NHL: players acquired at the limit of exchanges were able to acclimatize better

Hockey: - 30-07-20

Vincent Trocheck was one of the group of NHL players who changed addresses on the February trade deadline, and he was in the starting lineup the next day with his new Carolina Hurricanes teammates.

 

Not easy to integrate so quickly.

“When you come in with a new team, there is definitely a little bit of confusion,” he admitted. The systems are different and so are the styles of play. "

ARCHIVE PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, THE PRESS

Vincent Trocheck didn't have much time to acclimatize to the methods and style of his new team in North Carolina. On February 1, Trocheck (left) was still playing for the Florida Panthers. Carey Price blocked his shot in the third period.

These acquisitions find themselves in a completely different position, as the NHL relaunches its activities despite the coronavirus pandemic. Players were given several months to analyze the video. They got over two weeks of training to build their chemistry with their teammates. And they could have an impact on the performance of their new teams, who acquired their services five months ago for the (delayed) Stanley Cup playoffs.

 

"Anyone who gets traded at the trade deadline and finds himself in this tournament will take advantage of the circumstances," said New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, whose team acquired center Jean- Gabriel Pageau of the Ottawa Senators.

PHOTO KATHY WILLENS, AP

Jean-Gabriel Pageau (center, in white) listening to coach instructions during Islanders practice on July 13, 2020.

That was not the initial plan, of course, when the teams carried out these transactions on February 24. A total of 32 transactions were recorded and 55 players changed addresses that day, tying the NHL record. Teams hoping for the playoffs hoped that the newcomers would spend the final six weeks of the regular season figuring out their inner workings, heading into the spring playoffs.

The coronavirus instead interrupted all of the league's activities in March.

The Bettman Circuit allowed teams to reopen their facilities for voluntary training in June. Then, a two-week training camp was held in July, followed by the NHL playoff tournament starting this weekend, which will feature a total of 24 teams in the bubble cities of Toronto and Edmonton.

During the interruption of activities, some players were able to heal their injuries. The coaches who replaced those fired were able to take the time to establish their game plan. And those new to the transaction deadline have been able to make up for lost time: whether it is Ilya Kovalchuk with the Washington Capitals, or even Robin Lehner with the Golden Knights in Vegas.

Unsurprisingly, it was one of those players - Conor Sheary, back with the Pittsburgh Penguins - who scored the first goal in the revival on Tuesday, in a preseason game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

“The players come in, usually towards the end of the season, and they have a little pressure to live up to expectations,” said Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. You don't know anyone. You don't know the coaches, the system, your teammates… and then all of a sudden you're on hiatus for four months.

“That doesn't mean you spent four months away from your coaches and teammates. You are part of a discussion group on social networks, you chat with everyone. You know everyone personally. Then when you come back to the game, it's like telling yourself it's your second year with the same team. "