Prospect Ramblings: What type of prospects will it take to land Hall?

by Hayden Soboleski on December 8, 2019

 

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One of the biggest story lines in the NHL right now is the (apparently) imminent trade of Taylor Hall, well before the trade deadline. Whether it’s seconds before the deadline or early to maximize value, the formula hasn’t changed much – every team out of the running wants “a 1st and a prospect” for their top trade bait. We hear that every year, but at the end of the day we tend to see more draft picks moved than prospects. With one of the biggest names possibly coming off the board soon, I thought I’d take look at what caliber of prospects typically get moved, and what that means for team in the Hall sweepstakes:

 

Option 1 – Trading for a rental

Recent examples:

2019 – Adam McQuaid for Julius Bergman, a 4th, and a 7th

2019 – Kevin Hayes for Brendan Lemieux and a 1st

2019 – Matt Duchene and Julius Bergman for Vitaly Abramov, Jonathan Davidsson, and a 1st*

*plus another 1st if Duchene re-signed, but this was unlikely to be the case at the time

2018 – Evander Kane for Danny O’Regan, a 1st and a 3rd (it was complicated)

2018 – Michael Grabner for Yegor Rykov and a 2nd

 

 

So despite all the talk about “a pick and a prospect” being the cost for a rental player, only 3 trades of this description actually happened last year.  McQuaid, a bottom-pairing defenseman at best, landed Bergman who is now a UFA and was essentially a “D” prospect at the time. He served as a contract going the other way to even the books. 

 

In their package for Kevin Hayes, the Jets gave up Brendan Lemieux, who’s DobberProspects page had rated as a 5.5 upside and 8.5 NHL likelihood. A decent name in the system, but not one that significantly stocks the cupboards.

 

Finally, in the Duchene deal the Senators picked up two notable prospects in Abramov and Davidsson. Abramov was in the middle of an okay rookie AHL campaign with 22 points in 52 games, and is rated as a 8.5 upside and 6.0 NHL likelihood. A former 100-point QMJHL scorer, he was as high-skilled as prospects come.  Davidsson was still playing overseas during the trade, amidst a strong SHL campaign where he put up 21 points in 37 games. He had no pedigree as a former 6th-round-pick, but he raised his profile enough to be a legit piece of the trade puzzle. Columbus refused to give up Emil Bemstrom or Alex Texier (two of their top prospects) in the deal.

 

In the case of Taylor Hall, he obviously compares best to Matt Duchene out of the five players listed above. Even as a former MVP, given his injury history and being a winger rather than a center, I think New Jersey will target a Duchene level of return if the intention is to be a rental. So, for teams in the running for him (assuming a 1st round pick is also involved) you’re looking at giving up at least one prospect in the “B+” range, and another in the “B-” range. Don’t expect A-tier guys to be included (ie. Bowen Byram or similar).

 

Who this could mean based on current rumors (this obviously depends on the picks and roster players included!):

Colorado

1 of: Shane Bowers, Martin Kaut, Calle Rosen

plus 1 of:  Alex Beaucage, Sampo Ranta, Drew Helleson

 

Dallas

1 of: Denis Gurianov

plus 1 of: Gavin Bayreuther, Colton Point, Adam Mascherin

 

Montreal

1 of: Alexander Romanov, Joel Teasdale

plus 1 of: Joni Ikonen, Jesse Ylonen, Josh Brook

 

Edmonton

1 of: Raphael Lavoie, Kailer Yamamoto

plus 1 of: Ryan McLeod, Joel Persson

 

St. Louis, Arizona, and Boston did not make this list due to the content of their prospect bases probably leading to a different type of package (more picks and less prospect value).

