“Selling high” should always be the goal.

bruins win cup

So, earlier today David Anderson went all David Anderson on us with the suggestion that now is the time to deal Thomas Vanek.

Let’s see if the idea has merit.

Assuming you don’t deem Vanek 100% untouchable, here are some things to consider.

  1. Many of the greatest players in the history of the NHL have been traded.
  2. “Selling high” should ALWAYS be the goal.
  3. Recent history is on the side of the dealer of the high end player, not the recipient.

Regarding point #3, let’s look at the Boston Bruins.

Without question, the 2 moves that have defined the franchise over the past decade have involved shipping out players around whom the franchise appeared to be built.


thorntonJoe Thornton

Drafted by Boston Bruins, 1st overall in 1997.

Traded 8 years later to San Jose Sharks (November 2005) for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau, and Brad Stuart.

On the surface, this deal appears to weigh strongly in the Sharks favor but the decision to move Thornton didn’t revolve around being a perennial contender. Without necessarily stating it as plainly as Terry Pegula, the goal was to win the Cup and Bruins management decided that if/when they could get it done, it wouldn’t be with Thornton as the foundation.

kesselPhil Kessel

Drafted by Boston Bruins, 5th overall in 2006

Traded 3 years later to Toronto Maple Leafs (September 2009) for 2010 1st, 2010 2nd, 2011 1st

The old axiom of  “the team that gets the best player wins the trade” has shown its logic, once again, to be shaky at best. This deal probably cost Brian Burke his job as Leafs GM.

From thespec.com:

Thank you, Kessel.

It’s what Bruins fans chant whenever the Maple Leafs go to Boston. They are thankful the ever-impatient Toronto organization in 2009 traded two first rounders and a second for Phil Kessel. Those first rounders turned into studly centre Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, a top blueline prospect.

bruins win cup

We win. (Not pictured: Joe Thornton, Phil Kessel)

Does any of this mean that the Sabres should drop everything to get whatever they can for Thomas Vanek?

Certainly not.

But if you can’t picture the Sabres hoisting the Cup as presently constructed, it’s worth asking “what can I get in exchange for my best asset?”

vanek stats

If you believe in “selling high” (who doesn’t?)… here’s your chance.


Rock the hard jams, treat it like a seminar. Reach the bourgeois and rock the boulevard. Some say I'm negative, but they're not positive.

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  1. Neither of those trades were instrumental in Boston winning a cup.  Sturm, Primeau, and Stuart were gone by the time Boston won the cum.  Stuart left in FA, and Sturm left for ‘future considerations’ from the Kings that I don’t think ever became anything.  Primeau was traded for Kobasew and Ferrence (hardly instrumental).
    Kobasew was traded for Craig Weller and a 2011 second (Alexander Khokhlachev).  Weller was then traded for Seidenberg (marginally important) and Matt Bartkowski (name not on the cup).
    Kessel became Seguin, Jared Knight, and Dougie Hamilton, none of which were instrumental to the Bruins cup run.

  2. I didn’t call either trade instrumental. Rather, I pointed out that the best player on the team by a mile (Thornton) and a very productive young player (Kessel) each looked like a cornerstone of the franchise yet was dealt in an effort to build around others. IMO (and theirs), moving away from Thornton as the top dog was step one in building a Cup winner. Kessel deal is further evidence of same mentality.

    • @BradRiter
      yeah but both of those guys (Thornton & Kessel) were severe locker-room issues. Vanek is not…. Vanek, by all accounts, has a very positive impact on the team aside fro mmerely on the ice. So I think it holds that it will be MUCH more difficult to get value for Vanek, whereas Boston was essentially getting paid (anything… which amounted to not much in the long term, aside from Tyler Seguin, which even he had some luck involved) to get rid of locker-room cancers.

      • @bigfranky75  @BradRiter exactly. They weren’t “let’s get better” moves so much as “let’s get rid of this asshole” moves.

  3. I thought competing for a Stanley Cup was “always a number one priority” not always looking to sell off your top assets??

  4. Kessel was traded because his attitude is garbage. The famous story up here in Boston was one day after practice Claude Julien saw Kessel leaving the facility while his team mates were headed to the gym.  Claude said, “Hey Phil, I think the weight room is that way…” and Kessel laughed at him and left for the day.
    That’s why Kessel was traded, and Burke was dumb enough to give them WAY more than he was worth.  Thornton was traded because of similar attitude and “fit” problems.  Bergeron was the new face to build around.  Vanek, by all accounts, has none of these issues with the team.

  5. So , you think that by traded the best player , they will get some one else who’s better ??? Listen , the Sabres have already turned over the team twice in 5 years . And only ONCE did they make the playoffs , in that time . If you want to REALLY win a Cup , it’s time to CAN Ruff . But , Pegula thinks that , a coach , like Ruff , especially if they played for the Sabres , can coach . Wrong , and Ruff proof of that . And , Burke didn’t lose his job for trading for Kessel . He lost his job because the Leafs haven’t make the playoffs , under his watch . And Rodgers didn’t like him . He wants a more Canadian flavor in a Canadian team . That’s why he was canned . But , a coach like Ruff , should have been canned 7 years ago . Instead of coaching 14 years in one place .

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