Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Would you trade our next two firsts for Tavares?

So Brian Burke says he's trading for John Tavares. Cool. So now that we know who the Leafs are drafting, we can turn to the question of what it will cost them.

Howard Berger floats the first possibility in his blog today:

...the Leafs’ first-round pick [No. 7 overall]; at least one second-round pick; Luke Schenn, and a wad of cash [i.e. taking an existing contract off the Islanders’ roster]?
Now most Leafs fans aren't interested in hearing Schenn's name in trade talks, and that includes me. But Berger's on the right track here, because the price for moving up will be skyhigh. So let's swap out Schenn for an asset of comparable value: the Leafs' first pick in next year's draft.

Would you be willing to move the Leafs first round picks both this year and next as part of a deal to move up to get Tavaras? I floated the idea over at PPP earlier today and the initial response wasn't positive. Too steep, some said.


If the Islanders were willing to move the Tavares pick for a pair of firsts and some other secondary assets (and there's no reason yet to believe they would), Burke should pull the trigger and not look back.

The bottom line is that guys like John Tavares don't come around often. No, he's not a once-in-a-generation talent like Gretzky or Lemieux or maybe even Crosby. But he's no Patrick Stefan either. Tavares is an elite prospect who most seem to consider to be about as close to a sure thing as any developing 18-year-old can be.

Burke is making noise about the playoffs next year, which suggests he thinks next year's pick may be in the mid-teens. Maybe, although I'm not buying that until I see some serious roster turnover. But let's assume he's wrong, and the team is just as bad next year as they were this season, maybe even a little worse. Let's say they wind up in that same 5-10 zone they've been stuck in lately.

Would you deal two picks in that 5-10 zone for a #1? Yes, absolutely.

Think of it this way: Would you rather have Alex Ovechkin, or Blake Wheeler and Devin Setoguchi? Would you prefer Sidney Crosby, or Setoguchi and Phil Kessel? Rick Nash, or Joffrey Lupul and Thomas Vanek? Vincent Lecavalier, or Nik Antropov and Tim Connolly?

I'm guessing you wouldn't. Maybe you'd think about the Nash deal. But you'd laugh at the others.

Those are the last four players that came into the league with as much hype as Tavares. And the proposed deals include the best players who were taken 5-through-10 in their draft year and the one after.

All of this is a bit of a silly way to make the point that the dropoff from a stud #1 to the next tier of high first rounders is often steep.

Maybe it's not a fair comparison. Some of those drafts were more top-heavy than this year, which should produce some very good players in the later half of the top ten. But again, I took the best 5-through-10 player I could find from each draft -- needless to say, there were also several duds picked in those spots.

Let's be clear: the two first rounders on their own wouldn't be enough. But they could form the core of a solid offer, and it's safe to assume that if the Islanders were interested then a handful of extra picks and/or salary dumps wouldn't get in Burke's way.

We've all heard the sermon about building patiently and holding on to draft picks at all costs. That's a good strategy under normal circumstances. But the chance to land Tavares isn't normal circumstances. If there's a chance to make it happen and Brian Burke needs to load up both barrels, then Leaf fans should be cheering him on all the way.


  1. I'd trade our two firsts and a second without even blinking.

  2. the more I think about the two first rounder thing the more it makes sense

  3. This is a tough one. I propose a coin toss. Best out of seven. Heads, we do it. Tails, we don't. I let gravity make the majority of my major decisions. It's a little more fun that way.

  4. I would definitely trade our next two first for Tavares, but it's going to be more than that.

    I think the key to getting Tavares lies through Tampa Bay's second overall pick.

    We all know how T-bay owes a favour for our deal at the deadline. I don't know what we will have to trade, but if we can get ahold of that second overall pick our job will be easier.

    In the meantime, let's keep those "Tavares won't play for NYI" rumors rampant, and when we are sitting with the pick for Hedman, they'll consider a trade.

  5. I think the Islanders would ask for too much. Two drafts picks are nice, but as you listed in the examples, most teams would rather have that top player than the other two.

    I think Schenn would have to be included, but that wouldn't help the Islanders problem with scoring.

  6. It seems pretty obvious that anyone would trade two 5-10's for a #1 and I think that the trouble is that it would be obvious to the Islanders as well. Now the Islanders might be the most poorly managed team in the NHL but I just don't think they're that stupid and I don't think they'd make the deal unless Schenn was involved.
    Everyone seems to think that the Leafs will trade up to #1 because Burke said it will happen but the fact is it will only happen if someone else is willing to give up their pick for what he's offering.

