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Team assets value Pt 1 : Building through the draft + recycling assets

Team assets value Pt 1 : Building through the draft + recycling assets

Looking at the top tier teams in terms of total assets value, there’s one trend that’s clear: these teams were built through the draft. Many of those teams went through a rebuild period where they were able to add up a lot of top talent. For the other teams, they have used recycling of players in a way that would get them access to draft assets. With a high total assets value, these team can spend futures on acquiring a top player.

Here is a detailed look about where each of those teams rank for their pro roster, drafted prospects and the value of their picks going forward (3 years):

Teams

Pro

Drafted

Picks

Total

VAN

114,9

23,8

27,0

165,7

CHI

111,0

22,0

16,8

149,8

MIN

83,1

32,8

12,8

128,6

NYI

87,0

16,0

13,5

116,5

FLA

70,2

29,5

16,3

115,9

COL

94,5

10,3

6,5

111,2

NJD

83,6

14,3

12,3

110,1

DAL

87,7

8,0

13,5

109,2

CAL

81,1

13,5

13,5

108,1

Coincidentally, all these teams except for Florida are also at the top for the strength of their pro roster, with Vancouver ranked 1st and Calgary ranked 8th. Florida is ranked 15th, partly because they currently don’t have a starting goaltender.

Below, you can find how each of these teams built their roster and their assets base.

Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks have been the best team at stacking up value not only at the pro level but also in prospects and picks. They have succeeded to do that by being very savvy at recycling players and they also drafted heavily through the years. They also haven’t been shy of trading some of their upcoming assets to keep a good pro mix of youth and veterans.

Since 2014, Vancouver has selected an average of 16 prospects at each draft, including eight first round picks. This has put them in a position to continuously transform their assets from roster to futures to roster and maximize their assets. Unlike many teams, the Canucks only missed playoffs two years to get to where they are now. That’s been mostly due to their ability to recycle all kind of assets into new productive assets. Sometimes, it’s trading directly older players for younger ones. Other times, it’s trading players for futures and then using futures to acquire other roster players.

Here is a look of how they have created their current team:

-          Hall, Svechnikov and Heiskanen were straight up drafted

-          Seguin and Ellis were acquired through recycling assets and draft assets. Nick Schmaltz was part of a deal recycling Ryan Getzlaf, who was himself part of a deal recycling Henrik Sedin. The other parts of the deal were Morgan Frost who was drafted by Vancouver and a VAN 1st.

-          Perron was acquired mainly by recycling Halak.

-          Hyman was acquired by trading Max Comtois, a drafted asset.

-          Matthew Tkachuk and Theodore were both acquired in a deal where Hedman was recycled.

-          Klefbom, Bernier, COL 1st, NJD 2nd were all acquired by indirectly Matt Dumba, who was acquired using Chlapik and VAN 2nd, both Vancouver draft assets.

-          Grubauer was acquired by recycling Soderberg and Vlasic (indirectly).

-          Konecny was acquired with draft assets consisting of Chmelevsky, Stephens and a 1st rounder.

-          Many prospects are still with the team and were drafted by Vancouver, like Sam Steel and Rob Thomas.

On top of these deals, Vancouver hasn’t been shy to recycle players into future assets. Here are a few examples:

-          Trading Duchene for two 1st rounders and Bode Wilde.

-          Trading Blackwood for Cozens.

-          Trading Pearson for Dvorak.

-          Trading Brayden Schenn (who was acquired by indirectly recycling multiple players including Corey Perry) for a 1st and Lias Andersson.

The Canucks are the best example of a team that has been building assets going around the cap by recycling their players. Instead of trading their assets that aren’t worth much, they will trade better assets as long as they can turn it into value which can be used forward, whether this is pro players, prospects or picks.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks story is all about the draft. After missing the playoffs from 2007 to 2018, they finally had a breakout in 2019. Missing the playoffs all these years helped them draft a good number of prospects over the years.

While they have made some moves lately, mostly to balance their roster and the cap, most of their players and prospects were drafted: Kuznetsov, Buchnevich, Hertl, Boeser, Chabot, Korpisalo, Fiala, Dahlin, Makar, Strome, Burakovsky, Saros.

