If you missed Part 1 of the NHL Trade Value Rankings, here it is. Now, on to Part 2.
27. Jakub Voracek
The 2007 NHL draft has been a very weird one as a whole. It took a little too long for Kyle Turris and Thomas Hickey to find their strides and other players like Kevin Shattenkirk, Ryan McDonagh, Max Pacioretty, Logan Couture, PK Subban and Jaime Benn were late bloomers in terms of developing into superstars. The top three in games and points are the same three people: Patrick Kane (more on him later), Sam Gagner and Jakub Voracek. For Sam Gagne, he hasn’t lived up to his “top-10 draft pick” billing until this season with nineteen and a half minutes of ice time a night while being an absolute disaster on the faceoff dot. Voracek on the other hand plays right wing and was on an over 70-point pace while playing less than 18 minutes a game. Add the fact that he is on the second year of a very cheap 4 year, $17 million contract and that makes him one of the best bargains at that position.
26. Anze Kopitar
As it showed with analyzing Voracek, I completely obsess with draft classes. So let’s talk about another one, the 2005 Draft class. We all know who’s the best in that one (more on him later), but the next best player after him could be the most underrated centerman in hockey. Since Anze Kopitar has stepped on the ice in 2006, he has been among the most consistent scorers at about 60-80 points a season and leads all 2005 draftees in games played with 522. With that said, Kopitar’s shooting rate was easily the worst in his career and only would have set him up for 17 goals if 2013 was an 82-game season. However, his assist rate was a career high and he could have hit 50 helpers for the second time in his career. So is this more of Kopitar changing his style of play or is it the beginning of the end of his peak?
25. Thomas Vanek
Some have called Thomas Vanek one of the top candidates to regress this upcoming season, but I don’t fully buy into that. His shooting percentage has always been astronomically high (15.3% for his career) and he now has to play first line minutes for a Buffalo team that has to rebuild. As a result, Vanek shot over 3 times a game for the first time in his career and his assist rate of 0.55 per game was also a career high. Add the fact that this is the last year of his deal with the Sabres and Vanek will do whatever it takes to either make Buffalo relevant or give himself one last big pay day for free agency.
Forwards ready to make the leap
24. Taylor Hall
The youngest member in the top 50 is a potential captain of the most important team in the league this year. Taylor Hall is the symbol of Edmonton’s rebuild and now is the time for the Oilers to become a playoff team. All the pressure will be on his leadership as he cannot afford to miss any time to injury. In his first two seasons, Hall has missed 38 games. Last year, he played 45 of 48 games and nearly doubled his career high in assists per game. Now is the time for him to play a full 82-game season and watch his star shine brighter than it has before.
23. Brad Marchand
As Boston tries to stay below the cap while keeping their current generation of Stanley Cup winning players, Brad Marchand will now be counted upon to score more goals with increased playing time. Until this year, Marchand has never played more than 18 minutes a night for any season. For any 25-year old rising star, you usually expect him to begin a really expensive contract. For Brad Marchand, his is only 4 years for $18 million; easily one of the biggest bargains in hockey. With the potential of adding at least one to three minutes of playing time a game, Marchand has the chance to become a 70-80 point player.
22. Logan Couture
While there is uncertainty as to whether Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle will resign with the San Jose Sharks, one thing is certain: the Sharks are becoming Logan Couture’s team. After having an explosive 2013 playoffs, the 24-year old resigned with San Jose for 5 years and $30 million. What is amazing is that he has never played over 19 minutes a night for any season. Whenever Todd McLellan allows Couture to get more ice time, he can go from being a 60-70 point player into an 80-90 point one.
21. Derek Stepan
Within the span of four years, Derek Stepan has gone from being among the heroes of Team USA at the World Junior Championships to becoming the Rangers’ best forward. If last season was an 82-game season, Stepan would have had 30 goals and 75 points while shooting an astronomically high 16.7%. Even with that unstable shooting percentage, his shots per game rate has increased every year and he is beginning to become an impact player in the playoffs. Plus, unless they use anyone of their amnesties or trade away one of their thousands of $1 million forwards, New York only has roughly $2.7 million of cap space to work with for Stepan’s new deal!!! No matter how you look at this, Stepan could end up being one of the biggest bangs for their buck in hockey.
20. Nazem Kadri
Speaking of players who got screwed thanks to their front office’s lack of salary cap awareness, Nazem Kadri just signed a 2 year, $5.8 million contract. Why, because Dave Nonis wasted all his money by unloading the bank towards Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson. Oh, and let’s not forget that teammate Cody Franson had a very solid 2013 season, AND IS STILL UNSIGNED!!! Oh Toronto, when will you ever learn?
