Recency bias and the trade deadline

Photo credit:David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
1 year ago
It’s not often that you hear much praise for recency bias, but I’ll make the argument that coming into the trade deadline it might be one of those times you lean into it a little. After all, would you rather bring in someone who is riding a heater or someone who has significantly seen the performance fall off, and then you are crossing your fingers that they’ll come back around at the right time? I think the correct answer is you want someone who has been consistent and performing at a rate they can sustain, but alas Erik Karlsson is expensive and there is only one Timo Meier out there.
Really the hope with this exercise is less about panicking about those who have fallen off, and more about identifying players who are in the process of getting back on track to where they should be. I’d share the data table and then share a few players that stood out to me when looking at which trade targets have performed the best since January 1st.
So first of all, so explainers on the data. The data from the left up to P/60 is all situation data, after that looking at the On Ice numbers for CF, GF, and xG are all looking at 5v5. The numbers highlighted in blue are the top ten players on the list in that category.
The first thing that stands out to me are two players who are certainly finding their game of late. Brock Boeser might not be scoring goals at the rate you’d hope to see from him yet, but he is picking up points, and his 15 points in 18 games certainly illustrate that he can be a lower cost to acquire addition to the top six of the Leafs. Figuring out how his contract fits with the Leafs long term might be a discussion that will need to continue beyond this season, but for now, he’s an interesting target.
Similarly, it doesn’t seem many people have been paying attention to Jonathan Drouin’s assist heater. He’s a highly skilled player that has struggled in Montreal and maybe bringing him in when he’s red hot is an underrated low cost addition.
While everyone has been focusing on Sam Lafferty as a savvy low cap hit addition from Chicago, Taylor Raddysh looks to be just as good an option.
He’s not fully there yet, but Ivan Barbashev might have turned a corner and is at least improving better than he did in the first half of the year. In contrast, Tyler Bertuzzi is giving everyone a whole lot of nothing.
Shayne Gostisbehere is another player who looks like he’s gone cold at the wrong time, whereas John Klingberg is starting to look like he really wants that trade.
There are also a number of players who are demonstrating the difference between having bad differentials because they play on a bad team, and being a player with truly horrific on-ice differentials. The players with a percentage consistently in the 30-40% range need some serious “buyer beware” attached to them, and anyone thinking that Jonathan Toews might be a capable 3C option might want to spend a bit of time looking at these numbers.
Now the fun thing about recency bias is that bias is right in the name. Take all these numbers with a grain of salt as some people just have a bad month, that seems especially understandable when January and February are involved. I will however stand by the fact that what Patrick Kane has shown people in the past month is far more likely to be what you get out of Patrick Kane as a deadline rental than anything of the greatest moments of his career so far.
Obviously, the best bets remain Timo Meier and Erik Karlsson but with a finite number of blue chip options available, going with the players who are performing now seems like a better option than chasing players that have fallen off in the second half or haven’t been able to get their game together at all this season.

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