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Team assets value Pt 2 : Trading futures to keep up

First, before getting into the second part, I need to do a small correction. While I stopped at 9 teams for the first group, I should have gone one team further to add Toronto. The Leafs pretty much have the build through the draft and recycle going on while fielding one of the best teams for 2021.

Looking at the second group/tier, the group is mostly composed of teams that try to compete every year. As you’ll see from the playoff’s participation numbers, it’s usually a bit hit or miss. To stay in the game and try to join the post-season tournament, those teams need to use their future assets. While it keeps those teams afloat, the total value of assets possessed by those teams’ trends lower and further away from the top group.

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):

TOR

78,6

18,5

11,5

108,6

CAR

67,3

23,3

13,5

104,0

PHI

71,8

14,5

14,8

101,1

MTL

65,0

21,8

11,0

97,8

SAN

57,0

27,3

11,5

95,7

BUF

73,7

10,8

8,3

92,7

LOS

66,0

15,5

10,8

92,2

WPG

62,9

16,0

12,8

91,7

NYR

78,8

0,8

12,0

91,6

TAM

75,6

5,0

10,5

91,1

ARI

71,9

1,3

9,8

82,9

EDM

59,6

7,5

13,5

80,6

For the upcoming season, those teams rank from 9th to 21st for the strength of their pro roster.

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

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs have done a mix of drafting and recycling over the years. This strategy culminated in a cup in 2019, after a rough patch from 2015 to 2017.

Looking at the Leafs roster, they do have a couple of drafted assets in Rielly, Sergachev, Ferland and Vasilevskiy. They also have traded a few of their picks and young players to add good pieces. They added Coleman, DeHaan, Nelson and Hedman by trading Provorov, Liam Foudy and two 2nd round picks.

They were also able to sign one of the best UFAs recently available on the market in Patrice Bergeron.

The Leafs have also done some significant recycling over the years. In 2017, Krejci was acquired by trading Zajac and Blandisi, assets that were brought in through recycling Emelin and Michael Mersch. In 2015, the Leafs recycled Big Joe in a package which included Mantha. Another trade they did was to recycle Zucker into Athanasiou, a 1st and a 2nd. Over the years, Toronto also repeatedly traded assets into picks: a 1st for Grubauer, a 1st and Nic Ritchie for Justin Schultz and Fucale plus a 1st, JT Miller and Virtanen for JVR and Josh Bailey. JT Miller was then traded last summer to add Cal Foote and a 4th. Virtanen was included in a package for Kadri, who was used to run for the Cup before going into UFA (just like Florida who lost UFAs after its Cup). For their Cup run, the Leafs also traded a 1st and Hamonic for Josh Manson.

After a few years outside of the playoffs where they recycled assets and added players, the Leafs came back into contention in 2018. They were able to add good assets for relatively cheap to a young core and spent futures in their big run for the Cup. While their futures are slightly below average, they still have a competitive team and they haven’t sold the farm.

New York Rangers

The Rangers are usually competing every year. In the past 10 seasons, they only missed the playoffs once. Their formula to success looks a lot different than the draft and recycle recipe.

On their current team, the Rangers don’t have any drafted player of significance. Their prospect pool is one of the worst and they have traded two upcoming thirds in the next few years.

Still, the Rangers roster is pretty solid. They are not afraid of trading players and picks to keep their roster competitive.

On the trading roster player front, the Rangers added Eller, William Karlsson, Rust, Iafallo, Pearson and DeAngelo by giving up Pageau, Price, Zucker, JVR and Kubalik.

On trading future assets, they have added Dustin Brown for a 2nd, Justin Williams for a 2nd, Curtis Lazar for a 6th and Fredrik Anderson for a 1st and Jason Dickinson.

The other more valuable assets on the team were acquired through various means: Eric Staal and Georgiev were signed as UFAs, Holden was grabbed on waivers and Braun was a young pickup in 2012 from recycling Brett Clark.

