The NHL trade deadline is fast approaching and rumours are running wild on who will be wearing new uniforms in a couple of days. While most rumours turn out to be false, (or wishful thinking) some do end up happening.
The trade deadline is a fascinating day as TSN devotes its entire day to breaking deals and interviewing the people involved in the trade. While most deals end up not amounting to much, some have either helped teams win the Stanley Cup, or hurt a franchise for many years. Here are the 10 biggest trades in trade deadline history.
1980: Los Angeles trades Butch Goring to New York Islanders for Dave Lewis and Billy Harris.
The deal that begat a dynasty. Also the reason why trade deadline day has become the monster that it is. Every team wants to make the perfect deal to complete the final piece of the puzzle. The New York Islanders did exactly that in 1980, when they acquired Goring from the Kings. However, it wasn’t an easy trade to make. Islanders general manager Bill Torrey knew he needed a second line centre to give support to Bryan Trottier. Torrey knew that Goring was available but didn’t want to lose two players he was fond of. Harris was an original Islander, as he was a member of the inaugural Islander team back in 1972. Harris was part of the bad times in the early years, and was now ready to taste some of the success that the Islanders were building towards. Harris was very popular in the dressing room to the point where goal scoring sensation Mike Bossy called Harris a “mentor.” Lewis was a young defenceman with terrific upside. He was expected to be Denis Potvin’s partner on the blue line. However, young players such as Duane Sutter and 1980 Miracle On Ice member Ken Morrow were quickly developing into proven assets, thus making Harris and Lewis vulnerable. Tears flowed when the trade was announced as both Harris and Lewis left the Nassau Coliseum. But Goring was exactly what the Islanders needed, strengthening their depth up the middle, by providing excellent two-way play. Goring ended up being the final piece of the puzzle as the Islanders forged their way to four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983. Goring won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1981. To this day, every general manager at the trade deadline cites this deal as the one they all want to make.
1981: Buffalo trades Rick Martin to Los Angeles for a first round draft pick in 1983 and a third round pick in 1981.
The Los Angeles Kings thought they were close to a Stanley Cup in 1981. Led by the Triple Crown Line of Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer, the Kings were a high-scoring, entertaining team that struck fear in opposing goalies that season. However, disaster struck for the Kings on March 2 when Simmer’s season came to an end after suffering a broken leg when he collided with Borje Salming of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and fell awkwardly into the boards. Simmer screamed in pain as the crowd at Maple Leaf Gardens were stunned by the injury. The Kings needed someone to replace Simmer and Rick Martin was available. The Sabres left winger was struggling to find ice time in Buffalo, as a knee injury early in the season was hampering his career. Sabres general manager Scotty Bowman thought Martin’s career was basically over but knew the Kings were desperate for a left winger. Martin arrived in Los Angeles hoping to put his injury woes behind him, and develop chemistry with Dionne and Taylor. It turned out to be catastrophic for the Kings. Martin only appeared in one regular season game and one playoff game, as his knee never sufficiently healed. The Kings were bounced in the first round by the New York Rangers. The next season, Martin only played three games, scoring once before retiring due to his failing knee. Meanwhile, the Sabres waited till 1983, to make hay on the deal. The Kings missed the playoffs in 1983, giving the Sabres a top five selection in the entry draft. Buffalo selected Tom Barrasso with that pick and it turned out handsomely for the Sabres. Barrasso won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie and the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie that season. Martin tragically passed away in 2011 from a heart attack. The autopsy report showed that Martin suffered from CTE after suffering a concussion in the 1978 playoffs.
1988: Edmonton trades Andy Moog to Boston for Bill Ranford and Geoff Courtnall.
The Edmonton Oilers had a big problem on their hands in 1988 and his name was Andy Moog. The longtime Oiler goaltender was involved in a bitter contract dispute with Oilers management. Instead of reporting to training camp at the start of the 1987-88 season, Moog held out and opted to join Team Canada’s national hockey program. The Oilers were resolute in their demand that Moog wasn’t getting a dollar more than the original offer. Besides, Grant Fuhr had taken over as the number one goalie in the Alberta capital. Moog was allowed to play for Canada at the 1988 Winter Olympics but lost that starting job to Sean Burke during the tournament. After the Olympics, Moog sat at home and pouted while the Oilers were struggling to find their groove. General manager Glen Sather finally decided to pull the trigger, as he dealt Moog to Boston for young goalie Bill Ranford and left winger Geoff Courtnall. The deal seemed to wake up the Oilers as they no longer had to answer questions about Moog’s future. Ironically, the Oilers and Bruins met in the Stanley Cup Final in 1988. It was no contest as the Oilers easily swept the Bruins to win their fourth Stanley Cup in five years. They met again in the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals. This time it was Ranford who haunted his former team as he led the Oilers to their fifth Stanley Cup in seven years. Ranford won the Conn Smythe Trophy that season. Moog was a solid goalie for Boston, but he never could lead them to the promised land.
