Friday, February 26, 2016

My Official Flyers Trade Deadline Wish List

Today is the last work day before the NHL Trade Deadline Day. There are a lot of question marks for the Flyers going into this weekend, and there are a few comparable trades we can look at to gauge the market. To recap:
Blackhawks receive: F Andrew Ladd, two warm bodies to stash in the minors
Jets receive: F Marko Dano, 2016 1st round pick, conditional 2018 3rd round pick
That was the big trade for yesterday in the forward rental market. Guys like Loui Eriksson, Radim Vrbata, and Sam Gagner will fetch less of a return. But with Ladd's trade setting the bar so high, any high-level forward rental should fetch a decent return in terms of picks and prospects.
 Canucks receive: D Philip Larsen
Oilers receive:  2017 5th round pick
 This is about as meaningless a trade as anyone can possibly make. Larsen doesn't even have a HERO chart on HockeyViz (editor's note: because he plays in the KHL), and a 5th round pick in next year's draft is about as worthless as draft picks come. To put on my analyst hat, I imagine this is just Vancouver acquiring a warm body to fill Dan Hamhuis' skates when the trade him (editor's note: nope, probably just taking a flier on a Euro prospect).

Capitals receive: D Mike Weber
 Sabres receive: 2017 3rd round pick
This is a step up from the Larsen trade, but it's definitely not a big step. A third rounder, while it may turn into Shayne Gostisbehere, will more likely turn into nothing. Mike Weber is pretty much nothing, he gets paid $2 million with a cap hit of $1.6 million, and his contract expires this summer:

And that's it for the past few days. Obviously, you would expect the activity level to skyrocket now that Ladd has found a new home. This is the time of the year where Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger earn their keep (and their Twitter followers). 

We have comparables for cheap bottom-pairing defensemen and for top-six wingers, so let's take a look at what we can expect for some names that are on the block in Philly. 

Forward Sam Gagner

Gagner is the closest the Flyers can come to Andrew Ladd in the forward rental market. He's clearly not as talented or as experienced, but - as we've seen the past week or so - he has the skill to contribute as a top-nine winger. 

It would be extremely unrealistic to expect a return like Winnipeg's. If I were a Maple Leafs fan, maybe I'd suggest we trade Gagner to the Devils for prospect Pavel Zacha and a first round pick. 

But since I'm not an idiot, I'd expect less than half of Ladd's return if Hextall shipped Gagner out. He's not proven in the playoffs, he's a significantly smaller player, and the playoffs tend to value size over hands. 

That potential return, coupled with the recent emergence of the Schenn-Gagner duo, makes me question if we should trade Gagner at all. Yes, it'd be nice to net another second- or third-round pick. But he's contributing as a top six forward now, and he's going to provide a lot of lineup flexibility when Claude Giroux returns from his concussion. 

Verdict: Don't trade him. Let's ride out the year, make a push for the Wild Card, and see if Sammer (new nickname) will take a hometown discount to play with his boy Brayden for a few more years. 

Defenseman Radko Gudas

My biggest point with Gudas is the NHL's RFA compensation rules - if someone tries to sign him away from us this summer, they have to send a draft pick back:
  • $1.2 - 1.8 million = 3rd round pick
  • $1.8 - 3.6 million = 2nd round pick
  • $3.6 - 5.5 million = 1st and 3rd round picks
  • $5.5 - 7.3 million = 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks
Gudas probably would net at least a third rounder, but I wouldn't be shocked if he squeezed a contract in the second rounder range. So, at a minimum, we're looking to get more than a second round pick for him. 

People seemed shocked that he was apparently almost traded for a pair of second round picks. He's a cheap, physical, valuable blueliner. He obviously needs some work around the edges (okay, fine, a lot of work around the edges), but he was a legitimate top pairing defenseman when he played with Michael Del Zotto. 

His three-year HERO chart paints the picture of a defenseman who is plays high-event hockey and generates a lot of primary assists. Toss in the fact that he's a restricted free agent and his value is probably even higher than those two seconds. 

Verdict: Don't trade him. As my Twitter friend Bill Matz always says, you need a thumper. Gudas is cheap, mean, and he complements our top d-man nicely. Let's look for a 2-3 year deal in the $2-3 million range this summer. 

Defenseman Evgeny Medvedev

Meddy doesn't have a HERO chart because he's a rookie and he's use so sparingly (sigh). So I traveled to Corsica  to look at some numbers (all numbers at 5v5 to factor out Ghost's powerplay numbers): 
  • Of Flyers defensemen sans Andrew MacDonald, Medvedev has the highest Corsi For Percentage (52.68%) and the second-highest Fenwick For Percentage (51.79%) 
  • Of those same regular Flyers defensemen, Medvedev's Expected Goals For Per 60 is the highest (2.82), even ahead of Shayne Gostisbehere (2.53)
  • To demonstrate that he's not just a high-event defenseman, I will also add that Medvedev's Expected Goals For Percentage (50.84%) leads all regular Flyers defenseman. To reiterate: Meddy's play would lead you to believe the Flyers should outscore opponents when he's on the ice, even though the team has a goal differential of -15 for the year. 
  • Medvedev's Actual Goals For Percentage (55.32%) is second on the team behind Gostisbehere (59.57%)
  • In his own zone, Meddy's  Fenwick Against Per 60 (41.70) is smack in the middle of the Flyers blueliners
Let me make my own HERO chart:
  • Usage: criminally underused, both in terms of healthy scratches and ice time
  • Point generation: about as good as it gets on the Flyers
  • Possession: about as good as it gets on the Flyers
  • Suppression: decidedly not as good as his generation
Verdict: Trade him. It's really easy to see that his defensive zone issues aren't going to work for coach Dave Hakstol, and at 33 he's old enough to not really develop his game any further. I think the list of NHL teams who could use an offensively-gifted blueliner is just about all of them, and I'd think the return for Weber means Medvedev is worth at least a second round pick. 

The other big piece of  Medvedev trade: the Flyers have about $4.8 million in cap space, and Medvedev's $3 million would bump that number up to $7.8 million. Obviously, we don't want to take on any long-term money. But if a team in the hunt needed to dump an expiring contract to bring on Medvedev, Ron Hextall is in a position to take some salary back to sweeten the pot. 

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