Word is the Leafs are considering trading Kessel, Dion and other veterans. And they’re targeting the best package of players, prospects and especially, of draft picks, that they can get.
Now, there are lots of reasons these deals don't come together. Limited cap space. Differing needs. Perceptions of the players involved. etc.
But there is a strategy that Shanny can use to get more teams bidding on our players...
And help the deals come together more easily...
And help get us more and better draft picks in return...
And do it all in a way that better fits the new direction of Leafs management.
And, well... what is that strategy?
To target getting 1st round picks from 2016 - and not from this year’s 2015 draft.
A seemingly small change, but one that promises more picks, better ones - and cheaper.
Oh yeah. As it turns out, this exact strategy - of trading for draft picks two or even three seasons out - is an oft-forgotten, but absolutely favourite method of the man many feel was the greatest General Manager the NHL has ever seen.
And, whatever you may think of the team he worked for [they suck], the fact is... Sammy Pollock built the massive 1970‘s Montreal Canadiens dynasty, and won 9 Cups in 14 years.
Which is kinda good.
Shanny Pollock - The Elder.
Now, the talking hockey heads like to sum Sammy’s strategy up by saying he liked to "trade for draft picks."
Which he did. I mean, in just the 5 drafts after 1969, Sammy got 17 first round picks and 8 second rounders. So when the man said, "I’ve always traded for futures – not pasts," he was pretty obviously stating the truth, right?
But Sammy Pollock’s favourite move was actually to trade for a very specific kind of draft pick - one from a draft two years out. Not the coming draft, that is, but the one after. Or even, if he could get them, from the year after that.
He loved this move. But how did it work? Like a charm.
That’s how he got Guy Lafleur.
And that’s how he got Steve Shutt.
And that’s how he got Larry Robinson.
So it might be worthwhile paying some attention to this particular strategy. Why it works and how it works, for starters. And then, let's to turn to today, and look at whose pocket we might try to pick for those 2016 first rounders.
Because even though it takes a rare alignment of the stars to put a team - and its GM - in just the right place to pull this move off... and even though most teams, and most GMs, never get this chance... it turns out that Brendan Shanahan and the Leafs, today, are perfectly placed to pull off the maneuver Sammy Pollock used so well, so long ago.
So we’re going to be hopeful here, and call this one the "Shanny Pollock" maneuver.
Here’s how his move works.
And here's a hint from the wise Patty Hurst Shifter, who said, "Life Is Mostly Waiting."
Now, the 2015 draft looks great, right? Huge top-end talent, and it's deep as well. And with two picks already in our pocket, and top-end veterans to deal, what Leaf fan wouldn’t want to pick up a couple more of these beauties, right?
The only problem being, there’s already a log-jam around trading for those 2015 picks.
For starters, there’s only a few left available. And some of those are from teams just looking to trade up or down - not in trading their pick away. And it’s easy to understand the league-wide reluctance:
- 5 of the teams - Nashville, St Louis, Pittsburgh, the Rangers and the Islanders - have already traded their 1sts away. So that’s 5 fewer teams you can put together deals with.
- Others aren’t trading their picks away, no way, no how. Oilers, Sabres, etc.
- And of course, some don’t want our players, or can’t fit them under their cap. [Although, it's in every team's interests to pose this way, so the Leafs don't think they want a guy like Kessel or Dion too much, right?]
Now, these are all fairly standard barriers to getting deals done.
But there are also two unique forces working to tighten this market further - and drive up the asking price for a pick:
- Everybody has now heard that this is a great draft. Other teams, their scouts, their media and their fans. So even if you’re only picking at #30, the media and fans think you absolutely have to keep your pick this year, because "it’s a great draft." So teams feel pressured not to let go of a pick from a "great" draft.
- Plus, every team already now knows where it picks, and the exact individuals likely to fall to them. And as per every year, by June, the scouts and the GMs and the team staff have spent hundreds of hours looking at specific individuals, ranking them, projecting how they’ll develop and basically...and locking in on their fave guys. Falling in love. Teams who believe things like, "Barzal is a sleeper" or "Svechnikov has a huge upside" and who therefore want to get a higher pick.
Result? Increased Demand + Shrinking Supply of Picks = Rising Cost To Get A Pick.