To keep replenishing the roster, the Rangers haven’t been shy in trading their picks over the years. Since 2014-2015, on top of the future assets traded above, here are a couple of trades they did involving 1st round picks for players that they have since traded again or lost to UFA: Beleskey for a 1st in 2015, JVR plus Josh Bailey and Brad Morrison for JT Miller, Chase Deleo, Virtanen and a 1st in 2015, Zucker for Athanasiou, a 1st and a 2nd in 2016, Watson, Jake McCabe and Kempny for a 1st in 2017, Keith Yandle for Jake McCabe and a 1st in 2017 and Connolly plus Panik for Carlo and a 1st in 2018. While the Rangers traded 1st rounders for players, it is interesting that they never involved more than one 1st in any of the deals they made.

The Rangers have been successful for nearly 10 years using a trade your futures for current players strategy. In the future, without many upcoming prospects, the Rangers will have to keep being successful in that strategy to stay competitive over the years.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay is a curious case… From 2009 to 2020, they only made the playoffs once in 2016. That year, they not only won the most games during the regular season, but they also won the Cup.

The year they won the Cup, their top players were Hudler, Forsberg, Hornqvist, Datsyuk, Tyler Johnson, Shattenkirk, Krejci, Bergeron, Wisniewski, Wideman, Dubinski, Quick. Most acquired by trading picks and futures.

After barely missing the playoffs last year, the Lightning are giving the same strategy another go-around. With only one top player drafted, Forsberg, most of the team comes from trading futures. This has hit Tampa Bay’s farm system really hard, with Logan Brown being a lone bright star, and 2021’s 1st and 2nd rounders gone.

On their current roster, the Lightning has acquired their top assets, other than Forsberg, using futures. They added Malkin, Koskinen and Chiarot by moving a 1st, Yamamoto, Johansen and Holtby. Holtby, included in that previous trade, was acquired with Panarin for two 1st, a 2nd and Calen Addison. Fleury was also brought in by trading another 1st round pick.

Their other valuable assets were also acquired through trades. Some of the first rounders used to bring in Malkin, Panarin and Fleury were acquired along with Domi and Hoffman when the Lightning sent back Dadonov, Lindholm and Rust. Eric Johnson was jettisoned to bring in Montour and a 1st. Tampa Bay also made good in trading Eric Gustafsson to receive Pionk.

Aside from all those trades, the Lightning signed Borowiecki as a UFA who had a revival last year.

Even though the Lightning has a similar strategy to the Rangers, it also differs in that Tampa Bay tends to aim for better players in their trades. At the same time, they did pay more for each player they got. While the Rangers made the playoffs nine times in the last ten years, the Lightning only made them once… but then they won the Cup. This year, both teams are close out of the gates, so it will be interesting to see which one fares better during the season and the playoffs.

Buffalo Sabres

In the past 10 years, the NEFHL flipping kings have made the playoffs six times. Lately, it’s been a bit of a harder road with the Sabres missing the last two years.

For this year, the Sabres have an above average team. Surprisingly enough, all the players were acquired through trades. The players were acquired both by swapping other roster players or by trading futures. Schwartz was reacquired for Heinen, Myers and Hinostroza. Zucker was swapped for Rust and Iafallo. The Sabres also added Toffoli by trading Wagner and Balcers. Hagg came back from a trade including Schlemko and a 4th. There is also Lehner who was acquired for Dumba and a 3rd. The others were added trading futures. Backlund for a 4th, Namestnikov for a 2nd, Brayden Schenn for a 1st and Lias Andersson, Duclair for Hartman, Juolevi and a 2nd, Kulikov and Koekkoek for a 3rd. At last draft, the Sabres traded their 6th overall pick for Kotkaniemi and Devon Toews.

The Sabres also do their share of recycling. Due to their extensive trade history, it’s a bit hard to get these down. In an attempt to get back into the playoffs this year, the Sabres have traded a bit of their futures, leaving them with an under average prospects and picks pool of assets. They still do have two promising youngsters in Kotkaniemi and Robertson, but they traded most of their picks for the upcoming draft.

On paper, the Sabres should be able to squeeze into the playoffs this year, partly due to the trades they did to add players in the last year. Yet, the East looks to be competitive, with 7 teams within 11,5 points competing for spots 3 to 8. Should anything go wrong, like in 2015, the Sabres could end up sitting at the draft while other teams load up using their picks. Overall, the Sabres strategy seems to have led them to both highs and lows during the past 10 years. Let’s hope for their sake that this year is a high.

Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes are another team that have made the playoffs six times in the past 10 years. However, they missed the playoffs during three straight years between 2013 and 2015.

Arizona seems to operate differently based on the context of their team. Over the past 10 years they have drafted, recycled and also traded futures for players. The drafting part mostly comes from the period where they missed the playoffs for a couple years in a row while the trading futures apply mostly to years where they ended up fairly high in the standings.

Taking a closer look at their current team, they have a couple pieces that were acquired through the draft: Reinhart, Nichushkin, Meier and Jarry.

The Coyotes have also recycled two star players over the years: they swapped Joe Thornton for Tarasenko and more recently moved Malkin for Johansen, Holtby, Scandella and Yamamoto.

The other players acquired by trading picks. Fabbri came at the cost of a 1st round pick, Krug at the cost of a 2nd rounder and a duo of Pacioretty and Copp were acquired for a 1st, a 2nd and Hinostroza.

Since the 2013-2015 period where they missed the playoffs, the Coyotes have been trading their picks for players. While this has helped them make the playoffs from 2016 to 2019, this has left the franchise with very little future assets, much like the Rangers. Their future success will thus depend on their current players and their ability to keep converting their picks into productive players going forward.

Philadelphia Flyers

Over the last 10 years, the Flyers have made the playoffs only three times. Other than 2016 and 2017, where the team finished at the bottom, they have always been competitive, battling for the last spots in the East. They have a mix of drafted assets and players they acquired by trading picks and young players.

From the draft, the Flyers have Tom Wilson, Silfverberg and Vilardi. They also used many drafted players over the year as trade bait: Rantanen was just recently traded for Marchessault, Adam Fox and a bunch of futures (Noel, Afanasyev, Savoie and a 2nd). Jonathan Toews was added by sending back Farabee and a 1st. Nugent-Hopkins was acquired by trading prospects (at the time of the trade) consisting of Cirelli, Anderson-Dolan, Wade Allison and a pair of late 2nd rounders. Getzlaf was the result of trading a 3rd, Oettinger and Schmaltz. Hamilton and Jost were the result of a multi-player deal involving Aho. All these players except for Schmaltz were drafted by Philadelphia.

The other valuable players were results of shuffling players through the years. Bouwmeester was a swap for Faulk, who was himself part of the multi-player deal that got Hamilton. Vatanen was added by swapping up Brodin. Dubnyk was a conversion of Rinne and a 1st.

Besides those movements, the Flyers signed Marino on the UFA market. This ended up as a great signature for them.

Even though the Flyers moved picks and prospects to make acquisitions, they still have a decent pool of talent in development.

Philadelphia has a good enough team to challenge for a playoffs spot in the East this year. They also have some chips of the roster both in terms of prospects and picks. While they will have to work hard to maintain their competitivity in this range, they could lean back on their farm assets to reinforce their lineup in the coming years.

Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes have been competing hard every year for the past 10 years to make the playoffs. They missed three times but never finished below 10th in their conference. However, from 2007 to 2009, their team was terrible, finishing at the bottom of the standings.

Carolina’s best players were almost all drafted by the team. Aside from Couture, who was acquired by recycling Sundin in 2007, Tavares, Stamkos, Crouse, Vrana and Trouba were all drafted by the Hurricanes.

