Analyzing The Corey Perry To Vancouver Canucks Trade Rumor

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A recent rumor supposedly started by former-NHLer Patrice Brisebois on a Canadian French-language sports talk show called “Le Match” has the Anaheim Ducks trading Corey Perry (and possibly backup goaltender Dan Ellis) to the Vancouver Canucks for some variation of a package including Mason Raymond, Cory Schneider, and Keith Ballard. A great recap of how the rumor started and evolved can be read here.

What do I think of this trade rumor? While deals of this magnitude are always innately improbable no matter the players involved, I also believe this rumor would not be as unrealistic under the right circumstances as many believe. That is because trade value is based on perception. In this case, the perception of Anaheim Ducks General Manager Bob Murray is what matters, not the fans’.

For instance, let’s start with the first player in the deal, Mason Raymond. The average NHL fan may view Raymond as a good two-way second line winger with speed, but one who struggles to produce goals because he finishing ability leaves something to be desired.

However, what the average NHL fan may not know is that Mason Raymond actually put away his chances pretty well in 2009-2010, to the tune of 25 goals, before suffering a certain wrist injury early the following season which limited his production. Bob Murray would certainly know about this, where most fans do not, and if Murray feels the injury is to blame for Raymond’s regression in production, and not a lack of scoring ability, that could lead him to perceive Raymond as a much more valuable player than the average NHL fan does. (And he might be right in that case, provided Raymond’s wrist fully heals).

Likewise, pretty much everyone in the hockey world agrees that Cory Schneider is a very good young goaltender, perhaps the best goaltender currently without a starting job in the NHL, but what if Bob Murray sees him as even more? Schneider’s play taken as a whole over the last two seasons has been just that, “very good,” or excellent, or any other synonym you can think of. But at times he has even surpassed excellence and ascended to the realm of phenomenal.

I focus much more on evaluating skaters than I do goaltenders, but I will say that, at times, Cory Schneider has displayed talent between the pipes that ranks up there with anything I have seen in a long time. And I’m not just talking one save, because every goaltender comes up with a some incredible saves here and there. No, I mean for full games, sometimes a few in a row, where Schneider gobbles up every shot from distance with no rebounds, distributes every rebound he does give up perfectly (he even transcends paradoxes he’s so good!), and then the real magic, where he starts making ridiculous saves, showing some of the best quickness and reflexes I’ve seen, all on top of excellent fundamentals and positioning.

It’s like the extent of his talent’s lofty heights is matched only by the uniformity of that talent across every important phase of the goaltending position. He is as dynamic in his best skills as he is rounded throughout every skill. Most goaltenders have at least one slight weakness, but I have yet to see one, or hear of one, with Schneider.

Still, he’s a goaltender. They all have their amazing games, although with Schneider, I must say, it strikes me as something more than that. But my point is, we don’t know how Murray views Schneider. We don’t know if his Assistant GM, or his Head Scout, have come to him saying they love Schneider more than any goaltender in years. We just don’t know what the perception is behind closed doors. A package around a very good goaltender in exchange for the great Corey Perry would obviously be insufficient, but what if it was the next Patrick Roy for Corey Perry, or the next Martin Brodeur?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way shape or form saying I believe Cory Schneider is the world’s next iconic goaltender; the point is that it is not my opinion, or any of ours, that matters here. A lot of people out there are very high on Cory Schneider, but what if Bob Murray is leading the fan club? If that were the case, then now, in his mind, it is no longer a very good goaltender in exchange for Corey Perry, it’s the NHL’s next great goaltender, a generational talent, that he would be getting back. And that changes things.

Again, I’m not saying that’s what I believe, or that’s what Murray actually believes. It’s just that we don’t know. And if the Ducks’ current goaltender, Jonas Hiller, is still not completely healthy, or if Bob Murray believes Schneider will develop into a much better starting goaltender than even the excellent Jonas Hiller, that could change the probability of a Corey Perry trade to Vancouver. It’s all speculation at this point, but when former NHL players attach their names to a rumor like this, you at least start to wonder, even if they’re French (couldn’t resist, sorry). It’s better than random kids on twitter, anyway.

