With the trade deadline coming up, I thought it might might be fun to do a Bill Simmons style ranking of the trade value of all of the Avalanche players. For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, take a gander at the rules listed by Simmons here. While Simmons is covering an entire league and cover only the 50+ players with the best value, I'm only focusing on one team, so I'm going to try to cover as many Avs as I can. For prospects though, I will only focus on the most highly rated ones (Bigras, Siemens, Pickard) and ones that have already had some amount of NHL experience (Elliott, Malone, even Sgarbossa). I just don't know enough about most of the Lake Erie squad, and the Avs' college and international prospects, to talk too much about them. Hopefully guys like earl would be able to read this and fill in the blanks.
To further clarify what I mean by trade value, I am using the criteria of what other NHL teams would offer if the Avs were to trade them tomorrow, relative to how they are valued by the Avs. This is slightly different from another more theoretical approach I could have taken, which is to assume that all the Avs players are from different teams and compare their trade value that way (i.e. would you trade Nathan MacKinnon for Matt Duchene, or vice versa?). This matters as it makes various other contextual factors besides the players' abilities such as their salary and contract length more important.
For further reference, see Sean McIndoe's Grantland article on hockey's worst contracts. Take note that none of these players are the NHL's worst players (in fact, most of them are at least above-average players, some even stars). Sure, David Clarkson is a much better player than Colton Orr. But Orr doesn't have an insane albatross of a contract, which means Orr is most likely to fetch Toronto something worthwhile on the trade market than Clarkson.
The nice thing about the Avs being cheap for the past five years: we have no such albatross in our accounts. The only that would have qualified to be called one, David Jones' 4X4, was promptly ejected to Calgary last summer by our new ownership. So this will be a mostly optimism-filled list. Without further ado, here's the list, from the least valuable to the most: (I've included the players' cap hit and contract length as well, courtesy of Capgeek. contract length includes this season)
"We'll need to pay you to take them off our hands"
These are players that if Joe Sakic call up another GM and ask he can get for them, the other side will just hang up. They have negative trade value, and would probably have already been bought out if not for the Avs' lack of depth at defense.
- Matt Hunwick, 1 year, 1.6 million, UFA
He has already been placed on waivers this summer. If claimed, he would cost his new team half of his current contract, or 800K, barely above minimum wage. Nobody bothered. He is now toiling in Lake Erie, and according to earl's reports he's not been particularly inspiring there either. He's now just a meaningless sunken cost. No team wants him, and the Avs won't bother to try to trade him.
- Ryan Wilson, 2 years, 2.25 million
Once upon a time, I was a pretty big Wilson fan. Now, however, he is injured most of the time, either plays at below replacement level or eats nachos when he's not injured, and has a contract that pays him more than minimum wage for another year after this. There's a miniscule chance that the Avs could trade him to another team by selling his past pedigree. Realistically, however, he's doomed to suffer the same fate as Matt Hunwick next year.
"You don't want him, and we are fine with keeping them"
The players in this group won't get us that much more in the trade market as the last group, but they are at least limited but useful squad members on the team rather than complete deadweights. If we take an absolutely analytical approach, they may be slightly overpayed and probably shouldn't have that many years on their contracts, when it is likely a minimum wage guy can fill the same role. But intangible factors such as team chemistry and "character" may make up for that difference. The danger for them is that even a slight drop in their play would drop them from this group to the one before, and you don't want to be in the previous group.
- Nate Guenin, 1 year, 0.6 million two-way/2 years, 0.8 million extension
Guenin, of course was a minimum wage filler until he got extended by the Avs. As a seventh D, he is qualified, and his extension doesn't give him that much more money above minimum wage so if the Avs have to make room for better options in the future, he could be easily jettisoned. He can kill penalties, and he may be useful in a shut-down role if protected by a better skater and puck-handler. But he also has negative offensive skill (in that he's more likely to kill offensive momentum than sustain it), treats the puck like a hot potato, and can't outlet pass to save his life. No other team would trade for him, since they would much rather roll the die with their own scrapyard pickups, but his familiarity with Roy and the team means that the Avs would prefer to keep him than find a replacement next summer.
- Patrick Bordeleau, 3 years, 1 million
He plays 6:18 minutes per game, and his value mostly derives from his ability to intimidate other people with his fist. 1 million and 3 years seems a lot for someone that limited. That said, his salary is actually in the similar range as other veteran enforcers (see George Parros, 0.937 million, 2 years; Colton Orr, 0.925 million, 2 years). He actually has 4 goals and 3 assists, and has shown hockey skills other than punching people which justifies playing him in those limited minutes. He'll also never complain about playing only 6 minutes, and appears to be a pretty popular guy in the locker room. If the NHL banned fighting tomorrow, he's no longer worth his contract. But given the reality that the mentality that a team must have an enforcer is still prevalent in the league, his place on the team is well-justified, even if his contract is on the pricier end for his type of player.
