BLOG POST

Just Lou It. Now.

By Danny Radical

Anyone that follows hockey even remotely had likely heard that the Islanders lost their captain and marquee player, John Tavares. The key word there is lost.

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Probably found him here

Now, how could the Islanders have lost Tavares? I have a very detailed blog here that explains the events leading up to the exodus, but the most obvious answer was that Garth Snow was so confident that Tavares would return that he never worked to entertain what kind of help the Islanders would receive in trading Tavares. And also, he never made a contract offer, which is the stupidest shit a general manager could ever do.

Why bring this up now? Because the Islanders have an opportunity to replace Tavares. This is a rare time in a sport that happens every now and then, when an elite player becomes available. Except, there is more than one elite player available.

To be fair to the present, there are at LEAST half a dozen players that are game changers that could be acquired. I’m sure you’re thinking of some of them now. My list?

Erik Karlsson, Artemi Panarin, Tyler Seguin, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Max Pacioretty.

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Personally I see Tyler Seguin as a quicker version of John Tavares, and Atremi Panarin as one of the best wings in the NHL. Oh, and Erik Karlsson is a perennial Norris candidate. Lee? One dimensional, yes, but the best dimension to have. The other guys all are valuable in their own ways, like how Eberle took some of the heat off of Barzal, how Pacioretty is a constant scorer.

And yes I realize that both Lee and Ebele are already on the Islanders. That does not mean someone else can’t acquire them. OOOHHHHH is that some foreshadowing? Better keep reading.

Since there are so many players available, one has to think what would it take to land such a player? Isles kool aid will say “way too much” because they’re conditioned by Garth Snow to expect nothing and make excuses as to why nothing has to happen. Remember, from 2008 to 2018 Garth Snow’s biggest trade deadline acquisition was Tyler Kennedy. Or maybe Tim Thomas. Christ.

But we do have a blueprint as to what it takes to acquire elite players in the primes of their careers that are seeking the big payday. And thankfully with a supply like this, it drives down the prices of each player. But I’m sure that you want to know what that price could be. This is easy to figure out- look at history. Want to know what I’m talking about? Here’s an example:

Player: Rick Nash

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Trade: 2012-Jul-20 Traded from Columbus Blue Jackets with Steven Delisle and round 3 pick in the 2013 draft (Pavel Buchnevich) to New York Rangers for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, future considerations and round 1 pick in the 2013 draft (Kerby Rychel)

2018-Feb-25 Traded from New York Rangers to Boston Bruins for Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, Ryan Lindgren and round 1 pick in the 2018 draft

Analysis: That’s not a whole lot to acquire a first line offensive talent for a team in 2012 in dire need of offensive talent. While Dubinsky is a solid NHL wing, he’s never scored 20 goals in a season, just like Josh Bailey. And Anisimov had his best seasons after leaving the Rangers, so when he was traded he also was a 15 goal guy.

Nash was a guy that scored 30 goals in 7 of the 8 seasons prior to moving to the Rangers, including two 40 goal seasons and a season where he put up 31 goals in 54 games.

And the Rangers return for sending Nash to a playoff team? Junk. The best part was the draft pick, and then Spooner who has been a 13 goal guy (think Claude Lapointe) with the potential to be a 3rd line player. In short, the Rangers “won” the initial trade. The second one is too new to make a final determination.

But Nash isn’t the only elite player traded in the past few years. Let us take a look at other “recent” acquisitions of elite players and see what the haul entailed.

Player: Phil Kessel

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Trade: 2009-Sep-18 Traded from Boston Bruins to Toronto Maple Leafs for round 1 pick in the 2010 draft (Tyler Seguin), round 2 pick in the 2010 draft (Jared Knight) and round 1 pick in the 2011 draft (Dougie Hamilton)

Trade: 2015-Jul-01 Traded from Toronto Maple Leafs with Tyler Biggs, Tim Erixon and round 2 pick in the 2016 draft (Kasper Bjorkqvist) to Pittsburgh Penguins for Scott Harrington, Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Spaling, round 1 pick in the 2016 draft (Sam Steel) and round 3 pick in the 2016 draft (J.D. Greenway)

Analysis: The first trade looks like Boston dumping potential salary nightmares for multiple future picks of which 67% were excellent calls, which they dumped as well. The second trade is an absolute steal for the Penguins. In 3 seasons with the Penguins Kessel hasn’t missed a game and has put up 221 points. Every player Pittsburgh sent for Kessel combined have done NOTHING. And Kessel is at least as good as Panarin if not better.

