Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

What does it cost to trade up or down in the first round?

By virtue of their finish in the regular season (and their lack of it in the playoffs), the Calgary Flames will draft 26th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft. That is, barring trades. Considering the Flames have been very active in the trade market under Brad Treliving, this begs the question: what would it cost to move up or down in the first round?

A quick history lesson

Over the past five drafts, there have been 11 trades involving teams changing their first round position.

The 2014 Draft

The Blackhawks traded down from 20th to 27th overall (also throwing in the 189th overall pick) and gained the 62nd overall pick from the Sharks.

The Lightning traded down from 28th to 35th overall, and gained the 57th overall pick from the Islanders.

The 2015 Draft

The Leafs traded down from 24th to 29th overall, and gained the 61st overall pick from the Flyers. Then they traded down again from 29th to 34th overall, and gained the 68th overall pick from the Blue Jackets.

The Lightning traded down from 28th to 33rd overall, and gained the 72nd overall pick from the Islanders.

The 2016 Draft

The Devils traded down one spot (from 11th to 12th overall), and gained the 80th overall pick from the Senators.

The Red Wings moved down from 16th to 20th overall as part of a larger deal where the Wings added Joe Vitale and the 53rd overall pick in exchange for the Coyotes taking on Pavel Datsyuk’s contract.

The Flyers traded down from 18th to 22nd overall (also throwing in the 79th overall pick), gaining the 36th overall pick from the Jets in the swap.

The Capitals traded down from 26th to 28th overall, adding the 87th overall pick from the Blues.

The 2017 Draft

The Blackhawks traded down from 26th to 29th overall, gaining the 70th overall pick from the Stars.

There was also a trade between Vegas and Winnipeg, where the Golden Knights moved up from 24th to 13th (and adding a 2019 third round pick) in exchange for taking Chris Thorburn in the expansion draft.

The 2018 Draft

The Senators traded down from 22th to 26th overall, gaining the 48th overall pick from the Rangers.

The Leafs traded down from 25th to 29th overall, gained the 76th overall pick from the Blues.

What can we learn?

Well, the general mechanics of draft pick trades are typically like this: a team has a player they really want on their draft board, and they become terrified that a team will pick them before they get a chance to. So they try to trade up and do what they can to move up to get their guy.

There appears to no real set value for moving up, which makes sense because a lot of it is situational:

  • The Lightning got the 57th pick for moving down seven spots in 2014, but only got 72nd overall for moving down five spots in 2015.
  • Some trade downs gained a late second rounder, while others netted a middle third rounder.

Teams with picks in the first half of the first round more often trade those picks away for players than trade up or down in the draft order.

The general prices

If the Flames wanted to move up from 26th overall, they would likely need to spend a late second round pick or a third round pick – and they’d probably only be able to move up to around 20th overall. (They only have a late third round pick – 88th overall – so trading up seems unlikely.)

If the Flames wanted to trade down, they could probably net a third round pick for moving within the first round or potentially a second round pick for trading into the early second round.

All things considered, if the goal of the 2019 NHL Draft is for the Flames to restock their shelves a bit, it might make sense to trade down and give their scouts an extra kick at the can in the early rounds. They selected zero times in the first 100 picks in 2018 and just once in 2017, so it seems prudent to make as many picks as they can early in the 2019 draft.

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  • Kevin R

    Maybe we should save the trade Gaudreau talk for a few years down the road. First year we expected to be better & expected to be a playoff team & we actually won the conference. Perhaps we should build some higher end pieces around Johnny that can play that heavy game & make room for Gaudreau to do his on ice wizardry.

  • meat1

    In my perfect world scenario, we trade Frolik and Brodie in the upcoming days for ONLY draft picks that include a second rounder in each case. I’m not interested in B prospects to fill in and make the trade look big (we already have our own Spencer Foo’s etc). On draft day we stay at #26 and draft Spencer Knight if available and then draft a forward and a d-man in the second round. I know the voodoo attached to drafting goalies BUT at 26 and with a couple second rounders to follow, if you can get the consensus top player at his position, I think you do it. And we really need a stud goalie again.

