The trade deadline is fast approaching and it’s time to analyze what’s out there.
As always the trade market has a variety of different options from difference-makers to depth pieces that can put a team over the top or plug some much-needed holes. There’s something for everyone and I wanted to explore the most intriguing names available and analyze what to expect from them.
With an analytical slant, I took a deep dive into three categories of players: the biggest names, the under-the-radar types and of course the red flags.
This post focuses on the red flags, players who are being treated and priced like difference-makers but are more than likely going to be liabilities for their new team. They’re players who very likely won’t be worth the cost of acquisition.
Here are five players to avoid at this year’s trade deadline and what to expect out of each of them.
Every year there’s an obsession with big defensemen who play tough minutes. They’re playoff-ready players that can play nasty, handle the grind, and strike fear into their opponents — it makes sense.
It would make more sense though if there was more attention paid to how the players actually perform in those minutes. Just existing within a difficult environment isn’t enough and it’s certainly not enough to warrant the king’s ransom these types usually garner on the market. Vladislav Gavrikov is the latest in the genre, a potential landmine contending teams should avoid at his current exorbitant cost.
In the right context and situation, it’s possible that Gavrikov can be a capable player for a contender. He doesn’t have a lot of help in Columbus and his numbers aren’t bad relative to his teammates. Over the last three seasons, Gavrikov’s relative impact on expected goal differential is plus-0.04 for the Blue Jackets and his impact on goal differential is minus-0.11. That’s a pretty neutral profile in a difficult role. It makes sense that some might believe he can carry that over and contribute to a contending team’s top four.
The problem with solely looking at his relative metrics though is that it ignores how much Columbus is actually caved in when he’s on the ice. Over the last three seasons, the team has earned just 44.6 percent of the expected goals and 41.4 percent of the actual goals. Those numbers are even worse this season. Essentially, it’s giving Gavrikov credit for being the tallest kid in kindergarten — in the grand scheme of things he would still come up … short.
That’s not because he’s just weak offensively either. There’s a myth that Gavrikov is a strong defensive defenseman, but for three straight seasons Columbus has been one of the league’s worst defensive teams and Gavrikov is at the center of that. Only one defenseman in the league, teammate Andrew Peeke, has been on for more goals against per 60 over the last three years and only nine have been on for more expected goals against. Maybe he’s a good net-front presence, but he spends an awful lot of time there thanks to his inability to move the puck safely and his passiveness at defending the blue line.
The excuse that Gavrikov doesn’t have help is one way to look at that, but it’s backwards from what’s actually happening. The worst teams are as bad as they are specifically because they count on bad players to contribute in a big role. Playing big minutes on one of the league’s worst teams is often viewed as a positive trait, but oftentimes it should be the opposite. Those guys are a huge part of the problem.
Maybe Gavrikov does play well in a lesser role on a better team. In fact, he almost certainly does. But the risk is far from worth it given the price tag it’ll take to acquire him.