Once again I'm usurping a column idea from Bill Simmons, the eternally polarizing Player Trade Value Rankings, designed to identify the 50 best pure assets in the league. Operating in reverse order, this article employs a playground style logic of "Would you trade player X for player Y?" It factors in Age, Salary and Overall Value while avoiding the constraints of a Salary Cap world (Movement Clauses etc.) as not to overly complicate things. The conclusion is that you would not be able to trade player 15 for players 14 - 1 and would be unwise to offer them for players 16 through 50. This isn't a ranking of "Who do you want right now?" so much as an appreciation of the best NHL assets going forward. Enjoy!
- Honorable Mentions
The only possible way that a yet-to-be-drafted OHL player who turned 17 a handful of months ago could make an NHL trade value list is if that player was completely, utterly and unequivocally special. Connor McDavid is that player. Any NHL team would be wise to trade almost any player on this list for the #1 pick in 2015 and the lucky franchise that ends up possessing that selection would be foolish to part with it for less than a king's ransom. Only a year after registering the 4th best Age 16 OHL season of all time (66 Points in 63 Games) he recorded the 2nd best Age 17 OHL season of the modern era, behind only John Tavares who can be found near the top of this list (Spoiler Alert!). McDavid is a near perfect talent due to his incomparable lower body strength, Hockey IQ and hand eye coordination. He has thoroughly dominated every level of hockey for years and is unquestionably the best prospect since Sidney Crosby. Enough to make you wonder why a number of NHL bottom feeders aren't throwing away this year simply to tank for a chance to acquire the potentially franchise altering forward (Ahem, Buffalo). He could easily find himself near the apex of these rankings in only a few years along with Jack Eichel, Oliver Kylington and Sean Day, who aren't quite good enough to deserve a full entry but warranted at least a passing mention due to their immense potential.
Sasha Barkov / Seth Jones/ Valeri Nichushkin / TJ Brodie / Jacob Trouba / Hampus Lindholm / Chris Kreider / Olli Maatta / Torey Krug / Ondrej Palat / Sean Monahan / Gustav Nyquist / Vladimir Tarasenko / Roman Josi / Alex Glachenyuk / Nail Yakupov / Craig Smith / Morgan Rielly / Jake Gardiner / Tyler Toffoli / Boone Jenner / Brandon Saad / Kyle Turris / Cody Hodgson / Adam Henrique / Cam Fowler / Nick Bjugstad / Mika Zibanejad / John Carlson / Jaden Schwartz / Jake Muzzin / Fillip Forsberg / Evgeni Kuznetsov / Ryan Strome / Anders Lee / Dougie Hamilton / Jonathan Huberdeau / Jake Gardiner / Mikael Granlund / Reilly Smith / Tyler Johnson / Mark Scheifele / Tomas Tatar / Tyler Ennis / Sean Couturier / Nick Holden / Jakob Silfverberg / Carl Hagelin / Alex Chiasson / Nino Neiderreiter / Justin Schultz / Charlie Coyle / Sven Bartschi / Justin Faulk / Slava Voynov / Brayden Schenn / Wayne Simmonds
Neither Here Nor There
Jonathan Quick / Patrick Marleau / James Neal / TJ Oshie / Jakub Voracek / / Kris Letang / Marc-Edouard Vlasic / Kevin Shattenkirk / Bobby Ryan / Brent Seabrook /Alexander Steen / Daniel & Henrik Sedin / Kyle Okposo / Nazem Kadri / Zdeno Chara / Corey Schneider / Brent Burns / Mikko Koivu / David Backes / Jason Spezza / Paul Stastny / Blake Wheeler / Bryan Little / Keith Yandle / Rick Nash / Ryan Kesler /Ryan Johansen /James Van Riemsdyk / Martin St. Louis / Zach Parise / Eric Staal /Patrick Sharp / Ryan McDonagh / David Backes / Mark Giordano
- The All Stars
50. David Krejci
One of the elite two ways forwards in hockey will enjoy a 5.25 M Salary during the 2014-15 season, a huge bargain for a 28 year old who scores at a similar rate to Patrick Marleau and generates tremendous defensive value. Krejci is one of the few impending FA's on this list and it will be interesting to see how Boston will handle his situation given their cap constraints.