Other than that, Sebastian Aho and Mattias Ekholm were acquired through a swap for Dougie Hamilton. Chicago also traded Liljegren and a pick for Jordan Eberle and added Evgeniy Dadonov as a UFA.

The Blackhawks haven’t done a lot of recycling but with their flux of youth coming up, they haven’t had to yet. They did trade some assets for futures in Artturi Lehkonen for a 1st and Ryan Hartman for two 2nds. They also flipped Pierre-Luc Dubois for a top 10 selection which ended up as Cale Makar.

Chicago’s strategy has stalled the team for a while before finally working out in a way where they have enough assets to stay at the top. The next few years will be interesting as they have to manage the cap.

The Blackhawks are both the story of the team that’s trying to rebuild but going nowhere and the story of the team coming out of a rebuild in a very good position. This highlights the risk associated with a full rebuild strategy.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche is another team that took the rebuild route, missing the playoffs from 2010 to 2015. In that time, they were able to add great players with top picks.

Most of their players come from the draft and from draft assets. On their roster, they have Mackinnon, Nylander, Myers who were drafted by Colorado. They also have Matthews and Wheeler who were acquired directly for other top draft selections by the Avalanche (McDavid and Yakupov).

A couple of players were acquired by recycling assets. Slavin, Ullmark and Provorov were acquired by trading players that were drafted or acquired with drafted assets.

Colorado has also been more aggressive the past few years in adding to their lineup with hopes of winning the cup. They have traded many draft selections to acquire Gallagher, Lindholm and Ekblad. Considering they have two young forwards that are amongst the best in the league, that might be a good strategy.

Minnesota Wild

The Wild has also taken the rebuild route. From 2014 to 2016, they did hang around a playoffs spot but they just lacked the assets to take a step up. So, they really did a restart between 2017 to 2019. By taking that route, they were able to add assets which let them secure a playoffs spot in 2020.

Now, in 2021, they are back with a strong team mostly composed of assets acquired through the draft. For their upcoming lineup, they have Pettersson, Debrusk, Hintz, Brady Tkachuk, Ryan Graves, Hart, Kunin, Kase and Labanc. They have also added Pageau and Spurgeon by trading draft assets.

Otherwise, they have recycled assets to acquire Schmidt and Morrissey. Their other notable player was signed as a UFA: Muzzin. Minnesota also did recycle assets prior to their real rebuilt, trading established players for top picks. An example of that is Nicklas Backstrom for two 1st.

While Minnesota mostly built through their draft, they didn’t sell out their futures. This leaves them in a favorable situation with prospects like Formenton, Kuokkanen, Clague, Bemstrom, Zegras and Poehling coming up to strengthen the pro lineup. They also kept most of their picks coming up to this point.

The Wild were able to do a fairly “quick” rebuild after they stopped patching to try and get into the playoffs. They are in a good situation with plenty of assets. They have multiple of options in front of them: spend future assets/recycle current assets to navigate the cap without losing assets value, spend futures to push the team further up or even just stay the course to use the young players on ELCs as propulsion for the cup?

New-York Islanders

The Islanders also went through a rebuild through the draft. From 2011 to 2014, they finished at the bottom of the standings. Then, in 2015-2016, they improved but were still short of a playoffs spot. Since 2017, they have been back into the playoffs to become one of the best team in the East in 2019 and 2020.

Their team has been built through the draft but they haven’t been shy about trading young assets for pro roster players. Directly selected from the draft, they have Huberdeau, Palmieri, Skjei and Binnington on their roster. However, they also have Backstrom, Cizikas, Beauvillier, Reilly Smith, Ian Cole and Markstrom that were all acquired by trading prospects and picks.

The Islanders also have a couple other interesting pieces on their roster either drafted or acquired with draft assets in Galchenyuk, Juulsen and Sorokin.