The goalie contract of the future
19. Sergei Bobrovski
In year one, Sergei Bobrovski shocked all Flyers fans by becoming the starting goaltender at the tender age of 22. He had a solid year, but not good enough for general manager Paul Holmgren from deciding to spend $56 million on Ilya Bryzgalov. As a result, “Bob” was demoted to second string and was forced to watch Bryzgalov not live up to his expectations. Last year, he was traded to Columbus in what turned out to be middle tier prospects Anthony Stolarz and Taylor Leier, plus a cup of coffee with Simon Gagne. Bobrovsky showed Flyer fans that they could be regretting that trade by winning the Vezina trophy and almost leading Columbus to their second playoff appearance in franchise history. But since Bryzgalov has had such an inconsistent NHL career, Columbus’ front office was very cautious as to what type of contract to give him. The result was a 2-year contract that is worth $11.25 million. This, my friends, is the perfect balance of signing any goalie that one doesn’t know how he’ll do in the long term while rewarding him for past accomplishments. Any team that refuses to follow this rule (hear that Chicago?!), should be prepared for any consequences.
18. Erik Karlsson
The most gruesome injury suffered last season was easily a sliced achilles tendon given to Erik Karlsson from the blade of Matt Cooke’s skate. Even after that, Karlsson’s goal rate reached a career high and the sky is still the limit for arguably the most dynamic point-man in hockey. Finding a way to score goals in big games will be the next step for him as his shooting percentage in the playoffs is half of that during the regular season. But given the fact that Ottawa has him for six more years at only $6.5 million per season and assisting at such a high rate, Karlsson should bounce back and become the most important player for the Ottawa Senators again.
17. Evgeni Malkin
I know Penguins fans, this is insulting to put Malkin at #17. He has averaged more than a point a game for all but one season of his career, won a Stanley Cup Championship and the 2012 Hart Trophy. He’s easily among the three to five best players in hockey for all those accomplishments. However, Malkin only played 31 games last year. To top it off, he has missed 78 games due to injury in the last four years. That’s almost a full season!!! Malkin is a tall player that can handle the puck well, but it’s important to remember that he is less than 200 pounds. To make matters worst, he will be paid $84.7 million in the next nine years; the second most money given to any player during that span. The only way he makes the top three anytime soon is for Malkin to not miss any playing time and still play like the superstar he is.
Hey, don’t ever forget about us!!!
16. Pavel Datsyuk
Yes, he has one of those infamous decade long contracts. Yes, he is 35 years old. Yes, he is a member of an aging Detroit Red Wings squad. However, is there anyone better with the puck on his stick than Pavel Datsyuk? Even with all these question marks, Datsyuk has gained so much respect from his peers that he has been taken number one overall in NHL All Star games. Even statistically, he has shown no signs of slowing down and he still hit the one point per game mark last year. Until he does show his age, Pavel Datsyuk is easily one of the ten to fifteen best players in hockey every season.
15. Ryan Miller
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking why I could you put a goalie that had such an “off” season and is a potential cancer in the locker room as the fifteenth biggest trade chip in the NHL. For one, there are only two other goaltenders that are more dependable than Ryan Miller in the last decade. One of those goalies will be discussed later. The other is Roberto Luongo, who thinks his contract sucks, and so do I. Also, remember from my Stanley Cup post that Miller faced the most shots per game than any goalie in the NHL. Honestly, Buffalo is such a disgrace of a hockey team thanks to the early blunders (and that’s an understatement) of the Terry Pegula era. Their farm system is getting better, but is it too little too late for those prospects to come through the system while Ryan Miller is still around? This year is Miller’s last year of his contract and there will be suitors now matter how bad he looks, because the Sabres will be that terrible.
Defensemen ready to make the leap
14. Alex Pietrangelo
Way for me to wait three weeks to write Alex Pietrangelo’s piece!!! Within that span, the #4 overall pick from the 2008 draft went from being the most popular unsigned defenseman to a young man receiving a 7 year, $45.5 million contract. Since he has entered the league, Pietrangelo is being used less on the offensive zone, but his scoring is still at an elite level. His playing time has now reached the 26 minute mark and he is now teamed up with Jay Bouwmeester to form possibly one of the scariest duos in the Western conference. This will be a major year for Pietrangelo as he will be eying a spot on team Canada’s olympic roster and trying to help the St. Louis Blues make the leap and contend for the Stanley Cup.
13. Ryan McDonagh
While Pietrangelo received his contract last week, Ryan McDonagh received his in the first couple weeks of the free agency period. And even with his growing reputation as one of the more well rounded defensemen in hockey and being a perfect compliment to the human brick wall that is Dan Girardi, McDonagh’s contract will only be 6 years and $28.2 million. That is good for $4.7 million. For all the crap given to Glen Sather for constantly overpaying the wrong players, he made good business in paying Ryan McDonagh that little.
