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NHL Trade Deadline: What Is Clarke MacArthur's Trade Value?

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Assessing Clarke MacArthur's trade value relative to Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow.

Claus Andersen

Brenden Morrow was recently traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a solid defensive prospect named Joe Morrow (the deal also saw Pittsburgh get a 3rd round pick and Dallas receive a 5th). At the time @67sound made a remark along the lines of "If MacArthur could get a trade return that good the Leafs should do it." It seemed to me that MacArthur shouldn't have any problem getting the kind of return Morrow did, and I came to my conclusion this way: who will be offered more money as an unrestricted free agent this summer - Morrow or MacArthur? I decided to look into their underlying numbers to see if this was a reasonable conclusion to reach. But I also had another thought: how does MacArthur compare to the most prized possession currently on the trade market, Jarome Iginla? So I threw him into the mix too. To that end, I put together the following table showing each player's statistics for the past three years (the time that Clarke MacArthur has been on the Toronto Maple Leafs):

Player Year G/60 P/60 PP P/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel O-Zone Starts
Iginla 2012-13 0.91 1.94 3.27 0.305 -0.3 47.4%
Morrow 2012-13 0.86 1.54 1.54 0.776 -9.3 45.0%
MacArthur 2012-13 0.77 1.53 4.86 -0.257 15.1 47.9%

Iginla 2011-12 0.98 2.06 4.28 1.591 -8.6 49.7%
Morrow 2011-12 0.46 1.38 3.44 0.625 -5.2 45.9%
MacArthur 2011-12 0.97 1.99 3.75 0.720 7.2 52.8%

Iginla 2010-11 1.18 2.41 4.62 0.787 -1.4 52.9%
Morrow 2010-11 1.14 2.07 2.65 0.823 1.1 52.5%
MacArthur 2010-11 0.79 2.25 4.39 0.379 19.3 49.5%

I used goal and point per 60 minute rates to account for the fact that these players received differing amounts of ice time, so their raw point totals can't be compared directly. We shouldn't assume that point rates would remain linear in a different situation though, so I've also included competition and zone start statistics to compare the minutes that each player was playing.

[As an aside before we go any further, I want to say that I'm not advocating that the Leafs trade Clarke MacArthur, I'm just trying to establish what his value ought to be relative to other wingers held to be valuable on the trade market.]

I see a few things emerging in this picture. The first is that Clarke MacArthur is the worst goal scorer of the three, which shouldn't surprise anyone. Given that goal scoring is often valued very highly by GMs (and for good reason), that seems to drive the value of the other two higher relative to Clarke. Overall on the points scale MacArthur looks better than Morrow but a bit worse than Iginla. I think some of MacArthur's scoring problems earlier in the year can be chalked up to linemates and injuries, as he was shuffled around the lineup and played with an injured finger, so he may be closer to Iginla this year than the numbers make it look. He's certainly been scoring at a much better clip since being placed in a scoring role and paired with Nazem Kadri. It is worth noting that, particularly this year, MacArthur has played slightly easier minutes than Iginla or Morrow, although none of them is typically asked to play the other teams' toughest competition.

I also notice that MacArthur has the most consistent production on the powerplay relative to the other two. Powerplay statistics aren't as reliable because so little of the game is played with the man advantage, so this should be taken with a grain of salt, but MacArthur has been a highly effective powerplay performer for a few years, better than either of the other players listed here.

So at first glance MacArthur seems like a player who provides more offence than Morrow but a bit less than Iginla. Point production isn't the only way to evaluate a player though. Puck possession is an extremely important part of the game, and this is where MacArthur's value really comes through. While Morrow and Iginla have hovered around neutral numbers in terms of possession and even been negative relative to their teammates, Clarke MacArthur has consistently driven play better than almost all of his Leaf teammates and has consistently been a reliable driver of puck possession. His two-way game is extremely under-rated. During his first year in Toronto it was thought by many people (including me) that MacArthur's Corsi numbers were being driven up by playing with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. It's become clear in subsequent years that this is not the case; he is a strong driver of possession in his own right.

That leaves the question of what MacArthur's value on the trade market ought to be. Given his decent point production capability and his exceptional play driving skills I think MacArthur's value should be well above Morrow's and probably pretty comparable to Iginla's. Some of that may depend on what exactly a team is looking for, as MacArthur is the least talented goal scorer of the group. But as an all-around 2-way player, MacArthur seems to provide at least as much value as Jarome Iginla does at this stage in his career. Would any GM be willing to offer the kind of package for Clarke MacArthur that they would for Jarome Iginla? Not a chance. But if they're judging these players based on their actual contributions to winning hockey games rather than their reputations, they might want to think about it.