So if the Leafs want more picks this year, it’ll cost.
Because we’re in on the wrong side of those bidding wars.
Now. There’s a way out of this 2015 log-jam. A great way, in fact.
We need to shift our focus out ahead a draft or two, and look to pocket picks from 2016.
But to get there, first we have to get over the problem that we also tend to fall in love with, and lock in on, the draft picks in front of us. And almost everyone in Leaf-land has already done this, which makes it harder. Marner. Provorov. Barzal. Everyone has their faves, and in this draft, we often have more than one.
The problem this causes is that it makes us too short-term in focus, funny enough. Sure, we’re talking about players with futures, but we’re actually locking on on this immediately-coming draft.
But it’d be more useful to us to look out ahead a bit more.
So. Let’s start by making the 2016 draft picks a bit more visible, tangible, desirable.
We need to start imagining a Leaf future with not only a Mitch Marner in it... but a Jesse Puljujarvi.
Now, we’re not gonna argue that the 2016 class is better. We’ll just give that crown over to 2015 right now, because they’ve got Connor McDavid.
What we will argue is that the 2016 class is going to have plenty of high-end kids. And is going to be plenty deep.
As the head of the NHL’s Central Scouting says, "The 2016 draft might even be deeper for a longer period of time than this year's draft."
Which makes collecting those 2016 picks a great idea.
By now, most of us have seen umpteen write-ups hyping the kids of 2015. We’ve seen their videos. Watched them triple their boxcars from when they were 17. Seen them at the Juniors and at the Combine. Here’s Scott's great averaged ranking of the 2015’s. You probably know 'em all by now.
By comparison, the 2016 kids still seem hazy, almost imaginary. And when we look at their stats, they seem weak, pale, scoring just a fraction of the amazing totals racked up by this year’s draft kids.
So. Here’s a quick starter pack on the 2016’s. What I've done is to set out the point totals for some top 2016 prospects this year... right alongside how some of the 2015 prospects last year. When they were 17 too. So we get like-for-like.
I think you’ll be surprised at just how good the 2016 kids look.
And... just so we’re not misunderstood... one last time... I’m not saying the 2016 kids are gonna be better. Hard to match McDavid-Eichel-Strome-Marner-Hanifin.
But make no mistake, there are some amazing kids there next year. Those 2016 picks are well worth having.
Now, you can peruse the chart, and research these guys [my numbers are from Elite Prospects], and tell me about the good 2016‘s I’ve missed [and I would love to hear about the 2016 picks I’ve missed, or am under-rating, if you can spare a comment.] But let’s spend a few paragraphs on these 2016 kids before moving to why and how to trade for them.
Auston Matthews is neck and neck with Jack Eichel point-wise, and an amazing talent. He’s 6 foot 2 and 195 pounds already, he destroyed the Under-18’s with 15 points in 7 games, and he likely has to go to Europe next year just to find some real hockey to play against.
From Europe, 2015's Mikko Rantanen is gonna be a real nice hockey player. But next year’s top Finn, Jesse Puljujarvi, is gonna be monster. Great shot, strong skater, takes it to the net and uses his size. Last year, age 15, he was 1.3 PPG in Junior. At 15.
This year, age 16, he was PPG in their AHL and then, at the top in the Liiga, he scored at 0.5 PPG. At age 16. Out-scoring Rantanen, who’s a year older - and who is ranked #10 this year’s draft. Oh yeah. Puljujarvi’s 6-3 and 198 pounds already, and just turned 17 in May.
Gee. Another #13. Dude reminds me of someone.
We can see the same thing in Sweden.
You-know-who’s younger brother, Alexander Nylander, scored far better at age 17 than any of 2015‘s top Swedes - including Joel Eriksson Ek, ranked #25 in 2015.
And not only is Carl Grundstrom bigger than Nylander, this last year he blew Swedish Jr apart, and then, at 17, stepped up into the SHL and started scoring. As did a kid named Rasmus Asplund. Plus, there’s big Patrik Laine, the Finn, who was also PPG in Jr at age 15. He’s 6-4 and 210 pounds.
So if I want a high-end forward out of Europe, I’m targeting a 2016 Swedish or Finnish kid, rather than this year’s crop.
