Thursday, January 23, 2014
Thursday Morning Cupcheck - Trade Bait
It's never too early to demand that complete strangers be exiled to the distant lands of the frigid north because they didn't entertain you enough.
Good morning, hockey amigos! Last week we went WAAAY too deep into the advanced stats of the single most worthless players in hockey, resulting in the most attention Adam Hall has ever gotten in his life. This week, rather than marvel in silent awe at perhaps the most flawlessly-executed game in recent Stars memory, we're going to jump the shark and start rattling off potential trade pieces.
Now, with the Stars seven points back of the Wild with two games in hand --especially as the Stars are the 7th-best team in the NHL at possessing the puck, while the Wild are 20th-- it may seem a bit premature to start listing various players and opining on how many 6th rounders we could get for them. But in the name of Science, we did just that: and it's no use arguing with our findings, we've got beakers and big levers and reanimated corpses to back us up.
Trade Bait #1: Ray Whitney
What's He Done Lately: 6 goals and 20 points in 43 games. Just 4 primary points on the powerplay despite spending three minutes a night on the first unit.
What's Jim Nill Selling?: Potential. While Whitney has only ever eclipsed the point-per-game mark once in his entire 20 year career, he's come close plenty of other times to make a name for himself as an offensive force to be reckoned with. He's not, anymore, but Nill should hope there's plenty of GMs out there willing to 'take a chance' on the 40 year old. Whatever team he gets traded to, expect to hear a lot of 'just needs the right system' and 'just wasn't working out' thrown around like bags of black label meth at an NHL owners' annual meeting.
Pros: Was once good at hockey.
Cons: Isn't anymore.
Possibility of Being Traded: 95.2%
Trade Bait #2: Erik Cole
What's He Done Lately: 14 goals and 25 points in 50 games, including 8 goals in his last 14.
What's Jim Nill Selling?: Power. While it looks more and more like that 35-goal season two years ago was a fluke, Cole's a big boy with a scoring touch that hardly ever gets nailed for a penalty. Come playoff time, every team needs one of those guys, and realistically it's a seller's market for power forwards this year (or any year thanks to the parity provided by the loser point). As an added bonus, unlike some of the players on this list, Cole hasn't been absolutely terrible, meaning Nill can mark up the cost as much as he wants: if no one pays up, Cole remains a Star and continues to contribute on a 20-30 goal pace.
Pros: Cagey vet, scores timely goals, plays physical without playing stupid --only Benn (+9), Seguin (+8) and Nichushkin (+11) have a better penalties drawn/penalties called ratio (+6) than Cole.
Cons: Is old, and didn't react well to being traded midseason last year (just three goals and six points in 19 games).
Possibility of Being Traded: 66.7%
Trade Bait #3: Trevor Daley
What's He Done Lately: Two goals and 7 points in 36 games, -5 +/-, only 26 PIMs.
What's Jim Nill Selling?: Speed. Daley is one of the fastest pure skaters out there, which, for a lot of (coughcoughEasternConferencecough) teams would be a breath of fresh air on their blue line. He's also one of the least physical d-men in the entire Western Conference however, with just 18 hits --26 fewer than Sergei Gonchar, for chrissake-- and a tendency to skate around chasing the puck carrier in his own zone to zero result. He's also been injured this year, the first time in his career he's not been able to play nearly an entire season.
Pros: Fast, experienced blue liner that can be relied on in any situation.
Cons: Getting older (just turned 30), his jets are still there but there's not a whole lot of anything else to his game. His skating ability has never, for example, translated into a lot of points.
Possibility of Being Traded: 35.9%
Trade Bait #4: Ryan Garbutt
What's He Done Lately: 10 goals and 18 points in 43 games, despite zero powerplay time and spending the entire year on the checking lines.
What's Jim Nill Selling?: Determination. If ever there was a 'Rudy' for hockey, the undrafted, late blooming Garbutt would be it. Generously listed at 6-0, 190 (pro tip: not even close), Garbutt is a speedy winger that simply drives the net with every shift, playing every minute like it was his last. Despite not playing on the PP and being tasked with shutting down the opposition's lines, Garbutt has somehow managed to pot ten goals --fifth on the team-- on an even more surprising 101 shots, which is fourth. No other Star does so much with so little ice-time, and it's guys like that that can ignite a playoff series upset. His scoring has not been the result of 'right place, right time' either: 15 of his 18 points are primary with just three secondary assists, and he was outscoring the Stars' top line players throughout much of their recent losing streak. At his current salary of just $600,000, he would make the perfect 'final piece' for a smart contender that's already up against the cap.
Pros: Speed, north-south game that gets results, kills penalties.
Cons: Often is victimized by his own boundless energy and gets called for offensive zone penalties.
Possibility of Being Traded: 24.1%
Trade Bait #5: Sergei Gonchar
What's He Done Lately: One goal and 13 assists in 44 games, -7 +/-.
What's Jim Nill Selling?: Puck Sorcery. While his numbers are flat-out pathetic this season (just four primary assists and zero goals on the PP, despite playing three minutes a night over 44 games), GMs do love them some offensive defensemen, especially when their team's powerplay isn't clicking at the 50% rate they would prefer heading into the postseason. Gonchar's 20-year body of work fooled Nill into giving him two years at $5 million a season, surely it can fool an even stupider, more desperate GM that doesn't have the goodwill and relative job security that Nill enjoys. Plus, Gonchar used to play on the same teams as Letang and Karlsson! Obviously he's somehow responsible for their success! (or, more likely, their complete lack of defense at key moments in third periods of critical games). Still, even the worst GMs in hockey would probably take one look at Gonchar's contract, his current point totals (one powerplay assist in his last 11 games) and tell Nill to take a hike.
Pros: Right now? Nothing. Not even Team Russia would touch him.
Possibility of Being Traded: 20.8%
Trade Bait #6: Vern Fiddler
What's He Done Lately: 3 goals and 11 points in 44 games, and a 54.6% faceoff percentage, good for top-20 in the league.
What's Jim Nill Selling?: Grit. It's a long-standing tradition of teams gunning for postseason glory to shore up on 'gritty' bottom-six players at the trade deadline (regardless if it actually, you know, "works"), and while Fiddler won't fetch anything in the Bobby Holik range, he is still an attractive option for teams that a) suck at faceoffs and b) suck at killing penalties. Of course, you'll need a GM that won't notice that Fiddler is actually by far the worst penalty killer on the team, but hey, some teams could care less about those kinds of stats, eh? Nill better hope so.
Pros: Very high faceoff rate, speedy skater, fan favorite because of stuff like this. Also, at $1.8 million, is a relatively cheap postseason rental.
Cons: Like Daley, is undersized and prone to chasing around the puckcarrier like a headless chicken in his own zone. Has also never once, in five trips to the postseason, made an impact: all five times his team was easily bounced in the first round.
Possibility of Being Traded: 15.0%