If the Avalanche want to trade Gabriel Landeskog, the Bruins should look into it. If the Avalanche want to act like Gabriel Landeskog is a sure-fire franchise-changing commodity with a commensurate cap hit right now, the Bruins should tell them to get lost. They should then call other teams to either pursue different trades or talk about the Avalanche behind their backs.
Landeskog is a good player with a very high ceiling, but he’s currently getting doused with buckets of hype because, well, trade rumors are fun as hell.
You know Landeskog as the second overall pick in the 2011 draft, the guy taken in the very slot in which Tyler Seguin was selected a year earlier. You know he’s Colorado’s captain and that he’s stout enough (215 pounds to fill out a 6-foot-1 frame) to have adequately infuriated Milan Lucic that one time.
Yet context is required when determining whether he’s worth giving up someone like Brandon Carlo (he isn’t). This is a player, for all his talent, whose numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Trading for him and his contract presents as much of a gamble in and of itself as trading Carlo would.
One point raised by My Buddy Mike Monday: Carlo is a first-year player, and one who could be pushed to the second pair down the road by Charlie McAvoy. If Carlo isn’t going to be the guy on your defense, why not trade a guy who was a second-round pick for a guy who was the second overall pick?
The answer is because it would be a presumptuous to call Landeskog the guy on offense. With declining offensive numbers for three straight seasons, the only constant has been his $5.57 million cap hit, and that will remain on the books through the 2020-21 season regardless of where the rest of the numbers go.
This season, Landeskog has 12 goals and 18 points through 42 games. Ah, crap. Wrong tab. Those numbers belong to Brett Connolly, who, as a bottom-six forward, has scored more goals than Landeskog this season. That’s the same Brett Connolly to whom the Bruins declined to give a qualify offer prior to free agency.
Landeskog’s real numbers: 11 goals and 22 points through 43 games. That follows a season in which he scored 20 goals in 75 games last season.
In the last four seasons, his goal totals have gone from 26 to 23 to 20 to his current mark of 11.
In that span, Landeskog’s goals per 60 in five-on-five play have gone from 0.89 in 2013-14 to 0.51 this season. His current goals per 60 would rank him in a tie for eighth on the Bruins with Dominic Moore. (Remember, this is a town that called Loui Eriksson overpaid for scoring 22 goals when he had a $4.25 million cap hit.)
Maybe those numbers will go up. Maybe this is a Seguin situation where, after a statistical regression, his points will shoot way the hell back up and he’ll become a superstar.
But that’s all in the future and it's all hypothetical. Right now Landeskog produces like a middle-six forward and gets paid like a first-liner. That’s not worth a top-four defenseman who still has two years left on his entry level contract.
When the Bruins traded for Nathan Horton, the third overall pick in the 2003 draft, he was one year older than Landeskog is now and had better numbers up that point in his NHL career, including a 30-goal season. His contract was also better, as it had three seasons remaining at $4 million per, which made for a smaller percentage of the cap back then than Landeskog’s $5.57 million does now.
The price for Horton: The 15th overall pick in 2010, a 2011 third-rounder and Dennis Wideman.
If the package is similar to that, then it’s worth exploring for the Bruins based on their projections, but they shouldn’t trade one of their key pieces. Even if Carlo doesn’t become a great player, trading him for Landeskog would represent poor asset management with a young defenseman, and it wouldn’t be their first rodeo.
Landeskog would look good in a Bruins' uniform, but if the B's are going to get him, they should pay based on what he is now.