When the Dallas Stars acquired Patrick Sharp in July, they did so at the cost of Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt. To some in the hockey media, this trade was a bit of a head scratcher.
Dallas' blueline was seen as fragile enough; why trade one of your veteran defenders? It looked like Nill was doubling down on Dallas' already potent offense. And Stephen Johns was just a prospect; not someone who could walk into camp and start playing taking Daley's minutes.
The general rule of who wins a trade is whoever gets the best player.
And just like in the Boston deal, or the Ottawa deal, Nill got the best player. On the surface, this much is obvious.
Patrick Sharp has 16 points in 21 games. Ryan Garbutt and Trevor Daley have literally half that amount combined (with only one goal between them). In addition, his chemistry with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin makes both look like they're wielding the puck with the Tesseract. Just take a look.
Not only do Benn and Seguin take more shots with Sharp on the ice, they also give up less. A lot less.
Sharp isn't just a peripheral shiny object, picking up points on the PP, slotting up and down the lineup like handsome spackle. He's an important piece of Dallas' most potent weapon.
Meanwhile, Garbutt and Daley seem like afterthoughts for Chicago. Garbutt has some slick looking possession numbers and has played most of his minutes next to Jonathan Toews. It's probably unrealistic to think they'll be joined at the hip, however. And it's certainly not the case that Garbutt can help Toews produce.
As for Daley, there's plenty of trade talk. Our friends over at Second City Hockey haven't exactly minced words.
Daley, 32, has struggled with the Blackhawks after being acquired as part of the Patrick Sharp deal with the Stars during the offseason. A longtime veteran in Dallas, he's reportedly had trouble fitting into Chicago's system and LeBrun says "he's probably a bit frustrated with his role these days" given that he's used to playing a much larger role. Last season with the Stars, Daley played a career-high 22:53 per game. This season, he's not even getting 16 minutes a night.
Josh broke down Daley's play in Chicago, doing a great job of summarizing the serviceable job he's been doing (while noting some of Chicago's hypocrisy). However, Daley's been incredibly sheltered as well, starting in the offensive zone at a rate of 66 Percent. Chicago was likely hoping that he could replace Johnny Oduya (who started in the OFZ at a rate of 51 Percent for Chicago) rather than play limited minutes on the third pair. Over his last three years, his possession impact doesn't even justify bottom pairing minutes.
Daley was never a truly bad player, but it makes sense that he'd age like a player who generated chances with his skating, and athleticism more than his wits, and vision. Which is what I think is happening.
None of this is to rub salt in anyone's wound. Chicago probably regrets some of their contracts more than having Daley and Garbutt do perfectly reasonable in their limited roles. But it does emphasize the nature of smart trading.
Travis Yost and Dimitri Filipovic recently had a discussion on their excellent Hockey PDOCast (the only one worth listening to now that the Backhand Shelf is extinct) about Yost's discussion with Jim Nill about the Sharp trade:
I just remember the level of thought he was giving to trying to put Sharp in the best situation yet at the same time preserving the ideal top two or three trios in that forward group. You could hear the same response from twenty nine other GM's. Half of them you'd come away unimpressed, and say, yea, that's a canned answer that your local media writer could give.
....We were talking about shot locations, and stuff to that effect. Higher level stuff.
Still, winning a trade is like winning a battle; it doesn't guarantee victory for the war. Make no mistake; the Central is a war. With the addition of Sharp, his ability to produce and ability to play in all three zones, Dallas is simply better prepared.