The trade deadline rumor mill is in full swing, as discussions are really starting to heat up among general managers who want to get trades done before other teams around the league swoop in and make their own moves.
Chicago acted first, adding Andrew Ladd, Christian Ehrhoff, Tomas Fleischmann, and Dale Weise. The Florida Panthers moved next, adding Jiri Hudler, Jakub Kindl, and Teddy Purcell. That being said, there are still plenty of players available for teams to add.
Here’s a look at some young options around the league that could probably be acquired for a lower price than their actual value, due to their teams underrating their abilities.
Shane Prince is a 23-year-old forward who has had a quiet season in Ottawa, scoring three goals and adding nine assists for a total of 12 points in 42 games. He’s only been averaging 10:35 of ice time per game, however, so his rate of production has actually been quite impressive. His points per 60 minutes is 1.64, which is 126th out of the 390 forwards who have played 250 minutes this year.
His puck possession metrics are also very strong, as the young forward has some of the best puck possession metrics on Ottawa’s roster, despite playing fourth line minutes. Here are his Corsi and Scoring Chance numbers, as well as his rank among Ottawa’s forwards.
Prince’s market value is probably much less than his actual value; there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that he’s a top-nine forward in this league, and he would certainly provide an instant boost to any team’s bottom six. Overall, there’s a lot to like about the young forward.
Patrick Wiercioch is one of the league’s more intriguing defenseman, as he has a knack for making smart plays with the puck in order to get it out of his own zone, but also is known for committing ghastly turnovers that result in the puck finding it’s way into the back of his team’s net.
Over the course of his 216 game career, the 25-year-old has a 51.6 percent Fenwick For percentage, and a 3.0 Relative Fenwick. Those are good numbers for a depth defenseman, which is essentially what Wiercioch would be; just someone to play third pairing minutes and help the team play strong 5 on 5 hockey when the big guns aren’t on the ice.
Wiercioch would also be an RFA at the end of the season, so any team that acquires him could re-sign him and bring him back for next year.
The Panthers may have moved on from him when they added Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell, but Michael Raffl still might be in play for other teams in need of forward depth. Raffl is a 27-year-old winger who is currently playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. In 60 games this year, he’s struggled, managing only eight goals and nine assists for a total of 17 points.
His points per 60 minutes of 1.3 ranks him near the 50th percentile (215th out of 390), however, and most of his value when come from his ability to drive puck possession. Here are his puck possession metrics from this season, as well as his rank among his teammates.
For Raffl to be one of the best forwards on a team that also has Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Sean Couturier is rather impressive. There’s also evidence that he’s a possession boost to players such as Giroux and Voracek.
Overall, Raffl would be a great addition to any team’s forward group; he could help to bottom six out immensely, or even move up and play in the top six. At the age of 27, he has some years ahead of him, and though his contract is expiring, which ever team acquires him would have the chance to re-sign him in the offseason.
Jamie McGinn was part of the trade that brought Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo, and he has fit in quite nicely with the Sabres. He’s one of the team’s better forwards (though there isn’t much competition in Buffalo), and he would be a solid addition to Los Angeles’ forward group, if he does end up with the Kings.
If another team decides to out-bid Los Angeles, however, McGinn could be a very solid addition. He would certainly be a boost to several third lines among current playoff teams.
The Panthers have added Jakub Kindl, but are still looking at David Schlemko. Schlemko is yet another player who drives puck possession at 5 on 5 despite not really looking like a skilled defender. He was given a real chance this year in New Jersey, and has thrived; in 55 games, the 28-year-old has already hit career highs for goals (6), assists (11) and points (17). For a player that wouldn’t be playing top pairing minutes, he could provide some excellent value for the Panthers, or any team that is interested in his services.
The five players discussed above, though, all have several things in common; they drive puck possession, aren’t highly valued by their organizations, and could probably be acquired for a market value lower than their actual value.
Most hockey teams that utilize analytics do so to find market inefficiencies, and all of these players represent a potential market inefficiency. Moving up to the upper echelon of the NHL takes a bit of luck, but it also takes a lot of really smart moves. Adding one of these players could be one such move for a number of general managers across the league.
(statistics via war-on-ice.com and stats.hockeyanalysis.com. All numbers are 5v5 and score adjusted unless otherwise mentioned)