‘They traded a first for who?’ The best hits and misses of the NHL Trade Deadline

At the time of publishing we are 24 hours away from the NHL Trade Deadline – the second most wonderful time of the year for NHL fans behind July 1st’s free agency frenzy.

For fans of cellar dwellers it’s a time to gleefully farewell overpaid veterans in favour of shiny new prospects or high draft picks.

For fans of contenders it’s a time to maniacally refresh the transactions pages to see which highly touted prospect your teams GM has just dealt for a former 30-goal scorer that is way over the hill.

For fans of teams with twitchy-on-the-hot-seat GMs, it’s a time to likely rock themselves back and forth in a catatonic state saying “Everything’s fine.”

For everybody else it is a time to sit back, relax and get a good laugh in at the expense of those other fans, or silently become jealous over the incredibly shrewd move a rival GM has just made within the same division.

There have been a lot of memorable deals over the history of the NHL – some blockbusters, some quietly brilliant and some… well some hilariously bad.  As always time is the judge and everything is always better in hindsight so let us take a small journey through some of the hits and misses of NHL trade deadlines of past*

Doug Weight1993 – Edmonton Oilers acquire Doug Weight from the New York Rangers for Esa Tikkanen.

In a rare one-for-one trade and one made on game-day in which the two teams were about to face each other – the Oilers got Doug Weight in his rookie season and he went on to spend the majority of his career with them, helping them make the playoffs but never a championship.

Tikkanen joined the Rangers a year before their infamous Stanley Cup run, reuniting with joining former teammate Mark Messier.

Fun Fact: Tikkanen was traded almost every year between the years 1993 and 1998.  He was almost the OG rental – having departed the Rangers for the Blues in the shortened 1995 season that took place straight after their Stanley Cup run.  Speaking of 1994…

1994 – New York Rangers trade Todd Marchant, Mike Gartner and Tony Amonte to the Edmonton Oilers (Marchant), the Leafs (Gartner) and Blackhawks (Amonte) for Craig MacTavish, Glenn Anderson, Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan.

This was three separate trades but I wanted to put it in here to demonstrate exactly just how badly the Rangers wanted to break that Cup curse.

Marchant (much like Weight the year before) was in his rookie season, he went on to total 498 points in 1195 games over a 21-year career.  Mike Gartner was only two seasons removed from a career high 81-point year, and would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.  Tony Amonte was in his fourth season and had just finished a career high 76-point effort the year previous – he would go on to total 900 points in 1174 games.

The Rangers of course, won the cup that year and made the playoffs in the three years following, but then endured a nine-year drought due to their vastly depleted talent pool.  This is the benchmark case for how to “Bleed your farm dry for the Cup.”

Jim Carey Capitals1997 – Boston Bruins trade Adam Oates, Bill Ranford and Rick Tocchet to the Washington Capitals for Jason Allison, Jim Carey, Anson Carter plus a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick.

This trade did not really factor into any Cup defining playoff run – neither of these teams made the playoffs that season.  I just wanted to include it so that I could say “Remember when Jim Carey was a thing?”

The flash-in-the-pan former Calder nominee lit the hockey world on fire in 1994-1995, he followed that up with a Vezina winning season and then… well, he suddenly disappeared.

He went from a 2.26 GAA and .906 SV% in 1996 to 3.82 and .871 the next season.  The Bruins gambled they could return him to his former greatness but yeah, that didn’t happen.  As fate would have it, the two teams would meet in the first round of the playoffs the following year, with the Capitals advancing in six games, going all the way to the Cup Final on the strength of Adam Oates’ performance.

2000 – New Jersey Devils trade Brendan Morrison and Denis Pederson to Vancouver for Alexander Mogilny.

Alexander Mogilny had enjoyed two 100+ point seasons but was well and truly entering the twilight years of his career having posted back-to-back 45-point campaigns with the Canucks for the past two years.  Morrison was in his sophomore season, having just completed an impressive 46-point rookie campaign.  Pederson was a throw-in.

It was the kind of Stanley Cup gamble Lou Lamoriello would want to make and one that he usually got right.  Mogilny helped the Devils to their second Cup Championship, scoring 7 points in 23 postseason games including one game winning goal.

ray-bourque-stanley-cup2000 – Boston Bruins trade Dave Andreychuk and Ray Bourque to the Colorado Avalanche for Martin Grenier, Samuel Pahlsson, Brian Rolston and 1st round pick.

This deal did not factor into the playoff outcome for the season in which it was made, but it was the inspiration for the Avalanche obtaining their second Stanley Cup Championship the following year.

Looking back on it now, the Bruins got a tiny bit ripped off as only Brian Rolston really panned out for them.  The first rounder turned into Martin Samuelsson (14 NHL games total, 1 point) while Martin Grenier was unsigned, left to walk and never played a game in a Bruins sweater.  As for Samuel Pahlsson, well if the Bruins had been patient they might have used him in the same capacity that the eventual 2007 Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks did but this Ducks fan is glad they did not.

