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Numbers Game: NHL Trade Value

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Scott Cullen
8/20/2008 1:40:40 PM
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Everyone loves a good hockey trade. Not just the player-for-prospects or, worse, deals involving a player to be named later, but an honest-to-goodness player-for-player hockey trade.

It rarely happens that two marquee players are involved in the same trade but, for argument's sake, which NHL players are worth the most in a one-for-one swap?

Determining that answer is the exercise that I'm going to undertake here.

This idea comes straight from ESPN.com's Bill Simmons, who has run an NBA version for seven seasons now, but since the Sports Guy has virtually sworn off the NHL, I'm not so concerned that I'm mowing his lawn in this particular case.

Some factors that need to be considered when trying to establish trade value:

1. Contract - It's better to have a long-term deal, if the price is right for the production, because the team knows that they have that asset for a definite period of time. The cap hit of the contract is obviously important as well. After all, getting a player to provide similar production to another player at a fraction of the price provides significant value to the franchise.

On the other hand, players that are closing in on free agency aren't as valuable because they may only provide a season's worth of value.

2. Age - A young player has potential that, while it may not be realized yet, is undeniably worth something on the trade market. It's how guys like Steven Stamkos and Kyle Turris made this list.

At the other end of the spectrum, as a player gets older, his impact tends to diminish, naturally decreasing trade value.

3. For the purposes of this exercise, team needs are irrelevant. So it doesn't matter if a team really needs a goaltender or is loaded on defence, the value of the player to any team in the league is theoretical.

4. The list runs in reverse order, so that player #1 is deemed to have the greatest trade value, more than #2, who has more value than #3 and so on.

With that out of the way, and the disclaimer that none of these players are necessarily on the trading block so don't get carried away expecting any of them to change teams, here is the first TSN.ca NHL trade value column, starting with those who just missed out.

(Note: Ages as of October 1, 2008)

Honourable Mentions:
Player: Derek Roy
Position: C
Team: Buffalo Sabres
Age: 25
Contract Expires: 2013
Salary Cap Hit: $4.0M
Comment: Surprisingly handed a six-year contract extension last summer, then went out and led the Sabres with 81 points in 78 games. Suddenly, the deal is a bargain.

Player: Niklas Kronwall
Position: D
Team: Detroit Red Wings
Age: 27
Contract Expires: 2012
Salary Cap Hit: $3.0M
Comment: Rising star was outstanding in the playoffs, but his propensity for injury keeps him off the list for now.

Player: Jay Bouwmeester
Position: D
Team: Florida Panthers
Age: 25
Contract Expires: 2009
Salary Cap Hit: $4.875M
Comment: Only signed to a one-year deal and then headed for unrestricted free agency, the workhorse blueliner may be one of the stars most likely to change addresses this season.

Player: Jordan Staal
Position: C
Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Age: 20
Contract Expires: 2009 (RFA)
Salary Cap Hit: $2.2M
Comment: Coming off a down season, but the 20-year-old already has 41 NHL goals and is already resonsible enough defensively to play in all situations.

Player: Marian Gaborik
Position: LW
Team: Minnesota Wild
Age: 26
Contract Expires: 2009
Salary Cap Hit: $6.333M
Comment: Big-time sniper could move up the list with a new deal but, with free agency pending at the end of the season, he misses out this time.

#50
Player: Zdeno Chara
Position: D
Team: Boston Bruins
Age: 31
Contract Expires: 2011
Salary Cap Hit: $7.5M
Comment: Physically dominant and was much better in his second season with the Bruins.

#49
Player: Duncan Keith
Position: D
Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Age: 25
Contract Expires: 2010 (RFA)
Salary Cap Hit: $1.475M
Comment: Terrific skater is durable and logs top pair minutes at a bargain price.

#48
Player: Braydon Coburn
Position: D
Team: Philadelphia Flyers
Age: 23
Contract Expires: 2010 (RFA)
Salary Cap Hit: $1.3M
Comment: Big man who can skate, move the puck and appears set for stardom. Just for the record, Alexei Zhitnik was not particularly close to making the list.

#47
Player: Ilya Kovalchuk
Position: LW
Team: Atlanta Thrashers
Age: 25
Contract Expires: 2010
Salary Cap Hit: $6.4M
Comment: May be one of the purest goal-scorers in the game, but he's still very much a one-way player who is only under contract for two more seasons.

#46
Player: Marian Hossa
Position: LW
Team: Detroit Red Wings
Age: 29
Contract Expires: 2009
Salary Cap Hit: $7.4M
Comment: Redeemed a subpar season with a solid playoff performance, then jumped ship to join the champs, firmly establishing them as the team to beat again. His one-year deal is the only reason this usually consistent and durable winger is ranked this low.

#45
Player: Olli Jokinen
Position: C
Team: Phoenix Coyotes
Age: 29
Contract Expires: 2010
Salary Cap Hit: $5.25M
Comment: Already mired in a career-long (723 games) playoff drought, it might take another year or two before the Coyotes are poised for the postseason. On the plus side, he does have a reasonable contract for a franchise centre.

#44
Player: Daniel Alfredsson
Position: RW
Team: Ottawa Senators
Age: 35
Contract Expires: 2012
Salary Cap Hit: $4.414M
Comment: Getting up there in age, but his last three seasons have been the most productive of his NHL career and Alfredsson's contract is very team-friendly as long as he plays it out.