  • Garry T

    Gudreau does not appear to be happy in Calgary. Maybe I am wrong. But consider the following: Trade Gudreau to Jersey for the number one pick and other assets in terms of players and picks. Flip that pick to either Buffalo or Denver for all of their first round picks and a couple of seconds.
    If there are some players you want off either team, you will still wind up ahead going from 5 to as many as 9 picks

      • idbr

        Probably correct for the first over all. Some people view Hughes as generational. I think if I was thinking of trading Gaudreau that Philadelphia would come to mind and a deal that both sides liked could be worked out there. Personally I would rather keep him though and get him the supporting cast he needs. Find that fast, hard nosed, goal scorer to play on a line with him.

        • The Red Knight

          Its Monahan that needs to step up , what’s he worth right now? His value maybe as high as it ever will be , Trevling trade #23 for the number 2 pick , that Krakko kid

    • Derzie

      When Tre made Johnny sweat and then signed him for peanuts, that started the clock on his exit from Calgary. ‘Team friendly’ contracts are at the expense of the player. You think agents and players don’t see Tre as a skin-flint cheapo? Think again. Our ability to sign elite players gets weaker every season.

      • supra steve

        Yeah, who wants to play for a team that has so many players playing for team friendly deals, that only means there is potentially more money available for the rest of the team so you can add guys like Ryan and extend guys like Lindholm/Hanifin. Who would want to play on THAT team. Much better if the top five players all make $7-9 million/yr and the rest of the players get to fight over the remainder.

  • canadian1967

    Who can see Johnny helping us win a Cup if we came up against a proper Hockey team like The Blues or Bruins?
    All things being equal; a Good big man will invariably beat a good small man.

    • Tkachuk'sLisp

      The Bruins are a small team. They have one guy that’s a giant. Their size averages are the same according to eliteprospects. The problem is the guys with the size don’t play like they have any, not Johnny.

    • Derzie

      This is a really illogical statement. If we can choose two players of equal skill, of course you’d pick a stronger, bigger player. It’s clear that the NHL is taking some heat for their garbage reffing this playoff. The St Louis phenomenon may be a one and done as a result. They’ve won the cup by beating the hell out of their opponents. Bad TV ratings and missed calls will change that next year. No need to rush our leading scorer out the door just yet.

      • Luter 1

        Bad TV ratings because St. Louis is pounding the crap out of their opponents? Uh OK.
        From the beginning of the season we knew Calgary was too soft to compete in playoff type hockey, Neal was brought in somewhat to bring some nastiness hopefully on the 1st line. Instead he was a total dud and we never added any toughness to our lineup during the season. Tre better figute it out because the playoffs was a bit of a crap show and Johnny needed some backup.

      • SgtRoadBlock

        Thing is we have Flame fans that like to keep people way to long like Iggy, Kipper , 11 year Backland and so on… We not resigning Jonny or Sean the glass money so at some point before it to late you would like to trade them for a good return, Iggy return was holding on to him to long so we got junkback ..hate to see that happen again,
        Put the Team before the Player

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Given how hard it is to move up in the first round, it makes little sense for Tre to trade our pick. We are sure to get one of the following players: Knight, Tomasino, Lavoie, Leason, or Suzuki. I would be fine with any of these players. I don’t see it as a pipe dream to expect a first + for Brodie and a second or third for Frolik.

