Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Trading Futures for Tomorrow

7

Neither Tyler Dellow or James Mirtle think very much of Bryan Murray’s decision to trade Dean McAmmond and a late first round pick to the Islanders for Chris Campoli and Mike Comrie. Here’s Tyler:

The first round pick (San Jose’s) will fall somewhere between 21 and 30, I’d imagine. It seems an awful lot to give up for Campoli and a few months of Mike Comrie though… As for trading futures for today when you’re 13 points out of a playoff spot? Melnyk probably ought to have fired the GM when he did the coach. It’s just crazy.

I don’t know whether this will turn out to be a good trade for Ottawa. It will depend on how Campoli turns out – I don’t know the player – and what the Islanders manage to do with the first round pick.  I do think, however, that this is the type of trade that Murray should be trying to make. (Given that I’ve ripped Murray fairly regularly over the past couple of years, that’s not the easiest admission to make.)

First, I don’t think Murray is delusional enough to believe that Ottawa can catch a playoff spot. He is buying – and Snow is selling – but deadline dealing it is more complicated than the way we have come to view it at this time of year. Teams out of the playoffs are supposed to be sellers. What’s going on?

I think you have to consider the Ottawa position. They might want to rebuild, but they can’t. They have several star players locked into generous contracts. I don’t think they can trade Jason Spezza or Mike Fisher or even Dany Heatley because their contracts are so unattractive. The Ottawa core is not going to change significantly over the next three or four years.

Murray’s challenge is to improve the Ottawa team for next year and for the three years after that. If he fails, he – or his successor – can blow it up down the road when the big contracts will be much closer to expiring.  For now he has to work with what he has – a not very good expensive team. He can’t add via the free agent market this summer because he doesn’t have any money. A late first round pick won’t help until he is ready to blow up the team.

A Chris Campoli can help. He is cheap, he has experience and he is still young enough to get better. And given the state of the Eastern conference, it may not take much to get Ottawa back to respectability. Which player would help Ottawa more over the next three years – the first round pick or Chris Campoli? I think Campoli will help more. Indeed, if the pick turned out to be Chris Campoli quality in four years – a legitimate NHL player – it would be marked as a successful pick.

Would Garth Snow trade Chris Campoli for a late first round pick? Obviously not, because Murray gets nothing out of acquiring Comrie. Snow made Murray sweeten the pot by taking Comrie’s contract and saving Snow a million bucks. That’s how I see this trade. It is a late first round pick plus a million dollars for Chris Campoli.

Its a good deal for the Islanders because they are in full rebuild mode. It will be a good deal for Ottawa if Campoli helps make Ottawa a better team over the next few years. If they manage to find a few decent – but cheap – players to fit around their expensive stars they can improve and perhaps get back to respectability. What’s their alternative? They don’t have the cap space to add anyone good. They can’t trade any of the ill-advised contracts.

I think their best bet is to find several guys like Chris Campoli, guys who are young, cheap NHL players with maybe some upside. The Sens didn’t trade futures for today. That is, as Tyler said, crazy. 

The Sens traded futures for tomorrow.

Postscript: While nobody will criticise Snow for the deal, I really wonder about this full rebuild mode. If you don’t really suck for several years, it doesn’t really work very well. You end up like the St. Louis Blues. And even if you do really suck, you get great like the Pens or Sabres. Then the cap bites you in the ass and you end up like the St. Louis Blues.

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Comments

7 Responses to “Trading Futures for Tomorrow”
  1. Magicpie says:

    I guess another possible explaination might be that he plans to sign Comrie in the summer and he thinks having him on the team will give him a leg up on doing that.

    Also, for the record, “rebuilding” is the biggest crock in professional sports.

  2. James Mirtle says:

    You’re right, it all depends on how Campoli turns out. He’s had a miserable season but was very strong as a rookie, so who knows at this point?

    He requested a trade out of Long Island anyway, and the return’s pretty decent for a player of that calibre. He’s a tough one to project right now.

  3. Tom says:

    I think it is important, though, to understand the process of building a winner. That’s why teams sell and why teams buy. Teams can be buying not for today, but for the day after tomorrow. The Isles are looking four or five years down the road. Ottawa is looking to next year.

    Whether this deal works out or not depends on Campoli and the pick, but philosophically, I think Murray has the right strategy. Campoli’s quality will determine whether the strategy was well executed. Maybe, maybe not. But I do think it is the right strategy.

  4. Roberto says:

    Postscript: While nobody will criticise Snow for the deal, I really wonder about this full rebuild mode. If you don’t really suck for several years, it doesn’t really work very well. You end up like the St. Louis Blues. And even if you do really suck, you get great like the Pens or Sabres. Then the cap bites you in the ass and you end up like the St. Louis Blues.

    I don’t really see how this could be different for any NHL team, except maybe Detroit, where players seem willing to play for less than market value.

  5. Tom says:

    I think, at the end of the day, it won’t be different for Detroit either. This has been one of my biggest complaints about this CBA. I don’t know how a bad team can be turned into a good one. I’m with Magic on rebuilding now. I’m not interested in seeing my team suck for several years to become good for one or two and then sink to mediocrity. I do think Murray has adopted the only possible strategy for his team, but I’m not sure it will work.

  6. Dennis_Prouse says:

    Normally, I am a staunch opponent of trading first rounders, but in this instance there may be mitigating factors. The pick they traded was San Jose’s, so it will be 28-30 range. Historically, very low first round picks are only about 40% to make the NHL. If you check the history of low end first rounders over the last ten years, there are some gems, but a much larger number of washouts. For example, Mark Fistric of the Vancouver Giants was a late first round pick of Dallas in 2004, and has yet to truly become a regular there at age 22. He might become one next year, but at best Fistric is a #5 or #6 defenseman, whereas Campoli is a proven #3 or #4.

    Since the trade, we have learned that Campoli was unhappy on Long Island, and had requested a trade. If Snow was in a hurry to clear an unhappy camper out of his dressing room, Ottawa may have picked him up for less than full market value.

  7. Tom says:

    I guess another possible explanation might be that he plans to sign Comrie in the summer and he thinks having him on the team will give him a leg up on doing that.

    I let this go originally – thinking maybe so – but after a couple of other people made the same point, I thought about it some more. I don’t think it flies. All Comrie can do for the Sens this year is hurt their draft position and he costs about $1 million.

    I don’t think anyone will really need a leg up to sign Comrie because teams won’t be falling all over themselves to get him next year. If the Sens thought he was a solution to a need for next season, they would have just as good of a shot at him in July.

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