SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Daniel Winnik #34 of the San Jose Sharks skates in warm ups before the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at HP Pavilion at San Jose on February 28, 2012 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Generally, it's impossible to tell which team 'won' a trade until at least well into the next season, if not multiple seasons past the trade. It takes time to evaluate players and determine what type of performance is their norm within the new organization. One of the major factors contributing to this is a player's desire to make his old team sorry. It's a natural reaction to feel you have something to prove when, for right or wrong, you feel unwanted and/or unneeded by an employer. For hockey players, that means circling on the calendar that next meeting between the two teams, putting money on the board, and working hard from minute one with the new team. This phenomenon often causes a surge in performance that can't be sustained. On the other end of the spectrum, recently traded players might struggle to find their place within the new team, causing a dip in performance.
In light of this, I thought it would be interesting to see how the players involved in some of the Avalanche's recent trades have fared since making the move. Have they come out like gangbusters are are they still trying to find their way?
Quincey didn't spend a single minute in Tampa Bay as he was immediately dealt to the Detroit Red Wings in return for a first round pick in 2012 and prospect Sebastien Piche. A lot of people across Avalanche nation were up in arms over this situation as they thought GM Greg Sherman could have gotten much more for Quincey than just Downie if he had dealt directly with Detroit. News has surfaced since the trade that Sherman wanted a player that could help right now rather than picks and prospects that would take time to develop. He also said he targeted Downie for his toughness and ability to unnerve the opponent. He wanted the Avalanche to become harder to play against and felt Downie could help with that.
Here's a snap shot of how Quincey and Downie have fared:
*Both players missed one game due to injury.
Kyle Quincey's performance in Detroit has been much what it was in Colorado. He is playing similar minutes in total time on ice, but his power play time is slightly more on average than it was with the Avalanche and his penalty kill time is slightly less. GM Ken Holland said he targeted Quincey to be a solid third-pairing defensemen who would bring grit to the back end and a solid point-presence for their power play. It appears he's getting exactly what he wanted—or at least what he expected. Quincey's penalty minutes have slightly increased from an average of 1.11 per game to 1.20, but that's a pretty negligible amount. What is significant, though, is the increase in Quincey's shooting percentage. Currently, he's converting at a career-high 8.3% while in Colorado it was 3.8%. His career average is only 3.5%. It's reasonable to believe that Quincey's point production will regress. When it does, his point-per-game pace will drop as well unless he starts to shoot more.
Steve Downie was on a mission when he suited up for the Avalanche. As a guy who is prized for his fiery attitude, it's no wonder. Despite the fact his time on ice has only increased by an average of thirty seconds per game, his point production has nearly tripled. Surely at least some—if not much—of that has to do with his linemates. Ryan O`Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog tend to make whoever is placed on their line better. What's most interesting about Downie's offensive production is that he actually had a better shooting percentage in Tampa Bay (12.1%) than he does currently in Colorado (10%), neither of which are close to his career average of 14.9%. So what's the difference? Why is he scoring more? It's simple: he's shooting more. With the Lightning, Downie averaged 1.8 shots per game. Now he's averaging 2.9. Another eyebrow-raising statistic is the oft-maligned plus/minus. Although its merit is questionable, it's worth noting that his rating has increased from a -15 with TB to a +10 in Colorado. Again, linemates probably have much to do with it. What is all Downie, though, is the toughness he brings to the team. In that area, he is doing precisely what Sherman wanted when trading for him.
The immediate reaction to this trade was mixed across the league although most people saw Daniel Winnik as the key piece in the deal and biggest gain for the Sharks and loss for the Avs. Talk rarely included mention of the two prospects of Connolly and Sgarbossa, so the trade was essentially determined to really be Winnik and Galiardi for McGinn. However, Connolly has already seen time with the Avalanche, and Sgarbossa has continued his torrid pace in the OHL, looking more and more like he could be a key part of the Avs' organization in the future.
Here's the breakdown of the major players in the trade:
One of the bold statements Sharks GM Doug Wilson made was that Galiardi would get more "respect" (in other words, more ice time) with his new team. Clearly, that's not the case. He was benched for most of the March 3rd game against St. Louis, having only 4 shifts and 2:30 TOI that night. He also is not getting any time at all on special teams. When on the Avalanche, though, Galiardi averaged per game 0:41 on the power play and 1:06 on the penalty kill.
Winnik is also playing less time, averaging just over two fewer minutes and just under two shifts per game. One of his biggest assets—and the skill a lot of Avs fans were most upset at losing—was his stellar contributions on the penalty kill. It's an area with which the Sharks have struggled this season, and the organization said it hoped Winnik could help with that. Surprisingly, he has only played 1:46 on the PK since joining the team, an average of 0:27 per game. With Colorado, he averaged 3:06 per game and was topped in minutes only by Jay McClement at 3:08 per game. To put this in perspective, as teams do not go on the PK the same amount of time, San Jose's top penalty killers for the four games in which Winnik has played were Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau, who averaged 2:08 and 2:00 on the PK respectively.
After starting off a bit slowly in his first two games, Jamie McGinn has broken out and become the player the Avs wanted when acquiring him: gritty, willing to go into the hard areas on the ice, and contributing offensively. Playing on what would be considered the third line, he has averaged a full minute more of ice time per game with the Avs than he did with the Sharks. He also spends more time on special teams than he did with San Jose, averaging 0:59/game on the power play versus 0:32/game and 0:41/game on the penalty kill versus 0:09/game. The Avalanche organization was originally criticized for saying McGinn would get PK time, but he's proven to be a solid addition. The biggest surprise, however, is the offensive production McGinn has generated. He's scoring at a point-per-game pace right now, and although there's no reason to expect that to continue, it's certainly an indication that he does have a nose for the net.
All in all, it looks as if the Avalanche are relying more heavily on the players they acquired than their counterparts are with the players who left Colorado. This definitely indicates Sherman was serious when he said he wanted players who could make an immediate impact. Coach Sacco has put a lot of faith in the new players, including rookie Mike Connolly, and it's paying off. McGinn and Downie have clearly helped the Avs as the team pushes for the playoffs. Although it will take time to see who came out ahead in the long run on these deals, there's no doubt the Avalanche are benefiting from them right now.