  7. @Trevor...

    Good point. I kept things simple for this post, but both Burke's track record and the reality of the situation say that he'd probably make two or three smaller deals to inch his way up to #1 overall.

    @Ben and Tom...

    Point taken, but if the Islanders really liked Schenn so much, would they have traded out of the five spot last year?

  8. Two first round picks would be a good starting point. As you pointed out, I think Burke would be glad to make those trades because I don't think he thinks that those picks will be as high as these last two.

    They are definitely just starting points though and I think that it'll be hard for the Islanders to justify trading that pick unless they have a way to get the second pick.

    Also, under no circumstances do you trade Schenn.

  9. trade up and draft duchene,that kid is sick

  10. I'd stay away from Tavares, something about him rubs me the wrong way. He too often seems invisible. I'd go with Brayden Schenn or Matt Duchene. And how come nobody ever talks about Dale Mitchell? The guy is tearing up the OHL playoffs. I look forward to seeing him as a pro; the Leafs could use a clutch guy like that.

  11. Well, we could always take Brendan Witt off their hands. JUST KIDDING!
    Reading DGB's argument though, it just seems fraught with possibilities both ways. I've seen Tavares play a game or two here in Peterborough, but the only thing I can add as far as profile is that his dad is one of the most competitive SOB's you'll ever meet- a massive lacrosse legend. I suspect JT has it in some measure as well.
    I'm just terrified that he turns out to pick up a career-changing injury in his first year for us, and then we're fucked for 5 years. But I guess that's what we are paying Burke for.
    On another note, I was prowling through the ignorant filth that is the comments on a Star sports article today, and I thought how nice it would be to be able to refer asshats to a single post that destroys the common myths surrounding the Leafs and hockey in general.
    And who better to write such an important missive than DGB?

  12. I would approach it differntly. It is known that Tampa is willing to part with their pick for a deal that would include an established defenseman. So this is what I would do trade Kaberle or Kubina plus a prospect (like Hanson or Bozak ) and a 2nd for their 2nd overall pick (plus any kind of salary dump they wanna throw our way). Then flip that pick to the Isles with a prospect or two if possible, with out touching and of our first round picks. IF they bite good, if not, Hedman is not a bad conciliation prize and we still have our 7th overall.

    I just that TB would be a better fit for a trading partner becuase their needs and wants match up pretty well with ours. In dealing with the Isles they have too much of the negotiating power, having something we want when we don't really have something they want/need. That is just my 2 cents.

  13. I agree with going the Tampa route. The potential ace in the hole is Burke's ability to take on the Ryan Malone contract.

  14. I just threw Schenn in because he's their most valuable commodity. After that, who else is there? Kaberle might not accept a trade to the Islanders. Blake? Too big a contract. It doesn't leave a lot.

  15. @Kriv...

    Not a bad plan, but I don't see that package being enough to get the #2 overall pick. If Burke could somehow move up without touching his other first rounder, he's a genius.


    Remember, Kaberle's no-trade lifts once the draft starts. Even if he refused to accept a deal before then, Burke could agree to the deal in principle before then. Kaberle really has no leverage at all here to block a deal.

  16. It all depends on the GMs and the state of their respective franchises. I know Burke's talked about taking on salary in the past, but I also can't see him taking on a boat anchor of a role player into the future.

    With the percieved talent disparity between the top two and the rest of the pack, I'm thinking we'll likely need a package of a roster player (likely two, considering the quality of our guys), two picks, and a young prospect.

    Quite honestly, while the point DGB makes about talent with regards to a #1 overall and the drop-off that occurs later, I don't think any move we make to move up will be worthwhile.

    Crosby, Ovechkin, and Lecavalier are all great examples of how a great player on a crippled roster can't solve the woes of a franchise. All three have missed the playoffs in their careers, and while Washington is coming on strong Pittsburgh and Tampa have both run into problems with managing the salary of their superstars while paying for depth.

    It is possible to build a good team picking 10-15, and it's possible to find game-breaking players within that range if you allow time for development (Mike Richards and Jeff Carter come to mind). Giving away first rounders no matter the circumstance is a risky venture, and I don't believe picking up Tavares would be worth it if we give up the little depth we have in picks and players in order to get him. And I do think it would take an almost crippling package to get him.

