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Who are the best trade deadline acquisitions? Advanced stats has the answers

Dom Luszczyszyn
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Loui Eriksson (Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Who are the best trade deadline acquisitions? Advanced stats has the answers

Dom Luszczyszyn
By:

If the Bruins have indeed put Loui Eriksson on the block, he should be heavily targeted, but be wary of the Coyotes Mikkel Boedker.

It’s three days before the trade deadline and things are about to get wild. Depending on who you cheer for, there’s going to be some fresh faces to welcome, ones that you may not be too familiar with. It’s a long NHL season and it’s understandable if you only have time to watch your favourite team, and that’s where advanced stats can be especially useful. They don’t replace watching the game, but they are a good companion to it and can illuminate a player’s strengths and weaknesses to complement what you see. In this case, you probably haven’t seen much of the new guy so it helps to know what to expect based on his past results and just how useful he’ll be to your team. With that in mind, we at THN have you covered with a numbers primer for the biggest names on the trade block, according to TSN’s list of potential trade bait. The big focus will be on who can score efficiently and who can drive possession at both ends of the ice, two things that have shown to be vital toward winning hockey games.

Here’s the list along with every player’s relevant 5-on-5 stats from this season as well as where their coach used them at even strength and special teams. The chart is colour coded to reflect what the numbers mean in terms of where the player’s stats would fit on an average team’s depth chart.
chart For some added context, here’s a few thoughts on some players on that list, separated into four categories: the big fish, the bargains, the puzzle pieces, and the landmines.
THE BIG FISH In the shallow pool that is this year’s trade block, these guys are the prize fish, but catching them won’t come cheap or easy.
Loui Eriksson, Bruins (RW): By the numbers, Eriksson is the cream of this year’s crop as he’s likely the only true first line talent available. He scores at a high rate, posts elite shot rates at both ends of the ice, and can effectively play in every situation, all for the relatively low cap hit of $4.3 million. The only issue is whether Boston even trades him.
Verdict: The best player available… if he’s available.
Eric Staal, Hurricanes (C): Staal has experienced a huge fall from grace over the last few seasons thanks to severely declining point totals. But even if he’s not scoring, he’s helping his team in a big way. Staal has the largest effect on shot rates among all available players and is a big reason the Hurricanes are still hanging around the playoff picture. The cap hit is hefty, but Staal definitely still has game and would be a huge add to any team that can afford him.
Verdict: May not score like a first liner anymore, but he still plays like one.
Jonathan Drouin, Lightning (LW): From what we’ve seen so far, Drouin is a very gifted offensive talent who can rack up points if given the opportunity. His career points per 60 is already at a first line rate, but getting third line minutes and little-to-no powerplay time means the raw totals won’t pop. The issue is his play away from the puck where he’s been relatively poor this season, giving up five net shot attempts per 60 minutes. Perhaps that’s among the reasons he didn’t earn more minutes under Cooper.
Verdict: Still early in his career to round out his game, but potential offensive skill will be worth it.
THE BARGAINS Cheap and effective deadline acquisitions that can really solidify a team’s depth.
PA Parenteau, Maple Leafs (RW): Parenteau practically lives under the radar, but he’s got legitimate talent and can thrive in a proper role. He’s not as great as he once looked on Long Island, but this season with the Leafs has proven he can still be a very effective middle-six forward who can generate a decent amount of offence.
Verdict: Cheap contract, efficient scoring, decent possession makes for a deadline steal.
David Schlemko, Devils (D): Schlemko is extremely unheralded for what he brings to the table which means he’ll be cheap to acquire. The guy makes close to league minimum, drives possession and can quarterback the powerplay. It’s unlikely he stays this effective if he has to move up the lineup, but he’s an excellent third pairing option, one that teams won’t have to fear putting out in a close playoff game.
Verdict: Won’t cost much to grab, and would be a huge addition as a 5/6 guy.
Others who qualify: Lee Stempniak, Brandon Pirri
THE PUZZLE PIECES They’re not the biggest names, but they’re not exactly underrated either. They fit perfectly in the middle of a lineup and compliment other players around them very well.
Teddy Purcell, Oilers (RW): For the teams that miss out on Ladd and Eriksson, Purcell might be a very good Plan B. He’s a decent scorer in the right situation – like next to Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl – and drives possession well on both sides of the rink. It’s unlikely he costs much to acquire either. He’s been one of the few bright spots on another disastrous Oilers team.
Verdict: Would be a great top-six addition to a team looking for a compliment to their stars.
Dan Hamhuis, Canucks (D): Arguably the best defenseman available, although that’s not saying much this season. Hamhuis has been a beast at suppressing shots in past seasons making him a terrific shutdown D-man option. Those numbers have dropped slightly this season as he’s battled injury and poor teammates, but he has a decent track record so that shouldn’t be a huge concern. A savvy addition to any team’s top four.
Verdict: Solid top four D-man with great shutdown abilities, the perfectly cliche deadline grab.
Others who qualify: Jiri Hudler, Kris Versteeg
THE LANDMINES Everything may look fine on the surface, but acquiring any of these guys will more than likely blow up in some team’s face.
Mikkel Boedker, Coyotes (LW): Boedker is on pace for 54 points and that’s why he’s No. 2 on TSN’s list (No. 1 now that
Andrew Ladd has been moved), but he’s actually the least efficient scorer on the block on a per minute basis. The big minutes as Arizona’s top dog means more icetime to get points which inflates his raw totals. Among all forwards, Boedker is second in PP TOI behind only Alex Ovechkin, but ranks 105th in points-per-60 with the man advantage. He’s simply not very effective with all the icetime he gets. Not to mention one of the league’s worst defensive teams gives up almost seven more shot attempts per 60 minutes with Boedker on the ice.
Verdict: A third line scorer masquerading as a first liner who can’t play defense just isn’t worth the price.
Kris Russell, Flames (D): Remember Andrew MacDonald, the guy being paid $5 million per season to block shots in the AHL? Well, whoever trades for Russell probably doesn’t. We get it, Russell blocks shots – a lot of them. But that’s mostly because he spends so much time in his own zone. Pretty much every single player on the Flames posts better results without him on the ice. The Flames allow eight shot attempts more when Russell’s on compared to when he’s on the bench. That’s one of the worst marks in the league.
Verdict: Overhyped defenseman probably makes whichever team acquires him worse, which is not exactly the goal of making trades.
Others who qualify: Justin Schultz, David Jones

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Who are the best trade deadline acquisitions? Advanced stats has the answers