Trade-Related Scratches Gain More Traction

As previously discussed in “Scratching a Player for Trade-Related Reasons?”, teams have begun to scratch potential trade targets in order to prevent injuries that may torpedo a deal. The trend of scratching a player for trade-related reasons, as discussed in the mentioned article, began with the Coyotes and the Blue Jackets, who scratched Jakob Chychrun and Vladislav Gavrikov, respectively. 

Since then, several other players have joined the list of scratches for trade-related reasons. As of February 26, 2023, 6 players have been scratched for trade related reasons including: Chychrun, Gavrikov, Luke Schenn, Patrick Kane, Sam Lafferty, and Tanner Jeannot.[1] In addition, the New York Rangers, prior to completing a trade for Vitali Kravtsov, announced that he would be scratched for “roster management reasons.”[2] Just two days later, Kravtsov was traded to the Vancouver Canucks.[3] The Rangers’ decision to scratch Kravtsov for “roster management reasons,” was precautionary in order to prevent injury prior to the completion of this trade. It seems to be a salary cap dump by the Rangers in order to free up cap space for the purposes of adding Patrick Kane. 

After the completion of the Timo Meier trade to the New Jersey Devils, the Nashville Predators, who were currently scratching Jeannot for trade-related reasons, shocked the NHL by trading him to the Tampa Bay Lightning.[4] With regards to Jeannot, the Predators’ caution in holding him out of the lineup paid dividends as they received Cal Foote (former first round pick), a 2025 1st, a 2024 2nd, a 2023 3rd, a 2023 4th, and a 2023 5th.[5] Many viewed this return as significantly high for a player who has only scored 5 goals this season, however, the Lightning viewed it as a necessary move, while the Predators were able to gain significant capital as they appear to have begun selling assets. Had Jeannot played and gotten injured, the return could have been significantly less if the trade were to be completed at all. 

Teams have been much more willing to scratch a player for trade-related reasons this year compared to past years, and players have been scratched for more games (Chychrun/Gavrikov). Specifically, teams that are in the bottom third of the NHL in terms of total points appear to be more likely to hold a player out for trade-related reasons for an extended period of time. As of this article, Gavrikov was just traded to the Los Angeles Kings, while Chychrun was recently moved to the Ottawa Senators.[6] When Gavrikov and Chychrun make their debuts, they will have been healthy scratched for nearly 10 games. Will this extended sit down have negative impacts on their on ice performance?

As the deadline approaches in just a couple of days, it will be interesting to see what trades are completed, specifically those involving players that have been recent scratches for trade-related reasons. This type of move has gained traction primarily by teams who are looking to sell assets while also losing games in the process. The NHL has recently made trades for the purposes of circumventing the salary cap (LTIR moves) more difficult, and it will be interesting to see if there is any action by the NHL to combat teams using trade-related scratches as a means of losing games while awaiting the completion of a trade. 







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