NHL fans waited all summer for Erik Karlsson and Max Pacioretty to be traded from the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens, respectively. Ever since the Stanley Cup Final ended and the dog days of summer began, we’ve been checking our Twitter feeds regularly to see if either deal had finally happened.
Here we are in mid-September, and Marc Bergevin and Pierre Dorion seemingly came back from summer vacation only to realize that they both still needed to trade their captains.
Expectations can hinder the impact of all sorts of things, from first dates to the new Avengers movie to a much-hyped craft beer that doesn’t quite hit the mark. But there’s simply no denying that Montreal and Ottawa came out on the wrong end of their trades. No matter how you want to spin it as a fan or supporter, Erik Karlsson is a generational and game-breaking talent. Max Pacioretty is an elite goal scorer with several quality years left to give.
And the returns for both players were, in a word, laughable.
— NHL (@NHL) September 10, 2018
And then this for Karlsson.
Sources say the #Sens have dealt Erik Karlsson to the Sharks in exchange for Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, Josh Norris, Rudolfs Balcers, 2020 1st, 2019 2nd and two conditional picks.
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) September 13, 2018
As a rebuilding team with talent to trade, it has to be at least somewhat disheartening for Ken Holland and Co. to see “Patches” and Karlsson moved for such underwhelming returns. That’s because there are a few players on Detroit’s roster who could conceivably be flipped to a contender at some juncture this season.
Gustav Nyquist has been a fixture of the rumor mill for at least two years now, and as the Red Wings try to get younger, faster, cheaper and more competitive, that’s not going to change. He’s on the last year of his four-year, $19 million contract and he carries a totally manageable $4.75-million cap hit.
As Detroit inevitably falls out of contention, if Nyquist is playing up to his ceiling, then he could be an attractive trade target for a high-end squad looking to bolster the middle of their forward group. After the lights-out Tomas Tatar deal, Holland had to be licking his chops thinking about what he could possibly land for Nyquist at this year’s deadline(ish).
The Karlsson and Pacioretty trades have reset the league’s trade market, however, and, to some degree, could impact Detroit’s ability to secure a decent bundle of futures should they decide to move players like Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader, Thomas Vanek or Trevor Daley.
All of those guys have some sort of trade protection, but we’ve seen players waive clauses to go elsewhere in the past. It gives the players a lot of control to be sure, but that only further compromises Holland’s ability to land quality assets for roster players as he moves them out of town.
It’s tough to imagine the Red Wings milking a first-round pick out of Nyquist following these deals.
The Karlsson and Pacioretty situations are different, obviously. Everyone and their mother knew that Ottawa and Montreal wanted to trade these players. Everyone and their mother knew that things would get really, really awkward if either was kept around for training camp. The rest of the NHL played the waiting game, and in the end, the Senators and Canadiens don’t have more to show for their elite talents than some mid-range prospects and late first-round selections.
So it’ll be worth remembering these poor returns as the season kicks off and the rumor mill ramps back up again. Holland could pull a rabbit out of his hat in the coming months–he did with Tatar, after all–but we shouldn’t be expecting him to land a major piece of the rebuild in return for any of his rentals.
Especially not after how this week has unfolded.