One of the most popular recurring features of sports blogging pioneer Bill Simmons is his NBA Trade Value ranking. Here are the rules, from his 2015 ranking:
1. Salaries matter. Would you rather pay Serge Ibaka $12.4 million a year or Chris Bosh $20.6 million?
2. Age matters. Would you rather have Dirk for the next three seasons or Boogie for the next 12?
3. Contract length matters — a newish wrinkle in an era defined by shorter guarantees, swollen caps and forward-thinking GMs who hoard cap space like it’s Walter White’s crystal meth recipe.
4. Pretend the league passed the following rule: For 24 hours, any player can be traded without cap ramifications, but with luxury-tax and next-day-cap ramifications. If Team A tells Team B, “We’ll trade you Player X for Player Y,” would Team B make the deal?
5. Concentrate on degrees. For instance, a Klay Thompson–Dwyane Wade swap ain’t happening, but Miami would at least say, “Wow, Thompson’s available?” while GSW would say, “We can’t trade Klay for someone who’s eight years older.” That counts in the big scheme of things.
6. This list runs in reverse order. If Thompson is no. 18, then players 1 through 17 are all players about whom GSW’s braintrust would either say, “We hate giving up Klay, but let’s have a meeting ASAP,” or, “Done! Call this deal in!” And GSW wouldn’t trade him straight-up for any player listed between nos. 19 and 60.
- I don’t claim this to be a definitive ranking. If I did this tomorrow I may come up with a different list. So, feel free to share your own lists and explain your reasoning.
- I only included the 22 players who have been on the roster for most of the season.
- Credit to the indispensable Cap Friendly for their records of each player’s contract details.
- Age, salary, and years of team control are weighted very heavily in my list. It’s not strictly a list in order of player ability.
- A leaguewide list makes more sense when thinking about swapping one player for another. It’s different when you’re comparing players that are already on the same team. So I used the thought process “would I trade this Player A for a player like Player B?” I think this is a useful exercise because it helps us think about what other teams would trade to us. For example, we’ve discussed Jonathan Huberdeau coming to us from Florida as part of a trade for the Russians. But I’d put Huberdeau on the Anderson/Atkinson level of this list, and that’s several spot higher than the Russians. Therefore a straight swap doesn’t make sense for Florida, and would require more pieces going that way to make up the difference.
#22 Brandon Dubinsky
Age: 32; Annual Cap Hit: $5.85M; Expires: 2021
#21 Riley Nash
Age: 29; Cap Hit: $2.75M; Expires: 2021
These two centers have performed well below their contracts this season. Dubinsky has a No Movement Clause which makes him nearly impossible to trade, and who would willingly take him at this point? Nash is younger and cheaper and there’s a better chance that he bounces back into something useful for the Jackets.
#20 Lukas Sedlak
Age: 25; Cap Hit: $825K; Expires: 2019 (RFA)
#19 Dean Kukan
Age: 25; Cap Hit: $725K; Expires: 2020 (RFA)
#18 Markus Hannikainen
Age: 25; Cap Hit: $675K; Expires: 2019 (RFA)
Three bottom-of-the-roster Europeans making less than a million dollars each. I ranked them in reverse order of salary, which also matches the order I’d rank their current ability and their ceiling with this franchise. I had higher hopes for Kukan this summer but he’s been mostly a scratch and hasn’t wowed me when he has gotten to play. Beerman seems like he could stick as a Calvert Lite fourth line wing. Sedsy seems like a candidate to be non-tendered this summer to make room for a prospect.
#17 David Savard
Age: 28; Cap Hit: $4.25M; Expires: 2021
#16 Scott Harrington
Age: 25; Cap Hit: $675K; Expires: 2019 (RFA)
Savvy is still a solid defenseman, but slightly overpaid for his production. Hott Scarrington is...somehow not terrible this year? There seems a chance that he could actually sign a new contract here. He already has 14 points on the season! That’s more than his career total prior to this season (9 points in 79 games over 4 seasons). Savard is the better player but not by enough to make up for the age and salary advantage of Harrington.
