Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Thornton Trade

While waiting for the Canuck game I was half asleep listening to the Leaf/Lightning game when I hear a breaking "major" news update... Joe Thornton traded to the San Jose Sharks for Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau.

First thought: "That's like Morrison, Allen and Ruutu." Second thought: "WTF is Boston thinking."

The Boston Bruins traded their best player, the face of the franchise and one of the best young talents in the NHL without getting an impact player or top prospect back in return. Quite frankly this is a terrible trade.

  • First, while Marco Sturm and Brad Stuart are pretty good players they aren't the type of players you build your team around. Sturm's upside is essentially a second line forward. Brad Stuart has, in the opinion of many, plateaued and it does not appear that he will live up to the potential that saw him drafted 3rd overall in 1998. Stuart will likely remain a 2nd pairing guy on any type of contending team.
  • Short term this deal gives Boston some much needed depth, especially on the blueline, but it does not help long term.
  • The Bruins have just pissed away their biggest asset. They had one of the most desirable young centre's in the NHL and they failed to maximize their return.
  • This move is an act of desperation by an incompetent ownership group and a GM solely interested in saving his own skin. This notoriously cheap organization failed to get an adequate return on their biggest asset, but hey, they save a few bucks.
  • If the Bruins were so intent on getting rid of Thornton they should have been smart about it. They could have dealt Thornton in the summer for assets and used the saved money to acquire one of the numerous quality free agents available.
  • Finally the fact that they did not shop Thornton only adds to the ridiculousness of the trade.

There is simply no way to defend this move.

Could the Canucks have got Thornton?

I'm sure a lot Canuck fans thought, "hey we could have matched that deal!" Vancouver certainly could have matched the talent quite easily, but that talent comes with large dollars attached.

Any deal for Thornton would require the equivalent of Thornton's $6.6m going back to Boston, something which Boston would not be interested in. But for arguments sake let's see who could have gone the other way:

  • Jovanovski($3.99m) & Morrison ($3.2m) - This would certainly be an upgrade up front, but that would be offset with a gaping hole on the already weak backend. This simply would not make the Canucks better.
  • Bertuzzi($5.27) & another $1.4m of salary - You could send Matt Cooke or Sami Salo to make up the salary difference, but either way it is unlikely that Boston would be interested in Bertuzzi's contract.
  • Morrison($3.2m) & Allen ($941k) & Cooke ($1.5) & more salary - This is probably the closest match to the San Jose deal, but even if you are willing to move those players and Boston wants them, you are still over the cap with Thornton by about a million dollars.

I could demonstrate other combinations, but it would be redundent. Simply put, any move for Thornton would require us moving the equivalent of Thornton's salary and one of our top defensemen. Since Boston is not likely to be interested in salary and the Canucks cannot afford to lose one of their top 4 defenseman(and would have no cap room for a replacement) there isn't a deal to be done.

Thornton would look great in a Canuck jersey, but in the salary cap world Vancouver was not a viable trading partner.

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