  17. You'd have to have half a brain (or be Cliff Fletcher) to do this... keep the picks, we need more than Tavares if this team is going to win a cup. What happens if the Leafs get worse and our 1st next year turns into a top 3 pick... hello, Tom Kurvers for Scott Niedermayer anyone?

  18. @Scout...

    What happens if the Leafs get worse and our 1st next year turns into a top 3 pickThat's the chance you take. But as pessimistic as I am, I have a hard time thinking this team will be worse next year than they were this season. I suspect Burke is looking to load up on UFAs and make a run at the playoffs next year.

  19. Evander Kane and Taylor Hall for Tavares? The Leafs will have a good chance at #1 next season.

  20. @Scott Baker:

    Crosby, Ovechkin, and Lecavalier are all great examples of how a great player on a crippled roster can't solve the woes of a franchise. Didn't Tampa win a Cup? And Pittsburgh get to the Cup finals? And didn't they both do it with the bottom two lines made up of players from my ball hockey league? Maybe the franchises still have problems, but they have made it to the finals.

    I think most fans would accept a Cup victory for their team even if it meant the third and fourth lines aren't that great.

  21. My assumption is that most nay-sayers have been over saturated with the Tavares talk, and, as Leaf fans are predispositioned to seeing every major deal as one where Toronto gets screwed.

    all that said, I say do it. Start with your option and go from there. The Leafs need a legitimate number one center to run the offense, and Tavares should be that guy.

    Second and third lines are already covered with centers. In fact, the 4th line could be Stajan's home if Tyler Bozak has a a great camp. That would mean Grabovski and Bozak would be fighting for ice time. Good problem to have...

    We need that first line guy to carry this team though, and Tavares has a reputation of stepping up when it matters. That's the player we need...

  22. Am I the only one that would prefer Hedman? Did anyone see how he played in the WJC? The guy had just separated his shoulder a little while before that. Problem is, I think Tampa would prefer him too...they already have three superstar forwards.

    Also, for the love of God, can we PLEASE sign Gaborik???? That guy is so skilled and I really believe that if he can stay healthy, he will be a top 5 scorer in this league if he can get out of Minnesota's suffocating gameplan. Has a bit of a chippy streak to him too, and he's only 27.

    Sorry to stray off topic...

  23. I thought we weren't going to trade our future anymore?

    Draft 7th. We'll still get a solid player. The pieces are beginning to fall into place. There's no need to mortgage more of a future we are trying to build.

  24. I've thought about this a bit more.

    If the Isles have their hearts set on Tavares, it will be really difficult to get him. I do think it would cost a Schenn package because the Isles can't really afford to trade the 1-pick without a superlative return.

    However, they may not have their hearts set on Tavares, either because (a) they love Hedman or (b) they are worried about Tavares's reluctance to go to the Island. In either case, they can defensibly keep the 1-pick and use it on Hedman.

    If I were the Lightning GM, I would definitely do a deal involving four of the following five assets for the 2-pick:

    Future 1st
    Relief from Malone's contract

    Were I Tampa's GM, I might do a deal with three of those assets, but definitely four. It eases the financial and cap-based pressure and makes it easier to keep Vinny and St-Louis with Stamkos if that's what they want to do.

    If -- a big if -- the Isles are thinking about taking Hedman, Tampa seems to be Burke's play. I suppose the Isles could trade down one spot to extract a second-rounder or something from Burke, but I suspect they might not like the optics of trading down again.

  25. On the subject of the Nash deal... I think some people would take Vanek straight up if all you're considering is point production. Vanek's career season saw him get 43 goals and 84 points, Nash's career season (this year) saw him get 40 goals and 79 points. Toss in Lupul who had 25 goals and 50 points this year, and a career year of 28 goals and 53 points, and yeah... I'd NOT deal for Nash.

    You also need to remember it took Columbus a LONG time to make the playoffs with Nash.

    Lecavalier is another one I'd think twice about. Connolly has had injury problems throughout his career, as had Antropov. Lecavalier has really had only 2 top notch seasons despite his relative health. This year, Lecavlier only had 29 goals and 67 points. Connolly had 18 goals and 47 points while Antropov had 28 goals and 59 points. Would I rather take 46 goals and 106 points or 29 goals and 67 points? I'm leaning towards the former.

