The Jake Muzzin trade got the ball rolling in a couple of respects. First, it opened the trade market with a month to go until the deadline and, second, it gave us an idea of what a first-round pick might get you in the lead up to Feb. 25.
Trying to pin down exactly what a first-round pick is worth, you come across a variety of variables. Last year, Jonathan Willis took a crack at it for Sportsnet.ca by looking at trades involving first-rounders as far back as 2013. The conclusion was that, generally, a 50-to-60-point rental winger was the going rate for a first-rounder, while that selection might net you a rental No. 4 defenceman — or a No. 2/3 if a secondary prospect or another pick was added. The price was higher for centres — a first-rounder would more or less get a contending team a third-line pivot.
That article was written ahead of the 2018 deadline, prior to six first-round picks being dealt for players. That was the second-most first-rounders to be traded in a deadline season since 2013, and more than were moved in 2014, 2016 and 2017 combined. The five first-rounders traded on Feb. 26 last year was the most moved on deadline day in league history.
So can anything else be gleaned about the value of a first-round pick using the most recent trade deadline? Let’s have a look.