In the same vein, next year’s American kids look.... awesome. Sure, this year’s are great, with Eichel and Hanifin in the Top 10, and Werenski and Connor likely making it 4 in the Top 15.
But next year? 2016 could see 4, 5 or even 6 Americans going Top 15. Auston Matthews. Big Keith Tkachuk’s kid, Matthew. Clayton Keller. Max Jones. Chad Krys on defence. Kieffer Bellows (Brian Bellows son.) All possible.
The only place next year’s crop looks weaker right now, frankly, is in terms of forwards from Canada. And sure, it’ll likely be weaker than McDavid-Strome-Marner-Barzal-Crouse. That’s tough to beat.
But you know what?
Next year does have Logan Brown. Jeff Brown’s son. And Logan is 6 foot 6, at age 17. He was 16 this year, stepping straight out of Midget, and had 43 points in the OHL. So he’s a pick. And next year has Sam Steel, 54 points in the WHL this year with Regina. And Michael MacLeod, Tyler Benson, Brett Howden, Tyson Jost, Pierre Luc Dubois, Jordan Kyrou and Patrik Bajkov and Julien Gauthier and more.
And the way it works with Canadian kids, a half-dozen of them will come blasting to the fore by next Spring, and we won’t believe how they’ve suddenly blossomed, and everyone will be wanting to pick them Top 20, right?
Where things do look brighter next year on the Canadian side is with the D-men, kids like big Jakob Chychrun (Luke Richardson's nephew.) Who had 33 points in 42 games, which was as much as Darnell Nurse scored this year. Only Chychrun is 3 years younger.
Then there’s Sean Day and Jake Bean and Dante Fabbro and Luke Green and company. Plus, 2016 has a much better crop of young D-men coming from Europe as well - with two Finns, Olli Juolevi and Tarmo Ruenanen already running through their Jr system at 0.75 PPG.
So. Take a look at their chart, and compare. I’ve tried to match them up by country and position and size where I can - but it’s far from perfect. Just remember that a lot of prospects never really come to the fore until their last year of Jr.
Ok. From here on, we’re assuming that 2016’s draft class are worth getting.
Now. Here’s why the 2016 maneuver works... and how it will work... who it will work with... and why it’ll get us more for our assets.
The fundamental reason why we can get more this way, and at less cost, is that most human beings value the present over the future.
Most of us have a short-term focus, and that is bloody that. We can hate it, we can fight against it, but on the whole, the evidence says that people will take $100 today over $110 in a year’s time. Same way as the global evidence says we find it easier to spend more than we earn, same way as we have to trick ourselves into saving even a small percentage for tomorrow.
Now, there are good reasons for us to think short-term, and prefer birds in the hand. For example, with the future, there are always uncertainties. Bad shit can happen. The best laid plans can go South. And sometimes it’s smart to stuff your gob when you get the chance.
But. Beyond these general reasons, the Shanny Pollock strategy gains additional traction because there are also really powerful, but really bad reasons why people trade off their future for the present. We’re going to look at some NHL GMs out there today, and see if we can sniff out any who might have bad reasons to act.
Ok. Here’s our master list of reasons - starting with the good reasons, and moving to the bad - of why NHL GMs might prefer the shorter-term to the longer-term, and be open to trading us their 1st rounders from 2016:
- The team has an aging core and they need to maximize their assets in the short-term, in order to make another Cup run. Trading a 2016 for that makes sense.
- The team is one piece away from winning a Cup. A veteran asset available today might be the difference, and a 2016 a reasonable cost.
- The owners, the Boardroom, are growing impatient. And they need to make the playoffs now to boost revenues/excitement. But the key is, they need a boost now.
- The GM himself is impatient. Sometimes, it’s just a person’s style to be impatient. And sometimes, they just panick. It happens. And the personal styles and personal reactions of Sr Managers matter.
- The GM's jobs is under pressure from the owners or the Board. The history of sports is littered with teams who dealt the team’s future away to save their own jobs today.
Now, we’re gonna skate through the NHL teams and their GMs, and speculate a bit about which teams might fall into which categories (and you can be in more than one.) It’d be great if people who knew teams better than I would suggest which of these forces might be at work in particular cities.