49. Marian Hossa
One of the best all around talents in hockey, signed to a lovely contract (5.25 per year) and a key cog for the consistently dominant Blackhawks, Hossa could only rank this low due to his advancing age (35 as of January).
48. Pavel Datsyuk
The Future Hall of Famer turns 36 this year. Though he is indeed Pavel Freaking Datsyuk and may very well remain a solid NHL asset until 43, you can never be sure about players entering their late 30's. Here's hoping that we see several more seasons of one of the best all around forwards in hockey history.
47. Henrik Zetterberg
At 34 he's still scoring at a PPG pace, playing superb two way hockey every shift and is locked up to a very agreeable contract. The Red Wings captain could be a useful asset well into his 40's and is half way through a very enviable career. Yet another player who will earn his current salary for the rest of the decade.
46. Joe Thornton
The 35 year old veteran of 1,339 NHL games (Including playoffs) is showing no signs of slowing down. He still scoring at an elite rate (only 3 fewer assists than Crosby this season) for a perennially dominant squad in San Jose. How exactly does he factor into the Sharks plans heading forward?
45. Patrice Bergeron
One of the most consistent NHLers, you can always rely on Bergeron for 60 points and a Selke nomination. The two time winner of that award is considered by all to be one of the best two way forwards in the league and generally finishes atop the Faceoff % leaders. A 6.5 M salary until 2022 is a solid deal and he is a key reason the Bruins remain elite every single year.
44. Victor Hedman
Did Hedman indeed take the next step towards realizing his immense potential in 2013-14? He finished 9th in Norris voting after a splendid campaign and enjoys a highly friendly 4M cap hit until 2017, when he may become a free agent. If he continues to grow into his frame and skillset he could find himself much higher on these ranking in years to come.
43. Thomas Vanek
Austria's Great Hope recently opted to sign with the Minnesota Wild for various reasons to a 3 year contract with a 6.5 M cap hit. He is still a legitimate first line winger in the NHL and could help a young Minnesota squad ascend in the brutal Western Conference.
42. Marian Gaborik
Gaborik recently opted to stay in LA for what is likely the best contract in hockey, at least in the short term. A 4.875 M Cap Hit is preposterously cheap for a 32 year old near PPG player though will become strenuous as he ages (the contract ends in 2021). Furthermore, his ability to stay healthy is never guaranteed (Gabs is one of the most injury prone players of his generation and missed another 41 games this past season) and his production has been declining somewhat in the past while. At the end of the day, Marian is a difference maker (14 Goals in the playoffs) and he, along with his low cap hit should help the Kings remain atop the NHL standings for the next several years.
41. Evander Kane
Kane is only 22, skates beautifully for a player of his size and already has 4 seasons of above average NHL production under his belt. There are vague concerns about his character within the NHL but much of that energy is almost totally undeserved. A player of his caliber locked up to a very friendly deal (5.25 M until 2018) who has produced at a 0.62 rate so far with little around him is nothing but a juicy asset.
- The Elite Assets
40. Jeff Skinner
Skinner is only 22 and has already played 4 full NHL seasons, one of which was a historic age 18 campaign that ended with him handily winning the Calder Trophy. He's still scoring at an above average rate on a poor team and is just entering his prime, poised to become an elite sniper. With his instincts, speed and acuity the sky is the limit for this youngster.
39. Joe Pavelski
An elite two way forward who led a dominant Sharks team while finishing 7th in Hart voting, 8th in Selke and 3rd in the NHL in goals. "Little Joe" is 30 and is signed for 6.6M until 2019. This could turn out to be one of the best value contracts in hockey.
38. Jordan Eberle
How much of his 0.80 PPG rate is due to playing with Taylor Hall? Either way, he's 24 and is locked up to a very reasonable 6x6 deal. Good news for Edmonton.
37. Tuukka Rask
The 27 year old Finn has benefited heavily from playing behind the dominant Bruins for the past half decade but is without a doubt one of the best goalies in the world. At 7M he isn't a bargain but he is a regular within Vezina voting and a top young talent that performs in the playoffs. His acquisition of that award this past year only validates his elite status in the NHL.
36. Logan Couture
The 25 year old native of Guelph, Ontario is signed to an affable 6M salary until 2019. Meanwhile, he produces at a 0.75 PPG rate and delivers above average value defensively. He is a cornerstone player for the Sharks going forward and is one of the most complete young players in hockey. The question is whether he has room to grow as he enters his full prime.