The third player in the deal, Keith Ballard, is where this trade rumor usually falls off the tracks in the eyes of the average fan. I think most fans agree that Raymond is a quality player with age, potential, and cap-hit on his side, and ditto for Cory Schneider, except that he has even more trade value. But then fans see Keith Ballard’s name, and they think, “he may be a quality depth defenseman with the desirable combination of good skating and a physical edge, but he’s overpaid at 4.2M per year. And why would Anaheim ever have to take back a less than ideal contract for someone as good as Corey Perry?”

Again, it goes back to perception. If you were to ask many of those same fans two seasons ago if Keith Ballard had a bad contract, they would have told you no. And that’s because the perception two seasons ago, when Keith Ballard was getting much more ice time in Florida (about 23 minutes a night in Florida compared to less than 16 a night this year), was that he was a quality top-four defenseman who could skate and hit, and really do it all minus putting up elite offensive production from the back end.

In fact, Ballard was held in such high regard around the league back then that Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis had to give up Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, and a 1st round pick to trade for him. Ask yourself, would the Anaheim Ducks trade Corey Perry for Mason Raymond, Cory Schneider, Michael Grabner, and a 1st round pick? I don’t think any fan would call that proposal ridiculous, as it’s probably more than any of Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, Dion Phaneuf, Joe Thornton, Mike Richards, or Jeff Carter got in return. And if those fans still felt Keith Ballard was as valuable as Grabner, Bernier, and a 1st round pick, like Gillis did two seasons ago, they wouldn’t think the current rumor involving Ballard was ridiculous, either.

But it’s not two years ago. The perception is that Keith Ballard’s play has dropped since then, and it has. But as with Mason Raymond, Ballard’s value as perceived by the more informed observer, such as an NHL GM, could be complicated due to injury. That’s because Keith Ballard had surgery on his injured hip before joining the Vancouver Canucks, and never seemed to fully recover last season and find his place with his new team.

He has looked better recently, however, and it’s possible Bob Murray was a fan of his two seasons ago, before his injury, as any GM likely would have been. Ballard offered a unique package of physical two-way play and smooth skating back then, something he seems to be inching back towards this season. And if there’s one thing we know the Anaheim Ducks have been absolutely desperate to add since giving away Chris Pronger losing Chris Pronger, it’s a top-four defenseman who can defend well and play physical hockey. Problem is, there aren’t many of those out there. That would be why Mike GIllis had to offer the moon to get Keith Ballard in the first place.

Do I think Murray should be interested in Keith Ballard on his current contract? Not at the moment, not until he can show he is completely back to the level he was at before joining the Vancouver Canucks.

However, the Anaheim Ducks are desperate to land a top-four defenseman in the Ballard mold, and Ballard, surprise surprise, has excelled in the “Ballard mold” in the past. If the Anaheim Ducks feel that Ballard can play at that level again in an increased role, his inclusion in the rumored deal would make much more sense than one would otherwise think. The Anaheim Ducks have been looking to add that type of player, with absolutely no luck, for years. Maybe that influences Murray’s interest level in a guy like Ballard.

Overall, I think it’s been established that the average fan would not trade Corey Perry for Mason Raymond, Cory Schneider, and Keith Ballard. But what about this? Would you trade Corey Perry for a package including 25 goal scorer with fantastic speed and skating, and good two-way abilities, with a current cap hit of only 2.55M, a truly generational goaltender currently making only 0.9M against the cap, and an all-purpose top-four defenseman with a good balance of offense, defense, and physicality at 4.2M per year?

