Sharktistical Analysis: The Heist

I’m not going to surprise anyone when I say that the Joe Thornton trade was good for the Sharks. That’s like saying food is good for hunger, water is good for thirst, and Blue Moon is good for your soul. It’s obvious.

However, I like to get all stats-y with things, get dirty with it, if ya kno wat I’m sayin’. Therefore, I thought this week’s Sharktistical Analysis should focus on the question: “Just how insanely good was the Joe Thornton trade for the Sharks?”

Let’s put it this way, it was highway robbery. Or if you prefer an old-timey heist feel, it was like a train robbery. Imagine if you will, Doug Wilson. He’s riding bare back (and hat-less) along side the Boston Bruin Train. He steals the Hope Diamond, leaving fifteen dollars in cash, and then promptly punches the conductor in the mouth before jumping off the exploding train. I did, and it made me smile. Very extreme. You could also, if you choose, decide to use a Star Wars type metaphor… but that’s up to you.

It’s time to wade knee deep in the gooey goodness we call “STATS”. I went ahead and compiled each player’s relevant stats since the trade, up to today. Here’s what it looks like…






Joe Thornton





Wayne Primeau





Marco Sturm





Brad Stuart










Now, we all know that Joe brings something to the Sharks that can’t be measured statistically. But, even without those intangibles, we can see what the trade did for San Jose. First off, even though Joe doesn’t lead in the goals category, he has scored 61% of the goals that the THREE players he was traded for have scored combined. That's including Sturm’s high goal totals.

More importantly, Joe has out-pointed the outgoing players by 39 points over his time here due to the fact that he has 90 (!!!) more assists than Primeau, Sturm, and Stuart together. In fact, Joe was one of only three players in NHL history to record consecutive 90 assists seasons. The other two are guys you might know, some fellow named Gretsky and a chap named Lemieux. In my opinion, anything that Joe adds on top of the assists is just gravy, and he adds much, much more.

Although the +/- stat is catching flak from a lot of people, it’s hard to deny the difference between Joe and the players he was traded for. Joe’s +76 in his tenure with the Sharks is an amazing 102 points above what was given up to get him. Although the argument can be made that Sharks are a much better team than Boston, Calgary, or LA, the +/- swing is extremely lopsided in Joe’s favor. Granted, these teams haven’t been good (the LA Kings were dreadful while Stuart was there), but Sturm, Stuart, and Primeau didn’t make these teams better than they were. Thornton's presence is a different story. We have seen the influence that he has made on players such as Cheechoo, Marleau, and Setoguchi. Don’t get me wrong, these players are good (in Marleau's case, excellent). Joe makes them stars. And, although Sturm has been a high scorer in Boston, he doesn’t make the players around him any better.

Game Winning Goals is another stat that means little to many hockey fans, but I thought it was applicable to this argument. Joe has 14 game winning goals, where as Sturm, Primeau, and Stuart have just 19 together. You could say, with this info, that a higher percentage of Thornton’s goals have been more important, but that’s up to interpretation.

If you want even more statistical evidence, look to the SER. If you don't know what SER is... you have obviously been slacking on your Sharktistical homework. Take a look here if you want to catch up. Over Thornon's stay with the Sharks, he's put up an SER of 10.62. That puts him up in the elite level (over 10.00). Sturm, the main piece going to Boston, has maintained an SER of 7.64. It's above average (6.00), but far from the Thornton level.

It’s hard to get matching value for a superstar, and that’s why we see them traded so infrequently. Look to the NBA, for example. There are Kobe trade rumors almost every season, but nothing ever happens. Garnett was traded to Boston for scraps and Al Jefferson, and the Timberwolves are still cellar dwellers. In the NHL, few “game-changing” players exist. Ovechkin won’t be traded, neither will Crosby or Malkin. Zetterberg and Lecavalier, same story. Minnesota is going to have a tough time getting equal value for Gaborik, and that’s why we haven’t seen him moved yet (a trade might not even occur). GM’s are usually hesitant to trade away a player of a high caliber, and we can see why.

You could get screwed over, like Boston was. This trade was a coup for the Sharks.

Although Boston is better now than they were when the trade was made, the only piece they have retained is Sturm, and he's not solely responsible for their improvement. The Sharks, at the same time, have arguably the best team in recent history. It's highlighted by a young player in his prime who has, and will, make them contenders for years to come.

*Don't forget to vote in the "Sharks Greats: Center" Poll!*