Scouting The Deadline Part 2: Identifying Appropriate Return For Assets

January 23, 2012, by

Part 1: Identifying Team Needs and Surpluses

As we roll into the trade deadline, rumors are going to be appearing from every possible angle. Aside from judging the source (note: HFBoards is not a source), there are a few ways to tell if a rumor is legitimate or if it is just someone blowing hot air. This Scouting The Deadline series is going to be a three part series where identify and analyze the three key steps in the trade process. Today is the second post, and it will address identifying appropriate returns for assets.

First things first, let’s define what an asset to the organization is. A player is an asset, and an asset is used to help build a Stanley Cup contending team. Assets can be players in the lineup, assets can be prospects, assets can be picks. Not every draft pick plays for the NHL club, and not every pick is used in the draft. The goal of a general manager in this league is to identify what assets mean to the organization, and what the minimum return for that asset would have to be to be moved.

For trade deadline buyers, the return is almost always a player that will serve as an upgrade for the playoffs. For sellers, the return is almost always picks and/or prospects to help build for the future. Regardless of the position a team is in, these are the generalized returns that GM’s look for.

Going deeper into this for buyers, the return does change depending on which players are to be dealt. Using Brandon Dubinsky as an example here (hypothetical, not an actual rumor), he is an integral part of the Rangers current structure. The Rangers won’t move him for a rental, nor should they. Dubinsky has tremendous value to the club. However, when referring to what was said above, trading Dubinsky isn’t exactly out of the question if the return is another roster player that serves as an upgrade at the position. This goes hand in hand with identifying team needs and surpluses, the first part of this series.

Using the first post, I identified that the Rangers have a need for a top six left wing with proven elite offensive talent. Using the Bobby Ryan example again, Ryan serves as a significant offensive upgrade over Dubinsky. So taking a step back and looping back to the original point of the post: Would Bobby Ryan be an appropriate return for trading Dubinsky? I’d have to think the answer here is yes.

But there’s more to it than just roster players. A prospect that most fans think is untouchable is Chris Kreider. First let’s go with one thing: No player, prospect, or draft pick is untouchable. Period.

Back to Kreider, his potential is widely known, but it is still just potential. He has not done anything at the NHL level, so while he is considered to be a top prospect, he is not a NHL player yet. At his peak, he actually pans out to be another Bobby Ryan: an elite power forward. When you are given the opportunity to trade potential for the proven talent, and that talent has yet to hit his prime, the deal must be made. Ryan is proven at a young age, Kreider is not.

Summing up the last few paragraphs, it makes sense that the Rangers would consider trading Chris Kreider or Brandon Dubinsky for Bobby Ryan. It meets their criteria of what the appropriate return is. That said, appropriate return also addresses overpayment. A deal with both Kreider and Dubinsky for Ryan would be an overpayment. That is not an appropriate return.

Getting away from Bobby Ryan for a moment, let’s address another type of player that is usually available: the rental. The rental is a player that fills a hole for the short term, but is unlikely to return following the playoffs.

Ray Whitney and Shane Doan fall into the rental category. Would a rental be an appropriate return for a core roster player (Dubinsky) or an elite prospect (Kreider)? Absolutely not. But that doesn’t mean a deal is dead. I identified the surplus for the Rangers to be defensive prospects. Is it really unfathomable that the Rangers would view Whitney as a good return for someone like Pavel Valentenko, who has dropped so far on the depth chart he’s collecting dust?

Confused? Think I’m making things too difficult? I might be, but I also might not be. Trades are not made on message boards or in NHL 12. Most trades take weeks of talking and negotiating, and conversations like this one are had on a daily basis. Trading is the science of preparation, negotiation, and sticking to your guns. Preparation includes those surpluses and needs, but it also is about going in knowing what you are willing to give up for a specified return. That is the toughest part of the GM’s job.


  1. The Suit says:

    Great post!

  2. Zen says:

    I agree.

  3. Walt says:

    Now we know the process, what if any moves do you think will be made before the deadline?

    At this stage of the game, the only moves we should make, assuming they can be worked out, and not cost the kitchen sink, is Suter form Nashville, or Ryan from the Ducks. In either case, the cost will be high, and we may be forced to stick with what we have, be patient, and wait for the kids next year!!!