Otherwise, Stephens Johns was acquired by trading Jordan Greenway and Bouwmeester was added by trading two 2nd rounders.

Carolina has good prospects in the pipeline and has kept all their draft picks for the next three drafts. However, they are still riding the players they acquired from 2007 to 2009 (Couture, Tavares, Stamkos).

The Hurricanes haven’t done a whole lot of recycling over the years and haven’t hit on a super talent with their later picks (due to competitiveness).

Overall, considering the quality of their prospects, the Hurricanes should do well if they can hold onto their top players (Stamkos and Tavares). This should help them stay competitive each year with perhaps an opportunity for the Cup depending on how their prospects develop.

Los Angeles Kings

Back in 2008, the Kings went to the Cup finals. Then in 2009 and 2010, they won the Cup back-to-back. In the 10 years since that last Cup, the Kings made the playoffs six times. The Kings use a diversity of methods to build their roster.

They do have great players they drafted or swapped in Hischier and McDavid (swapped one-for-one with Matthews who was drafted).

They also traded futures to solidify their roster. JVR was acquired by trading Boqvist and a 2nd. Fast, Donskoi and Watson were all added by giving up two 2nds and two 3rds. They traded another 2nd to get Eric Johnson. They traded a 1st, a 2nd and Josh Brook for John Carlson. Finally, they spent a 3rd and a 4th for Rask.

The Kings did a bit of recycling as well, getting Laughton out of Perreault and Mayfield out of Kris Russell.

As to the futures, the Kings do have a good number of prospects coming up. They did trade a few picks in the top three rounds for 2021 and 2022 but still have all their firsts.

The Kings have a great player at each position… One of the best forwards in McDavid, one of the best defensemen in Carlson and one of the best goalies in Rask. They will go as far as those players will get them. They will be fighting for a bottom spot in the West. As long as they can somehow surround those players, they will keep battling for the playoffs.

Montreal Canadiens

Since 2014, the Canadiens have only made the playoffs twice, in 2015 and 2020. Like many teams on this list, the best players on the current roster were acquired through trading futures.

Montreal got their current core players by trading picks and prospects. For JT Miller, the Habs spent a 1st round pick. For Pavelski, they gave up a 2nd and Berglund. For Hornqvist, they paid a 3rd and a 5th. For Curtis Brown, they sent a 2nd. For Murray, they spent Lindgren and a 4th. The Canadiens also traded for Klingberg and Lindell by sending back Pesce and Kostin. Finally, for Blackwood, they gave up Cozens.

The Canadiens got their other core player from UFA when they signed Radulov.

While Montreal gave up picks and prospects for their players, they didn’t spend so much as to deplete the farm. They lost their 2021 1st in a trade to boost their lineup (adding Koivu and Jankowski) last summer for 2020 which kind of worked as they made the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Otherwise, their prospect pool is above average. This should help them in the next few years as either trade chips, to push the team higher or to replace aging players.

For the upcoming season, the Canadiens look to be on the outside looking in. They also have a good number of prospects coming up which may improve their pro roster in the next few years.

Winnipeg Jets

In the past 10 years, the Jets have made the playoffs four times… all prior to 2017. Since then, they have missed every year. Winnipeg is another team that got its best players by trading future assets.

On their current roster, their best assets were acquired by trading picks and prospects. To acquire Eichel, the Jets traded Cody Glass, Kravtsov, Kevin Hayes and a 3rd. To add Couturier, they paid McMichael, Balcers and a 2nd. On defense, they traded Dugan, K’Andre Miller and Lundkvist for Josi. For Shaw and Armia, Winnipeg spent two 2nds and a 4th. They added Colin Miller for Santini and a 3rd. Lastly, they acquired Gibson by trading Akil Thomas, Fagemo and a 3rd.

The Jets also swapped roster players to recycle some talent into younger players. They sent off Skinner to get Rakell. They traded Perron for Mangiapane and a 2nd. The Jets got Weegar as part of a package coming back for Kopitar. They added Comtois by giving up Comtois.

