Maple Leafs Joffrey Lupul: Anatomy Of A Trade

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Matt Moulson’s trade to the Wild at last season’s deadline serves as a great comparison for possible value in a return for Joffrey Lupul. Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

What Is A Veteran Scoring Winger Worth?

This is a wide open question with a million and one different answers depending on how you view and value the intangibles and risks that come with Joffrey Lupul. With his history in Toronto for being able to put up good numbers when paired with good players, his dressing room and media presence and work around the community Lupul has some serious value.

When you add in his massive injury history, decking numbers this year and big time contract with term left … he loses some of his shine fast. For some help on getting a scope for a return, let’s look at some recent returns for veteran scoring wingers with an emphasis on players that had large contracts, declining output or injury histories at the time of the trade. To help narrow it down a little more, I won’t be including any deals where there are multiple pieces going both ways, Lupul may fetch a lot of things, but being apart of a blockbuster is very unlikely.

– Both Moulson and Lupul only had a few years of “star” status and both are considered capable players when paired with other star offensive players. Moulson being a free agent here really draws the comparables in this trade to an end however, as Lupul’s contract and injury history don’t get factored in.

– Gaborik had a miserable run in Columbus and the Kings deadline pickup of him drew little praise, but we all know how that turned out for the Kings. Gaborik has a similar injury history to Lupul, with the same kind of “few good years”. When healthy, Gaborik can be a MUCH better offensive player than Lupul, but Lupul has a better two-way game and is rumoured to be a better dressing room guy. So intangibles vs raw talent is debatable for value comparison here. Gaborik being a free agent again reduces the comparable for a return as LA didn’t have to worry about his contract if the deal hadn’t worked out.

– Same free agent story, same injury history with a penchant for being able to elevate play when paired with the right line mates. Perron is a much grittier version of Lupul which has contributed to his injury history, but both have very similar offensive capabilities with Perron being slightly more of a shooter to Lupul’s playmaker. If a team thinks Lupul is a 60+ point guy that can be a positive energy guy in the dressing room, then maybe we see a team offer up a 1st round pick…. but we won’t.

– At the time of the trade Heatley was a significantly better offensive player than Lupul, with no major injury history. However, he forced the Sens to trade him to a team of his choice using his NTC (something Lupul also has) and massively cut any kind of value the Sens could’ve gotten from a bidding war for his services. There most likely won’t be a similar issue with Lupul, but several insiders reported that he vetoed a trade to the Canadiens at the deadline.

– Versteeg is not to the same offensive calibre that Lupul is, but he is a better defensive player. Versteeg also has for the most part, been an extremely durable player so the comparison isn’t great. However, we get a giant contract for a veteran player (that had been a disappointment with Florida) traded for two young mid-tier prospects that were borderline NHL ready. No picks involved, no bad contract in return, but the Panthers retained 50% (2.2M) of Versteeg’s cap hit, a very likely scenario in any Lupul trade.

– In a trade that will haunt Flyers fans forever, fan favourite Scott Hartnell and his massive contract were dealt for an equally massive contract, but significantly worse player in RJ Umberger and a 4th round pick. As Hartnell had slowed down and was prone to injury, the teams locker room needed a shakeup, so they took a “more versatile” but less offensively inclined player in Umberger with slightly less cap hit and one less year. Two teams with bad contracts looking for a locker room change.

In the first 3 trades we see similar players to Lupul get moved for prospects and picks, but all 3 were UFA’s at the time of their respective trades. In the second grouping of trades we see some more comparable situations. Most involve the team taking back an equally bad contract, or retaining salary in order to get something of value in return, this is most likely going to be the case with any Lupul trade. In terms of a viable return, the Dany Heatley scenario is probably the closest.

Next: Who Wants Lupul?