Friedman: Teams reluctant to trade first-round picks

The NHL trade deadline will be here before we know it, and general managers will once again need to weigh the value of first-round draft picks.

Elliotte Friedman had a Friday afternoon radio hit on Edmonton’s 630 CHED.

As part of the wide-ranging discussion, the Insider was asked if the lack of perceived depth in the bottom half of the first round of the 2019 draft class might translate into some of those selections being in play.

“I don’t know. I still think guys don’t like that,” cautioned Friedman. “Even Buffalo, I heard. I’ll give you an example. Here’s the Sabres, they’ve got a great chance of making the playoffs. They’ve really improved this year. They’re going in the right direction. They have the possibility of four first-round picks in the next two years, I think it is.

“And I heard they that were thinking of moving one of those picks to give them a better shot this year. And I looked into it, and I was told it wasn’t happening. That they’re not doing it for a rental. Now, if you want to do it for a 22 or 23-year-old player that they’re going to have under control for awhile, and they would consider giving up a first-rounder for, then they would consider it. But they’re not doing it for a rental. And if a team that feels like they’re going to be in the playoffs is thinking that way, the teams that are out - you don’t want that.

“Look at how much Calgary sweated it out last year when they were waiting to see where their Hamonic pick ended up. Look how much Ottawa has had to sweat it out - first in their decision to take Tkachuk, and now where they’re going to be next  year. St. Louis is that team this year. They have a Top 10-protected pick, and if they want to keep it, they have to give it up next year.

“I just don’t think people like that hanging over them. Sometimes you’re forced into making those decisions. When Ottawa made the Duchene trade, there’s no way they thought it was going to turn out like this. When St. Louis made the O’Reilly trade, there’s no way they thought it was going to turn out like this. And you get boxed in.

“But generally, I don’t think those teams really like to do that because even if Jack Hughes is not a generational player - but your pick ends up winning the lottery - that’s just an ugly, ugly feeling.”