Player: Taylor Hall

Trade: 2016-Jun-29 Traded from Edmonton Oilers to New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson

Analysis: Adam Larsson was a top 4 draft pick and a defensive defenseman. In Edmonton he’s a top 2 defenseman- something teams do not trade, amirite? And Larsson immediately helped lead the Oilers back to the playoffs.
What about Hall? The 20 goal scorer from Edmonton? Oh, no biggie. He just won the MVP award for the entire fucking league. And protected the 1st overall pick Nico Hischier from the top defenses of the NHL. And brought the Devils back to the playoffs. And had a 90 plus point season for the first time ever. Did John Tavares ever have a 93 point season? Nah. But hey, sending Travis Hamonic to Edmonton for Hall was not an option. Ideally Oliver Whalstrom is also going to be a 90 point guy to make that Hamonic deal work out. Guess we’ll know in 6 years, you know, after losing Tavares and all.

In short, this is a trade that worked out for both teams. Also, this is a one NHL player for one NHL player trade, similar to Ryan Strome for Jordan Eberle - a trade where #IslesKoolAid would say was impossible because it didn't include 29 prospects and picks, then were shocked when the trade did in fact happen. But I think its fair to say that New Jersey got the better player in this deal.

Player: Matt Duchene

Trade: 2017-Nov-05 Traded from Colorado Avalanche to Ottawa Senators for Shane Bowers, Andrew Hammond, Kyle Turris, conditional round 1 pick in the 2018 draft and round 3 pick in the 2018 draft.

Analysis: Bowers is a college kid, so who knows what’s going on there. Hammond is an inconsistent goalie. He had a hot streak like four years ago but hasn’t shown the ability to be consistent in the NHL. Turris is a 20 goal guy, and is interesting in what happened when he arrived in Colorado. He was traded immediately for a defensive prospect, a bottom 6 prospect, and a 2nd round pick. So if you’re keeping score, a former 30 goal scorer got a return of a college kid, an inconsistent goalie, a defense prospect, a bottom 6 forward prospect, and a 2nd round pick. That’s the present market, folks. Oh, and the Avs did better without Duchene and his eventual awful contract demands.

Player: John Tavares

The last GM of the Islanders let Tavares call his own shots, so he left the team for absolutely nothing while preserving Toronto’s prospect pool and draft picks. The lesson I learned from this- a snake will always outslither a sloth.

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In looking at all of these trades regarding elite forwards, you may say the same thing I did- the team receiving the player gave up less value than the player himself. In getting a 40 goal scorer the Rangers gave away three guys who didn’t COMBINE for 40 goals with the Rangers.

The first Kessel deal seems like it was a rich haul for Boston, but only because Boston made excellent selections with those picks. And then traded them away. But that second deal was a steal for Pittsburgh, and a key part of the recent Pens championship runs. Barf.

The Hall trade was a one for one trade. I’m sure if you asked Devils fans if Larsson himself would have acquired Hall, they would have said no, that more parts were needed, like picks or prospects. They would be wrong.

The jury is still out in my opinion on the Duchene trade largely because of the amount of picks and prospects involved for Colorado, and if Duchene will resign with Ottawa. If Duchene pulls a Tavares, that deal is a very bad one for the Sens, which will make me happy.

And as a side note, consistently injured 20 goal scorer and figure skater Jeff Skinner went for a middling prospect and 3 not so great draft picks.

Now you may say that forwards have a decreased value because there is such a large supply of them. But no one would trade a defenseman, especially not a top pairing guy. Defensemen are more valuable than forwards, right? But are there comparables when it comes to acquiring a defenseman? Besides New Jersey from the Hall deal?

This statement is another example of the lowered expectations for the Islnders created by Garth Snow and ultimately has become adopted by #IslesKoolAid, but it’s really mythology, just like the myth that you have to be 24 before you can make an NHL debut at defense like season saving Devon Toews. And wait for Noah Dobson to make his debut this year, folks.

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First off, the best defenseman on the Islanders was acquired via trade. Yes, he was a 6th defenseman on a Stanley Cup Champion, but he’s still the best we have. We also have another champion defenseman who is arguably the second best defenseman on the team. And this past winter they resigned a guy that was a black ace for a championship team. None of these deals cost the Islannders any asset more significant that a 2nd round pick.

But what if you aren’t bargain shopping? What does it take to acquire a top pairing defenseman? Well we have examples of that as well. Shall we begin?