    Crosby and Ovechkin are no brainers... but even in that case... the two players that followed aren't exactly pathetic losers. Wheeler and Setoguchi combined for 52 goals and 110 points this year, and Wheeler was a rookie and Setoguchi was in his 2nd season. They're only improving from here. That's COMPARABLE to Ovechkin. If they improve much at all... and they probably will... they'll be outpacing Ovechkin in combination very soon.

    Crosby's career best was his 36 goal 120 point season 3 years ago. Setoguchi and Kessel combined for 67 goals and 125 points this year. This year Crosby had 33 goals and 103 points. Again... I'm not sure Crosby is worth the exchange. Especially since Setoguchi and Kessel will improve. Crosby isn't likely to get a lot better than he already is.

    This isn't a situation where you can say "ah but I can fill that roster slot with ANOTHER talented
    player"... because you're exchanging that talented player in the process. If you look at it as purely a 2 for 1... I admit the deals CURRENTLY are no brainers... but I think long term, you might have to rethink this one.

    Try comparing more deals from a decade ago... not from 5 years ago. It would make more sense. Lecavalier was the only one from that era.

    Oh and I don't know if it's fair to compare the best performers from 5 to 10. The Leafs are picking 7th. You should either compare 7th overall and a similar slot next year, or else take the best 2 players taken after the first overall pick in the draft. Either method is arbitrary, but I don't see why you'd single out the players in the 5 to 10 range aside from convenience for your argument.

    Joe Thornton for Hossa and Antropov (or Simon Gagne/Scott Gomez)?

    Alex Daigle for Jason Arnott and Ryan Smyth?

    And... need I remind you of Eric Lindros? He panned out great for Philly... but the deal also worked out pretty damn good for Quebec/Colorado.

    Lindros for Forsberg (9th overall in the same draft, 1991) and Jocelyn Thibault (1st rd pick in 1993), Another 1st rounder (1994), and 5 other players, AND cash. THAT seems like a more comparable deal to me... considering what Burke is doing in public. I frankly think that would be completely ridiculous... but I don't think it's beyond what the asking price would be.

  26. I'd like to make two points:

    1. Hanson/Bozak/hopefull Gilroy are untradeable. if we know anything about Burke, it is that he is a man of principle. I can't imagine a situation where he goes to one of these kids he just signed (who could have signed anywhere) and tells them they have been traded.

    2. If I were running the Isles I wouldn't accept Toronto's next two first round picks AND Schenn for Tavares. Consider that the Islanders are a struggling franchise. They need a new arena. They play in a market with 2 other (better) NHL teams. If there is one thing that they need, it is a franchise type electric scorer who can attract the casual fan, generate league wide excitement, and help the team win (in that order).

    As great as Schenn or Hedman may be, not a lot of fans go to the rink to watch a perfect outlet pass or a nice defensive play behind the net.

    Tavares may turn out not to be the kind of player who can dominate offensively right out of the gate, but I can't see how Garth Snow can possibly risk trading down and seeing Tavares turn in to the next franchise saving forward in the vein of Crosby or Ovehckin.

  27. @Tom

    Tampa won their cup pre-cap, it was a lot easier for them to get a team together under Vinny and Marty, and the team's collapse since the lockout pretty much proves it. Completely different situation.

    Pittsburgh made the Finals, it's true... but they never stood a chance at the cup, and it was their last year before having to make some hard decisions with regards to personnel in the offseason. They couldn't afford to put that Finals team back together if they tried.

    Shero's done great things with that team bringing in cheap scoring talent, but there's been no indication that he's not patching a leaking boat, similar to the Senators and their Finals appearance.

  28. Problem is... negotiations would start and end with Snow demanding Luke Schenn. I find it hard to believe it could work any other way.

    2008 first, 2008 second, 2009 first, Tomas Kaberle, Jiri Tlusty? NYI's a team that needs help in all areas and this would go a long ways in assembling a strong core... but JT's a marketing boon for them, and it's hard to envision Isles fans putting up with passing on a player heralded as the next "Great One" after watching Snow pass on Luke Schenn last draft (and then moving down even further after that).

    I get it that Burke's looking to put his stamp on this team, but patience is a virtue here.. lots of talent in the top 10 of this draft.

