No two teams in the NHL will value players in the same way. It’s part of what makes trading so frustratingly difficult as teams manage the balancing act of getting their player, but not overplaying their hand. From an outsider’s perspective, sometimes it leads to trades that look like they don’t add up.
On the day before the deadline, the Leafs seemed to make such a trade sending a first-round pick and a fourth-round pick to Columbus for left winger Nick Foligno and a fourth-round pick to San Jose for the trouble of retaining extra salary. Several hours later, the Boston Bruins acquired left winger Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar from Buffalo for a much lower cost: a second-round pick and Anders Bjork. Lazar and Bjork are a wash — similarly aged depth forwards with limited upside – so for all intents and purposes the trade is Hall, with 50 percent of his salary retained, for a second-round pick.
Out of context, those two deals make zero sense. Despite his struggles this season, there shouldn’t be many people out there who would say that Foligno is a better player than Hall. At his absolute worst this season, Hall still has a higher point rate than Foligno, higher-scoring chance generation, and better play-driving numbers at both ends of the rink. Yes, even defensively. By total value according to GSVA, Foligno has been worth 0.07 wins, a fourth-line rate, while Hall has been worth 0.43 wins, a middle-six rate. For those untrusting of that math, an NHL source with access to better data called Hall a first liner while being skeptical of what Foligno had left.
Despite not being able to buy a goal all season, and playing in front of .899 goaltending, it can be argued that Hall has been more valuable than Foligno this season. I’m not including past seasons where there’s no debate to be had. I’m talking this season where Hall’s absolute floor, brought about by playing on the league’s worst team, is still stronger than what Foligno offers. His ceiling is another level entirely where he’s previously been worth well over three wins.