The Selfish View of "Winning" Trades

Note: I'm writing this as a fanpost instead of a front page story mainly because this is a rant and I don't want to impose upon the image Travis has built for the site.

So while I couldn't sleep last night (old people need houses uncomfortably warm) I got to thinking about the idea of a team "winning" a trade. Immediately, the Peter Forsberg trade came to mind, and today I see the statement that the Flyers "won" the two trades with the Lightning.

Obviously, this whole notion of "winning" a trade is subjective. But fans are often too quick to say their team "won" the trade, without even considering what the motives of the other team was. Or even how they viewed the departing players.

Take the Forsberg trade.  The Predators were on their way to their best season in franchise history.  They had made the playoffs the two previous years (and the only two years they ever had), with first round exits. They had Hartnell and Timonen, as well as Tomas Vokoun who were going to be free agents at the end of the year.  They were in win now mode.

What do teams who want to win now do? They trade minor players for established ones.  Getting a 1st round pick, Scottie Upshall, and Ryan Parent in return for Peter Forsberg could definitely be viewed as a "win" for the Flyers. In hindsight? Those two players didn't help the Flyers do much at all. But more importantly, if the Flyers "won" the trade, the Predators certainly didn't "lose" it.

Upshall had registered 3 points in 14 games, averaging only 10:28 in ice time per game. Ryan Parent had not even played a professional game yet. And the Predators were expecting their first round pick to come in the bottom third of the draft - which it did, 23rd overall.

What were the Predators giving up? Basically, Steve Downie, Luca Sbisa, and a 1st.  For Peter Forsberg. In a Stanley Cup or Bust year.  If the Flyers "won" that trade, didn't the Ducks "win" the Pronger trade? Of course not, because fans don't look at how the other team did, they just see the Flyers getting Chris Pronger. Or getting rid of Peter Forsberg.

"But the Flyers turned that 1st round pick into Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen!" you may be saying.  Yes, yes they did. First, this doesn't mean the Flyers got Upshall, Parent, Hartnell, and Timonen for Forsberg. If that makes you think it was better, so be it. But once again, if you don't know that Hartnell and Timonen would have signed with the Flyers, you also don't know that they wouldn't have.

Second, did the Flyers get any discount on Timonen or Hartnell's contracts that year? Brian Rafalski signed for $6 million per year. Sheldon Souray signed for $5.4 million per. Jason Blake signed for $4 million per. Michael Nylander signed for $4.875 million (coming off a great season, mind you). Can you really say the Flyers got a good deal on those contracts? No, not right now and maybe not even then. Is Hartnell better than Jason Blake? Definitely. But at best, the Flyers signed them to roughly market value.

This isn't to say the Flyers shouldn't have made the trade or even that they aren't better because of it. But Nashville had two guys they weren't going to sign anyway, and got a 1st round pick for it. If the Flyers "won" that trade, Nashville also won it. But most Flyers fans wouldn't admit that.

Lastly, did the Flyers "win" the Andrej Meszaros trade? Maybe people would say yes, based just on 34 games. Ignoring the quick judgment, why does nobody look to Tampa's view of the trade? Even Meszaros himself admits he wasn't playing well in Tampa. Steve Yzerman was trying to gain flexibility by shedding high-salaried, long-term contracts. And since Yzerman called Holmgren with the offer, is this not a win for Tampa based just on their stated objective?  A good 34 games - hell, a good 4 years - shouldn't change that Tampa got rid of a player who didn't fit their system and let them do what they wanted to do.

Basically, before saying the Flyers "won" a trade, look to whether the other team actually lost the trade. If it's a win for the Flyers to trade two first round picks, a former first round pick, and a top-6 forward for an impact player, why is it also a win to get a top-9 forward, a former first round pick, and a first round pick for an impact player? If it's a win for the Flyers to trade a player they cannot sign for a third round pick (Dan Hamhuis), why is it also a win for them to trade a first round pick for two players the other team can't sign?

Wouldn't the Flyers "win" a trade of Nik Zherdev for a 3rd round pick at this year's draft?

This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.

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