12. Martin St. Louis
Everyone knows that Martin St. Louis is 38 years old and only 5’8”, right? Ok, good to know everyone is on the same page now. Welp, even with all those facts, St. Louis still won the scoring title last year. It is fair for NHL teams to only pay an elder statesman a conservative contract (unless you’re Philadelphia or Phoenix). So for St. Louis to perform the way he did last couple of years has been remarkable, especially considering that players of his type find a way to flame out really fast. His career numbers and his 2004 Stanley Cup title show that St. Louis has to be in the conversation of a future Hall of Fame selection once he retires as well.
11. Eric Staal
Anytime I watch a Caps game against Carolina, the first talking point by Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin are always to sing praises for Eric Staal. At first, I never understood it. He’s always played on bad hockey teams and doesn’t seem to raise his game when it matters. But like Ryan Miller, you look at his career numbers and you see why he has the big bucks and why the praises are deserved. His shooting rate was the lowest since his rookie season, but Staal was still able to score a point per game and has at least averaged 0.85 points per game in every season since the lockout. Only five other players have achieved that during that span. Now can Jim Rutherford and Carolina’s management actually build a real hockey team around Staal before his peak comes to a screeching halt for once!?
The talented wingers with more scrutiny than they deserve
10. Phil Kessel
Count on Toronto fans to criticize their skill players more than any team in hockey. The criticism is so harsh that I would never be surprised if Colton Orr jerseys could be more common than Phil Kessel ones. Kessel is now on the last year of his contract and has reached career high scoring numbers in the last two years. To go along with this, Kessel also has 21 points in 22 playoff games, so the “doesn’t show up to big games” tag should not apply to him. Now, consider that this is the last year of Kessel’s current contract. The same applies for Dave Bolland, James Reimer, Dion Phaneuf, Jay McClement, Nikolai Kulemin, Jake Gardiner, Mark Fraser and Paul Ranger. Considering this is Toronto, I would not be surprised if three to five of those players I just listed get paid at least $1 million (with Phaneuf being the obvious favorite). So what does that entail for Kessel? Time will tell as his contract will certainly be the most talked about in Canada.
9. Patrick Kane
Right now, there is no other winger that guarantees you more highlight reel goals than Patrick Kane. After having a miserable (and unlucky) 2012 season, Kane bounced back in 2013 with a vengeance by scoring at a pace that would have given him 96 points. Yes, he shot the puck four percent higher than his career average and he struggles to get to 3 shots a game, but Kane has now rounded out his game by assisting at an elite level. Only Martin St. Louis has been able to assist and score at the same high rates as Kane from the right wing position in the last four years. Add the fact that he only has a $6.3 million cap hit for the next two years and Patrick Kane is easily the most valuable Right winger in hockey.
The best defensemen
8. Drew Doughty
With a Stanley Cup ring in his trophy cabinet, Drew Doughty’s next step is to have his numbers explode on the offensive side of the rink. Throughout his career, he has been used as an offensive defenseman in the mold of a Mike Green, but his shooting rate is not anywhere close to an elite level. With that said, Doughty hit a career high with 2.38 shots per game last year and has improved in this category every single season. This is important because Doughty’s 2010 season of 16 goals and 43 assists is looking like a mirage as his points per game has dropped every season. With him pairing up with rising star Slava Voynov, the opportunities are endless for Doughty to dominate as one of the best defenseman in hockey and to help out the Kings make another major playoff run.
7. P.K. Subban
To me, the biggest topic of the 2013 offseason is the shocking amount of quality restricted free agents unsigned until the beginning of training camp. All the players in this group tried to hold out and ask for more money. Some deserved it. others did not. Some players got their big payday (Pietrangelo). Some did not (Kadri, Mikkel Boedker, Marcus Johansson). One of them still hasn’t been signed and will be screwed over like no player since the cap era began as a result of it (Stepan) . You can thank P.K. Subban’s contract for that. The Montreal Canadiens could not determine whether Subban could be a superstar or an above average puck mover. So the Canadiens decided to only give him a 2 year, $5.75 million contract instead of Subban’s desired 5 years and over $25 million proposal. Welp, Mr. Subban went on to win the Norris trophy last year, so that settles what we should expect from him in the future. Now he’s the biggest bargain amongst all defenseman and maybe all of hockey. With his “bridge” contract running out this year, it will be fascinating to see what Pernell can get this time around.