The Islanders haven’t done much recycling over the years. Prior to their rebuild, back in 2009, they did trade Hemsky and Simmonds to acquire their future franchise defenseman Pietrangelo plus a bunch of other assets (including a 1st round pick). Recently, they also recycled a player into a top selection in the draft in Byfield.

From the time their team started improving, the Islanders have traded futures to push the pro roster to the top. However, this also brought them into cap managing territory. Prior to the 2020 draft, their prospect pipeline was starting to get a bit dry. They have added a big talent in Byfield along with two other high skilled prospects in Thomas Bordeleau and Joni Jurmo. They also still hold all their picks going forward. This should give them breathing room going forward as they will have to manage assets carefully to retain their current assets value.

Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers have been managing their assets carefully since their quick 2014 to 2016 rebuild. During those years, they were able to add a lot of talent through the draft, which eventually led them to a cup in 2020.

A few of the top players from their cup winning edition were drafted by Florida: Point, Pastrnak, Parayko. While that may not seem like a lot, they also had Larkin and Stone who were both acquired by recycling players at the start of the rebuild, which they would have likely kept otherwise.

The Panthers also recycled other players drafted in their rebuild years into futures in order to make cap room for some key additions for their run. At the same time, the recycling of those assets also left them with a prospect pool strong enough to make other moves. They traded Eichel, Matt Murray and Ekblad for a multitude of picks and prospects (multiple 1st rounders along with Ilya Samsonov, Kravstov, Lowry, Puljujarvi and Glass).

The players that they have acquired with future assets over the years and that will still be with the team are Brad Marchand and Ryan Suter. Both were acquired for a 1st round pick each. The Panthers also spent a 1st, a 2nd, Rem Pitlick, Gourde, Hutton and a 4th to acquire Burns, Tatar, Kuemper, J. Staal. While theses players will be lost to UFA, it was worth the cost for Florida as they got a cup for their effort.

In general, the Panthers tend to manage their futures carefully (both prospects and picks). This means that even though they will lose many players to UFA, the team still has plenty of valuable assets. Adding to the returns they got on recycling certain players, Florida has on their pro roster several young and promising players that they drafted: Roslovic, Donato, Bratt, Kaprizov and Merkley.

Overall, the Panthers have done a great job managing assets value. They won a cup without spending too much on assets that they will lose this summer. Otherwise, they have used all the tools available to a franchise to build a team that preserves its value by balancing the draft selections, the recycling of players and adding value to push a team to win a Cup. With the talent waiting in the pipeline, along with a good number of picks in the upcoming drafts, the Panthers can likely juggle assets to stay within the top group.

Dallas Stars

The Stars have missed the playoffs from 2008 to 2017. From 2014 to 2017, they finished at the bottom and got really high draft selections. The draft selections helped them build up their core to which they added using their new assets.

Most of the team’s core was drafted: Draisaitl, Marner, Debrincat, Guentzel and Nurse. Besides those players, Dallas also used their draft assets to add most of the other parts. Danault and Nyquist were acquired by trading Ristolainen who was drafted by the Stars. Same for Kevin Hayes who was acquired for Puljujarvi and Lowry, both draft selections from Dallas. Kris Letang was added by sending out former picks in Dal Colle, Alex Nylander and a 1st.

The Stars have done limited recycling so far. Malkin, who was acquired by trading draft assets (Konecny, 2 1sts and 2 2nds), was swapped for Bishop. In the Danault/Nyquist trade, the Stars also included Henrique, an asset that was recycled all the way back from Jared Stoll in 2006.

Adding those high caliber players and trading other draft assets for depth players have left the Stars prospects pipeline a little dry. The only blue chip left is Ty Smith, although the Stars have other prospects showing promise like Conor Timmins. The Stars also still own all of their picks going forward.

The Stars were built pretty much only from draft assets. Leveraging their selections, Dallas transformed from a team that missed the playoffs for 10 years to one of the best teams in the league. Dallas will now have to navigate cap issues and might need to do more retooling/recycling over the next few years.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils are an interesting story. They are one of the few teams on this list that built most of their core through the draft while trying to compete every year.

New Jersey illustrates the “be patient” strategy for teams that are in the middle. They didn’t keep all their draft picks, but when they did, they made it count.

