Vanek’s Trade Stock Rises

The trade deadline is fast approaching, and a couple teams already have started to acquire depth for a playoff run or stock up on draft picks. The Detroit Red Wings were one of those teams, as they traded forward Tomas Jurco to the Chicago Blackhawks for a third-round pick Friday.

Also on Friday, the Dallas Stars traded Patrick Eaves to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional second-round pick. The pick becomes a first-round selection if the Ducks reach the third round of the postseason and Eaves plays in 50 percent or more of their games in the first two rounds.

With the Red Wings and Stars receiving fairly high compensation for their two respective players, this raises Red Wings forward Thomas Vanek’s stock considerably.

What is Vanek Worth?

Vanek, who leads the Red Wings in goals (15) and is second in points (38) despite playing in just 47 games, has been general manager Ken Holland’s best acquisition this past summer. Vanek signed a one-year, $2.6-million deal after the Minnesota Wild bought out the 33-year-old at the end of last season.

The Red Wings, no doubt, would have been thrilled with 40 points from Vanek this season, but with about 20 more games left for every team, it looks like Vanek easily will top that mark, whether he stays with Detroit or not.

So, with Jurco fetching a third-round pick, Winging It In Motown’s Prashanth Iyer thinks the Red Wings could get a first-round pick for Vanek from a team looking to add another scoring threat.

The Eaves trade also bumps up Vanek’s stock. Eaves was tied with Tyler Seguin for first in goals (21) in 59 games before being traded to the Ducks. He also was third on the team in points with 37.

Eaves was exceeding expectations with the Stars, as he only scored more than 30 points once in his career back in 2006-07 with Ottawa and hasn’t hit the 20-goal mark since the 05-06 season, also with Ottawa.

If Dallas can get a possible first-round pick for Patrick Eaves, certainly the Red Wings can get a first-round pick for Vanek. Vanek also has exceeded expectations this season, and the Red Wings need to be able to capitalize on that, especially considering Vanek could return to Detroit should Holland deal him at the deadline.

In addition to scoring more than Eaves despite playing 12 fewer games, Vanek also leads Eaves in five-on-five individual expected-goals per 60 minutes with 0.844 to Eaves’ 0.773, according to DTMAboutHeart’s expected goals model. For reference, Vanek has a 1.009 actual goals per 60 mark to Eaves’ 0.635

DTMAboutHeart’s expected-goals model proved a better predictor of future scoring than shot attempts and past goals.

Argument Against Vanek

While expected goals are a better predictor of future scoring than shot attempts, Vanek’s poor possession numbers don’t do him any favors. According to Corsica, he has a five on five score-adjusted shot attempts for percentage of 45.68, which trails Eaves’ 50.99 percentage. Vanek has never been a possession monster, having a shot-attempts-for percentage of greater than 50 just once since the stat started to be tracked in the 2007-08 season (51.41 in 2007-08 with Buffalo).

Vanek does play for a team in Detroit that generally loses the possession battle, but his relative shot-attempts-for mark of -3.33 is evidence he contributes to the poor possession instead of being a victim of it.

Vanek should be able to fetch the Red Wings a first-round pick, and while this year’s draft isn’t as deep as in years past, the game plan for Holland should be to stockpile as many draft picks as he can. If he can get a prospect as well, the better for him, but a first-round pick should be his focus.