have to go through the usual training-camp battle for the last spot next year. No problem. You're used to it. However, it's getting close to the trade deadline and you've got some veteran players that could be a fit on a playoff-bound team if some sort of deal is made. You think to yourself; "another spot open" Maybe. You've got one or two upcoming unrestricted free agents. OK; maybe there'll be a few more spots opening up. You're thinking to yourself; "I might be able to afford that 24-foot, 225-horsepower fishing boat after all."

Right about the time you're dreaming about your new boat ... BAM! Your team ends up only trading one forward but getting back two minor-league prospects as well as calling up two players from your farm team who were having decent seasons and are now about to get "a look." Before you can figure out the math in your head, your phone rings and you're too stunned to remember the time of your flight to Rochester.

I could go on but I think you get the point. I'm jaded, even seven years removed from my last NHL stop.

I'll save the feel-good stories for next time.

Until then ...


Quote of the Day

Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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