2012 – Los Angeles Kings trade Jack Johnson and a conditional 1st round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jeff Carter.

Jonathan Quick may have won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP during the Kings first ever Stanley Cup winning run but it was the acquisition of Jeff Carter just a week before the deadline that put them over the top.  Carter totaled 13 points in 20 post-season games, including 3 game-winning goals, he also scored the Cup-winning goal.

Jack Johnson has enjoyed middling success with the Blue Jackets while the conditional pick turned into Marko Dano, who is currently playing for the Winnipeg Jets.

Filip Forsberg2013 – Washington Capitals trade Filip Forsberg to the Nashville Predators for Michael Latta and Martin Erat.

Also known as “the worst trade of the modern era” – hockey analysts are still trying to understand what the hell the Caps were thinking.  As it stands today and as it stood not less than a year after this deal was made, the clear winner was painfully obvious.

Forsberg was playing in Sweden at the time but none the less was a highly touted prospect having totaled 5 points in 6 games as captain for Sweden at the 2012 World Juniors. Hell, he was picked 11th overall just the year before, whilst Erat had compiled 21 points in 36 games during the 2012-2013 season prior to his trade.  True he was a veteran that the Capitals could use in their playoff drive with 10 years of NHL experience to contribute…but really? Martin Erat for Filip Forsberg?

By the way, Michael Latta was included in the trade but was essentially an afterthought grinder.  He hadn’t even cracked the Predators lineup, spending his time with their farm team in Milwaukee before joining the Capitals in the trade, scoring 17 points in 113 games over three seasons.  He is now back in the AHL, currently playing for the Devils farm team after a trade from the Coyotes organisation.

Erat meanwhile was traded to the Coyotes a year after the Forsberg deal and has since returned to the Czech Republic.  The Capitals have nothing left to show for the trade and the Predators have built upon the young Swedish phenom.

2014 – New York Rangers trade 2014 conditional 2nd round pick (converted to 1st) and 2015 1st round pick and Ryan Callahan to Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis.

Say what you will about the Rangers but they know how to roll the dice at the deadline like none other – except perhaps the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Martin St. Louis was upset at his ice-time being reduced in Tampa Bay and felt he had more to give.  He was subsequently dealt at the deadline but he did not go cheap.  Lightning GM Steve Yzerman obtained a Kings Ransom in the form of a 1st Rounder, a potential 1st Rounder (which was in fact the case after the Rangers made the Eastern Conference Final) and serviceable top 6 forward Ryan Callahan.

The gamble almost paid off for the Rangers.  After they were down 3 games to 1 to the Penguins in their second round series, St. Louis heard the news that his mother had suddenly passed from a heart attack.  The entire team rallied behind him and the blue shirts went on an explicable run to the Stanley Cup Finals only to fall to the evil Los Angeles Kings in 5 games (like seriously the dudes mom died, you already won a Cup like 2 years ago).  Meanwhile the 2nd rounder turned into a first and was flicked to the Islanders for two 2nd rounders in 2014 (Dominik Masin and Jonathan MacLeod), the Islanders picked Josh Ho-Sang with the first.  The 2015 1st rounder ended up with the Islanders as well and became Anthony Beauvillier because apparently Tampa Bay at the time wasn’t that keen on 1st round picks.

Anaheim Ducks v Philadelphia Flyers2015 – Anaheim Ducks trade William Karlsson, Rene Bourque & a 2015 2nd round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for James Wisniewski and a 2015 3rd round pick.

I couldn’t hate on the Kings without pointing out my own favourite team GM’s possibly worst trade of his career.  Rene Bourque was a salary dump through and through, but the price for giving up the offensive defenseman with an edge – Wisniewski; was the young Swedish center William “Wild Bill” Karlsson.

Karlsson had been coveted by Ducks scouts – in fact he was the one they desired the most of off their picks that 2011 draft (one in which they took Rickard Rakell, John Gibson and Josh Manson to name a few) which makes it all the more puzzling as to why GM Bob Murray was so willing to part with him to acquire Wisniewski who then went on to play zero playoff games, yes that’s right, zero; before leaving that following summer for Carolina.

Karlsson meanwhile is now the second leading scorer with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights and is shaping up to be their franchise number one centre.  Both draft picks have not amounted to much as yet, however the 3rd rounder the Ducks acquired has been making a tiny bit of noise in the NCAA quite recently, whilst the 2nd rounder for the Blue Jackets is still in Sweden putting up average point totals.

And that is where I will end this delve into the brief history of trade deadline acquisitions that are both good and abjectly terrible. I wish you well in your mental health over the next 24 hours and can only offer the following advice: Things could be worse, right? Unless you are a Senators fan – in which case, maybe jump on the Vegas bandwagon while you can still be considered an early adopter.

*I didn’t go further back than the 90s because…just because.

Let us know in the comments any trades that you feel I have left off – and there are many I am fully aware.

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