NHL trade value projections: What’s the cost for Jake Guentzel, Noah Hanifin? – The Athletic
By Harman DayalFeb 10, 2024
The NHL trade market is starting to heat up.
The Vancouver Canucks made the first splash by landing Elias Lindholm for a package that included a first-round pick, prospect Hunter Brzustewicz, a conditional fourth-round pick and a cap dump in Andrei Kuzmenko. The price was fair market value, roughly in line with the Bo Horvat and Ryan O’Reilly packages from last year’s deadline.
The Winnipeg Jets made the next big move, snatching up Sean Monahan for a first-round pick.
We already know many of the remaining big deadline targets. The next step is taking a comprehensive look at what some of these players might cost by searching for the prices that players similar in ability and contract status (are they a rental or not?) cost during recent trade deadline deals. We’re looking only at comparable deadline deals, no offseason trades. These comparables can help selling teams’ fans set expectations for what asset(s) they should receive for their trade chips. It can also help buying teams’ fans gauge what acquisitions might offer the most bang for buck.
I’ve chosen nine players from colleague Chris Johnston’s most recent trade board to analyze. Not all of them are guaranteed to move (especially the Penguins ones), but this is what their market value could be if they’re shopped.
Jake Guentzel, LW, Pittsburgh Penguins
48 games, 22 goals, 29 assists, 51 points, 20:57 average time on ice
Cap hit: $6 million (pending unrestricted free agent)
Guentzel is an incredible player — he can score 35-40 goals in a season with ease — but as a rental, his trade value will likely seem underwhelming for Penguins fans.
A return similar to the Claude Giroux trade would be close to the best-case scenario. The Philadelphia Flyers landed a first-round pick, a young player (Owen Tippett) and swapped a fifth-round pick for a third. Tippett has become a core player for Philadelphia, emerging as a 25-30 goal scorer. Guentzel is younger than Giroux was at the time, but that won’t make a huge difference because they’re both rentals.
The Mark Stone trade is an unfortunate reminder that even elite players aren’t worth full value when they’re pending UFAs. The Ottawa Senators landed a blue chip prospect (Erik Brannström was a recent No. 15 pick and believed to have top-pair potential) and a second-round pick.
Vancouver’s recent trade for Lindholm wouldn’t be a bad comparison, either. Lindholm hasn’t been as productive as Guentzel the last two years, but the former played with less talent in Calgary, boasts high-end defensive chops and can play center which is a more valuable position. The Flames essentially landed a first-round pick, a B-grade prospect in Brzustewicz and a cap dump with upside in Kuzmenko (Joni Jurmo is hardly a prospect at this point, and the fourth-rounder becomes a third-rounder if Vancouver makes the Western Conference final).
A first-round pick (or equivalent prospect) and a second asset (prospect/young player/draft pick) would likely be the meat of Guentzel’s trade value. Maybe the Penguins could pry a third piece as a throw-in, but it probably wouldn’t be an asset that moves the needle. The second asset would be the critical X-factor — would it be a young player of Tippett’s quality or a second-round pick/equivalent prospect?
Noah Hanifin, LD, Calgary Flames
51 games, 9 goals, 19 assists, 28 points, 23:37 average time on ice
Cap hit: $4.95 million (pending UFA)
Comparables: Hanifin would be the most valuable defenseman at the deadline if he’s traded. He profiles like a bona fide No. 2/3 defenseman who can play the supporting role on a top pair or be the anchor for a quality second pair.
The Hampus Lindholm trade in 2022 seems like a fitting comparable. The Boston Bruins gave up a first, two seconds and prospect Urho Vaakanainen. The caveat is that the Anaheim Ducks also took on John Moore’s bad contract ($2.75 million cap hit), which had another year left on it. Calgary probably won’t get four quality assets like that unless it takes a similarly inefficient contract back.
Dmitry Orlov was flipped to the Bruins at last year’s deadline, along with a useful fourth-line winger in Garnet Hathaway, for first-, second- and third-round picks.