On their roster, there are many pieces that were drafted by the Devils: Coyle, Kane, Connor, Gurianov, Tuch, McAvoy, Chychrun, Girard. They also have a couple of younger players that could fill in shortly in Aube-Kubel and Studnicka.

The other good assets that the Devils have were either traded for draft assets or through asset recycling. Dating back to 2006, Brent Sopel was recycled into Alex Edler, who’s had a nice career as a blue liner for New Jersey. Later on, with their emerging young defense, New Jersey recycled Giordano (acquired for a late 1st) into Matthew Strome. The Devils also trade the overall 7th pick for Pierre-Luc Dubois. Seth Jones was acquired by trading draft assets in Evan Bouchard and picks (1st plus 2x 2nds). Jenner and Bjugstad were both acquired by trading draft selection Jake Gardiner and signed player Tyler Bozak. They also added Raanta by recycling Backes plus drafted players.

The Devils slowly added to their assets base through the years by being patient and using their draft assets carefully. They hit consistently on their first and second rounders in the draft (mostly outside the top 10). They didn’t do a ton of trades but made each one count: adding pro talent using draft assets (prospects and picks) and recycling pro players into future assets that are still with the team.

Calgary Flames

Like the Devils, the Flames have been competing every year. They have been patient and made the use of the different tools at hand to keep their team competitive.

Many key players of the Flames were drafted by the team through the years. Currently on the team, Keller, Drouin, Gaudreau, Acciari, Barrie, Pulock, Werenski, Andersson and Hellebuyck were all drafted and developed into Calgary’s system.

The Flames have also added top players by trading some of their draft selections through the years. To acquire Scheifele, they traded Anders Lee, Nolan Patrick, Speers, Dzingel and Rasanen, all drafted by Calgary. For Rantanen, they traded Adam Fox, Marchessault, Serron Noel, Savoie and Afanasyev, again all drafted prospects.

Calgary acquired other top players by sending back both prospects and recycling players. For O’Reilly, they traded four drafted young players in Heinen, Ryan Merkley, Goldobin and Saarela to which they added Ryan Kesler, who himself was acquired by recycling Martin Erat. For Giroux, they traded Spooner and a 1st which were basically acquired by recycling Phaneuf and added prospects Howden and Butcher.

To do all this and preserve a strong assets base over the years, the Flames have been good at recycling players into draft picks. This has led them to draft in the top 5 even though they never finished at the bottom of the standings. Over the years, they have recycled Pierre-Marc Bouchard into a 1st, they moved up the draft to get into the top 3 by trading Conacher, they have recycled Kunitz (himself the result of recycling Mark Streit) into two 1sts. They were also able to convert Spezza, Connor Brown, Leddy and Suter each into a first, on top of recycling Phaneuf into assets that let them acquire Giroux later.

The Flames have been able through the years to stay amongst the top teams by getting talent at the draft as well as by recycling their assets into good draft selections. This has led them to have extra assets which they were able to convert into top players.

Conclusion

There is no denying that having a strong base from the draft helps teams field the best pro roster but also keep their total assets value up. This confirms that adding assets to your team eventually gets your team to the top.

With the limitations related to the pro roster (the cap), prospects and picks are a good way to store value. That value helps you retool your lineup to maximize its effectivity. With the rules letting you keep your top assets pretty much forever, you can use them to recycle into “off the pro roster” value when required.

Likewise, from all those teams in the top tier, only one player of significance was acquired as a UFA. This highlights that the UFA market is insignificant with the current ruleset. There is almost never any significant talent available and they need to fit under the limitations of the pro roster (the cap). The teams that have a lot of assets almost never lose significant value to the UFA market but at the same time rarely have a use since they have plenty of assets to fill the cap space.

Considering those results, it is not that surprising that many teams get on the path of rebuilding as it may be the best way to build assets value and climb to the top. The next part will focus on the teams that are in the mid-tier (for their pro roster). Will there be a trend for those teams as well? (Hint: expect to see teams that tend to trade their picks)