I think most would. And Depending on how far the rabbit whole goes with Cory Schneider, you might even make that deal one-for-one. Corey Perry for Patrick Roy? A lot of people would make that deal. Of course, Schneider most likely is not the next Patrick Roy, but even if he tops out as a fantastic (but human) goaltender, that’s still a damn good package as long as the 25 goal scorer and top-four defenseman deliver as advertised. Not that they necessarily would deliver on those expectations, either, but it’s possible Murray believes they would, just as it’s possible he would be right.

But do I expect this trade to happen? No, I never expect trades of this magnitude to happen. The GMs are usually too conservative to trade anyone of value, and there is usually too much involved, like the owner, the assistant GMs, the scouts, the PR people, “what will the fans think?”, “how will history remember us?”

It’s possible I’m exaggerating, but it seems like there is just so much that has to happen for any trade of significance to take place these days, that is unless it involves a player who has asked for a trade, or a player on an expiring contract. Corey Perry’s contract does not expire until the end of next season, and as far as we know he has not asked for a trade.

Would I personally make this trade if I were the Ducks? No. But then again, if I were the Ducks, I would also be spending to the cap, and actually making an effort to win. I would not be looking to offload money, like the Ducks are rumored to be doing, when what they really need to do is to add money.

But I’m not the Ducks, and they seem to be an organization which has been concerned with motives other than winning the past few seasons, and they seem to be operating much more from the desire to fulfill those motives than the desire to win. And that’s why you can’t help but wonder if a trade like this could happen after all. The theory has also been floated out there that the Ducks are scared of losing Perry as a UFA after next season, and want to get full value for him while they still can this season, as opposed to the rental price next year. Take that for what it’s worth.

Would I do this trade for a Canucks perspective? Yes, Corey Perry is the missing player on that team, it would be a huge addition. On the other hand, because it’s Perry, it’s easy to write off what the Canucks are offering, and to forget that players like Raymond and Schneider are very valuable, particularly Schneider when it comes to the trade market. But the Canucks have two great goaltenders and only one goal, so trading Schneider is certainly acceptable in my book as long as they get back a player like Perry, and Raymond’s loss will obviously be compensated for by Perry himself.

I would definitely do the deal if I were the Canucks. And contingent upon believing that Perry will re-sign with the team, I would go even further to get him if I had to. It cannot be overstated that Perry is the missing piece for the Canucks in pretty much every sense, a complete package of size, speed, skill, production, hockey smarts, and physicality. If the Ducks wanted “my” 1st round pick, too, I would be open to that. Corey Perry is still young enough that he will be playing at a high level for the next eight years or so at a minimum (that would take him to 34 years old), so you don’t have to be concerned about mortgaging the future to get him, as he will probably help your future as much as anyone you could trade away in addition to right now.

In my mind, he would be a franchise changer for the Vancouver Canucks, the guy who takes them from very good to great, not just for this season but the foreseeable future, and if Mike Gillis has any way of acquiring him, he should do it (within reason). Perry would bring the Canucks as close to a dynasty as any NHL team has gotten since the lockout.

In conclusion, it is unlikely Corey Perry will be traded to anyone, but the Vancouver Canucks definitely have the pieces to get him if Murray actually has the balls to trade him (and Gillis has the balls to trade for him), and we should always remember that our perception of certain players and their values in trades does not always match the perception of a certain GM or owner. If you want proof, just ask yourself this question: would you have traded Chris Higgins and Ryan Mcdonaugh for Scott Gomez? Would you have traded anything for Scott Gomez? Yet, someone did. Every hockey fan out there kept telling NY Rangers fans desperate to unload Gomez’s contract that they were dreaming; no one would possibly take him, let alone give up assets of value. That was the mass perception held by everyone but the one person whose perception held influence in the matter, now-former Montreal Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey. Gainey would go on to make a deal for Gomez more unbalanced and disastrous than any crazy trade rumor. That’s just one of many examples in the history of our sport where an NHL GM’s perception of a trade differed from the consensus among the fans.

And when it comes to deciding whether to make those trades, their perceptions are the only ones that matter.

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Written by Shark Circle

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