The Tyler Myers Trade: One Year Later And The Winner Is…

Man, it’s hard to believe it’s already been a year.

It’s been 365 days since Tyler Myers and Evander Kane swapped teams along with Drew Stafford and Zach Bogosian and a smattering of prospects, and a year on you could argue there has been no winner of the exchange. Neither the Jets nor Sabres have exactly ridden these players to glory, as both now sit 26the and 27th overall respectively. If the season ended today, these teams would be closer to the top of the draft lottery than the top of the playoff line.

Still, whether you refer to it as the Evander Kane trade or the Tyler Myers trade (personally I’m inclined to the latter), there’s no denying both teams have reason to be pleased with their haul on the one year anniversary of the biggest blockbuster trade of 2015 (and the first major swap of Kevin Cheveldayoff’s career).

To recap, the trade looked something like this:

So, with a year’s worth of evidence to look back on, and ignoring the fact that some of the biggest parts of this trade have yet to come into the NHL, let’s take a walk through (very recent) history and see which of these two cellar-dwelling teams came out of that trade better than the other.

The Forwards

For Jets fans, the big attraction of the trade was always Tyler Myers. At the time, Drew Stafford, the major league forward coming back from Buffalo, was a nice throw in, but since he was a UFA at years end it seemed unlikely he would be a major consideration for the Jets in the future. As we know, that changed.

Stafford found an instant revival in Winnipeg, finishing the last have of the 2014-15 season on nearly a point per game pace in a Jets uniform. While that pace was likely unsustainable, Stafford provided enough secondary scoring to merit a contract extension in the offseason over Michael Frolik (another decision that, at season’s end, will need some dissecting). He’s rewarded the Jets’ faith so far, as he’s currently tied for the team lead in goals with 16. While the Jets have had some problems producing offense this season, it hasn’t been Stafford’s fault.

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On the other side of the equation, the Sabres got a forward in Evander Kane who clearly needed a change of scenery after his relationship with the Jets went all the way south and then kept going. Kane’s situation in Winnipeg had grown about as stable as the San Andreas fault, and it was time for him to move. Questions about his attitude arose, but have more or less quieted since his trade.

What couldn’t be quieted completely by a change of scenery was Kane’s injury history. Kane missed ten games this year with a knee injury, and it’s not the first time in recent years he’s been out of the lineup with an ailment. The fact is, Kane’s power forward style of play can wear heavily on a player’s body.

Still, 13 goals in 44 games in a Sabres uniform is nothing to sneeze at, as it puts the 24-year-old on pace for 24 goals projected over a full season. While it’s hardly superstar-level goal scoring numbers, the potential for Kane to re-gain the 30 goal plateau has always been there. When coupled with his willingness to hit and fight, it makes Kane a multi-talented threat on many levels, the kind not lightly traded away.

In short, the forwards are hard to compare. Evander Kane and Drew Stafford are such vastly different players, but both needed a change of scenery. It’s possible both teams win this trade in their own way, as Stafford gives the Jets badly needed secondary scoring while Kane gives the Sabres another young player to build around. Short term returns have favoured Winnipeg. Long term will depend on Kane’s development and injury issues, and whether Stafford stays with the Jets.

The Defensemen

This, for Jets fans at least, was the real meat of the trade (though Sabres fans would likely view it the other way around). Tyler Myers for Zach Bogosian. One 2008 drafted defenseman in need of a fresh start for another. Another instance where, in hindsight,  both teams could be declared winners in their own way.

A deeper look at this one, however, tilts this segment in Winnipeg’s favour. Bogosian has run into the same trouble in Buffalo he ran into with the Jets: injuries. Bogosian has missed 18 games already this season, and has only one goal in the 37 games he has played.

While Bogosian is the more physical of the two, his numbers don’t stack up well next to Myers’ 19 points in 53 games (better than a thirty point pace over a full season). That Myers is 6’8 doesn’t hurt his cause either, as he has the unique ability to combine his reach and foot-speed to break up odd-man rushes without taking a penalty. When you give up as many odd-man rushes as the Jets do, this is a major asset.

To make a long story short, neither team got a perfect player, as both have their defensive lapses, but Myers and Winnipeg get the edge for offensive output and ability to stay healthy, as well as that smooth-as-glass skating stride.

The Prospects

It’s too early to say for certain of course, but as of now this one isn’t even close. Winnipeg gave up a goaltender in Jason Kasdorf who, while a strong goaltender at the College level, wasn’t likely to crack the Jets lineup when he was stuck behind Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie on the prospect goaltending depth chart. In return they get Joel Armia, who has been a great asset in his callup this year and is really rounding into form, and Brenden Lemieux, who is on nearly a goal-per-game pace in the OHL and can mix it up physically.

That doesn’t even count the first rounder the Jets acquired that turned into Jack Roslovic. Roslovic could be a major stud at the NHL level one day, and while he’s been overshadowed somewhat by Kyle Connor’s brilliant freshman season, Roslovic has had a strong freshman season himself with 10 goals and 21 points through 27 games. With Connor’s torrid scoring pace, it’s easy to forget that Roslovic’s numbers are pretty encouraging for a freshman, especially since his team isn’t anywhere near as good as Connor’s number-six-ranked Michigan Wolverines.

So, while it’s too early to say definitely since half the pieces in this trade haven’t played a full NHL season yet (and since there are plenty of years left for most of these players), the early returns on the Tyler Myers for Evander Kane trade definitely favour the Winnipeg Jets. Kudos, Kevin Cheveldayoff, you got this one right it seems.

Now if only the Jets could win hockey games as easily as they win hockey trades.