    • The Red Knight

      Member when Trevling traded a 2nd rounder for Lazar ? Now we are wondering if Brodie is worth a 1rst , what about 3 picks 2,3,4 round pick for Brodie ? This is a deep draft ,

  • deantheraven

    It has been my main hope that Brodie becomes a pick or picks and a new legacy trade wheel rolls on.
    I’d rather keep Frolik at this stage. He’s a physical marvel like Gio and a beast on the forecheck and shoots. (Some would call it driving possession)
    Unless somebody blows the doors off in training camp, Frolik fills the role better than the rest. Frolik is an elite shut down FWD, L shot who generates offense on the off wing. Effective on the PK… Oh, I could go on.
    And maybe that stuff with his agent was just his agent. Frolik looks and sounds more like a team guy and harder to replace than you might think. Frolik is always all-in. He’s not always a game breaker, but he’s definitely game every night. He knows how you have to play to win the cup. One who’s been there. I say keep him.
    Unless you can turn him for a package of pick(s) +…
    The big if is whether or not one of the Entry Level Gang is ready to step into frolik’s role. The chatter here is the Flames need to make a move for a top 6 forward, meaning no internal candidates fill that role. I’m ready to see Frolik in the bottom six over any other RW. Hopefully he and the Flames are too.

    • Luter 1

      A beast on the forecheck?? Forechecking includes some hits which Frolik is mostly allergic to and his skating is overrated. Anothe4 sof5 player we can do without. Mang I already as good or better.

      • HOCKEY83

        He’s nearly at a hit a game for last season and a plus 24 and also had a top 3 offensive output season…Ya he was garbage. I agree with deantheraven. Frolik did his job last season dispite the coach moving him up and down the line up. I think the Flames will miss his game.

      • Luter 1

        No way. Johnny needs some support, he is world class talent taking way too much abuse. Flames should be somewhat ashamed they have allowed this. Actually Lucic for Neal might fix some of the crap! Bet Johnny wouldn’t complain about that trade or Soft as pudding Mony.

        • Rockmorton65

          Luter, I was responding to everton’s query about what it would take to acquire Hall, not whether we should.

          Hall is a world class player, one season removed from a Hart trophy.
          To acquire him, a team would require a few things.

          1. A player of his caliber/level they could part with. Johnny checks that box. Salaries are almost a wash, pedigree and production are close. Plus, Johnny’s from NJ. The Devils marketing department would love that.
          2. An open spot at his position. If the Flames were to acquire Hall (a pure LW), you’d think that one of Gaudreau or Tkachuk would have to be going out. That would create a horrible logjam/imbalance on the team, having three first line wingers on the same side.
          3. The Flames would need to clear the cap space to not only handle Hall’s current contract, but his inevitable raise next year (I believe).

          Johnny is the only asset (or potential package of assets) that checks all three boxes. Whether or not they SHOULD do it is another discussion

  • SgtRoadBlock

    trade/Dump what ever you can for picks… invite 3 to 6 PTO hope one has a Alex Chiasson year..

    My worry is we trade/ufa for a name player then we have to Protect him from the Seattle List exposing one of the Kid’s to be pick up.


    like i said at the All Star break Draft day bigger then this playoffs for us

    • SgtRoadBlock

      lol seems a small % of people on here r happy with this Roster, when some of us pointed out the errors/weakness at start of the year and after the All Star break.. it seems they have gone so deep into the Kool Aid..

      Seattle is going to get a good player from us 8F-3D-G1 is all we can save on the roster adding a big name at the Draft by a trade or etc just make even harder.

  • Garry T

    If I am not getting a first and a second for Brodie at a minimum, I am not trading him. He has fixable weaknesses which this team can work with him on. With Frolik, I do not see any weakness in his game. If you turned him loose offensively by placing him with Johnny and Monny, that line could become a strong line. Replace Frolik on the second with Lindholm and there is more balance. We now have way too many goalies. I would find a team that is interested in Gillies and do a sign and trade deal with us getting a second and a third for him. If he is not NHL ready now, he never will be.

    Thank you everybody for your comments, likes and trashes regarding my musing about how we could increase our pick base, add some quality players and address the improvement of our team future all in one go. Cheers.

  • Craigster

    I don’t think this is the year to trade Gaudreau, but I do agree that they need to look at it sooner than later (likely next off season). This franchise has been horrible about evaluating the team as a whole, and holding on to an exiting asset for too long (Iggy being the best example). I love Gaudreau, but have to agree that, because of his size, he cannot be far and away the best player on the team (too much attention in the playoffs). Boston did a re-tooling in 2015 and look at where they are.