#43
Player: Tomas Kaberle
Position: D
Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
Age: 30
Contract Expires: 2011
Salary Cap Hit: $4.25M
Comment: Excellent passer who can run the power play better than most and his contract is good value.

#42
Player: Ales Hemsky
Position: RW
Team: Edmonton Oilers
Age: 25
Contract Expires: 2012
Salary Cap Hit: $4.1M
Comment: A few more goals wouldn't hurt, but he could easily be a point-per-game scorer for the four seasons he's under contract.

#41
Player: Thomas Vanek
Position: LW
Team: Buffalo Sabres
Age: 24
Contract Expires: 2014
Salary Cap Hit: $7.143M
Comment: Not cheap, and coming off a terribly disappointing season, yet he still scored 36 goals last year and now has 104 in three NHL seasons.

#40
Player: Chris Pronger
Position: D
Team: Anaheim Ducks
Age: 33
Contract Expires: 2010
Salary Cap Hit: $6.25M
Comment: Has been terrific value under this contract, though Edmonton might not feel so good about handing out a five-year deal and getting one year's performance.

#39
Player: Dustin Brown
Position: RW
Team: Los Angeles Kings
Age: 23
Contract Expires: 2014
Salary Cap Hit: $3.175M
Comment: Hard-hitting first-line winger who has developed a nice touch around the net and has a bargain long-term contract.

#38
Player: Milan Michalek
Position: LW
Team: San Jose Sharks
Age: 23
Contract Expires: 2013
Salary Cap Hit: $4.333M
Comment: An exciting mix of size, skill and speed, but is still just scratching the surface of his potential.

#37
Player: Kyle Turris
Position: C
Team: Phoenix Coyotes
Age: 19
Contract Expires: 2010 (RFA)
Salary Cap Hit: $2.696M
Comment: Talented prospect is here on potential after scoring 35 points in 36 games as a freshman at Wisconsin.

#36
Player: Rick Nash
Position: LW
Team: Columbus Blue Jackets
Age: 24
Contract Expires: 2010
Salary Cap Hit: $5.4M
Comment: Top-notch power forward is still looking for his first taste of playoff action and needs a stronger supporting cast if he's ever going to get there.

#35
Player: Steven Stamkos
Position: C
Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
Age: 18
Contract Expires: 2011 (RFA)
Salary Cap Hit: $3.725M
Comment: Hard to know exactly how productive he'll be in the NHL, but 100 goals in his first two years of junior made him an easy first choice in the 2008 draft.

#34
Player: Sam Gagner
Position: C
Team: Edmonton Oilers
Age: 19
Contract Expires: 2010 (RFA)
Salary Cap Hit: $1.625M
Comment: Slick puckhandler and shootout dynamo appears set to become a big-time NHL scorer after scoring 28 points in the last 29 games of his rookie season.

#33
Player: Corey Perry
Position: RW
Team: Anaheim Ducks
Age: 23
Contract Expires: 2013
Salary Cap Hit: $5.325M
Comment: Progressing nicely as a power forward, Perry's point and penalty minute totals have increased in each of his three NHL seasons.

#32
Player: Paul Stastny
Position: C
Team: Colorado
Age: 22
Contract Expires: 2009 (RFA)
Salary Cap Hit: $850K
Comment: 149 points in 148 career games for the next Avalanche franchise centre.

#31
Player: Erik Johnson
Position: D
Team: St. Louis Blues
Age: 20
Contract Expires: 2010 (RFA)
Salary Cap Hit: $3.7M
Comment: No. 1 pick from 2006 draft was solid as a rookie, but may need to add more bite to his game in order to maximize his effectiveness.

#30
Player: Shea Weber
Position: D
Team: Nashville Predators
Age: 23
Contract Expires: 2011
Salary Cap Hit: $4.5M
Comment: Coming off a down season, seemingly ruined when he was injured in his first shift of the year, but has a rare combination of toughness and talent.

#29
Player: Carey Price
Position: G
Team: Montreal Canadiens
Age: 21
Contract Expires: 2010 (RFA)
Salary Cap Hit: $2.2M
Comment: Playoffs brought him back to earth some, but expectations are sky-high for the top young 'tender in the game.

#28
Player: Nicklas Lidstrom
Position: D
Team: Detroit Red Wings
Age: 38
Contract Expires: 2010
Salary Cap Hit: $7.45M
Comment: Presumably will play out the two seasons remaining on his deal, and win the Norris both seasons.

#27
Player: Henrik Zetterberg
Position: LW
Team: Detroit Red Wings
Age: 27
Contract Expires: 2009
Salary Cap Hit: $2.65M
Comment: Only one year left on his deal before he cashes in big-time, but is currently such an exceptional value for one of the best all-around players in the league.

#26
Player: Evgeni Nabokov
Position: G
Team: San Jose Sharks
Age: 33
Contract Expires: 2010
Salary Cap Hit: $5.375M
Comment: Had his best season in 2007-2008 but, like many in San Jose, hasn't been able to get over the hump in the playoffs.

Check back Thursday for the Top 25!

Scott Cullen can be reached at scullen@tsn.ca

 

Carey Price (Photo: Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
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