#15 Sergei Bobrovsky
Age: 30; Cap Hit: $7.425M; Expires: 2019
Is this too low? Probably. I’m knocking him down because he’s just a rental, and one who has struggled at times this season, and in the playoffs in the past.
#14 Anthony Duclair
Age: 23; Cap Hit: $650K; Expires: 2019 (RFA)
Sometimes - like last night, scoring the game winner - you see Duclair and think “how could three different teams let him go?” Then there are other times - like his healthy scratches, or defensive lapses - that you realize “ahhh, that’s why they let him go.” Still, his age, low salary, and RFA status make him a valuable asset, especially given his offensive potential.
#13 Joonas Korpisalo
Age: 24; Cap Hit: $900K; Expires: 2019 (RFA)
Korpi higher than Bob? Again, the age, salary, and RFA status make him more worth keeping. I don’t know about you but I am PSYCHED for Korpi-as-probable-starter next season.
#12 Nick Foligno
Age: 31; Cap Hit: $5.5M; Expires: 2021
He earned the captaincy not only through is play, but through his leadership in the locker room and in the community. This makes him more valuable to the Jackets than to anyone else. He’s overpaid, but still a viable middle 6 winger. Just don’t make him play center again.
#11 Ryan Murray
Age: 25; Cap Hit: $2.825M; Expires: 2019 (RFA)
Murray’s stock has risen a lot this season. How much will he make on his next contract? Can he stay healthy? The risks make him an intriguing piece to trade high.
#10 Boone Jenner
Age: 25; Cap Hit: $3.75M; Expires: 2022
Like Murray, Jenner has had his share of injury issues as well which have hurt his play. When he’s healthy, however, he finds himself on productive goal-scoring lines. His salary is reasonable for his production, and he’s under team control for three more seasons.
#9 Artemi Panarin
Age: 27; Cap Hit: $6M; Expires: 2019
As rentals go, he’s a great rental. There are not many playmakers of his caliber in the league, and even fewer who are available on the trade market or via free agency. We’d love to have a player like him for the stretch run, but not at the expense of giving up any of the players left on the list.
#8 Alexander Wennberg
Age: 24; Cap Hit: $4.9M; Expires: 2023
#7 Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Age: 23; Cap Hit: $2.5M; Expires: 2021 (RFA)
#6 Markus Nutivaara
Age: 24; Cap Hit: $2.7M; Expires: 2022
These three have all had struggles this year, but their ceilings remain high and their cap hits are steals if/when they do maximize their potential. Trading low would be a mistake, unless they were part of a package to bring in a genuine star.
#5 Josh Anderson
Age: 24; Cap Hit: $1.85M; Expires: 2020 (RFA)
Not many players have the combination of size, speed, and scoring ability. He will get a big raise on his next contract, but he will be worth it.
#4 Cam Atkinson
Age: 29; Cap Hit: $5.875M; Expires: 2025
Now we reach the players that are practically untouchable.
Last night was Cam’s 500th NHL game, all of them with the Blue Jackets. If he plays out his contract, he will likely retire a Blue Jacket, and have broken most franchise records along the way. His cap hit is second highest among CBJ forwards, but that’s small potatoes for someone on pace for 40+ goals.
#3 Seth Jones
Age: 24; Cap Hit: $5.4M; Expires: 2022
#2 Zach Werenski
Age: 21; Cap Hit: $925K; Expires: 2019 (RFA)
This was a tough one. If you could only have one going forward, do you pick Jones or Werenski? All else being equal, I pick Jones. But for the purpose of this exercise, the age and longer term of team control for Werenski give him the narrow edge.
#1 Pierre-Luc Dubois
Age: 20; Cap Hit: $894K; Expires: 2020 (RFA)
Picking between Dubois and the defensemen was also difficult. Aren’t we happy about trading a young 1C for Jones? Sure, I don’t regret that trade. With Werenski (and Murray, and Nutivaara) in the fold, however, and our lack of center production, Dubois is the more valuable piece to keep. Plus, he has one year left on his Entry Level Contract, which makes him waaaay underpaid. That makes building the rest of next year’s roster easier.
Alright, now it’s your turn! Let’s hear your thoughts.