Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Every season around the All-Star break, things really start to heat up on the trade market. Teams are starting to decide whether or not they are truly contenders and have had enough time to discuss extensions with their pending free agents. Even those players on one-year deals who can’t sign until the New Year have now had time to discuss the future, meaning clubs can put some of their best offers on the table.

One thing to remember as we close in on this year’s February 24th trade deadline is that a team can only carry 50 NHL contracts at any one time. By now, those entry-level contracts that don’t count against it if they are set to slide are almost all dealt with, meaning the number remaining is usually an accurate representation of the room a team has left to add.

Take the San Jose Sharks, Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders for instance, who all currently have just a single contract slot open. For the Islanders especially, who sit third in the Metropolitan Division, that means adding any players through trade becomes a little more complicated. They would almost certainly have to send the same number of bodies back in any deal, if not include some extras to open a spot or two. Teams try not to spend much time right at the 50-contract threshold, especially once international and college seasons start to end.

For the Sharks it may not be as big of a hindrance given their place in the standings, but there are several other contenders sitting at 48 contracts. The Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers and Tampa Bay Lightning are all in playoff spots but have just two slots remaining, meaning they too have to be careful what they acquire.

It can certainly be used the opposite way as well however. A team like the New Jersey Devils, who sit with just 45 contracts on the books and at the bottom of the Metro, could help a team out by taking on a deal or two, as long as an asset comes with it.

This also lends even more power to a team like the Colorado Avalanche, who not only have five empty contract slots but also have plenty of cap space. They could potentially take on a bad contract alongside the player they are actually targeting, if it’s going to help them continue their run towards the top of the Central Division.

Contract totals for all teams (via CapFriendly):

Anaheim Ducks: 47/50
Arizona Coyotes: 45/50
Boston Bruins: 47/50
Buffalo Sabres: 45/50
Calgary Flames: 44/50
Carolina Hurricanes: 44/50
Chicago Blackhawks: 45/50
Colorado Avalanche: 45/50
Columbus Blue Jackets: 47/50
Dallas Stars: 48/50
Detroit Red Wings: 47/50
Edmonton Oilers: 48/50
Florida Panthers: 45/50
Los Angeles Kings: 47/50
Minnesota Wild: 47/50
Montreal Canadiens: 49/50
Nashville Predators: 45/50
New Jersey Devils: 45/50
New York Islanders: 49/50
New York Rangers: 46/50
Ottawa Senators: 48/50
Philadelphia Flyers: 48/50
Pittsburgh Penguins: 48/50
San Jose Sharks: 49/50
St. Louis Blues: 46/50
Tampa Bay Lightning: 48/50
Toronto Maple Leafs: 47/50
Vancouver Canucks: 47/50
Vegas Golden Knights: 46/50
Washington Capitals: 45/50
Winnipeg Jets: 45/50

This article first appeared on Pro Hockey Rumors and was syndicated with permission.


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Can you name every No. 1 overall draft pick in NHL history?
SCORE:
0/57
TIME:
10:00
1963-MTL
Garry Monahan
1964-DET
Claude Gauthier
1965-NYR
Andre Veilleux
1966-BOS
Barry Gibbs
1967-LAK
Rick Pagnutti
1968-MTL
Michel Plasse
1969-MTL
Rejean Houle
1970-BUF
Gilbert Perreault
1971-MTL
Guy Lafleur
1972-NYI
Billy Harris
1973-NYI
Denis Potvin
1974-WSH
Greg Joly
1975-PHI
Mel Bridgman
1976-WSH
Rick Green
1977-DET
Dale McCourt
1978-MNS
Bobby Smith
1979-COR
Rob Ramage
1980-MTL
Doug Wickenheiser
1981-WIN
Dale Hawerchuk
1982-BOS
Gord Kluzak
1983-MNS
Brian Lawton
1984-PIT
Mario Lemieux
1985-TOR
Wendel Clark
1986-DET
Joe Murphy
1987-BUF
Pierre Turgeon
1988-MNS
Mike Modano
1989-QUE
Mats Sundin
1990-QUE
Owen Nolan
1991-QUE
Eric Lindros
1992-TBL
Roman Hamrlik
1993-OTT
Alexandre Daigle
1994-FLA
Ed Jovanovski
1995-OTT
Bryan Berard
1996-OTT
Chris Phillips
1997-BOS
Joe Thornton
1998-TBL
Vincent Lecavalier
1999-ATL
Patrik Stefan
2000-NYI
Rick DiPietro
2001-ATL
Ilya Kovalchuk
2002-CBJ
Rick Nash
2003-PIT
Marc-Andre Fleury
2004-WSH
Alexander Ovechkin
2005-PIT
Sidney Crosby
2006-STL
Erik Johnson
2007-CHI
Patrick Kane
2008-TBL
Steven Stamkos
2009-NYI
John Tavares
2010-EDM
Taylor Hall
2011-EDM
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
2012-EDM
Nail Yakupov
2013-COL
Nathan McKinnon
2014-FLA
Aaron Ekblad
2015-EDM
Connor McDavid
2016-TOR
Auston Matthews
2017-NJD
Nico Hischier
2018-BUF
Rasmus Dahlin
2019-NJD
Jack Hughes

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