35. Pekka Rinne
The 31 year old finds himself in an interesting place this season. He's easily still one of the most talented goaltenders in the world though his past 2 seasons have been sub par. This can be partially credited to several external factors but it will be important for him to fully return to form to justify his spot. Here's hoping that a player who registered back to seasons that rank among the best goaltending seasons of all time can return to Vezina form. At the end of the day, he turns 32 in November and is signed until 2019 at a 7M cap hit, a contract that only delivers value if he performs at the truly elite level we saw him ascend to from 2010 to 2012.
34. Ryan O'Reilly
ROR is a rare talent. A 22 year old who is quickly becoming one of the best two way players in hockey. He could be a cornerstone of a dominant Colorado team for many years, if he is indeed re-signed after his 2 year 12 Million contract that was agreed upon a week ago
Backstrom is a unique case. He's the 16th highest scoring player of the 2010's and sublimely skilled. You could easily argue that he is one of the elite playmakers in hockey (0.74 APG). Adversely, he has never received a single Hart vote and has spent much of his career tied at the hip to a Hall of Fame goalscorer. Defensively he is quite poor, his faceoff percentage is generally near the bottom in the NHL and he's only scored more than 22 goals once. His PPG drops considerably in the playoffs (1.0 to 0.75). At the end of the day, Nicklas is a tremendous talent on a solid contract (6.7M) and is one of the most skilled players in hockey.
32. Max Pacioretty
The 2012 Masterton Award Winner chose an unlucky time to sign his first big NHL contract, after his first 30 goal season, and he is slated to earn 4.5 per year until 2019. This is a massive bargain for a 25 year old who has now recorded 3 straight seasons at an 0.8 PPG pace with less than stellar linemates, while finishing 4th in the NHL in goals this past year with 39. Montreal are chock full of excellent young assets (Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Beaulieu etc.) and Patches may be the best of the group.
30. Alex Pietrangelo 31. Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Alex is already a legit Norris level player at 24 and coming off his his first of what could be many appearances for Canada in the Olympics. Pietrangelo helms what is consistently one of the best defensive teams in hockey and is a force at both ends of the ice. There's a decent chance that he could still improve and enjoys a very agreeable contract. OEL meanwhile is not far behind, at a similar age and is one of the most complete defensemen in hockey due to his intelligence, skating ability and consistency. These two young studs are likely to be Norris mainstays heading into the next decade. They finished 5th, 14th in voting for that particular award already this season.
29. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
There are few players in the league with a higher ceiling than this 20 year old wunderkid. Once again, playing for a truly awful franchise (at the moment) in Edmonton compromises his value and causes him to be underrated. He already scores at a similar rate to Eric Staal, isn't old enough to order alchohol in the US and is signed to a 6 x 6 contract that is already a bargain and could become one of the best in hockey if he develops as planned. Given his elite vision, deceptively efficient stride and incredible set of hands, RNH is poised to become a truly ascendant talent.
- The Franchise Players
25. Henrik Lundqvist
Lundqvist is somehow only 32, dictates much of the Rangers success and is possibly one of the 15 best Goalies ever. He is as durable and consistent as they come and has finished in the top 10 of Vezina voting every year since 2006, winning once. His cap hit of 6.8 M is hefty but he maintains a lofty spot on these rankings due to consistently posting a .920 SV% on what is not an elite team.
24. Ryan Suter
His mediocre possession stats last year most likely occurred due to his elevated ice time (29:25) and the extreme youth of the Minnesota D core. Suter is still a Norris mainstay and a player who does everything very well. He will be burdened by a brutal contract (7.5M until age 40) but adversely will be an elite D man for years to come and is a crucial player for the Minnesota Wild.
23. Duncan Keith
Keith is now a 2 time Norris Winner at 31 years of age and locked up to a magnificent contract (5.5M until 2023). His performance is certainly helped by playing with and behind the best forward core in the NHL (Hey there secondary assists!) but there is no question that he is one of the best D men in the NHL due to his intelligence, skating ability and fitness. Somehow several of the players ranked in this range have a lower cap hit than Dave Bolland.
