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DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

So is this the week the irrational exuberance kicks off?

The committee that awards the Nobel prize for economics has turned away from rewarding free market types in recent years, it's not known whether the NHL trade market has played any role in that shift.

Because let's face it, general managers do things at this time of year that would put a dent in any rational expectations model.

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That said, the various trade trackers have been mostly bereft of titillating news over the past couple of weeks, the Mike Cammalleri/Rene Bourque trade is the biggest splash of the last four or five weeks.

Past practice shows that things should heat up soon - the trade deadline cottage industry at places like TSN and Rogers Sportsnet depends on it.

This is the point in the season a year ago when a few horses broke from the pack.

As usual, Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke was at the centre of the jostling, shipping defenceman Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim for Joffrey Lupul and prospect Jake Gardiner on Feb. 9, 2011 (from a Toronto perspective, a very canny trade indeed).

A few days later, Nashville and Ottawa did a deal involving centre Mike Fisher, and then in the three-day period between Feb. 15-18, Boston got hold of two forwards (Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley) who were crucial cogs in a Stanley Cup run.

Around the same period, Burke also shipped Kris Versteeg out of town, and got prospect Joe Colbourne and a first-round pick out of Boston for Tomas Kaberle.

Other moves, like the L.A. Kings' deadline-day decision to trade a first-rounder and a prospect for Dustin Penner, were somewhat less auspicious.

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The biggest trades - including a blockbuster between Colorado and St. Louis that has helped vault the Blues into the western conference elite - all happened a week or more before the trade deadline.

So far this season? Crickets.

Part of the problem appears to be that most of the buyers don't want to give much up to get what they need - the bigger problem is that the pieces most teams require just aren't available.

The Philadelphia Flyers, for example, would love to grab hold of a stud defenceman to fill in for the crocked Chris Pronger. But the usual trade suspects, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter of Nashville, are unlikely to move given the Preds are four points out of first in their conference.

Burke pines for a top-six forward and a big, strapping centre, but the Blue Jackets' Jeff Carter comes with a neon yellow caveat emptor tag along with his 11-year contract (although as an aside, it's hard to blame a guy who signed that deal in Philadelphia to be unhappy at having to see it out in Columbus or anywhere else).

The fact that many teams are bunched closely in both NHL conferences limits the number of sellers, and by definition the number of attractive players.

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So expect people to overpay for players like Montreal's Travis Moen, a role player and former Cup winner whose contract is up this summer.

But when people are getting excited about the likes of Tuomo Ruutu and Hal Gill, it's hard to imagine at this point that anyone is going to get their difference-maker for a price they can live with.

All of that is subject to change of course, but most GMs would be well-advised to read up on the Nobel winners of the past few years.

It doesn't pay to do irrational things in what is anything but a free economy.

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