"AHL depth dudes"
This group would include most of the guys who have two-way contracts and are playing for Lake Erie (or more likely, being injured at Lake Erie). Every organization have loads of these guys. They get called up when a raft of injuries happen, and get sent down when the injured stars come back. A few of them are kept by the team for a significant period of time, but most of them switch teams every summer. Examples include David Van Der Gulik, Mark Olver (who hasn't had another team yet, but this appears to be his fate in professional hockey), Bryan Lerg, etc. I won't got into these dudes in detail. They only get moved as trade fillers; nobody is going to break the bank for Matt Olver.
"Dumpster diving pays off sometimes"
These guys should have belonged to the above group, but they've somehow played themselves into significant roles for the first team. They are still worth more to the Avs than to the rest of the league, though if the Avs made them available, one or two smart GMs may come knocking and offer something substantial.
- Marc-Andre Cliche, 1 year, 0.547 million, UFA
He really only does one thing really well: penalty killing. But that ability is so important to the Avs right now that they'd rather sit players who are much more talented overall like PAP than take Cliche out of the lineup. He is dirt cheap, and it's hard to imagine he'll get that much of a raise if the Avs bother to resign him. He is a very useful depth player, and if the Avs were to trade him they would have no problem finding suitors.
- Nick Holden, 2 years, 0.6 million two-way
Holden has really raised his game in the last few weeks of NHL hockey that the Avs played, to the point that he appears to be a viable top 4 option right now. He has above-average offensive ability, so as long as he keeps up his end of the bargain in the defensive end, he has a good future on the team. It's hard to know, however, if his recent good play is just a flash in a pan or not, and I suspect most of the league isn't convinced yet (if they've even been cognizant of him to begin with). The good thing for the Avs is that they have plenty of time to find out, with his cheap two-way contract extending to next year. Given that he's 26, young enough that there may still be some potential for growth, there's a good chance his trade value will be much higher this time next year.
- Alex Tanguay, 3 years, 3.5 million
When Tanguay played, he's been excellent. He is a stabilizing force on offense, making tape-to-tape passes and playing solid two-way hockey. He's been on both the powerplay and power kill units, and done good jobs in both. He is exactly the type of solid veteran that a rising young team needs. Except he's injured, out for the season. And given his age, the fact that he only played 16 games this season is a red flag to all other teams. The onus is on Tanguay to prove he could stay on the ice next season. Trading for him was still a huge win for the Avs IMO. Having a 3X3.5 solid but injury-prone veteran, whose LTIR status won't hurt the team's salary cap if he can't play, is much better than a 3X4 lackluster "scoring" forward who can't score.
"Go find your fourth line depth elsewhere."
These guys can play on your fourth line and do a good job. Other teams may want them, but only if they want to stack up on depth forwards who can jump into an NHL lineup without any trouble immediately for the playoffs, or their fourth line is in really tragic shape. Offers for them would be desultory, however, and given where the Avs are now, they would rather keep them.
- Cody McLeod, two years, 1.15 million
- Brad Malone, one year, 0.735 million, RFA (.77 mil to qualify)
McLeod is the guy who does all the dirty work: penalty killing, hitting, fighting. He is solid as a fourth liner, doesn't hurt your team either offensively or defensively. On the other hand, you probably don't want him to be anywhere above the fourth line in the depth chart for a significant period of time. His value on the market has probably taken a big hit after checking Kronwall into the boards, however. I see Malone as someone who could fill McLeod's role in the future, so I just put him here. Fourth line grinders don't get any attention, but finding good ones is actually not that easy, so the Avs should hang on to what they have now rather than take offers of 6th round picks or AHL muckers for them.
"It may be hard to imagine their awesomeness any more, but hope springs eternal!"
From this group onwards are players that could potentially be important trade pieces if the Avs made them available. First are prospects whose prospect shine is losing its luster, because they are getting up there in age, and probably should have already made the NHL if things were going according to plan.
- Joey Hishon, 1 year EL, 1.2. million, RFA (.85m to qualify)
Oh Hish, why has fate been so cruel to you. It's not his fault that assholes keep trying to destroy his career. At age 22, he has already accumulated an impressive list of injuries, and no NHL games played. That's a horrific combination. Goddamit. If the heavens would finally give him some reprieve, he could still blossom. But time is running out fast, and he can't stop being injured.