And remember, WE'RE SETTING ASIDE QUESTIONS OF THE CAP, ok? This post is just aimed at seeing what bringing the 2016 picks in might add to the possibilities.
No talking about salary cap right now, ok?
1. AGING CORE. A number of teams have spent the past decade - and tens of millions of dollars - developing a top-notch core of players, who are now aging. The pressure is on the GMs to find a way to gain extra assets through trade, now, without sacrificing existing top players. For example:
- DETROIT has an aging core of Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Franzen-Kronwall. But they’re ungodly talented, have a nicely-trained rising set of younger players coming, and were damned near good enough to beat Tampa Bay. When you add in that they have a strong set of prospects still moving up, and need veteran help for Kronwall, it’s no surprise they’re interested in adding Dion. And if the deal sticks on prospects offered, or cash, bringing in the 2016 pick offers a whole new asset to the Leafs, without messing with Detroit's preferred prospects.
- ANAHEIM was an inch from a Cup, but Perry, Getzlaf & Kesler are now 30, and Beauch is 35. They have great young D-men, but may want, and likely need, another scorer. Because if other teams can shut down Perry and Getzlaf, the Ducks are done. So dealing a 2016 pick now, for veteran scoring help, may be a reasonable trade-off. Before Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler get hurt and start to downslope hard. Or even, a replacement for Beauchemin, should he move along.
- SAN JOSE's core of Big Joe-Marleau-Pavelski needs backing, or it’s time for San Jose to turn them over and roll them out. My guess is that they should want to deal vets as fast as they can, but if they decide they need a veteran D-man, we could take a 2016 to help make that happen.
- THE BROONS have Chara turning 38, Seidenberg 34 and Bergeron 30 - and Bergeron has had numerous major injuries in his career. So before he declines - and Chara steps aside - the Bruins need help. Will they want our guys? Nope. Are they buffoons? D'uh. Yeah.
- Vancouver has the Sedins at age 35, plus older vets Burrows-Bieksa-Hamhuis. And the Sedins are over 1500 NHL+Playoff+World games played. The Canucks smell like mid-rot, so... not likely.
- L.A. also has a visibly aging core, but have no 2016 first rounder, so appear out.
Now, for these teams with aging cores, trading a 2016 pick offers real advantages over trading a 2015. It gives them the veterans they need, now. It takes less off their roster today. It even lets them keep their 2015 pick. Which, though it’s a long shot, could be a kid who can step into the line-up right away, like Boston with Pastrnak. And if that happens, it frees up cap space. So there are upsides to veteran teams moving a 2016.
In addition, teams like Boston and LA and San Jose who missed the playoffs this year not only know they have good picks in hand, at #9, #14 and #15, but they already have specific players like Crouse, Rantanen or Zacha in their sights - guys who have already shown they can play with men. So if you try to pry their 2015 picks away, that means they have to say goodbye to these players. Tough to do. While trading a 2016 pick allows them to get a Kessel or a Dion PLUS these guys.
So, even though the candidate teams aren't that great here, shifting to emphasize getting a 2016 (or even 2017) pick helps bring a number of additional teams into play.
The key here being that every team that comes into play raises the Leafs leverage for any deal they ultimately strike.
2. ONE PIECE AWAY. The next group are teams who feel they’re on the rise, and are looking for just that extra oomph required to give them a serious Cup run. For example:
- NASHVILLE needs scoring forwards, especially with Ribiero and Fisher now 35, and Shea Weber hitting 30. With plenty of youth already in hand, and more coming up through, they could deal a 2016 pick for some top-notch scoring on a deep Cup run.
- ST. LOUIS has never done as well as it should in the playoffs. And now it's got Jackman (34) and Bouwmeester (32) slowing. Plus Steen (31), Backes (31) and Stastny (30 by year-end) turning the corner. Above all though, for a team that repeatedly gets shut-down in the playoffs, a break-through scorer with a PPG history in the playoffs might be useful. And of course you don't want to give up a vet. Then enrichen your offer with a 2016 first.
- PITTSBURGH keeps trying to make a Cup run while making do with second-rate wingers for Crosby and Malkin. A strategy that has failed. Anybody want to imagine Kessel getting in under the cap and playing here? 70 goals? Dump the expensive oldster D, play some kids, and add a top-notch winger to Crosby's line, then double-shift him with Malkin. We'll see how fit Phil is.