1991: Hartford trades Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings to Pittsburgh for John Cullen, Zarley Zalapski and Jeff Parker.
The Pittsburgh Penguins knew they were close to a Stanley Cup in 1991. With the likes of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, the Penguins were sitting atop in the Patrick Division, but felt they were missing some pieces to the puzzle. General manager Craig Patrick knew he needed a second line centre to compliment Lemieux as well as a physical defenceman. Patrick also knew he had to pay a huge price to get what he wanted. When the Hartford Whalers informed Patrick that Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson were available for the right price, Patrick knew he had to strike while the iron was hot. Francis was the perfect fit behind Lemieux at centre while Samuelsson was the physical presence the Penguins desperately needed on the blue line. The price was steep. John Cullen was enjoying a career season in Pittsburgh, tallying 31 goals and 63 assists in 65 games for Pittsburgh. Zarley Zalapski was an offensive defenceman who had plenty of upside. Patrick decided to go ahead with the deal and it paid off for Pittsburgh. Francis was terrific for the Pens while Samuelsson was a menace for opposing forwards, particularly Cam Neely. Pittsburgh went on to win Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. Cullen never found his game in Hartford, and bounced around the NHL, until he was diagnosed with Non-hodgkin lymphoma in 1997 which ended his career. Zalapski was decent with the Whalers, scoring 20 goals in the 1991-92 season. But the team struggled and the defenceman ended up with three different teams before he headed to Europe to finish his career. The trade was the beginning of the end for the Whalers franchise in Hartford. Many fans were upset that Francis was traded and the Hartford Civic Centre saw many empty seats thereafter. The Whalers moved to Carolina in 1997, becoming the Carolina Hurricanes.
1994: New York Rangers trade Mike Gartner to Toronto for Glenn Anderson, Scott Malone and a fourth round pick in the 1994 entry draft.
The New York Rangers were desperate to end the 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994. Many felt the Rangers were the best team in the NHL, but general manager Neil Smith and coach Mike Keenan needed to be sure they were playoff ready. Mike Gartner was enjoying a terrific season with the Broadway Blueshirts, tallying 28 goals and 24 assists in 71 games for the Rangers. But Keenan was concerned with Gartner’s playoff history which was littered with inconsistency and disappointment. Keenan wanted someone with championship experience and convinced Smith to go after Glenn Anderson. The Leafs were also in the hunt for the Stanley Cup but thought Anderson was past his prime, despite posting 17 goals and 18 assists in 73 games. Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher thought Gartner would be the ideal right winger to compliment Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark. When the deal was announced, both fan bases declared they had won the trade. Gartner joined Gilmour and Clark to form a solid top line for the Leafs. Anderson joined his buddy from Edmonton Mark Messier to help end the Rangers drought. Gartner did have a decent playoff for the Leafs, recording 5 goals and 6 assists, including a crucial overtime winner in Game 6 of the second round against San Jose. But the Leafs were eliminated by Vancouver in five games in the Western Conference Final. The Rangers on the other hand ended their long drought by hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1940. Anderson didn’t put up huge numbers, recording 3 goals and 3 assists in the playoffs, but his experience and winning attitude were vital in the Rangers dressing room.
2000: Boston trades Ray Bourque and Dave Andreychuk to Colorado for Brian Rolston, Samuel Pahlsson, Martin Grenier and a first round pick in the 2000 entry draft.
Ray Bourque wanted to win a Stanley Cup very badly. He also wanted to stay loyal to the Boston Bruins. However, the Bruins were having a terrible season in 1999-00, and were also in the midst of some legal wrangling after Marty McSorley slashed Donald Brashear in the head rendering Brashear unconscious. Bourque knew he could stay in Boston for life and go to the hall of fame, but he wanted one last chance to win Lord Stanley’s Mug. Bourque had enough and requested a trade out of Boston. The Philadelphia Flyers were the favourites to acquire Bourque but Bruins general manager Harry Sinden didn’t like the offer from Philly. When the Colorado Avalanche approached the Bruins with their offer, Sinden couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Despite his desire to play on the east coast, Bourque agreed to go west to Denver to chase after the Cup. The Avalanche were loaded for a Cup run, but fell short in 2000, when the Dallas Stars knocked out Colorado in the Western Conference Final. Bourque decided to play one more season, hoping Colorado would go over the top. The Avalanche did win the Stanley Cup in 2001. When the Cup was presented to captain Joe Sakic, he handed it over to Ray Bourque who finally got to taste the glory of a championship.
2000: Vancouver trades Alexander Mogilny to New Jersey for Brendan Morrison and Denis Pederson.
