When it comes to estimating approximate trade value for defensemen, there is an enormous deadline kicker. An NHL team looking to go deep into the playoffs must plan to overcome significant injuries at the position. Remember the Buffalo Sabres in 2006? They were running out AHL guys in the semi’s because that is all they had left by that point in the year.
Into that scenario we add a weird year in which the sellers are few and the buyers are double. It is a perfect storm for a team with extra blue—and Edmonton has three bags full (Schultz, Gryba, Fayne) by my estimate. We are reaching a point where the reporting media is finding the range on the available pieces and the richness at defense simply does not exist:
- Mark Lazerus, Chicago Sun-Times: The smart move would be to get a winger. Seemingly half the league is in the market for a defenseman, and the price could be too high for the Hawks to compete for the likes of Vancouver’s Dan Hamhuis, Edmonton’s Justin Schultz, or Calgary’s Kris Russell. Source.
I am thinking the price is a third-round pick, and folks that is not high—many players fetch greater in a more typical year. Here are some unusual trade deadline deals that raised (my) eyebrows (it is a unibrow) from last season:
- Anaheim traded D Ben Lovejoy to Pittsburgh for D Simon Despres. Exhibit A in terms of weird return for veteran defenders. The Penguins knew and liked Lovejoy, perhaps offering insight into Mark Fayne’s possible destination. The deal was a wash financially, with Lovejoy having one year left on his deal at $1.1 million and Simon Despres with another year at $900,000.
- St. Louis trades D Ian Cole to Pittsburgh for D Robert Bortuzzo and 2016 seventh-round pick. I didn’t like this trade for Bortuzzo and his numbers this year (27, 1-0-1 12:43 TOI) reflect his status as an end-of-the-roster type. Cole (45, 0-4-4 17:54) has played a greater role and I like his future far more.
- Edmonton trades D Jeff Petry to the Montreal Canadiens for a second-round pick (Jonas Siegenthaler) and a fourth-round pick (Caleb Jones). When you are trading a bona fide top 4D this isn’t enough, but it happened and I am listing it to show the wide range of values at the deadline. No disrespect to the picks, but Simon Despres would have been a far more useful return.
In each case, I was flummoxed. Despres, Cole and (especially) Petry should have fetched more (well, Petry should have been signed) for the teams dealing them. The deadline does some crazy things, and with three defenders in play (I believe that to be the case) we will see how this shakes down.
TRADE DEADLINE BLUE
This is sorted by CorsiRel (I am old fashioned, this is the best metric for me) and shows all three man as having some value to an NHL team. Gryba is a depth guy, but if Matt Greene can play in the postseason then the big man can, too. Fayne is a guy who doesn’t deliver a lot with the puck on his stick, but for me he is an extremely useful defenseman. I hope Edmonton keeps him, but cannot imagine an NHL scout failing to write something home about No. 5 and his effectiveness. The contract (two years remaining) is a hurdle, but the Oilers waived him early in the season and maybe they are willing to retain cap for those two years.
And that brings us to Justin Schultz. His 5×5/60 number this season is poor, would have been better to deal him last year (0.77) or in 2013-14 (0.89). No NHL team can compress trade value like the Oilers, and Schultz is the latest and a spectacular example.
One major item we cannot factor into this deadline: The impact of lack of supply. For Lazerus to be mentioning Schultz this late in the process may be a tell. Two weeks to go, pray the pack stays close to the playoffs and the Oilers head into February 29 with three trade chips from the blue.
- Note: I would not trade Fayne. He is one of the four best defensemen on the team, and I suspect the same will be true in October 2016.