PHILADELPHIA -- The trade bonanza that was supposed to happen at the 2014 NHL Draft never came to pass, and a few of the League's general managers believe it might have been because they were being pulled in too many directions.
After all, this was the first time the interview period prior to the opening of free agency coincided with the draft.
As part of the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, NHL teams were given the ability to speak with impending unrestricted free agents five days before the market opens. However, last year that interview window opened on July 1 because free agency began July 5 due to the NHL lockout, pushing back the hockey calendar.
This year, the opening of free agency was moved up to July 1, meaning the interview period opened June 25 and kept general managers busy heading into the draft.
As a result, Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said, some of his colleagues were a bit too distracted to focus on trade talks.
"The timing of it was not great for trades to be made because you didn't have any time to get to the meat of the matter other than focusing on the draft and talking about free agency," Tallon said. "It made it a little difficult to get any talk about deals."
There were a couple of big trades consummated on draft weekend, with Ryan Kesler moving from the Vancouver Canucks to the Anaheim Ducks and James Neal being traded to the Nashville Predators by the Pittsburgh Penguins, and a few smaller trades. But for the most part, the action-packed weekend predicted by several GMs based on trade talks didn't happen.
Rangers GM Glen Sather referred to the free-agency interview window as "weird," and some of his colleagues seemed to agree.
"You were divided in so many different directions," New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said. "I think everybody said, 'Let's focus on the draft.' "
Tallon said he would prefer the interview window open after the draft, but even if he didn't like the timing of it, the idea of having a chance to speak with impending free agents before the market opens is something he's enjoyed.
"They get to know you a little bit. It's easier to at least sell your product and what you're all about," said Tallon, who said he has spoken to about 10 players since the window opened last Wednesday. "They know you from afar and you know them from afar, but to be able to have a conversation with them and explain what your plan is, that gives you a legitimate chance of furthering the discussion and maybe getting a deal done."
One GM who was perhaps the most desperate to get a trade completed this weekend didn't necessarily agree. Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray wanted to accommodate captain Jason Spezza's request to be traded this weekend and was unable to do so.
Murray wasn't buying the idea that his colleagues were too distracted to make a deal that worked.
"I don't know that," he said. "If you want to make a trade, you go about making a trade. But he's right in a way; everything's kind of compacted this year. Two days from now is July 1 and we need to get ready, if we want to get ready to spend more money. So it may well be.
"But it just seemed to me there were a lot of phone calls, a lot of talking, people interested but nothing really happened. I had to make one trade at the end, a seventh-round pick for the sixth next year just to say I did something. So that was my accomplishment."