The New Jersey Devils were looking for a Stanley Cup in 2000. The Vancouver Canucks were thinking about the future in 2000. Alexander Mogilny was a prolific scorer for 12 seasons in the NHL but the Stanley Cup had eluded him. When the Canucks fell on hard times in the late 1990s, Mogilny sensed this and asked to be dealt away from the West Coast. The Devils needed a goal scorer to go along with their stifling defense. Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello had done a great job at the draft table, loading up the Devils with plenty of prospects. The one prospect the Canucks coveted the most was University of Michigan centre Brendan Morrison, a native of nearby Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. The Devils even threw in former first round selection Denis Pederson to sweeten the pot. The Canucks bit and the deal was made. Mogilny didn’t light up the scoreboard in New Jersey, but he did provide more space for the likes of Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora. The Devils captured the Stanley Cup that season, as Mogilny tallies 4 goals and 3 assists in the playoffs. The Canucks didn’t fare badly either. Morrison turned out quite nicely for his hometown team as he formed a line with Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi that gave the Canucks a legitimate top line. Pederson, on the other hand didn’t pan out and disappeared very shortly after the deal.
2001: Los Angeles trades Rob Blake and Steve Reinprecht to Colorado for Adam Deadmarsh, Aaron Miller, David Steckel and a conditional draft pick.
When the Colorado Avalanche acquire Ray Bourque at the 2000 trade deadline, they thought they had acquired the final piece of the Stanley Cup puzzle. However, the Avalanche fell to the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final, thus sending them back to the drawing board. Colorado came back in the 2000-01 season with a purpose and raced out to the best record in the regular season. But general manager Pierre Lacroix wasn’t convinced the Avalanche had all the pieces for a Cup run. When word spread that Los Angeles Kings defenceman Rob Blake wanted out of Tinseltown, Lacroix quickly went to work. Before long, the trigger was pulled on a blockbuster deal. The Avalanche gave up rising star Adam Deadmarsh, gritty forward Aaron Miller and prospects to get the hard-hitting Blake and checking forward Steve Reinprecht. The deal came to a head in the second round of the playoffs when the Kings and Avalanche squared off. It looked like the Avalanche would run away with the series after taking a 3-1 lead. But the Kings fought back, forcing a Game 7, after posting consecutive 1-0 victories, the latter decided in double overtime. It was Blake who opened the scoring in Game 7 and the Avalanche took it from there, winning the game 5-1 and the series 4-3. Colorado went on to win the Stanley Cup in 2001. Adam Deadmarsh’s career came to a sad end in the 2002-03 seaso as he sustained a career ending concussion, after getting knocked out by Ed Jovanovski in a fight.
2007: St. Louis trades Keith Tkachuk to Atlanta for Glenn Metropolit, 1st and 3rd round draft picks in 2007 and a 2nd round pick in 2008.
The trade that killed a franchise. The Atlanta Thrashers were enjoying their best season in 2006-07 but felt they could take a run at the Stanley Cup. The Thrashers were loaded with skilled, finesse players like Marian Hossa, Ilya Kovalchuk and Vyacheslav Kozlov but needed more grit up front. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues were in the process of rebuilding as the franchise had fallen on hard times. The Blues decided to shop their most prized asset Keith Tkachuk. The power forward was hoping to provide the Thrashers the finishing touch to their season. Instead, Tkachuk provided the finishing touch to the franchise. The Thrashers did win the Southeast Division but were swept in the first round by the New York Rangers. Tkachuk scored only once in the playoffs, which only added to his reputation as a playoff choker. Tkachuk was an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and he decided to return to St. Louis. The Thrashers never recovered from this playoff disaster. Not only did they get swept, but they mortgaged too many draft picks to get a rental. The Thrashers couldn’t recapture the magic of the 2006-07 regular season and the fans stayed away from Phillips Arena. In 2011, the Thrashers were sold to True North Sports & Entertainment and the franchise relocated to Winnipeg.
2009: Phoenix trades Olli Jokinen and a third round pick in the 2009 draft to Calgary for Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust and a conditional draft pick.
The Calgary Flames were hoping to recapture the magic that led them on a magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004. General manager Darryl Sutter and coach Mike Keenan firmly believed this group was good enough for a run at the Cup. All they needed was one more piece, a centre to be the setup man for Jarome Iginla. The Flames realized that Olli Jokinen was available and acquired him from the Phoenix Coyotes. Jokinen enjoyed two excellent seasons while with the Florida Panthers, but had struggled to find his game in the desert. The Flames were hoping that the cool Canadian air of Calgary would help him rediscover his magic touch. Jokinen did lead the Flames in scoring in the playoffs, but he and Iginla had difficulty finding the right chemistry on the ice. Add to the fact the Flames defense had all sorts of problems handling the forwards of the Chicago Blackhawks proved to be the death knell for the Flames. The Blackhawks eliminated the Flames in six games and there was no Red Mile parties on 17th Avenue. Jokinen was traded at the 2010 trade deadline to the New York Rangers, but came back to Calgary in time for the 2010-11 season. The Flames haven’t made the playoffs since 2009.
You can follow me on Twitter @jstar1973