22. Corey Perry
Though his Career Season (2010 -11, Hart/Richard trophies 1.20 PPG) is now very much in the past, the 29 year old is still very much an elite player and a consistently dangerous and reliable offensive talent. He was responsible for a good portion of Anaheim's dominance in the past season and he could perform at this level for several more years.
21. Gabriel Landeskog
The 21 year old Captain is a truly complete talent who impresses during every shift. Offensively gifted, defensively strong and blessed even with the rare Intangibles of hockey lore, Gabe will be a force in the NHL for years. He's locked up to an awesome contract (5.5 M until 2021) and feels very comfortable in Colorado.
20. Patrick Kane
There are few more reliable Forwards in hockey as Kane has scored above a 0.88 rate since age 19. His ranking is mitigated by the fact that he delivers negligible defensive value and earns a very hefty 10.5 M starting next season, but Patrick is a Conn Smythe winner and a generational talent. One of the key reasons for Chicago's success in recent years.
19. Nathan MacKinnon
The question: Is he Jeff Skinner (who scored at an identical rate to him as an 18 year old and only tallied 54 pts last year) boosted by playing with elite forwards in Colorado or is he a future Hall of Fame forward about to join the top group of these rankings? Either way, he's an extraordinary hockey player on a rookie contract who won't sniff Free Agency until the early 2020's. He rose above a stellar rookie class this year and demonstrates the skillset and instincts of a truly elite talent on every shift. TheAvalanche would literally hang up on you if asked to trade for him at this point which may either be irrational or wise. Thus is the precarious nature of Pro Sports.
18. Phil Kessel
In the past few seasons, Kessel has evolved into one of the most reliable and dynamic forwards on Planet Earth. His combination of speed, strength and elite goal scoring instincts make him a constant threat and his playmaking ability is highly underrated. An 8 Million Cap Hit is hefty but he is a truly dominant offensive force who leaves opposing defensive units in shambles. He vaults ahead Kane on these rankings because he produces at a similar rate without the help of elite linemates on a much weaker team.
17. Shea Weber
A Hockey Behemoth in every way except for Advanced Stats lately (which are heavily influenced by certain factors out of his control). Sadly, his contract is also a Behemoth (7.8M AAV until 2026) and is unlikely to matched by on ice production as he heads into his 30's. Shea Weber (with help from an increasing Salary Cap) would be the one person capable of such a feat but for the time being it will severely limit the value of someone who may likely end up in the Hall of Fame when all is said and done.
16. Drew Doughty
Possibly the most underrated player in Hockey. Universally beloved by the advanced stats community, Drew turns 25 in December and has missed 16 games out of a possible 458 since 2008. Every NHL coach would relish having him on their team as Doughty is as complete a D man as you will find in hockey and is one of the key cogs in LA's recent run of success.
- The Untouchables
15. Erik Karlsson
Much of made of the fact that the 24 year old receives the fourth fewest PK minutes among D men for the Ottawa Senators but Karlsson is as dominant as an offensive D man gets in the NHL posted excellent possession stats in the Shorthanded ice time he received. Bobby Orr, Sergei Zubov and Sandis Ozolinsh are his closest Hockeyref.com career comparables so far and and he is likely to factor into Norris voting for the next decade. The only significant time he's missed so far as an NHLer has come due to a freak injury and he's the highest scoring D man of the 2010's so far by a wide margin while playing for a highly mediocre squad in Ottawa. Scoring at a similar rate to Joe Thornton, playing 27 minutes a night and being one of the more intelligent players in the NHL will earn you this elusive status.
14. Ryan Getzlaf
Ryan has been scoring above a PPG rate since age 22 (lest the 11-12 season) and delivers excllent defensive value. He's approaching 30 but due to the rarity of his ability, skillset and size he finds himself at the part of the list where a GM would demand a king's ransom in return for his services.
13. Claude Giroux
The NHL's 5th leading scorer since 2010, Giroux finished 3rd in Hart voting this year despite getting off to a slow start. He is the straw that stirs Philadelphia's drink and one of a handful of "Franchise Players" in the NHL. The selection of Chris Kunitz over he for the 2014 Canadian Olympic team could be seen as one of the worst hockey decisions of All Time.