*Checks how he is doing right now.
*Out with LBI.
*Kicks a trash can.
- Stefan Elliott, 1 year EL, 0.9 million, RFA (.85m to qualify)
I always thought among our two highly-rated puck-moving D prospects, Elliott would be the one who pan out rather than Barrie due to his size. His professional hockey career, however, has been so far underwhelming. According to earl's reports, he has been playing well in Lake Erie this season, but unfortunately he also hasn't played enough games. He has seen two training camp walk-ons usurp his spot in the depth chart. His entry level contract is coming due, and time is fast running out for him to make good on his promise. Other teams would be leery of all of this, but there probably are teams that would make a leap of faith based on his pedigree and go after him (e.g. Edmonton, at least this is something Edmonton should be doing).
"If we are tanking, these UFA would be totally available. But we're not, so too bad."
It is possible that these UFA could end up in bigger trades that includes multiple pieces, or get traded if the Avs acquire pieces that would bump these guys off the roster. But most likely, they aren't going anywhere this season, or at least only leaving if the Avs gets at least someone of equivalent talent back. If they were available, though, they fit the profile of the typical kind of guys that get dealt to contenders on the transfer deadline for medium-level picks or prospects.
- J.S. Giguere, 1 year, 1.5 million, UFA
Let's start with the guy least likely to move this season. The goalie market has shown itself to be utterly screwed up recently (I mean, what exactly did Toronto give up for Bernier?). The Avs right now have a stable situation in goal (hopefully unchanged by what happened in the Olympics), and you don't want to mess that up. So Giguere is not going anywhere. If the Avs were to trade him, I'm sure there's somebody who would want to trade for a Stanley Cup winning goalie as a backup. But it is suddenly a pretty crowded market, so it's unlikely the Avs will get what they think he's worth anyways.
- Cory Sarich, 1 year, 2 million, UFA
Given the modest expectations I had for him going into this season, Sarich has been a pleasant surprise. He is old and slow, but played solidly as a shut-down guy, and even showed a glimmer of offense for a short while. When asked to step up to a top four role that he probably shouldn't have been allowed to fill, he wasn't terrible. But his recent injury is worrying, since if he loses just a step, he's likely to become a pylon. Nick Holden has also likely taken away the spot in the lineup that used to be his. Veteran defenders with Stanley Cup experience go for quite a bit on the transfer deadline (think how many times Hal Gill was dealt). But again, his recent injury should put any minute chance he gets dealt to bed.
- Andre Benoit, 1 year, 0.9 million, UFA
Benoit is a competent puck-mover and passer, and can run your second powerplay unit just fine. His play, however, has trailed off pretty significantly since the start of the season, especially in the defensive zone. He has also been overtaken by Nick Holden in the depth chart right now. He was signed as a stop-gap measure by the Avs anyways. Other teams weren't knocking down his door over the summer, and they won't now, but a guy who can put up 20 points in 57 games on D on a dirt cheap contract would still have value to a contender.
- John Mitchell, 1 year, 1.1 million, UFA
Johnny Malkin is a jack of all trades. You put him on any line in the lineup, in any situations whether 5-on-5, powerplay, or penalty kill, and you'd feel ok about it. But of course, the flip side of that coin is "expert of none." He has moves that are Duchene-esque sometimes, but they rarely lead to anything other than turnovers. His defensive play and backchecking goes on and off. He has the profile of a guy who'd randomly go nuts in the playoffs (think Fernando Pisani, 2006). Teams might be interested to bet on that upside, but the Avs would definitely want somebody of similar profile back. Maybe a Mitchell for Marcel Goc swap with Florida?
"These guys' awesomeness is less imaginary than the last batch"
These are higher-rated prospects that the Avs could conceivably use as trade bait if they themselves want to hunt for extra help during the deadline for their own playoff run. They have significant upside, but have also seen their stocks take a slight hit in the past two seasons. Others know a lot more about them than I do, so I won't say too much.
- Michael Sgarbossa, 2 years EL, 0.556 million
- Calvin Pickard, 2 years EL, 0.87 million
- Sami Aittokallio, 2 years EL, 0.9 million
Sgar was an AHL All-star last season (along with Andrew Agozzino), but he has been bothered by injuries this season at Lake Erie. He is unlikely to get an NHL game in this season unless more injuries happen, but there maybe spots available next season. Our forward depth in our system is thin, so I'd prefer not dealing any of them, but guys like Sgar are not off-limits. Our two highly-touted goalie prospects both have endured some ups and downs this season at Lake Erie, though Sami has been coming on pretty strong lately. With Spencer Martin further down the pipeline, if the Avs want to get some immediately help, it may not be a horrible idea to use one of the two (probably Pickard) as a key trade piece.