Some Flames fans might wonder why Jakob Chychrun isn’t a comparable. Chychrun, after all, went for a high first-round pick (No. 12) and two seconds. The key difference is that Chychrun wasn’t a pending UFA and had two and a half seasons left at a steal of a $4.6 million cap hit. Chychrun at that discounted rate is a more valuable asset than Hanifin at a potential cap hit of $7 million to $8 million beyond this season.
Hanifin’s market value could be in the range of a first-round pick, second-round pick/equivalent prospect and another asset.
Chris Tanev, RD, Calgary Flames
48 games, 1 goal, 9 assists, 10 points, 19:40 average time on ice
Cap hit: $4.5 million (pending UFA)
Tanev is a quality top-four shutdown player with impressive defensive IQ, stick-checking and warrior shot-blocking.
On the high end, David Savard and Ben Chiarot each garnered a first-round pick. The problem for Calgary is that both trades were probably overpayments in hindsight. Chiarot was a flop in Florida, and Savard only averaged 14:07 per game in the playoffs. It will likely be difficult, although not impossible, for the Flames to land a first-round pick for Tanev.
Josh Manson and Mark Giordano may be the most suitable trade value comparables. Manson went for a second-round pick and prospect Drew Helleson, who was two and a half seasons removed from being a second-round pick in 2019. Giordano’s value essentially amounted to two second-round picks if you assume that the third-rounder was paid for the inclusion of Colin Blackwell in the deal.
Colleague Pierre LeBrun reported that the general price tag for Tanev right now is a second-round pick plus another asset, which aligns with the packages for Manson and Giordano.
Adam Henrique, C/LW, Anaheim Ducks
50 games, 15 goals, 20 assists, 35 points, 17:16 average time on ice
Cap hit: $5.825 million (pending UFA)
Comparables: Under normal circumstances, a middle-six rental like Henrique probably wouldn’t command a first-round pick. Calle Järnkrok, a center/wing hybrid, returned three picks, including a second and a third, in 2022, which would have seemed like a fair comparable. Henrique’s offensive numbers are better than Järnkrok’s were in 2021-22, but Järnkrok is the better defensive player. Rickard Rakell went for a second-round pick and a goalie prospect who was drafted in the third round. Ivan Barbashev cost prospect Zach Dean, the No. 30 pick in 2021.
But this year’s deadline is severely lacking impact forwards, which could inflate Henrique’s value. The Canadiens certainly benefitted from that, landing a first-round pick for Monahan. Henrique’s goal and point totals are nearly identical to Monahan’s this season.
Two potential concerns could make Henrique slightly less valuable than Monahan, however. The first is that Henrique’s $5.825 million cap hit will be much tougher for contenders to fit than Monahan’s $1.7 million. Secondly, while Henrique has spent most of his career as a center, he’s spent a decent chunk of the last two seasons on the wing.
Henrique would likely be worth a package centered around a second-round pick in most years, but the Monahan trade gives Ducks fans hope of prying a first-rounder.
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Ottawa Senators
45 games, 13 goals, 20 assists, 33 points, 15:50 average time on ice
Cap hit: $5 million (pending UFA)
Comparables: Tarasenko has complete control over his future because of a no-trade clause, which will limit his possible suitors. That didn’t hurt the Blues’ return last year, but it has affected the trade value of players before. The Rangers paid a second-round pick (which would have converted into a first if the Rangers made the Eastern Conference final) and a fourth for Patrick Kane, even though he arrived at a significantly discounted $2.2625 million cap hit.
Buffalo received just a second-round pick for Taylor Hall, who had a no-movement clause, at the 2021 deadline.
The Senators’ initial ask should be a first-round pick, but that would require a perfect scenario like last year. They’d be fortunate to replicate it. The more realistic expectation should be a second-round pick and a throw-in piece.