- THE ISLES, likewise, had higher hopes, and appear to have under-performed.
- The Rangers need scoring, but have traded their 2016 to Arizona.
And all five of these teams were looking for a deep playoff run, and all have traded their 2015 picks already. So if you’re looking to pry picks away, their 2016’s are the only ones possible.
Which means opening the door to 2016 picks has just increased your chances with another 5 teams.
There are at least 3 other teams who may feel their cores are now entering their Cup-winning window, but know they don’t have all the pieces they need yet, like:
- THE WILD also have a nice mix of talented vets and youth, but clearly need something more for a longer Cup run. And they’ve shown they can make big moves. They won't want to give up any key players to move ahead though. Thing is, a 2016 1st would help boost the fibre in any offer they made.
- WASHINGTON, which did well this year, may need to augment Ovie or add veteran D. And with Kuznetsov and Burakowsky, it may feel it can afford to miss a draft. Imagine Ovie with Backstrom and Kessel with Kuznetsov. * shivers *
- Montreal has Patches, Price and PK in their prime, plus quality kids - and needs veteran D-men plus scoring. However, Phil’s not going there, because they’re evil, and he’s good. So they can go fuck themselves. Smurfs.
3. BOARDROOM IMPATIENCE. This is where the business and financial status of the franchise or owner begin to pressure the team, and the GM. Boardroom impatience is a real thing, and when GMs begin to feel it, they tend to react.
- FLORIDA, for instance, may soon face pressure from above to add vets and win soon. Simply to give the fans a reason to keep coming - and to collect some of that free playoff cash. Trading a 2016 might allows them to harvest their #11 pick this year, plus get a Kessel or a Dion, and giving up a 2016 for that might look very viable.
- NEW JERSEY loves vets, but doesn't really love missing the playoffs so much. So. They need scoring, and errrm, need something to spice up any offer they can make. A 2016 would help that just fine. Ta.
[I’d love to hear from people where they think the owners, and their financial status, is creating pressure on their GMs to win now.]
4. GM or SR. MANAGEMENT IMPATIENCE. And then there are the personal styles of Sr Management.
- CALGARY, for instance, already has lots of youth in Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan, Gaudreau, Granlund, etc.- all under 25. So they’re already dressing a lot of youth, and adding some veterans might not be a bad idea. Most important though, we know there’s impatience built into Management there, with Burkie doing Burkie’s thing Burkie’s way. Hell, he might even trade picks for vets.
5. PERSONAL ASS-SAVING. [BACKFIELD IN MOTION.]
The fact is that some GMs are under extraordinary personal pressure to perform. Today. Now. In order to remain employed.
And it is here - where the owners are pressing for success, and the GM’s job is on the line - where Sammy Pollock not only knew the situation, intimately, but had the right asset to offer, and a completely doable demand - for a future pick.
And this is where, bizarrely, the Leafs are also perfectly well-positioned. As long as they’re both smart... and patient.
- For starters, the team is wealthy, and knows that even if it hits bad times, the franchise won’t go under. Deep wealth has its advantages.
- And then, critical to the process, it has some excess-to-needs, high quality, tradable veterans. No, the Leafs aren’t like the Habs of the late 1960’s, with their depths of talented veterans. But. Because they’re no longer aiming for a short-term Cup window, top-end guys like Kessel and Dion are available. And potential building block pieces for others such as Lupul, Bozak, Polak - maybe even a Bernier or a JVR. That’s a lot of useful pieces for other teams to consider.
- And then, the piece that most other teams never get a chance to bring into play, is that Shanny now has explicit backing from the owners to... be patient. To do a teardown, and rebuild things properly. In fact, even the media and the fan-base have essentially signed on to this process. And that ability to wait, to be patient, is an asset of extraordinary value. It allows you the flexibility to wait, to buy long-term futures.
Now, let's put those pieces together.
TRADABLE, high quality assets
The ability to WAIT for future assets to arrive
A team able to pull off future-oriented deals.
Deals where 2016 (and 2017) draft picks are (quietly) not just secondary benefits...
but in fact, the primary target.
