Two ways to help improve the CFL trade deadline

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

While the CFL is going through the depths of winter right now, it’s one of the busiest times of the year for hockey fans.

Monday is the NHL’s trade deadline, a day where a bunch of third liners and depth defencemen get dealt to contending teams. It’s day that’s about quantity over quality as the bigger trades now tend to come around the NHL draft, but that hasn’t stopped both of Canada’s major sports networks from broadcasting for the entire day.

Either way, it’s a good day for the league to grab the headlines — not that it ever struggles to do so in this country — and have the attention to themselves.

So, could there be an opportunity here for the CFL? Is there a way to make their own trade deadline more interesting? Perhaps, but there would probably have to be some changes made first and even then it might not be enough.

Trades are fun — we all agree. There’s always the debate about who won the deal, even though it takes more than a day to figure that out.

First and foremost, the CFL trade deadline comes way too late in the season. With just a few weeks to go, contending teams are probably reluctant to bring a major piece into their system. Unlike other sports, it’s tough to join a new team in football. Yes, in hockey, basketball, and baseball there are nuances to the game, but you can generally pick those up on the fly. Giving teams more time to integrate new players may encourage some more deals in the CFL.

One thing that has helped the NHL and other leagues make trades recently is the ability for teams to eat salary. If the CFL isn’t going to move the trade deadline up, then teams having a large portion of their cap accounted for is going to make it difficult to make a trade. Winnipeg was able to make it work with Zach Collaros last year, but Matt Nichols’ salary was off the books at the time. Allowing teams to eat some salary might help a cap-strapped team make a deal. It’s also a chip non-contending teams can use to try and pry an extra asset for themselves.

At the end of the day, the CFL is a tough league to make trades in. With only eight potential trading partners for any given team, there’s only so many deals to be made. In order for a player to be dealt, that player needs to fill not only a need but also must fit what they do. That deal also needs to work with the cap. So, in all likelihood the CFL trade deadline will never be a big or even a middle of the road event but a couple of tweaks might give it a chance.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.