Thursday, May 18, 2006

The not-so-Super Joe

One quick muse on Joe Thornton...

With many pundits deriding the trade that sent him out of Boston as the worst in NHL history, I wonder: If Thornton never has playoff success, or merely plays the way he did in the postseason this year, is that deal still that huge of a steal? Isn't a Hart Trophy winning player that disappears in the playoffs basically just a $7-million boat anchor under a salary-cap system?

Also consider this: Brad Stuart was Boston's best defenceman by a mile this year, and he's just 26 years old. He was a phenomenal player in junior hockey — one of the best I saw during my WHL-watching days — and I really wouldn't rule it out that he becomes a bonafide No. 1 defenceman.

Still the worst trade ever made? Worse than Neely-Pederson or Naslund-Stojanov?

16 Comments:

At 7:45 AM, May 18, 2006, Blogger alyosha mcbain said...

James--to your knowledge, has there ever been a season where the top two Hart trophy candidates underachieved as much as Thornton and Jagr did in the playoffs? I know Jagr was hurt, but his injury was kinda his own fault--it stemmed from a silly act of frustration at the end of a blowout loss.

When Lemieux and Gretzky battled it out for that trophy, I think they managed to play just a little bit better than Jags and Big Joe did this playoff....

 
At 12:57 PM, May 18, 2006, Anonymous grace said...

Mirtle, thought I'd let you know that since I found your blog through B of A, I buy the globe and mail every morning to read the Oilers stories. Your blog sells your papers.

Good work.

The whole B of C blog was genius.

I'm looking forward to your next round predictions, especially since you really like this ducks team. And the bringing back of the thumbs up thumbs down! We like graphics! Well, I do.

 
At 1:11 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger PJ Swenson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1:12 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger PJ Swenson said...

It has been a little odd watching the outside media cover the Joe Thornton trade. As a fan of Boston for 20-25 years, I have a little experience following the end-of-the-world ruminations from Boston year after year.

Yes, Thornton could have scored more this year in the playoffs. Unfortunately he was wearing a Pronger blanket, and Cheechoo was hammered into the ice and the boards on several penalty-free plays. Thornton played solid defensively, and even was good on faceoffs in the last 2 games.

It takes 4 lines going to advance, and the Sharks had 2 almost working in the second round, but they could roll 3 in the first round. Basically, blame the team for losing 4 straight against Edmonton, not Thornton.

Oh, and what was with all the rumors about Toskala being pulled? Look at Vernon-Shields, Shields-Nabokov, Nabokov-Kiprusoff, Nabokov-Toskala, Toskala-Nabokov. This team rides one goalie throughout, period.

I think it would be better to force an opponent to have to beat Nabokov and Toskala twice in one series, but I only play a coach on the internet. Win and you stay in. You cant argue with Toskala's performance in game 6.

Oh, keep The Battle of California alive? I know two Kings fans you should invite, and possibly one Anaheim one. If you are interested.

 
At 1:21 PM, May 18, 2006, Anonymous Jason Mandell said...

it's a good point...the trade was definitely in San Jose's favor, but worst of all time, no way. Stuart is a solid d-man that will have a long career...and perhaps he will reach that elite level that everyone predicted. Meanwhile, Sturm is a clutch, speedy winger who can score 30 goals consistently. not too shabby.

That said, Thornton is a dominant force, the kind that changes the entire make-up of teams (as he did with the Sharks), while the Bruins wallowed in mediocrity even as the new players did well. Thornton gives the sharks probably the best 1-2 punch down the middle in the league, and both have yet to reach their peak age. 5 years from now we could be looking at them similar to Forsberg/Sakic and Yzerman/Fedorov.

Maybe not the most one-sided traded of all time, but one team certainly got the most of it. What it comes down to is the Bruins could have and should have gotten more for Big Joe.

 
At 1:27 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

I know two Kings fans you should invite, and possibly one Anaheim one. If you are interested.

Invite the hell out of them, my blogging fingers are getting tired.

Just make sure we are talking about a real Ducks fan, not a Kingy-come-lately.

 
At 3:14 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger John said...

Meanwhile, Sturm is a clutch, speedy winger who can score 30 goals consistently. not too shabby.

Sturm has NEVER scored 30 goals in a single season in the NHL. His goal totals in the NHL: 10, 16, 12, 14, 21, 28, 21, 29.