    Your points are spot on, again, we don’t want to dismantle the team for any rental player who may not be here next season, or is too old to keep for any period of time.

  4. ArtyFan says:

    ‘… Dubinsky has tremendous value to the club…’. Can you be particular? What exact value did I see in Boston? Or vs Pens? or in other games? Yes, when this player want to play he can show the value, but his inconsistency fro 5th season in the row and his $$$ contract seems do not play ‘tremendous value’. PK? We had Dru for 7ml+ in that role, now we got 4.2ml player(BTW he wanted this contract and he got it), but let me ask you what is return of this? Did I gave up on him? not yet and I hope he will play hard till rest of the year, but can you guaranty next season? The guy playing half season in all 5 years with us, and it was never from start to the end. If the rental will help us to go far or even better, to SC finales. I will not regret losing him b/c next year I can use his 4.2ml for upgrade roster.

    • Dave says:

      Dubinsky has a lot of value, but I agree I would not be disappointed if he were moved, depending on the deal.

      • ArtyFan says:

        His inconsistency and albatross contract don’t justify his value. We always will asses player by contribution re their respective $$$. With his 4.2 ml per and low scoreboard attendance make most wish him to be traded. Value? Yes, but much less than his cap hit. Replaceable.

  5. Justin says:

    Great post Dave…while I am generally of the mindset that young, cost-controlled talent is the best way to manage the cap and build for the future, as fans we need to understand that Sather should be looking at all avenues for improving this club both for this season and in the long term.

    Sather has shown himself to be pretty adept at trading (as opposed to his horrid record in big ticket free agency), and I feel pretty confident that if he can identify an area to upgrade, it will be the right move.

  6. Bobby Tux says:

    The one missing point is referred to on the notes above.

    A team needs to manage the cap for the future and thus must use players that are highly valued and in the their mid to late 20s as trade bait. The cap forces you to have a successful farm team so at times you need to let go of overpaid and over valued players such as Dubinsky in order to find the young /fairly paid at entry level version of that same player.

    That does not mean it needs to happen in a single trade no.

    But if you trade for an commodity that you do not possess on your roster, you must do it.

    So in the case of Dubinsky now is the time and a scoring left wing is the commodity.

    • RangerSmurf says:

      Good luck finding an entry level, 40-50 point player that can play at all 3 strengths and put up those points against the other teams’ top lines, w/o drafting in the top 5.

      • Bobby Tux says:

        Carl hagelin?

        My point is that as we have observed in the past few years that high price contracts can only cause disappointment. So most players do no deserve them and a team should always trade a high contract player for another high contract player if the team has a need at a skill position and is simply trading a grinder/worker if the team had an abundance of the workers.

        Workers are the most replaceable at an entry level and if they blossom it will be a few good years BUT when they become overvalued/overpaid you better trade them. See Gomez and Drury

        • Dave says:

          Hagelin? It’s been 28 games so far. Yes, he’s been great, but let’s see him do it over 82 games for a few years.

          • Bobby Tux says:

            That is my point exactly. When Dubinsky started he had projected potential and he is overpaid for past production that is not repeatable on an every game basis.

            I would rather have the scorer that we need in a Dubinsky for Ruan trade. Let Hagelin become the next Dubinsky or hipefully better AND have several prospects that fit the mold of all around player developing in the system to be ready in successive years

  7. ranger17 says:


  8. cmac44 says:

    I agree with the post, the question would have to be, is including Kreider in a trade for someone like Rick Nash worth it? The team will have to address it’s forward depth, especially with Boyle and Dubinsky not scoring. They are very lucky to have Carl Hagelin at this point, but he is a rookie after all. And I love Mitchell, but as a fourth liner. Vinnie Prospal may be a valuable rental at this point. Wolski, Christiansen, and Avery have no value, and don’t forget about Zuccarello as trade bait.

    • ArtyFan says:

      I like Nash and heard this idea from my friend, but I told him the same as I’m telling to you, LIFETIME contract with $7.8ml per it’s a lot if we taking consideration future signing players like McD Kreider Hank( coming). I would pass on Prospal despite I like him, but 38… was seen. I don’t think he has spot on current roster.