This is how Sammy Pollock hunted.
This is what he took advantage of.
This is how he burned other teams for their picks.
He knew the expansion teams needed to win, and to draw fans NOW. He knew the number of quality NHL veterans available for trade was limited, and that he held a batch in his hand. And he knew that what he wanted - those draft picks for years out ahead - were only a faint and fuzzy future possibility for these teams.
So above all else, what we need to do is... not fall prey to the same short-term focus that we hope infects other teams. Which means, not getting too locked in on 2015 picks.
And yes, it's worth noting that our track record in avoiding that disease is approximately... zero. But still. If we stop focussing on getting extra 2015 picks, we might very well walk away with 2016 riches.
[And I’d appreciate peoples thoughts on these GMs - including from fans of other teams.]
So. Which other GMs are facing pressure to perform, today?
Which GMs face unusual pressures today? Where as the blessed combination of top-down pressure to win taken a turn and become personal pressure on a GM to turn things around? Let's look at some possibilities:
- COLORADO. They’ve had Sakic kicking around for 4 years, rebuilding or whatever, and he’s sane. But they have now added the NVP (Notoriously Volatile Person) Patrick Roy. And yes, they have an amazing young and talented core. But it’s surrounded by crap. It's not working. And so, they’re frustrated. Impatient. [Including with young guys like ROR.] Their obvious move is to add some high-quality vets, and to move either young assets or future picks to get them. Gee, Joe, how about a big, strong, veteran D-man, able to feed those forwards, and used to playing amidst chaos?
- THE FiLeYERS!!!1 - to give them their due - are a deeply disturbed organization from the word go, and prone to doing deeply disturbing things. Add to that that they’ve had 3 not-great years in a row, and have Hextall and Holmgren in charge, and they’re not in love with any of their 5 most recent 1st round picks. [Like when they bad-mouthed Couturier. LOL.] Add that up. A management culture built on going big and going bat-shit + pressure to get back in the playoffs + fatigue with all these fancy draft picks + a 2016 pick available = could equal creative results. And for Philly, trading away their 2016 1st would actually rank quite low on their list of Crazy Shit Done Lately. Still. Phil and Dion likely aren't good fits.
- And while in both these cases, it’s hard for a Philly to give up a #7 pick, or Colorado a #10, plus a prospect plus a big roster guy like Couturier or ROR.... if you change one of the pieces to a 2016 pick, you might find you’re in a different zone.
Paul Holmgren & Patrick Roy Discussing Other GMs.
- Even GMs who have been around for a long time can be under pressure. Guys like Sather and Snow - or even Wilson or Poile - know it can’t last forever, and may want to leave on a high note. And so, maybe they become a bit freer with trading off the future. It happens, and happens more often than we think. But who will be the one to break, with the pick that we want?
- Or Tallon in Florida or Armstrong in St Louis. They’ve built teams that appear poised for success, but both have been 5 full years in the saddle now, and they need some success to show.
- Or Rutherford in Pittsburgh. It wasn’t all that long ago that he was kicked out of the Carolina home for the Criminally Insane, and he may feel he needs to stay ahead of the ax and move quickly, while Sid and Geno are still in top form, and before one of them is concussed and turns into Alexander Semin II.
[You folks got any inside dope on who’s feeling the heat?]
13. SECRET CATEGORY: FUCKWITS DIVISION.
- EDMONTON AND BUFFALO. I know, I know, it’s crazy. But don't count these guys out. Sure, they could easily be Lottery teams again next year. But right now, they’re getting Eichel and McDavid, and they’ve already got all that youth. And ultimately, their GMs have to turn youth into victory, and that usually takes veterans. So.....? Plus... these teams are famous for being insane. Sure, one has a rich owner now, and the other a half-way competent GM. But the thing with a really bad culture is... sometimes it’s just too powerful, and it infects the sane. Perhaps some of you have met the Toronto Maple Leafs? Culture takes time to change. I’d keep these two on speed-dial for 2016.
Opening the door to trading 2016 picks expands the list of teams who could become trading partners for us. And more teams in play means a bidding war that’s going our way. i.e. We can then get more for our guys.
