Hockey, Sports, The Campaign to Fire Brian Burke

The Campaign to Fire Dave Nonis: The Winnik Trade

Pittsburgh Penguins get: Daniel Winnik, 29, LW/C:

  • UFA
  • 7G, 18A for 25P, +15; 16:50 ATOI in 58 games with the Leafs
  • 82-game average: 8G, 18A for 26P, +3; 15:20 ATOI


Toronto Maple Leafs Leafs get:

Zach Sill, 26, C:
  • UFA
  • 1G, 2A for 3P, -7; 8:18 ATOI in 42 games with the Pens
  • 33, 40 277 82-game AHL average: 10G, 12A for 22P, +7


2016 2nd Round Pick
4th Round Pick



Winnik is having a career year offensively and so the Leafs are wise to trade him given this, his age and the fact that he is an UFA. They are essentially three getting assets for free here., which is great But there are two big buts.

  • The first is that Sill appears to be a terrible hockey player. He puts up 3rd line numbers in the AHL. Apparently the Leafs had to take him on in order to maintain enough players on the roster or something like that, but I remain dubious of acquiring an “asset” like this. What’s his value? Maybe a 6th or 7th? He’s a warm body. Also, the Leafs are retaining some of Winnik’s salary to get Sill and these picks. And that hurts a bit.
  • The second is likely out of Nonis’ hands, if he was even aware of it, but it still hurts just slightly. Recently, someone posted an article on PPP demonstrating that Winnik is more valuable (this year) than Antoine Vermette, supposedly one of the prize pieces of deadline day this year. Now, I cannot find that article for the life of me – seriously, I did a site search and still couldn’t find it – but it made a number of interesting points:
    • This year, Winnik has been more efficient (not necessarily better) offensively, and way, way, way better defensively than Vermette. I.e. Winnik is the better player. It did this using “fancy stats,” which I am a proponent of, even if I don”t fully grasp all of them – and never use them in these posts for that reason.
    • The post the argued that Nonis should show people this and tell them Winnik is more valuable than Vermette. And hopefully that would net the Leafs a 1st rounder.
    • Now, I’m not sure this is a completely valid argument, no matter how tantalizing. Winnik is having an absolutely career year – topping even his lockout-shortened success of 2013 – but the bigger flaw is to assume that Winnik would remain this good offensively, not just on another team, but with even more ice-time. It doesn’t scale that way, all the time. Just because you put up x points per 60 minutes playing 16 minutes per game does not mean you will do so at 19 minutes per game. But it does at least make you wonder about whether or not Winnik would be even more valuable on a good to great team, instead of a terrible one.
    • (As an aside: I don’t know why we focus on points per 60 minutes. We should focus on points per 18 minutes or 20 minutes for forwards and points per 24 minutes or 22 minutes for D instead. That is a lot closer to true points per game, which is what we are trying to assess. It’s like in basketball where people talk about points per 48 minutes sound weird, because you really want to focus on points per 36 minutes, as Basketball Reference does. Barely anyone plays 48 minutes in a game ever. Only goalies play 60 minutes in the NHL. It makes no sense.)

So what I am trying to say is that I was kind of hoping that the “fancy stats”revolution in the NHL would net the Leafs more of a return for Winnik. I guess we’re either still a long way from valuable being properly recognized or it’s a buyer’s market or some people (not the Leafs) are smarter than I give them credit for. Or some combination of all three.

Anyway, I shouldn’t be disappointed with this haul, even though I am.

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