Hockey is a business and sometimes that business involves trading players. Having a GM who is savvy on the trade market can be the difference between being a genuine Stanley Cup contender and being a bubble team at best. However, another key aspect of building a team is retaining your most valuable players and enticing attractive free agents. This brings us to the double-edged sword of the GM’s toolkit – the No Move or No Trade Clause.
To recap, a No Move Clause means that a player can’t be traded, moved to the minors, or waived without the agreement of the player, a No Trade Clause means the player can’t be traded without their agreement. In each case, the clause can be modified – where the player submits a list with a certain number of teams they either will or won’t agree to be traded to.
Agreeing to a clause can have advantages in enticing a player to sign (perhaps for a lower dollar amount than they might otherwise have asked for), gives players security, and perhaps helps to provide a settled core to a team. All that being said, too many players on NTC/NMC contracts can inhibit the freedom a GM has to make significant trades to bolster the team. A team might ultimately end up using draft capital or making only depth trades rather than being in the market for star players (sound familiar?).
One criticism that has been leveled at the Stars management in the last couple of years is that Jim Nill is a little too free with the NTC/NMC when signing players, but does this stack up?
In essence, no, per CapFriendly the Stars had 7 players with these clauses in the 2020-2021 season (Esa Lindell’s NMC kicks in next season). This is slightly more than average but significantly less than teams like the Vancouver Canucks (10 players), Tampa (9 players), and the New York Islanders (11 players). On the other hand, some teams have managed to get away with having virtually no players with NMC/NTCs. Carolina, Ottawa, Nashville, and Philidelphia each only have two players who hold these cards.
Andrew Cogliano is now an unrestricted free agent, so that will come off the Stars books assuming that they don’t re-sign him to similar terms (although it was only a 6 team no-trade). Anton Khudobin only has a 4 team no-trade list, so that probably isn’t much of an impediment if trading Dobby becomes the solution to the goalie log-jam (inquiring, or some might say nosy, minds would love to know which 4 teams). This leaves Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Joe Pavelski, and Ben Bishop with comprehensive no-move clauses. In the last couple of seasons, the lack of ability to move some of these contracts has seemed like it might become an increasingly bad deal for the Stars. However, few teams get away without giving, at a minimum, modified NMC/NTC contracts to their core players, and some teams apparently give them out to half the team. So while Stars fans might sometimes regret the lack of flexibility when it comes to the aging core of the team it’s at least a problem pretty much every team in the league deals with.
Photo:Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images