The trade value of Henrik Sedin, the 10th best playmaker in NHL history

NHL.com recently ran a feature listing the 10 best playmakers in NHL history. As is the case with most of these lists, there’s plenty of room for debate. John Kreiser put together a pretty decent list, though it’s missing such luminaries as Ron Francis (second all time in assists) and Marcel Dionne (ninth all time). In place of these historically great playmakers, Kreiser put more recent stars, like Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton.

And Henrik Sedin.

Kreiser has Henrik ranked as the 10th best playmaker in the NHL all time, ahead of Francis, Dionne, and other great playmakers throughout NHL history, like Joe Sakic, Doug Gilmour, and Paul Coffey.

So here’s a question: would you trade Henrik Sedin for Ryan Getzlaf, straight up? Or Loui Eriksson? Or John Carlson?

Jeff Angus is a blogger for Dobber Hockey and Canucks Army, as well as running his own blog at Angus Certified. You’ve likely already read his work. Yesterday, he set himself the near-impossible task of ranking the top 50 NHL players by their trade value. This isn’t as simple as just ranking the 50 best players in the league, though that in itself isn’t all that easy either.

The list takes into account a player’s contract, age, and the relative rarity of their skillset. It doesn’t take into account a specific team’s needs or depth chart. The Canucks aren’t in any hurry to acquire yet another goaltender, for instance.

In general, however, the idea is that a team would be likely to trade any player on the list for any player ranked higher than he is. Marian Gaborik is ranked 50th overall by Angus, meaning it’s likely that a team would trade Gaborik for any of the players ranked 49th to 1st. Would you trade Gaborik for Spezza (ranked 49th overall)? Maybe, but it would be close. Would I trade him for Duncan Keith (ranked 37th)? Oh most definitely.

A list like this is bound to be controversial and I admire Angus’s moxie in putting it together. I disagree with some of his choices: I think Corey Perry and John Tavares are ranked a tad high and Pavel Datsyuk a tad low, but those are mostly minor quibble. The only place where I completely disagree with Angus is where he ranks the Sedins.

Angus has Henrik and Daniel at 36th and 35th, ahead of Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, and Eric Staal, but behind Loui Eriksson,  John Carlson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and P.K. Subban.

Whether you agree with Kreiser that Henrik is the 10th best playmaker in NHL history or not, he is still undoubtedly one of the best playmakers currently in the NHL. He has led the league in assists in each of the last three seasons. His 83 assists in 2009-10 is tied for 49th on the list of best single seasons. When you consider that Wayne Gretzky occupies 14 of the spots ahead of him and that Henrik plays in a far more low-scoring era than many of those ahead of him, it’s an impressive feat. The only players with better seasons since the turn of the century are Joe Thornton and Sidney Crosby.

Add in his Art Ross, Hart, and two 1st-team All-Star nods, and it seems bizarre to see Henrik ranked so low by Angus. When you count in Daniel, it becomes especially egregious: would you trade the Sedins for any combination of the players ranked ahead of them? While that includes Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby (in which case, yes), it also includes Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane (in which case, no).

But that’s the problem according to Angus. I approached him for his defence of his rankings.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin are top 10 forwards in the NHL. Heck, they are probably top 10 players in the world. They are both extremely durable, reliable defensively, and have cap-friendly contracts ($6.1 million per – only $500,000 more than Dennis Wideman for those keeping track at home).

However, their individual trade values don’t reflect what they bring together. We have seen Henrik excel without Daniel, and vice versa. However, they are the classic example of 1+1=3. My list ranks players on an individual basis, and their individual trade values suffer because of this.

It’s true that the value of the Sedins together is far more than their trade value apart. It could also be argued that because of Daniel, Henrik doesn’t deserve to be ranked among the top 10 playmakers in NHL history. The argument goes that without Daniel, Henrik wouldn’t have anywhere near the number of assists that he does now. Of course, that argument can be made for a number of playmakers who skated alongside all-star snipers.

Is it fair for the Sedins to be ranked 35th and 36th individually?

For example, [you] asked if I would trade Daniel and Henrik for Getzlaf and Perry. As a two-for-two trade, my answer is no (hell no, actually). However, would I trade just Daniel for Perry? Taking all factors into consideration, I probably would, and the same goes for Henrik and Getzlaf.

That’s where I disagree. The consistency of Henrik and Daniel over the last several seasons puts them well ahead of Perry and Getzlaf, even individually. Perry is a great goalscorer, but he only managed 60 points last season. He has just one season at better than a point-per-game. Getzlaf, at least, has several seasons at better than a point-per-game, but only managed 57 last season. Is he going to bounce back? Of course. But there’s not a chance I trade away Henrik Sedin for that possibility.

Is Henrik the 10th best playmaker of all time? No, he’s probably not. But he is a player that any team in the NHL would love to have centring their top line.

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11 comments

  1. Ken Johnson
    September 20, 2012

    This is going to be a slow news extended offseason.

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    • Rituro
      September 20, 2012

      That said, I didn’t mind the back and forth in this post. Some healthy, positive debate (or so it seems from the outside).

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  2. Bob
    September 20, 2012

    There is a certain hometown bias that you could have addressed here though. I love the Sedins, which no doubt would influence my own decision on who to trade them for. There is also a proven bias that people overvalue the things they currently possess. I might not pay $10 for a coffee cup, but once it’s my favorite I won’t sell it for a penny less!

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  3. jenny wren
    September 20, 2012

    “egregious.” that’s a great word! right up there with “hubris.”

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  4. Wagman
    September 20, 2012

    Sedins for Malkin and a healthy Crosby – Yes. Is Crosby going to play again? I am not sure I would take that trade considering Crosby’s recent concussion recovery issues. I like Sid, but he has had a rough couple years. I hope he is able to return for many more seasons.

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  5. pooroldbear
    September 20, 2012

    This is where I come for hockey. There isn’t enough hockey. Can you please make more?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      September 20, 2012

      I will try. I have a lot of pull with the NHL head office.

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      Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  6. Justin
    September 21, 2012

    Honestly, I would have guessed age had something to do with it. I’d likely pass off the Sedin’s for some young talent, as long as that talent had a solid contract attached to it. Which of course begs the question of why PK Subban is ranked so highly, what with the lack of a contract and exposure to an RFA offer sheet…

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    • Jeff
      September 21, 2012

      Subban’s contract status doesn’t affect his trade value much. Once the new CBA is signed, he will either sign a short term (1-2 years) or long term (5+) contract. If he wanted to sign an offer sheet, he would have long ago.

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  7. Matt
    September 21, 2012

    I can appreciate the ranking of the Sedins given that every player ahead of them except Chara, I think, is younger than they are. If you’re building a team for the future, I might take Getzlaf and Perry over the Sedins, as they’re both a few years younger and while the Sedins will probably give you better production over the next couple of seasons, over the next six or seven years, you’ll probably get more production out of Getzlaf and Perry.

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    • Kenji
      September 21, 2012

      Good point. Value to whom? If a team is way under the cap but way close to the Cup (alliteration points?), then they might have assigned a higher desirability to veteran star players than to, say, a rebuilding and/or cheap organization which might not even want to have a great player added to them, given their proximity to lottery salvation.

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