"Our defensive stalwarts"
The Avs' Achilles's heal is defense, so while these players would be highly sought after commodities if they were made available, something really drastic has to happen for any of them be actually moved.
- Max Talbot, 3 years, 1.75 million
Of course, the Avs just traded for Talbot, so we have a pretty good idea what he's worth: a top 9 UFA forward. But because the Avs sorely lacked a top notch defensive specialist forward before they got Talbot, he may be worth a lot more than that to the Avs, or at least they'll want someone with a much different profile to Steve Downie.
- Jan Hejda, 2 years, 3.25 million
Hejda is a hard player to rank on a list like this. On the one hand, he is one of the most important players to the Avs, playing top D line minutes against the best forwards of the league. He is having arguably his career year this season, winning plaudits all over the league. But he is also 36, and even in recent games he is already showing signs of slowing down a bit (whether that's due to fatigue or age, it's hard to know). The fear is that this is best you'll ever see of him, and other teams would be understandably uncomfortable with trading for a player at likely his absolute peak value (with a chance that his value will crater significantly relatively soon). And the Avs, of course, can't afford to trade him anyways.
"Darling you gotta let them know. Should they stay or should they go?
So these guys have actually been part of transfer rumors. If the Twitter soundbites from the insider reporters are true, they were almost already traded to Florida and Montreal respectively. They'll still be subject to rumors up to the deadline, but with Tanguay's injury, it's less likely now that they'll be actually dealt.
- Jamie McGinn, 1 year, 1.75 million, RFA (1.85mil to qualify)
McGinn's offense is very inconsistent. He would go for a month doing nothing offensively, then score a bunch several games in a roll. He is the guy you move up and down the top 3 lines depending on which center needs a dude to crash the net and "keep things simple." He is defensively OK, and can kill penalties for you. He is still on cheap RFA contracts. He's 25, so there may still be some upside there. Teams starving for offense will stare at him and see a potential power forward somewhere down the line. Apparently Dale Tallon squinted so hard he contemplated trading Kulikov for him. If a similar deal comes along, the Avs have to consider it.
- P.A. Parenteau, 3 years, 4 million
OK, so PAP hasn't been up to par with his halcyon PPG days last season skating on Duchene's line, or his Islanders days when he was scoring for fun with Tavares, Defensively he is a minus, so his value is purely derived from his offense. But the playmaking skills is there, and not going to go away. 10 goals and 18 assists through 46 games played isn't great, but it's also nothing to sneer at. His offensive output right at this moment may not be worth 4 million, but I still believe he'll bounce back from this and make that deal seem like a steal again. That said, if we can get a top 4 defenseman out of him, then yes, pull the trigger. But don't trade him just for the sake of trading him. He is an valuable asset to have on the team, especially now that we lost a key offensive forward for the season.
"The Six-Million Dollars Goalie"
- Semyon Varlamov, 1 year, 2.83 million/5 years, 5.9 million extension
Goalies don't make sense. One day they are world-beaters, and next day the can't stop beachballs. You must have one to get anywhere, but pick the wrong one and you just locked your franchise for 15 years to a dude who can't play (oh wait, only the Islanders do that...). At the end of the day, you just gotta trust your scouting reports and the guy's athletic ability and pedigree. Varlamov's history is spotty, but his athletic ability has never been questioned, and this season he has been consistently top-notch. Instead of Lacroix/Sherman's in-your-face approach to the last starting goalie, Roy/Sakic has taken a much softer, more encouragement-driven approach towards Varlamov. His new contract is pretty on par with his peers, but there are still lots of doubts around the league as to whether his superb play this season is a mirage. Of course, by the time he's proven that it isn't, there's no way in hell the Avs are going to trade him.
"You can't handle their imaginary awesomeness!"
- Duncan Siemens, three years EL, 1.38 million
- Chris Bigras, stashed in juniors
Our best defensive prospects, and we'd loath to part with them. Siemens hasn't developed that smoothly, having to deal with a long term injury this season at Lake Erie. He is probably still at least one full season away from NHL (although earl will have a much better idea). Bigras may actually make the roster faster than Siemens at this rate. I could see Siemens being made available, but Bigras I believe the front office will stand pretty firm on unless they can somehow get an elite Dman with a package including him (has to be Shea Weber level I think for the Avs to consider).