Player: PK Subban

Trade: 2016-Jun-29 Traded from Montreal Canadiens to Nashville Predators for Shea Weber

Analysis: Subban is a Norris candidate every time he steps on the ice. Shea Weber is about halfway through a $110 million contract. A $110 million that takes him into his 40’s. Also, he’s got a lot of mileage- meaning he’s old. And this past season, he broke. This will not be the last time this happens. But Subban? He led Nashville to a Stanley Cup appearance, which Weber never did.

Not to knock Weber- he spent a decade being elite, and Montreal may have wanted some more mature leadership. Weber is only 33 years old, so for defensemen he’s still valuable, but as the game gets faster, will he be able to keep his busted ass up? Time will tell. And his $8m per year for the next almost decade may become the price tag for a second pairing defenseman if the cap keep increasing the way it has. If. But if you ask any GM which guy you want right now, 100% say Subban or face unemployment. For the record, Garth Snow would have said Brandon Davidson.

This is another of those one for one player trades, and specifically one where you swap positional players which is uncommon. If you had to choose a winner here however, it’s Nashville.

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Player: Doug Hamilton

Trade: 2009-Sep-18 Draft pick rights traded from Toronto Maple Leafs with round 1 pick in the 2010 draft (Tyler Seguin) and round 2 pick in the 2010 draft (Jared Knight) to Boston Bruins for Phil Kessel

Trade: 2015-Jun-26 Traded from Boston Bruins to Calgary Flames for round 1 pick in the 2015 draft (Zachary Senyshyn), round 2 pick in the 2015 draft (Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson) and round 2 pick in the 2015 draft (Jeremy Lauzon)

Trade: 2018-Jun-23 Traded from Calgary Flames with Adam Fox and Micheal Ferland to Carolina Hurricanes for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm

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Analysis: Well there goes the theory that you don’t trade a top 2 defenseman. This guy has been traded three times by two teams in under a decade which makes me wonder about his skill set and locker room presence. Or maybe he’s just valuable!

The first trade really wasn’t a trade, as he was a pick moved in a deal. The second trade is what we should start our focus with. A first from a playoff team (read as late pick) and two second round picks. So a top pair defenseman was traded for three picks from 20-50.

The most recent trade? A 10 goal scoring forward and a second pair defenseman due for a raise. Oh, and Calgary had to throw in a promising Ivy league defensive prospect to consummate the deal. And give Hanifin $5 million per for six years. This is not a steep price.

Player: Seth Jones

Trade: 2016-Jan-06 Traded from Nashville Predators to Columbus Blue Jackets for Ryan Johansen

Analysis: Ryan Johansen was looking for his payday contract from Columbus. Instead he was sent packing for a young defenseman with a lot of promise. While Johansen never achieved the stats for Nashville that he did in Columbus, Jones has become a better player every year. Jones even had more goals in the 2017-18 campaign than Johansen. Columbus relieved itself of a 20 goal scoring headache and acquired a top defenseman, so they clearly won this trade.

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Player: Colin Miller

Trade: 2015-Jun-26 Traded from Los Angeles Kings with Martin Jones and round 1 pick in the 2015 draft (Jakub Zboril) to Boston Bruins for Milan Lucic

2017-Jun-21 Claimed in expansion draft by Vegas Golden Knights from Boston Bruins

Analysis: Miller was a throw in as part of the Jones for Lucic trade. Jones was traded again for a lot of nothing but has shown that he is a legit NHL goalie. To replace him the Bruins signed Jaroslav Halak, so we all know what to expect there. But Miller? He became a 40 point defenseman. The return? NOTHING. Vegas clearly wins this deal, even if it wasn’t exactly a trade. It also shows that two teams had no idea what kind of player they were holding back in their "development."

So regarding elite defensemen? They get traded. And sometimes, for not so much. Look at the last two times Hamilton was traded. Three draft picks. Then for a ¾ defenseman and a prospect. Would you have sent DeHaan if he wasn’t always fucking inured and Scott Eansor for Hamilton last October? You’d be crazy to say no.

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The 2009 Draft. Where are they now?

Look at the Subban deal. Talent for older talent with a bad contract. The Jones deal also intrigues me and I’ll tell you why in a few paragraphs. And Miller? He was gotten for nothing, and Boston didn’t have to trade 15 draft picks and prospects to protect players they were going to trade or not resign anyway.

So lets look at what we learned. First off, after seeing all of this evidence why would #IslesKoolAid think that acquiring Panarin or Karlsson would take 17 prospects, 9 first round picks, Anders Lee, Matthew Barzal, and the Barclays Center?

Here’s the answer- they are so used to the excuses Snow made to do a whole lot of nothing that they overlook the very few good moves Snow made, which did not come at the mortgaging of anything.