  29. By 2008 I mean 2009 and by 2009 I mean 2010.

  30. I think the only hope Burke has is to somehow pry the #2 pick from Tampa while keeping #7. If I'm Brian Lawton, I would seriously consider moving that pick for a package that included Kaberle and a couple top prospects, and perhaps a salary dump. If Burke succeeds, then he could offer #2 and #7 for #1, which to me would be an enormous price to pay. From a purely hockey perspective, it would be a great deal for Snow to make, but as was mentioned previously, the Isles have marketing issues, and passing on a potential offensive star such as Tavares could be a PR disaster. As a Leaf fan, I think I'd be happier having the #2 and #7 picks anyway.

  31. @Deano...

    If I'm Brian Lawton, I would seriously consider moving that pick for a package that included Kaberle and a couple top prospects...But other than Schenn, the Leafs don't have any top prospects.

    They have some good young players in the system, no doubt, and a few in the NHL already. But I wouldn't call anyone a blue chipper, even guys like Kulemin. At least not to the extent you'd need to land a #2 overall pick in a draft some people think has two franchise players.

  32. @ DGB:

    I was kind of thinking the same thing. That was more of a starting point I know the deal might require an additional roster player or a pick (our 2nd 2nd rounder), but I think it would still be a better avenue to pursue, besides, it would still be much cheaper than what NY would demand.

  33. VERY small point. Our team defense and penalty killing blow. Our team scoring does not(as of the season end). How much does Tavares address that? Not so much as Hedman. Trade for the second overall...........

  34. I agree with Mike's comments about the college kids - trading them would destroy any future ability to sign similar players, and Burke isn't that type of person. I also agree with the comments that the Isles desperately need a marketable player, and I do think that'll be a huge factor in all of this. Snow couldn't afford to ignore a king's ransom - but it would have to be to pry away such a marketing gem.

    So really, the Leafs should forget about getting Tavares. If they want to move up, that's fine, but as others have noted take the cheaper route of moving up 2-4 spots and grabbing Duchene, Kane or Schenn the 2nd.

  35. I am convinced that this is a smokescreen by Burke.

    The speculation is fun but I can't think of any move for # 1 or 2 that doesn't involve the Leafs getting gutted. I wonder if this is just a distraction to get another player that Burke has targeted...

    Although, one thing I read Rick Dudley say was that Burke will be honest and upfront about what he wants and what it'll take for you to get what you want from him. Maybe persistence will pay off but I am not holding my breath.

  36. @PPP...

    I am convinced that this is a smokescreen by Burke.With anyone else I might agree with you, but Burke's entire MO since he got to Toronto has been to be brtually honest (even when there was no good reason to be).

  37. The first step is obviously to get TB's second. So many have already stated that they have the cap issues, and the deeper roster. Giving up the number two pick will probably help solve some of their more long term issues, really. We may even get lucky and not need to deal Schenn or a future 1st rounder.

    From there Burkey boy will do his magic to strong arm the Isles. Think about how he pushed around TB's GM in 99, swapping his 4th overall for their 1st when trying to land both Sedins.

    Even if we get "Stuck" with Hedman, who's cryin'?

  38. Totally agree with Mike's #2, the Islanders need to get better RIGHT NOW and a 1st rounder next year is useless to them. It's going to take a package of established NHL players and picks to make them consider giving up Tavares.

  39. If Burke can trade his way up to 3rd, then flip picks and include Schenn,plus payoff Tampa just to make sure they don't take Duschene so the Islanders could draft him, that would work. It would give NY a possible sniper and a shutdown d-man they should of had last year.

    Two #1's won't be enough. And taking salary off their hands won't work because of the salary minimum. They need D.P.'s contract just to reach the basement.

    Add in the factor that Tavares can revitalize a fan base which could get them more involved in the Lighthouse Project(new arena. More votes to get Kate Murray, the Town of Hempstead Supervisor holding the whole thing up, out of office in November

  40. Maybe I'm in the minority here but I'd save the barn and "settle" for Brayden Schenn. Our 7-spot & say, Kubina would likely put us in a position to grab him.

    ...I'm partial to tough Saskatchewan kids. Would love to see them wearing letters for the next decade +.

  41. So is the salary boat anchor on the islanders Di Pietro?

  42. Am I evil, if I like to bring up this piece after Toronto has traded two 1st round picks, including (at least) one in top-2, for Phil Kessel?