Now add to that that NHL teams read their futures optimistically. Are overly-optimistic, in fact. Occupational hazard, really. For instance, most of them, right now, see themselves doing better next Fall than this year. Even though that’s unlikely to happen, right?
And that means that team after team out there thinks their 2016 pick will end up being between 15-30, because they’ll be in the playoffs, right?
When in reality, a number of them are going to miss the playoffs, and their picks end up between 1-15. And under the new arrangements, each of those gets 3 shots at a Top 3 pick in the Lottery.
Now. Think about that for a moment.
Imagine you’re Shanny Pollock, and play with those tumblers. This is how he got Lafleur, remember. He figured out which teams would fall where.
So which teams do we believe will most egregiously overestimate their chances?
Well, Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa, Colorado and New Jersey all had pretty high PDOs this year - with Calgary and Vancouver’s built up around very high shooting percentages. So they could fall. Then again, there’s nothing that says PDOs need to regress the next year, right?
But beyond that, some teams are really just one injury away from being too old to cope. And if they stall out, are likely to begin full-scale revamps. Which means their pick would get better as they fell. Vancouver and San Jose could wobble and fall over, certainly. And teams such as Boston or Philly, if they took a big injury, could be forced to start dealing. And who knows what New Jersey or Ottawa would do if they staggered early.
The point is that when the Leafs look for a trading partner, and want their 2016 pick, they need to look at which teams they think could fall out of the playoffs. And that way, add more value to the 2016 pick.
And now, the Shanny Pollock Maneuver’s... Cherry On Top.
Which, as you will see, is a pretty HUGE cherry.
Imagine we make some trades for 2016’s. Imagine that the dust settles in 2016, we’re down some top-end veterans, and have missed the playoffs, by a lot, hopefully, but also picked up some smart 2016‘s. Let’s say, the #6, #9 and #12.
And the thing is, in 2016, not only do all those picks go into the lottery. They go in 3 times. Now, if you add up the odds for a 6, a 9 and a 12, they come to a 15% chance at the #1 pick. But then, an even larger % chance at the #2 pick. And then an even larger chance at getting the #3 pick. [Because the winner of each pick is excluded from the next round, as far as I understand.]
And that means, that if we held those 3 picks, the odds would be greater than 50/50 that at least one of them would turn into a Top 3 pick.
So from 2016 on out, getting a 1st round pick that misses the playoffs doesn’t just get you a nice pick, it gets you...
By now you can see the extra value that comes from targeting 2016’s.
And I’m sure you’ll agree that if Sammy Pollock was alive and wheeling today, he’d be happily trading off the over-valued assets of today for the under-valued assets of tomorrow... targeting GMs under pressure, but prone to being overly-optimistic about their futures... and loving the fact that a lot of teams haven’t even smelled the change that’s gonna come with the "3 Bites at a Top 3 Cherry" system.
Ok. There’s one last benefit here for the Leafs.
The great danger in any Leaf rebuild is that it kicks into fast-forward at the first sign of hope. For instance, if we got 3 first round picks this year, the pressure to force-feed those kids into the NHL, and then surround them with top vets, now, would be huge. So instead of taking 5 years, and broadening and deepening the whole prospect pool, the development system, and slowly turning our cap constraints around, we’d be under real pressure to put everything in motion.
Where as targeting 2016 picks dials that pressure back - and forces the process to stretch itself out - by at least a full year.
Plain and simple.
For example. If we do a big trade of a Kessel or a Dion, and get back a nice 2016 pick, then everyone gets excited, right? But. They’re also forced to recognize that we need to still wait at least another year, because we’ve got thode 2016 picks coming, right?
So if I was Brendan Shanahan right now, I would be targeting 2016 and 2017 picks.
And then I’d have someone leak quiet hints to the press about the new, long-term, "Shanny Pollock" Strategy.
Imagine. Imagine we get 2 picks in the 1st rounds this year. And that we deal Kessel and Dion, and add 3 more 1st round picks next year. Plus a couple of prospects and maybe some young players. On top of the kids we got. Rielly. Nylander. Johnson. Valiev. Brown. Soshnikov.
Suddenly, we’re a rich, young team.
Maybe even one with some top-notch young skaters.
Or some great young Europeans.
Lucky we got us a Shanny Pollock.
Shanny Pollock - The Younger.