Fantasy Turkeys Remembered: Sens-Isles Trade
WRITTEN BY CHRIS WASSEL | 23 JUNE 2011
Inevitably one had to see this coming. Ten years ago, the New York Islandersmade a trade that seemed at the time to make total sense. They sent Bill Muckalt, Zdeno Chara, and their 2001 1st round pick (2nd overall) to the Ottawa Senators forAlexei Yashin.
Much has been made about this trade and how lopsided it was. That is definitely well acknowledged but it is time to take this from a different angle completely. After all, we are one day before the NHL Draft in Minneapolis-St. Paul. According to sources, there are 547 credentialed media at the draft this year so imagine how this trade was covered ten years later. There would even be fantasy hockey analysts all over this one for years to come.
The question becomes where to start here. Do we even take a look at the statistics before the trade and then after? Do we go with just the aftermath? Well the latter would be right so as always we will head towards choosing the former.
First up we will look at the career of Alexei Yashin. Yes everyone knows how it turned out but it was not all necessarily bad either. His days in Ottawa were full of tumult off the ice in many many ways. There were failed donations, gripes about play, and holdouts. The man was extremely talented and one could only imagine what he could have done if his head was on straight the whole time. Some numbers definitely do not lie so let’s take a look.
Alexei Yashin Pre-Trade:
|1994–95||Las Vegas Thunder||IHL||24||15||20||35||32|
|1999–2000||Did not play||Contract dispute|
So from a strict points perspective, Yashin did produce rather well before the trade. He even scored 40 goals after a year long holdout. Not many players can say or do that for that matter. Alexei Yashin was not the #1 show in Ottawa. People remember that Alexander Daigle was. Daigle turned out to be an unmitigated bust while Yashin mostly thrived on the ice. The 2000-01 season was Yashin’s high water point but who knew. He also produced 13 power play goals as well as ten game winning goals. Yashin was even a +10 that season.
Let us move on to the next player briefly. Bill Muckalt was never going to be confused for a great defenseman but he had some potential. Muckalt broke out with a 36 point season in 1999. Yet by 2003, he would be out of the league. The defenseman was traded to the Islanders from the Canucks the very next season and from there he was not quite the same. The numbers dipped a bit and rose in the ’01 season to 26 points in 60 games but then Muckalt was traded in the Yashin deal to Ottawa where his career went to die. Injuries and poor play pretty much plagued the end of his career as he finished in Minnesota.
Now there was Zdeno Chara. The New York Islanders drafted Chara with the 56th pick in the third round of the 1996 NHL Draft. Chara was seen by the Isles as a stay at home defenseman that had a shot but was underutilized. Skating was a bit awkward early on for the 6 foot 9 giant and here were his stats before the trade.
Zdeno Chara Pre-Trade:
Well like we had said, Chara played the minutes but was on some really horrendous teams in his last two seasons as an Islander. Toward the end of the ’01 season, you could see the feistyness and anger that would fuel Chara in his later days. His shot was also unleashed more as the jump in shots would indicate. It was not the 105 mph bomb it has become but it was considerably above average. Ottawa kind of had to know they were getting someone on the verge while the Islanders were looking for a name, any name to fill their building.
Then there was the trade which included what became Jason Spezza. When the trade happened, even then, most experts thought that Ottawa had won the deal from a meat and potatoes (statistics) standpoint but that the Isles did from a marketing standpoint. At first it did work for the Islanders and Yashin played pretty well.
Now it is time to go post trade with the numbers. First up, we have Alexei Yashinagain.
Alexei Yashin Post Trade — New York Islanders
Clearly the numbers were not that bad but while Yashin was averaging 0,95 points per game before the trade, he averaged less than afterwards (at about 0.89). The difference does not look like much but if you add in injuries and fan apathy, one gets a recipe for fantasy disaster. Yashin was heading into his prime and instead of progressing, he regressed. Also he was never one for bouncing back or playing all that much defense for that matter.
This really is not all about the off the ice shenanigans but what Yashin did ON the ice for fantasy purposes. Many thought back then he was a perennial first round pick but the reality dictated a 2nd or even early 3rd rounder post trade. There was so much more Alexei Yashin could have done, even on Long Island. Consider he was projected to hit at or around 95-100 a year in his prime, he did not come close. In the end, he left Long Island with a bitter taste that they still have not recovered from. He truly was a fantasy disappointment.
On the Ottawa side of things, there was Jason Spezza and Zdeno Chara. First we will take a quick look at Chara’s numbers post trade and the jump that you could see coming came and then when he went to Boston, out came the Norris and theStanley Cup.
Zdeno Chara post trade (Ottawa and Boston):
So on a better team that was well constructed, Zdeno Chara magically gained confidence and started to become a force on both ends of the ice. The key thing is Chara was also able to rack up some very impressive PIM totals while in Ottawa. His ATOI was over 25:00 while in Ottawa as well which extended to his time in Boston. The five time all-star has a Stanley Cup ring that never would have been realized as a New York Islander.
Also encouraging was Chara’s shot total which has progressively gone up each year. Combine that with the ice time and there is a reason why you could see Chara as a fantasy stud on the blueline as he has been for the last 7 or 8 years. For Chara alone, the Yashin trade fantasy wise was pretty much even for Ottawa.
However, there was obviously more to the deal as the 2nd pick of the 2001 draft became Jason Spezza. This is what had to hurt Islander fans most but helped fantasy players out immensely throughout the 2000’s as Spezza made quite the impact averaging a hair over a point a game for the Ottawa Senators. He has been very good on the man advantage and for fantasy owners with a nice healthy +/- along with a modestly good shots per game total. At any rate, here are his stats:
Jason Spezza (Ottawa Senators):
Spezza was really the player that made this so lopsided combined with Chara. If the Isles had stood pat, they would have had so many options to draft in a class that was pretty good and full of fantasy studs at that position. In the end however, Spezza would thrive for the most part in Ottawa and put up Yashin like numbers for far less a price. As Ottawa rebuilds, it will be interesting if Spezza can stay healthy because that is the key for fantasy owners. When he plays, he produces. He has a chance to get back to that 75-85 point plateau next season.
The bottom line is this trade from ten years ago had so many negative fantasy impacts for the Islanders and obviously tangible ones along with financial as well. It was truly a reach that had to be taken but in the end went badly as so many expected. For teams who had Spezza and Chara on their rosters or even one of them over Yashin, they surely made out.
Have a comment? By all means leave us one as we later on, go over today’s trade impacts with a quick hit fantasy style.