Overvaluing Assets: Leafs Edition

It is February, which means one thing. Trade month.

The trade deadline is less than a month away, and the most exciting part of the season is nearing. There have been relatively few in-season moves made this year, and aside from the Cammaleri move, few have made headlines.

Few teams in the league, aside from Columbus of course, are completely out of the playoff picture. Therefore it is hard to determine at this point who will be buying and who will be selling. The next two weeks of games will go a long way towards determining who will be picking up the rentals and who will be trying to rebuild their systems.

One of the toughest parts of negotiating trades is the propensity to overvalue your own assets. Whether they are a former first round pick or a player that you simply believe can excel in the right situation, fans and management alike are constantly battling with the thought that they are holding the most talented players in any deal.

This is a situation that the Leafs are currently facing. Word around town is that Kadri and Schenn could both be shopped around the league, and despite their lack of production for the Buds, many perceive their value to still be high.

Kadri was the 6th overall pick just three years ago, but he has yet to make himself a mainstay in the Leafs lineup. His offensive skills and defensive liabilities were well known coming into his draft year, but Burke and co. thought that they would be able to break him and make him into a two-way player. This has yet to happen and he was just sent back down to the Marlies for the umpteenth time.

Schenn was  taken 5th overall in ’08, and as they say, he is who we thought he was. A stay at home blueline r with little in the way of flash. He is not especially gritty, or big, or fast, or skilled. He just kind of does everything reasonably well. But on a team like Toronto that has as many as eight NHL caliber D-men at this point, he may be worth dangling.

The thing with Schenn is that he has five years left on his brand new deal that pays him $3.6 million per. Not a ridiculous contract, but for someone that who has never scored more than 22 points, he is not exactly the most desirable of assets.

But ask anyone in Leaf Nation about the value of these two players, and you will be met with a list of superstars that should be sought in return. Is this due to the fact that they are the only thing resembling draft “success” that the team has from the last decade? Or is there a legitimate belief that Schenn and Kadri could become legitimate NHL talent?

Kadri has the ceiling of a second line winger on a team that allows his defensive inadequacies to not take away from his offensive wizardry. Schenn is a second pairing blueliner who can be paired with an offensive minded player to create a solid pairing. They are nothing more and nothing less.

So why the overvaluation? Well this is Leaf Nation after all. The most rabid hockey fans in the league have a tendency to fall in love with their players. They buy the bill of goods and refuse to admit that their players could be busts.

If Schenn, Kadri and a high pick could be packaged together for Jeff Carter, would Leafs fans do it? At this point it seems unlikely. Carter has a ridiculous contract that Burke is likely not so fond of. But this is a guy that has scored more than 40 goals and more than 30 on two occasions. The Leafs are lacking scoring up front, but convincing their fan base that selling off the “future” would help them get some more punch up front would be hard to do.

There are similar cases around the league. It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that your team squandered a high pick on a player that is simply not what you thought he would be. It can create symptoms similar to separation anxiety, as the thought is always that they will go elsewhere and reach their potential.

Prepare for a month of madness and overvaluation.