 

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Option 2 – Trade w. term or extension 

Recent examples:

2019 – Brandon Montour for Brendan Guhle and a 1st

2019 – Mark Stone for Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg, and a 2nd

2019 – Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato and a 5th

2019 – Jake Muzzin for Carl Grundstrom, Sean Durzi, and a 1st

2018 – Max Pacioretty for Nick Suzuki, Tomas Tatar, and a 2nd

 

Giving up more value for term makes sense as GMs gain a more predictable cap outlook in this case. Guhle had 27 points in 50 AHL games when he was included in the swap, and currently has a DobberProspects rating of 6.0 upside with 8.5 NHL likelihood. The 1st-round pick was the brunt of the value here, but Guhle had legitamate offensive upside and was way more than just a throw-in.

 

The biggest trade bait name on the list is MarkStone, who garnered one of Vegas’ top prospects in Erik Brannstrom. A former 1st-round pick who had success at the WJC and stepped into the AHL from the SHL without a problem. He is the top prospect mentioned in this article, and its no coincidence he’s here in the second half of it. This is the name that will make teams worried about the price of Taylor Hall (especially because Vegas also included a roster player and a 1st-round-pick in the deal).

 

Coyle isn’t nearly as big a name as Stone or Hall, but still managed to land Ryan Donato, who at the time was swinging between the NHL and AHL with moderate success in both (showing hot streaks of promise in his NHL appearances). A second-round pick who finished as a Hobey Baker Finalist in the NCAA, he was one of Boston’s top names in the system. His stock has decreased since then, but at the time this appeared to be a reasonable trade.

 

When the Leafs were desperate for a proven defenseman, they were forced to give up two prospects out of their cupboard. Grundstrom was a force in the SHL, joined the AHL for the playoffs and was among the Marlies’ top performers on their way to the AHL championship the year prior to this trade. He was one of the team’s top scorers up until the trade, and looked like a sure-thing to be in the Maple Leafs’ bottom-six in 2019-20. He currently rates as a 7.0 upside and 8.0 NHL likelihood here on DobberProspects, and was high on the depth chart at the time. Durzi was also a former second-round pick, who was in the middle of a breakout OHL campaign when he became part of the Muzzin deal. He currently sits as a 5.0 upside and 7.0 NHL likelihood, but was behind a few other d-men on the Leafs prospect depth chart.

 

Finally, when the Knights went all-in for Pacioretty, the cost was extremely high. Nick Suzuki was a first-round draft pick, with sentimental value as their second ever selection, with an offensive ceiling through the roof (currently listed as a 8.0 upside here on DobberProspects). He was the second-most valuable asset in the organization next to Cody Glass, but not by very much. The acquired player has gone through a few rough patches with the new club (but currently back to close to a point-per-game), but this is another example of a situation teams today will be wary of. No one wants to see a top prospect and a traded-away roster player thrive on another team while the big fish goes through a cold slump.

 

What does this mean? The most comparable player to Hall on this list is Michael Stone, possibly Pacioretty from a goal-scoring perspective, and he definitely comes at a higher price than Muzzin or Coyle, so if he is serious about an extension with the winning bidder, teams are likely going to have to ante up a borderline “A” prospect along with a 1st-round pick. That being said, Brannstrom was highly rated but not an “A+” prospect when he was traded, so I don’t expect any team to give up their top name in whatever deal comes to fruition. Suzuki is an “A” now, but at the time was more widely perceived as a “B+” or “A-” depending on the scout (naturally he had some big fans).

 

Who this could mean based on current rumors (this obviously depends on the picks, roster players included!):

Colorado – Conor Timmins

Dallas – Ty Dellandrea or Jason Robertson

Montreal – Ryan Poehling or Alexander Romanov

Edmonton – Tyler Benson or Jesse Puljujarvi

 

St. Louis, Arizona, and Boston did not make this list due to the content of their prospect bases probably leading to a different type of package (more picks and less prospect value).

 

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Thanks for reading, even though I know for certain every fan base mentioned in this piece is now upset at me. Feel free to yell at me for my stupid thoughts on Twitter.

Hayden Soboleski

@soboleskih