 
At 4:26 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger Docciavelli said...

Craig Patrick is a genius. How can you question dealing Naslund for Alex Stojanov? That one paid big dividends for Mario and crew.

Maybe he'll deal Fleury for Jussi Markannen.

 
At 4:38 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger n said...

Do the math a different way. Would they have made the playoffs without the trade, and how much $ did they bring in?

 
At 4:41 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Do the math a different way. Would they have made the playoffs without the trade, and how much $ did they bring in?

Doesn't matter. If I'm a coach or GM, my longterm success with an organization depends on being able to bring the franchise a championship. If Thornton's a player who can never do that, it's a mistake — regardless of how things turned around this year.

 
At 5:00 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger PJ Swenson said...

One player can not deliver a team the Stanley Cup championship. Ask the Rangers or Toronto how well that has worked out for them.

But if I was going to single out a player to bring a championship to SJ, it would be the one with 3 hat tricks in the last two SC playoffs. Patrick Marleau, who watched two teammates rack up the Art Ross and Rocket Richard trophies, while he built a solid second line with two rookies.

Sturm is a breakaway machine, but if he turns the corner and starts burying his chances, this trade will be a lopsided one.

The loss of Stuart and Rathje, breaking up the big four with McLaren and Hannan, is one of the reasons the Sharks could not cope defensively with the Edmonton Oilers comeback.

 
At 6:26 PM, May 18, 2006, Anonymous Doogie2K said...

Too bad Patrick was fired already. Fleury for Markkanen is one I'd take in a heartbeat.

 
At 6:41 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger jamestobrien said...

I don't think many thought Thornton for Stuart-Sturm-Primeau was the most lopsided ever..not when we take into account the Lindros for Forsberg + 2 of each animal trade, Kipper for table scraps, and aforementioned other abysmal deals...

Personally, I thought of it as more or less trading "3 quarters for a dollar." Even if Stuart might be more of half-dollar, Sturm a quarter and Primeau a war-torn nickel.

Umm...anyway, I do agree with you somewhat though. Bucci made a good point about Big Bird basically being a "gigantic Adam Oates." It's one thing to have premium passing be your bread-and-butter, but it's another thing entirely to telegraph what you're doing. Then agan, it's kind of hard to be a pinpoint shooter or passer when the other team is willing to take years off their lives to get in the way of each and every puck.

I can't believe the Conf. Finals are Ducks-Oilers. That's just awful. Right now, Gary Bettman is cutting himself goth-chick style.

 
At 12:05 AM, May 19, 2006, Anonymous David Johnson said...

I like Brad Stuart as a defensemen but most bonafide #1 defensemen have usually shown more by age 26 than Stuart has. Bryan McCabe was a late bloomer and has developed in to a very good defenseman but not everyone would call him a bonafide #1 guy (Kaberle is at least as valuable as McCabe is for the Leafs). But there aren't too many late bloomer defenseman like McCabe.

But no one will argue that Thornton is not an elite center. He definitely is. If you had to pick a center to build your team around for the next 6-8 years Thornton would be at or very near the top of that list. Ant it is too early to call him a regular underperformer in the playoffs.

 
At 7:02 AM, May 19, 2006, Anonymous Baroque said...

Wait and see if Boston trades everyone they recieved in the next couple/few years. It would be typical of them to wind up with hands full of nothing but air at the end.

 
At 12:11 PM, May 19, 2006, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Ant it is too early to call him a regular underperformer in the playoffs.

I don't think anyone is calling him that; I'm just curious what people think that does to the deal if Thornton can never get it done in the playoffs.

I like Brad Stuart as a defensemen but most bonafide #1 defensemen have usually shown more by age 26 than Stuart has.

Lots of defencemen really come of age after 5-6 years in the league. It took Ed Jovanovski that long, and look at Lubo Visnovsky this year (he's 29). Dan Boyle, Kimmo Timonen, Brian Rafalski, Phillipe Boucher and Andrei Markov all took big steps this year, too.

Even with the crazy year he had and how bad the team was in Boston, Stuart was still nearly a Top 20 scoring defenceman. Top 10's plausible for next year, if the Bruins are any better. (Then again, he's far from just an offensive blueliner.)

 

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