Sean Walker, RD, Philadelphia Flyers
52 games, 5 goals, 14 assists, 19 points, 19:31 average time on ice
Cap hit: $2.65 million (pending UFA)
Comparables: Walker is having a terrific bounce-back season in Philadelphia, but he doesn’t have as strong of a long-term top-four track record as Tanev and his comparables. Consider this: Tanev, Manson, Savard, Chiarot and Giordano all had at least three seasons averaging 20-plus minutes per game by the time they were traded. Walker has never done that.
Buying teams could also point out that Luke Schenn, who emerged as a top-four defender for Vancouver last season and was dealt to Toronto, where he played a top-pair role in the playoffs, cost only a third-round pick last year. Walker is having a better season than Schenn was last year, but not by a huge margin.
Brett Kulak could be a fair comparable for Walker. Both slot as No. 4/5 defensemen on Cup-contending teams. Kulak cost the Oilers second- and seventh-round picks.
Anthony Duclair, LW, San Jose Sharks
46 games, 9 goals, 8 assists, 17 points, 15:50 average time on ice
Cap hit: $3 million (pending UFA)
Comparables: Duclair’s production is down on a talent-deprived Sharks team. The speedy 28-year-old winger’s point totals are similar to what Marcus Johansson and Frank Vatrano managed in the seasons they were traded. All three are middle-six secondary scorers with limited defensive value. Vatrano has become much more than that this season, but that’s irrelevant to what his trade value was in 2022.
Duclair should be worth a draft pick in the third/fourth-round range, which could be great value for a player only two years removed from a 30-goal campaign.
Reilly Smith, LW, Pittsburgh Penguins
42 games, 9 goals, 12 assists, 21 points, 16:14 average time on ice
Cap hit: $5 million (one additional year remaining)
Comparables: Smith has yet to mesh in Pittsburgh. He has eight goals and 20 points in 41 games playing on the second line with Evgeni Malkin, which is a significant drop-off from the 26 goals and 56 points he scored last season.
Smith, 32, has another year left at a $5 million cap hit, so he can’t be compared to rentals. Last year’s trade for Mikael Granlund is probably the closest comparable.
Granlund, 31, was also in the middle of a down season and had the same contract situation with an additional year left at a $5 million cap hit. Potential buyers could point out that the Granlund trade flopped and was an overpayment as justification to push for a lower price. Smith’s trade value should be a bit lower than Nino Niederreiter’s too, as Niederreiter was younger, cheaper ($4 million cap hit instead of $5 million) and having a more productive season (18 goals and 28 points in 56 games at the time of the trade).
Smith’s age and contract hinder his value, potentially making him worth closer to a third- or fourth-round draft pick. Retaining salary would be a way to juice his value. But at that point, if you’re the Penguins, it may be worth simply holding onto Smith through next season, hoping for a bounce-back and flipping him as a rental at the 2025 deadline, when he’d likely be more valuable.
Ilya Lyubushkin, RD, Anaheim Ducks
48 games, 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, 17:02 average time on ice
Cap hit: $2.75 million (pending UFA)
Comparables: Lyubushkin is a physical, stay-at-home bottom-pair defenseman, which is the exact type of depth player that teams love to add at the deadline. The Leafs paid a second-round pick to acquire him from Arizona at the deadline in 2022, but that’s not Lyubushkin’s true value because the price also included Toronto dumping Nick Ritchie’s bad contract ($2.5 million AAV through that season and the year after).
The comparables are straightforward: He’s worth a mid-round pick, probably in the fourth-round ballpark. Schenn (2023) and Justin Braun (2022) landed third-round picks, but both played in a top-four role in the season they were traded. Lyubushkin doesn’t. Coincidentally, a fourth-rounder is also what Anaheim paid to acquire him before the season started.
(Photo of Jake Guentzel: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)
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Harman Dayal is a staff writer for The Athletic NHL based in Vancouver. He combines NHL video and data analysis and tracks microstats as part of his coverage. Follow Harman on Twitter @harmandayal2