As for their prospect pool, they have a couple of potential offensive prospects in development. They still have most of their picks for the next three years as well.

Overall, the Jets have made moves that puts them in a similar to the Kings. They have two great forwards in Eichel and Couturier and a great defenseman in Josi. These players will have to carry the team. They will be in the fight with Los Angeles to get into the bottom spots in the West.

Edmonton Oilers

In the last decade, the Oilers have made the playoffs four times. Like other teams in this list, the Oilers have been trading picks and prospects to acquire talent, but have also gone to the UFA market.

The Oilers best player though was drafted in 2016 and goes by the name of Patrick Laine. That’s the only marquee name on the current roster that was drafted by Edmonton. Ekman-Larsson wasn’t drafted by Edmonton but was acquired about 10 years ago and is still rocking with the team.

Otherwise, from the trade market, the Oilers paid a 1st to get Chara and Hinostroza. They spent a 2nd on Parise. The Oilers traded Josh Morrissey to get Bobrovsky. In another trade, Edmonton acquired Hanifin with Markstrom going the other way.

On the UFA market, the Oilers have been active. They currently have Calvert, Craig Smith and Rittich that were signed as free agents.

Their prospect depth is also below average. While it could produce 2-3 players going forward, these probably will be more help as depth than as top players. The Oilers do have all their picks going forward.

To stay competitive with a roster that’s getting older, the Oilers will need to keep tapping the UFA market. They also might have to convert further picks into players. However, that’s probably only going to keep them fighting for a playoffs spot like they have in the past five years.

San Jose Sharks

After missing the playoffs from 2010 to 2013, the Sharks got in every year until 2019. Then, they missed the playoffs again in 2019 and 2020. After adding a ton of talent in 2019, the Sharks did a turnaround last summer by trading their 2020 picks for players for the upcoming season. At the moment, this puts them into the category of teams that filled their roster by trading picks and prospects.

This summer, the Sharks have added Ovechkin, Voracek and Crawford by trading two 1sts, Sandin and Jamie Benn. They also added Pesce for two 2nds, two 3rds and a 4th. Last winter, San Jose moved Grundstrom and a 3rd to add Shattenkirk. The previous summer, San Jose offered a 1st for Kadri and a pair of 2nds for Saad.

Other than those acquisitions, the Sharks could already count on Barkov, drafted in 2013. They had also swapped Dickinson for Henrique early in 2020.

While the Sharks gave up a lot in futures to add to their roster this year, their prospects bank is still loaded.

Despite their additions, the Sharks will have a hard time getting into the playoffs. Like the Kings and the Jets, they will be riding their best players trying to squeeze in the last spots available.

Conclusion

Most of the teams in this tier try their best to have a competitive roster and get into the playoffs. Other than Toronto and Carolina, these teams use the assets that are available to them to keep their roster competitive. They trade their prospects and picks to have a chance every year. However, outside of Toronto and Carolina, whose strategy are more aligned with drafting and recycling, the only team that was able to achieve a consistent rate in making the playoffs was the Rangers. All the other teams had their ups and downs.

Compared to the top tier, where there’s a constant flux of assets to keep the total assets balanced, the teams in this tier need to pour a lot into their current roster. This leaves them more prone to down seasons by their top players and puts them in harsher position regarding the cap as their assets are limited to navigate the negative events.

Those teams also tend to do less recycling into picks and prospects as with little talent coming up from their prospect pool, recycling some of their good players directly hits their ability to compete for the playoffs.

While there are more UFAs amongst those teams, they still play a relatively small role for most teams. The teams that have used more of their futures tend to go more on the UFA market as it’s the only way for them to add power to their pro roster.

The last part will look at the teams in the bottom tier. Are they all rebuilders? Are some teams there just in trouble? What seems to be their strategy going forward? Stay tuned!