The contrarian questions whether or not Steve Downie's fantasy value declined when he was traded to Philadelphia.
(Editor's note: Column obviously written prior to Downie's concussion Saturday)
On Halloween, Steve Laidlaw broke down the Downie for Talbot trade. He contends that the player most hurt by the move is Steve Downie. Of course I disagree.
You can certainly understand his point of view. He was playing with Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly. That is a nice gig if you can get it but it was not going to last because he was being showcased. This clip from TSN TH: Trading Places alludes to it.
We were unaware of it. Good GMs keep things close to their vests. We should have been able to read the signs though. Not including Downie, Colorado’s wingers were O’Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog, Alex Tanguay and PA Parenteau. Each one of them is, or in Landeskog’s case will be, making more money than Downie. Also remember that Tanguay was brought back this summer. These guys deserve to be playing on the top two lines. Downie was going to be the odd man out.
So Sakic did what any good GM should do, put an asset that he is willing to trade in a situation where his value can be accentuated without being overtly obvious. In their opinion Talbot was worth the exchange. If you look at the past trades that involved Downie, he wasn’t moved for very much and when he went to Colorado he was also on the tail end of a contract.
Turning the attention to Downie’s future with the Flyers, it does seem that he’s falling into a similar situation where there are too many wingers.
In the previous TSN video link, Darren Dregger does say that Downie is a top six player and that other GMs would have liked to have had the opportunity to acquire him, especially if the cost was Talbot.
Rick Tocchet, former coach of the Lightning, feels that Downie could do well playing on a line with Claude Giroux. A quote from CSN Philadelphia, through THN.com, “He changes the momentum, and he’s a natural right shot which would help Giroux. … Claude Giroux might start scoring goals playing with Steve Downie.”
That he did so well in Colorado this year does suggest that he can perform and produce reasonable point totals on a top unit. If he is not playing with Giroux, then he could possibly be with former teammate Lecavallier.
No matter who he will be playing with his primary job will be as a shift disturber and grinder. Create space and get the puck to the truly talented players.
The end result is that the Flyers did re-acquire him to make an impact and a difference. They were the team that originally drafted him so they know what type of player he is. This will not be a shock to them. Having him play on the third line is not going to make them any better.
Steve highlights that Downie’s power play time will be reduced now. I do not think that that is a major part of his game though yet he can be successful at it. His time might very well be reduced because he will be sitting in the penalty box more often as his style of play goes hand in hand with Philadelphia’s identity.
The person who I feel should be threatened a bit from this should be Hartnell. He has no points through the game on November 1st It is clear why Read or Simmonds be thought of as the ones that would be negatively impacted. They do not get paid as much as Hartnell but they are younger and are contributing with some points at the moment. A big contract with no points screams for a change, or at least some attention for what is wrong.
Both players, Hartnell and Downie, have similar strengths and flaws. Guess who I am describing with these player character descriptions provided by THN.com:
“Loves to crash and bang, and also gets under the opposition's skin regularly. Complements skilled players well. Has good offensive instincts and defensive makeup. When needed, he can be a quality finisher.”
“His kamikaze style can lead to a lot of injuries, bad penalties and the occasional suspension.”
“Some of his antics are questionable, and are at times reviewable by the league. He’s not a natural shooter. Doesn’t always drop the gloves when challenged by opponents. Can lack consistency on offense.”
“Is extremely disruptive for the opposition. Hits like a truck and displays decent hockey sense with the puck. Has two-way ability and can complement skilled forwards rather nicely.”
Hartnell’s edge is that he is doesn’t get hurt as much. Downie’s is that he is now at an age (26) where he could emerge and start to supplant Hartnell. It was around the same age that Hartnell started to get more points. Hartnell was ranging in the 30’s to 40’s and then got two seasons in the 60’s under the right circumstances.
Until I read about Downie's latest concussion issues, I felt that he would be poised for a point boost. His other strength stat categories would certainly improve. Not knowing the full extent of his injury I am flying a little blind writing this column but I will still stick with it.
I guess that puts me in the same spot as the Flyers.
Read More from The Contrarian: