To properly analyze big trades, you really have to wait a few seasons to see how all the pieces develop over time.
Picking up an elite prospect for an injury-riddled veteran, after all, might seem like a great deal until that prospect turns out to develop like Ivan Vishnevskiy and the injury-riddled goalie becomes Kari Lehtonen, who misses 10-15 games a year but can all but carry a team in the meantime.
Given that, it's still far too early to evaluate the real "winner" of this summer's massive trade that sent Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow heading to the Boston Bruins. But with Peverley and Seguin's first game at the TD Garden being tonight, it's as good a time as any to examine at least the early returns.
Here's how the pieces the Stars picked up have done in roughly one month with their new team.
Button is really an incidental piece to this deal, a 22-year-old who has never played above the AHL, so let's focus on the other two.
Faceoff proficiency aside, I'm not sure anyone could ask for more from Seguin and Peverley in their opening dozen or so games. Seguin is the Stars points leader and averaging more than a point per game while playing the most minutes of any forward. He has been solid defensively while anchoring the most consistently dangerous line on the team. When you watch him in person, it's clear he's an elite-level talent with puck-handling ability and on-ice vision for days. He was advertised as a special player who needed a change of scenery to really bloom, and he's been exactly as advertised.
His fellow former Bruin had a bit of a rockier start as treatment for a mild heart condition forced Peverley to miss all of training camp. But since debuting in the Stars second game, Peverley has quickly cemented his place as a versatile, defensively responsible forward who can provide decent offense. His positioning is usually dead on, and he has played well throughout the lineup, including significant time on the first line.
The numbers haven't been quite as sparkling for the players who headed to Boston, but the quartet has still acquitted themselves quite well.
To be fair to Eriksson, he only played eight games for Boston before a late, high hit from Buffalo Sabres tough guy John Scott knocked him out, quite literally, with a concussion. And while he was still carrying his snakebitten goal-scoring stick from last year with the Stars, reports from those who've watched him play have been essentially the same guy Dallas fans came to know -- a very defensively responsible, at times offensively creative winger who can fit in anywhere in the lineup and make that line better.
The most pleasant surprise for the Bruins is likely the development of Reilly Smith, who has spent some time in the top six this year but mostly bounced around the lineup. He's tied for fourth on the team in scoring with his assists-heavy seven points. Perhaps playing in the East, with it's reputation for faster, higher skilled and less bone-crunching hockey is better suited to his smaller frame, or perhaps he accomplished a lot in the weight room this offseason. Whatever it is, it's nice to see him having success as a complimentary piece.
In the minor league ranks, Matt Fraser is still the same old Matt Fraser. The man can score goals with a wicked laser of a shot, there's no question about that. But his minus-5 rating tells me he likely has many of the same issues that plagued him as a Stars prospect. He'll have to add at least one more dimension to his game if he's going to become an NHL player.
Joe Morrow is also having a very nice season in the minors. But given that he was in the Dallas system for less than four months, and given that the Stars have a stable full of prospect defensemen marinating down in Austin, he is probably getting much better ice time and opportunity to develop with the Providence Bruins.
For at least the first month of this deal, all the pieces seem to be exactly as advertised.
On the Dallas side of things, Seguin is arguably the most talented player on the ice (Jamie Benn is the obvious other person in that conversation, and they play different enough games that it's a fun debate) every time he touches the puck, and Peverley is a solid, versatile forward addition.
Boston got more pieces, which included two talented NHL forwards, while Dallas got the most talented individual piece in the deal. The numbers on the Bruins side would look much better if Eriksson wasn't a.) still snakebitten and b.) concussed from an illegal hit, so it's hard to read a whole lot into the team totals. Even with Eriksson's statistical slow start, though, Smith has been a valuable addition to their offense, and Fraser and Morrow are performing exactly as expected in the AHL.
I know it's boring to say a trade is a win for both sides, and indeed it's still too early to really know if one team got a huge bargain for the long-term impact of the deal. But I think it's fair to say that there have been no big surprises for either team at this point, at least in terms of player performance. That's great news for both sides at this point because each is still very happy with the return on this monster deal.