- Tyson Barrie, one year EL, 0.9 million, RFA (.78m to qualify)
The only thing imaginary about Barrie is how much more awesome he can get. He has put his early-season blues behind him and been absolutely clutch on offense. He is still defensively vulnerable, and probably will always never be that great in that area. But if he keeps developing, his offensive dynamism can absolutely make up for shortcomings in D. His game fits our team's current style beautifully, so for the team to trade him, it has to be for another Erik Johnson type player. And given the success Kevin Shattenkirk is having in St. Louis, I think there will be teams willing to do it.
"We are not trading them. Stop making 87834798372 HFboard threads about them going to your team"
You know who they are.
- Ryan O'Reilly, one year, 5 million, RFA (6.5m to qualify)
To most of the rest of the league Ryan O'Reilly is a solid two-way center in the Mike Fisher mold with a wonky contract situation. He is absolutely valuable to teams starving for centers like Toronto, Nashville, Buffalo, etc. They see him on their second line, or temporarily on their first line until they get someone even better to bump him down to second line. The problem is, that's not who Ryan O'Reilly is to the Avs. For the Avs, O'Reilly is a top-line winger who is already scoring 20 goals in his first year in that position, on a team that's still lacking in depth on the wings. As a center, he probably has exhausted his potential; he'll never be as great a playmaker as Duchene or MacKinnon. But as winger, because he's so new the position and has taken to it really well in his first season there, there's potential for even more growth. He could be the Av's Jamie Benn or even Marian Hossa if you will. So he's not getting traded, not when the difference in our evaluation of O'Reilly and the rest of the league's perception of O'Reilly is the difference between Jamie Benn/Marian Hossa and Mike Fisher.
- Paul Stastny, one year, 6.6 million, UFA
If he hits UFA, Stastny will be the best center on the market, bar none. His UFA status makes him a tricky trade target for other teams right now, since how hard it would be to resign him. The Avs might be able to keep him long-term for the similar amount of money as he's making right now, given his history with the franchise and the direction the franchise is trending. But say the Rangers managed to trade for him. He's had no history with the Rangers, and their direction is a lot murkier. Why shouldn't he ask 7.5 million from them? Would they want to pay him that much?
....ok, yeah, they're the Rangers. Alright then Sather, Girardi + Kreider or GTFO.
Anyways, the Avs are keeping Stastny as well this season, and if they're smart they resign him to the same money.
"The answer is NO. What did you think the answer was going to be?"
- Erik Johnson, three years, 3.75 million
It's taken a long time and a lot of patience for the Avs to finally develop Johnson into a number one Dman. But now they are reaping the rewards. Johnson's contract is dirt cheap for what he offers on the ice, AND it goes on for two more years after this one. As long as he keeps up the same level of play, his contracts is one of the best bargains in the NHL. His next contract will probably double that amount of money, but that's still two and a half seasons away, and by that time the salary cap may be so high that absorbing that contract will not be a problem even if the Avs have made some big signings in the mean time.
"Is this a prank call?"
- Gabriel Landeskog, one year EL, 3.575 million/ seven years, 5.57 million extension
Our young captain and Olympic medalist, He had an concussion-ravaged year last season, but he's back to his best this year, providing consistent scoring, smart physical play, and excellent leadership. I actually do think he has much more potential to unlock, mainly in the defensive end. He is a great building block, and he's signed long term to a very team-friendly contract that will look better every year as he improves as a player and the salary cap goes up. Think about it, would you rather pay Landeskog 5.5 for 7 years or Thomas Vanek 7.5 for 5-6 years?
- Matt Duchene, one year, 3.5 million/ five years, 6 million extension
The other Olympic medalist. For all the consternation about his scoring drought, he is still leading the team in points. Keep in mind that he's just 23 years old. For reference, Chris Kreider is 22 years old, and this is his rookie year, and his 30 points is considered highly promising. Duchene may not have taken as much of a leap as Tavares and Stamkos did, but every player develops on a different track. His speed is not going away for a long while, and the areas where he was lacking in the Sacco years, like his defensive play, he has improved by miles this year. He is a star already, and he is still on track to be a superstar. For 6 million and 5 years, that's excellent value.
"Stop drunk calling me. I mean, you have to be drunk to call about him."
- Nathan MacKinnon, three years EL, 3.775 million
I can probably count in one hand the number of players the Avs would even consider trading him for. Even guys of his pedigree take more time to look this comfortable in the NHL than him. If an all NHL trade value list is compiled (probably coming soon from DGB), he's got to be in the top 10. Let's high five ourselves that this guy is on our team.
Did I miss anybody? If you have any disagreements, ring them out in the comments! I'm not that great with advanced stats (though they definitely effected by thinking while making this list), so if people can add more nuances with some #fancystats, please do!