NHL Trades - Can You Do Better?

Two early trades may be market makers - can you do better than the four GMs involved?

With three huge trades on the books eighteen days in advance of the NHL trade deadline, Christmas has come early for NHL fans. The rumor mill is now running at full power well ahead of schedule, and the one-sided nature of two of these deals is serving as confirmation for the possible execution of everyone's wildest trade fantasies.

Yesterday, Florida's Dale Tallon sent Michael Frolik (a young tough minutes wing with two 20-goal seasons behind him), and Alexander Salak (the best goaltender in the Elitserien) to Chicago in exchange for Jack Skille (a wing who needs some luck to grow into Radek Dvorak's replacement), David Pacan (a checking center in the OHL), and Hugh Jessiman (Glen Sather's version of Dylan McIlrath from seven years ago).

Today, Ottawa sent Mike Fisher to Nashville in exchange for a first round pick in the 2011 draft and a conditional pick in the 2012 draft that will likely end up as a third round pick.

We can only assume that Tallon targeted Skille, the first player Tallon ever drafted as general manager of the Blackhawks, and was forced to pay the high cost of Michael Frolik in return. It's difficult for me - actually, it's difficult for everyone - to believe that Tallon shopped Frolik around the league and Skille was the best return offered. Frolik is not a prospect; not unfulfilled potential; not a maybe-one-day. He's played the tough minutes for three years running and has taken the tough zonestarts in Florida this season. His production is off a bit due to a wicked shooting slump, but he's generating three shots per game, the best rate of his young career. His Corsi is among the highest on the Panthers despite the difficult role and his scoring chance percentage is 53%. He's the goods. The package Florida got in return? A prospect (Pacan), some unfulfilled potential (Jessiman), and a maybe-one-day (Skille) is pretty good description.

The Fisher deal is somewhat less surprising - Ottawa is blowing it all up and starting over. The Senators are playing their way to the first overall pick despite icing a near cap maximum team. The part that is a surprise is that Fisher was worth a first round pick to the Predators (plus an extra third rounder if the Predators win a round in the playoffs or a second rounder if they win two), a salary conscious franchise who now has to carry two years of Fisher's contract and pay him $7,000,000.

The deals lead to two questions:

In an alternate universe, if Frolik was openly shopped, what package could Steve Tambellini have offered to Dale Tallon that was better than Skille but had little or no impact on the Oilers' system?

If Mike Fisher is worth a first round pick (and potentially more), what does that mean for the market value of Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner?

I'd love to hear your answers.

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