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Then we can look at the most important question like, what would it logically cost to acquire either player? That depends on Ottawa and Columbus.

Teams trade talent away based on filling present needs and with an eye on the future as well. So what do these two teams need?

Columbus always needs offense, as it was ranked 9th in the Eastern Conference last season. Ottawa needs help on defense and in goal. Both teams need immediate help. Both teams need hope for the future. This is where the Islanders come in. But how?

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HINT

To start with, a prospect goes to each team. So does a draft pick. But what kind of pick and prospect? Well, not a high one, as both players can walk away after one season. So picks need to be conditional. A 3rd round pick if they don’t resign, a 2nd and 3rd if they do. Maybe even a 1st.

And prospects? Nothing Lou drafted. I see David Quenneville as going to Ottawa, and Otto Koivula to Columbus. I think that most can live with that

Both Ottawa and Columbus need roster help today as well, especially as they’re going to need to fill in some holes by losing productive players. So to Columbus? Send Josh Bailey and Casey Cizikas. The logic?

Bailey is a 70 point player, both statistically and allegedly. This will be the highest his trade value will ever be. And as #IslesKoolAid likes to point out, his contract is a steal for his talent. So let someone steal him. And Cizkias? He fits a Tortorella mold of toughness and grit, and can step into a lineup and immediately make it seem like it’s defensively responsible without actually being such as well as anyone in the NHL. Hell, he may even improve with coaching into a 10 goal scorer, something he’s never done.

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But what to Ottawa? You’re taking their top defenseman, so you send them…not your top defenseman. Johnny Boychuk, welcome to Ottawa! We’ve already seen that you don’t send your best for their best. If presented as "Waive your no trade clause and be the guy in Ottawa, or enjoy the sights and sounds of Bridgeport," I bet he would prefer the NHL despite the paydays. Also, Boychuk would be a good fit in Ottawa, as he has championship experience and a salary that’s Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk friendly.

You also can send a bottom 6 forward- maybe Cal Clutterbuck?- to add some toughness and grit to an Ottawa team that is going to need bodies to field a team. Want to make this a guaranteed trade? Offer to take Bobby Ryan and his terrible contract on in order to buy him out upon arrival, but Ottawa would need to add a sweetener to this, like a 3rd round pick coming back.


In short:

Trade: Panarin for Bailey, Cizikas, Koivula, and a conditional draft pick.

Trade: Karlsson, Ryan and a 3rd for Boychuk, Clutterbuck, Quenneville and a conditional pick.

Now, look at the trades from the past few years listed above. Does this look all that different? And it might not even take this much.

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The next issue is resigning these guys. What would they ask for in a contract?

The Blake Wheeler deal- 5 years at $8.125 million per is going to be your starting point for Panarin. The $11 million per contract for Drew Doughty is going to be your Karlsson standard. $20 million for to players. How can you afford this? By looking at what you just lost!

$6m for Boychuk, $5m for Bailey, $3.5m for Clutterbuck, and $3.35m for Cizikas. Just under $18 million coming off the books. You’re paying each guy $1m more than the current mess. And that begins AFTER this season, so you’re actually creating cap space for this year! Which leads us to the next quandary….what do we do with Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle? That answer will come in the next preseason blog.

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Hint?

We have one last issue to look at here. Say Lou is the man and can make these trades. What if these guys pull a Tavares and don’t want to resign with the Islanders? That’s a two part question. Part one is considered in the assets you surrender to get these guys. The other part is that, after acquired, what can you get at the trade deadline if one or both do not sign.

The return for a world class defenseman to a Stanley Cup competitor will be a at least 1st round pick, second round pick, and a top prospect in their system. That’s roughly 2 picks between 20 and 60, and a question mark of a player for a guy who has proven that he can carry a team in the playoffs.

Where did I get this standard? Thomas Tatar. Not an elite talent. Returned a 1st 2nd and 3rd at the trade deadline. 2 picks between 30 and 60.


And what would Panarin fetch at the deadline? A 1st and a 2nd/ top prospect.

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What did these guys return?

To conclude, what did we learn about the teams that trade away players?


The expectations on the return are way higher than the actual results. In almost every case, the elite player leaving is replaced with a bunch of parts to fill the multiple holes a team has in its’ lineup.

Analysis? In the salary cap era both of these players can be acquired for an immediate roster spot player, a draft pick, and a prospect. And specifically if a team absorbs a bad contract in return like Bobby Ryan? Both pick and prospect become third tier talent. This isn’t rocket science, and it’s certainly not something that #IslesKoolAid will be able to fathom. Pull the trigger, Lou. Just Lou it. #Loupon

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