6. Alex Ovechkin
I could not care less what people think about this. Yes, I am a Caps fan and I am now infamous for overrating my team too much, but name me any winger you can depend on in hockey outside of Alex Ovechkin for every single NHL game that is at the peak of his powers. For Ovechkin’s worst years to be when he shot 8.7% in 2011 and when he only shot 3.88 times a game in 2012, I still think that is pretty impressive. Also, who else can you call a “bad year” to mean that he scored 32 goals other than Ovechkin. Who knows how long he can keep on scoring 100 points or score over 40 or 50 goals, but Alex Ovechkin is easily the best winger in hockey, bad contract and all.
5. Steven Stamkos
It is no secret that Steven Stamkos has, by far, the most accurate shot in hockey since he has entered the league, and at 23 years young, he still hasn’t tapped into his potential. Did you know that his shots per game rate went down from 3.7 last year to 3.27 this year and he was still on pace for 49 goals? But even with all those ridiculous numbers, he still has never reached 100 points in his career. Even worse, Tampa Bay really hasn’t shown signs that they know how to become a Stanley Cup contender in the long term. The lightning also only gave Stamkos a 5-year deal and that may backfire on them if their long term plans don’t turn rosier anytime soon.
4. Jonathan Toews
The youngest captain to ever win a Stanley Cup just won another one last year and he only has two years left on a $6.3 million per year contract, just like teammate Patrick Kane. I think that easily explains why he is among the five best trade pieces. So why is he only #4 on the list? For one, he built an injury history in 2012 and there have been moments of inconsistency during his career. Chicago is still young however, and his legend will hit astronomical proportions if he can add one more Cup to his resume.
3. John Tavares
After having two average seasons to start out his career, the New York Islanders went on to sign John Tavares to a 6 year, $33 million contract. Since then, Tavares exploded with 81 points in 2012 and 28 goals (48 goals per 82 games) in 2013. I know the Islanders have one of the worst front offices in all of sports, but signing Tavares a year before his entry level deal was concluding could be the smartest thing they have ever done. There is not a shadow of a doubt that Tavares’ contract is the biggest bargain in hockey. He should easily be worth another $3 million a year and he has made the Islanders relevant for the first time in almost three decades. Oh, and should we mention that Tavares is only 23?
2. Sidney Crosby
Finally, Sidney Crosby comes in at number….wait, what? Am I right in reading this? How is Crosby not #1? Welp, here’s to hoping Penguins fans don’t bring the pitchforks on me for making this decision. Look, there is no shadow of a doubt that Crosby has been the best player in hockey ever since he has been drafted in 2005. He has one a Stanley Cup, played in two cup finals and has been in three conference finals. In 470 games, Crosby has scored 238 goals and 665 points. Of all players that have played that many games, only Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux have had a higher points per game rate than Crosby in NHL history.
But there is one major problem for Crosby. Remember that I mentioned that he has played 470 games? That is out of a possible 622 games that Crosby has been eligible to play. That’s 152 games missed due to concussions and other various injuries. Add the fact that his cap hit will be the second most expensive in the NHL this season at $8.7 million and Crosby has to be counted on more than ever to stay healthy. Until then, I can’t trust him 100% to lead my hockey team if Crosby is going to miss time due to injury. So who on earth is better than Crosby in terms of trade value?
1. Henrik Lundqvist
That’s right my friends, I have pulled the impossible!!! I have found someone more valuable than Crosby. He is someone who is hitting his contract year. He is someone who is still at the peak of his powers. And most importantly, he is someone who is better at his position more than anyone else in the NHL. Since hockey came back from its horrific lockout in 2005-2006, there has not been a single player that has been more dependable than Henrik Lundquist. If we have to punish Crosby for all the injuries that he has picked up over the years, we have to reward Lundquist for his durability. In his 8 seasons in the NHL, he has played 511 games out of a possible 622. Considering that coaches are doing whatever they can to rest goalies and get them ready for the playoffs, that is nuts!!!! Only Mikka Kiprusoff can do better and retired as a result of all those miles and damages placed on his body.
Oh, and let’s not forget his other stats. All he needs to do is show up to the rink and he’ll give you a 93% even strength save percentage every time. Only Marty Brodeur has had more shutouts since Lundqvist has entered the league and Brodeur is 41 years old. Lastly, let’s look at the ten best goalies based on point shares since Lundvist’s debut. Ryan Miller comes close in terms of those potentially passing him, but he’s 20 months older than him. Everyone else on this list either has too many question marks or are hitting the twilights of their careers. So since Lundqvist stands alone, how much will he be worth after finishing his age 32 season? Pekka Rinne’s contract is the record, but in terms of 21st century front office decision making, Sergei Bobrovsky’s contract is the standard. It’s up to you Glen Sather! You can either go 3 to 4 years for something close to $7.5 million each or you can be your usual
stupid self and go 8 years and $64 million. Literally, the future of your franchise depends on it.