12. Jamie Benn
The former 129th overall pick grew into an elite forward this season, earning a spot on Team Canada and consideration for the Hart Trophy. We don't know if his performance was slightly anomalous or if he's going to spend many years at the top of these rankings but we do know that Dallas Stars value the 25 year old very highly and his 5.25 M cap hit until 2017 is an incredible bargain.
11. Matt Duchene
Now with 2 PPG seasons under his belt, the 23 year old is well on his way to becoming one of the top forwards in hockey. He'll be on a 5x6 contract until 2019 and has room to improve somehow after scoring at a smilar rate to Kane, Kessel and Perry in 2013-14. He plays with tremendous energy and ambition and could become a huge factor in the postseason as Colorado improve in the following years (One would hope).
10. Pernell Karl Subban
In short, PK Subban is a hockey monster. He is the total package. His elite defensive ability is sadly overlooked due to the fact that he makes the occasional mistake and you may as well be playing with a fourth forward for most of the time that he is on the ice. He won a Norris Trophy at 23 and plays like a cross between Bobby Orr and a manic 6 year old. 'Nuff said.
9. Tyler Seguin
Good Job, Boston! The lesson as always, is that you never trade elite talent before they enter their prime. Seguin enters this upcoming season as a 22 year old who finished 4th in NHL scoring last year, 6th in Hart Voting and ragged a mediocre Dallas team (Along with Jamie Benn) to a playoff spot in a brutal Western Conference. Somehow the Bruins traded the number 7 and 18 players on this list within the last few seaons and won the President's Trophy this past year.
8. Taylor Hall
Hall is a budding superstar signed to a ridiculously agreeable contract. He should have received Hart votes this year but sadly he plays on a glorified AHL team in Edmonton. There is an argument for him, and a few other guys in this range, to be in the next group but as we will see, there is something keeping them out. In Hall's case it is a few more years of producing at a 1.1 PPG rate before he can rise to the truly upper echelon of the NHL.
7. John Tavares
There's a good chance that Tavares has a ways to go before he reaches his ceiling which is incredible considering that he's barely 24 and has been a PPG player for years now on a pitifulIslanders team. Help is on the way, with the emergence of Kyle Okposo and several key FA signings and JT could very well be enjoying the beginning of a HOF career while he earns the same salary as Dave Bolland until 2018.
6. Anze Kopitar
There's a chance that the only thing separating he and Toews is that he's a shy Slovenian and JT is a Good Ol' Canadian boy from Winnipeg. Aside from that, Kopitar is as good as it gets in terms of two way forwards in the NHL, scores at a similar rate to Joe Thornton (0.90) and turns only 27 in a month. He has been a focal part of 2 Cup runs and will earn 6.8 M until 2016 when he will no doubt re sign with the LA Kings for a reasonable amount as Anze is one of the nicest, most humble and intelligent players of his generation. There is a semblance of a dynasty occurring in LA and the Kings can cite drafting Kopitar 11th overall in 2005 as the key reason for that.
- The Future Hall of Famers
5. Jonathon Toews
The best all around forward in Hockey (Sorry Anze. And Pavel, you're 35). A perpetual Selke finalist who scores at a similar rate to Corey Perry. The only downside is a contract (8Yrs x 10.5M) that could pose major difficulties in the coming years for the Blackhawks if the Cap fails to rise greatly.
4. Alexander Ovechkin
If this was written in the Summer of 2010, he would end up first. But it's 2014 and Ovi is just a boring old Generational Superstar and future HOFer. Not potentially the best non Lemieux/Gretzky forward of all time (3 seasons of 1.4 PPG and 0.74 GPG from 07 - 10).
3. Steven Stamkos
Ranked ahead of The Great 8 for a variety of reasons including Cap Hit (2M less), Age (5 Years younger) and the fact that he's put up similar production without the influence of Nicklas Backstrom.
2. Evgeni Malkin
Is Evgeni Malkin injury prone? In the past 5 seasons he's missed 15, 39, 7, 17 and 22 games for a total of 100 games (20 per year). For reference, Stamkos and Ovi have missed a combined 66 games in the past 5 seasons (45 of them from SS this past year) and are some of the most durable talents in Hockey. This ranking is only mitigated by the fact that Malkin is Yevgeni Freaking Malkin. Keep in mind that the next guy has missed 115 games in the past 5 years but... he's also pretty good.
1. Sidney Patrick Crosby
The only player on this list to have received the Order of Nova Scotia.