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11 Biggest NHL Trade Deadline Deals

by: Esteban On  Friday, February 24, 2012

biggest nhl trade deadline deals

The 2012 NHL trade deadline is almost here, and after weeks of rampant speculation and maneuvering, yesterday finally saw the first big move: Columbus’ Jeff Carter for Los Angeles’ Jack Johnson. And with just one weekend left for desperate NHL general managers to make or break their teams, we could see even more action by Monday. (Latest rumor: Toronto GM Brian Burke looking to trade himself, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the CN Tower to Vancouver for Roberto Luongo and a bag of Doritos.)

While we wait to see how this year’s trade deadline plays out—and in particular, whether the mighty Rick Nash is able to escape from Columbus—let’s take a look at 11 of the biggest deadline deals from years past. Some of them were big because they involved big stars. Others were big because they involved big prospects. And still others were big because they led to a Stanley Cup.

So kick back, have a look, and then start fantasizing about what lies ahead for your favorite team.

11. Marian Hossa to Pittsburgh

marian hossa penguins deadline trade

At the 2008 deadline, the Penguins shipped Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen to Atlanta for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. Obviously, the centerpiece of this deal was Hossa.

Now, Hossa was an effective rental, helping the Penguins reach the Cup finals against Detroit. But the most interesting thing about this trade is how it sent Hossa on a three-season, three-team journey to find a team that could get his name on the cup.

After his Penguins lost to Detroit in 2008, he signed with the Red Wings. Then the Red Wings lost to the Penguins the following year, so Hossa signed with the Blackhawks. And it was with them that he finally won a cup in 2010.

Some people didn’t like all the club-hopping, but I kind of admire a guy who takes one-year deals instead of bigger guaranteed money simply because he wants to win. That’s what makes hockey different from the other big pro sports.

10. St. Louis and Denver swap young stars

erik johnson avalanche deadline trade

I had to throw a recent blockbuster into the fold, so I chose last year’s big deadline deal.

In 2011, the Blues sent Erik Johnson—former #1 pick, Olympic silver medalist, and Mr. Future-of-the-Franchise—along with defensive forward Jay McClement to the Avalanche for hot young power forward Christ Stewart and a rookie named Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, the trade was a big deal because it was between two young, up-and-coming teams that decided to make drastic changes. Since then, St. Louis has gotten the better of the deal but, surprisingly, not for the reason one would have predicted.

While both Stewart and Johnson have had so-so years, Kevin Shattenkirk has turned into one of the NHLs best puck-moving defensemen. Through Thursday, the guy has 27 point and is a stout +23.

9. Chelios to Detroit


In 1999, the Blackhawks traded legend Chris Chelios to Detroit for Anders Eriksson and two first round draft picks.

At the time, Chelios was still one of the league’s top defensemen, but at 37 the Hawks must have figured he was just about done. Of course, as we all know, the man went on to play another 10 years and won 2 Stanley Cups with the Red Wings. Meanwhile, Eriksson went one to do jack squat for Chicago.


8. Mogilny for Morrison

mogilny devils trade deadline

Here’s a big deadline deal that worked out well for both sides. In 2000, the Canucks sent seemingly-past-his-prime sniper Alexander Mogilny to the Devils for a young Brendan Morrison. In the short term, Mogilny helped the Devils win the Cup in 2000, then put up 43 goals the next season and helped them reach the finals again. In the long term, Morrison became a top-three power forward for the Canucks for 7 seasons, playing on a line with Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi.

7. Moog for Ranford


The dynasty Edmonton Oilers had one of the best goalie tandems the NHL had seen since Jacues Plante and Glenn Hall were co-Vezina winners for the St. Louis Blues in 1969: Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog. Unfortunately, the second half of this tandem didn’t like being second, and in 1987-88 he demanded a trade. So the Oilers shipped him up to Boston for Bill Ranford.

That season, the Oilers beat the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. Then, two years later in 1990, they beat the Bruins in the Finals again. That time, Grant Fuhr was injured, so it was Bill Ranford who had the pleasure of mopping the floor with the Bruins.

6. '94 Rangers get Noonan, Matteau, and Glenn Anderson

staphane matteau goal trade deadline

This is actually two separate deals, but I asked the judges (my dog and his stuffed squirrel) and they said I can combine them here.

You can chalk this trade of to Mike Keenan’s grand theory of winning at hockey: acquire every player you can from the 1980s Oilers dynasty. And if that doesn’t work, acquire every player you can who has ever played for you before.

So in 1994, the Rangers dealt young offensive star Tony Amonte to the Blackhawks for old Keenan favorites Brian Noonan and Stephane Matteau. Then they shipped scoring legend Mike Gartner (old but still effective) to Toronto for Glenn Anderson (also old, but less effective) and some other considerations. Thus, Anderson was reunited with old Oilers teammates Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Esa Tikkanen, and Craig MacTavish.

Of course, the Rangers went on to win the cup in 1994, and Matteau scored a legendary Game 7 overtime goal against the Devils in the Coference Finals.

But was Keenan a genius for assembling a team of former Oilers and Keenan favorites? The judges (my dog and his stuffed squirrel) say no. He was just lucky to have Mark Messier.

Keenan tried the same thing in St. Louis the next three years, running Brett Hull out of town in favor of graybeards Anderson, Tikkanen, Matteau, MacTavish, and Statsny. Somehow their magical winning powers failed to bring the Cup to the Midwest.

5. Tampa stocks up


In 1998, the Lightning sent Bryan Marchment, David Shaw, and their 1st Round draft pick to San Jose in exchange for Andrei Nazarov and the Panthers’ 1st Round draft pick (which the Sharks had previously acquired). The Lightning also acquired a 3rd Round draft pick from the Flames in a separate deal.

Was this deal pure genius? Not. At. All.

Tampa Bay was the worst team in hockey that year by 20 points, so they actually had a 48.2% chance of getting the first pick. However, they lucked out big time when the 2nd-worst team in the NHL—the Panthers, whose pick they had acquired—won the draft lottery.

With that 1st overall pick, the Lightning selected some guy named Vinny Lecavalier. Meanwhile, Tampa’s original pick, which was 2nd, wound up with Nashville, who selected the sturdy but hardly superstar-like David Legwand.

Oh, and that 3rd Round pick acquired from the Flames? Yeah, that turned into Brad Richards.

So thanks to some crazy luck, the Lightning got two of the three main pieces (the third being Martin St. Louis) to their 2004 Stanley Cup victory.

4. Bourque leaves Boston


Bourque was a beloved Boston icon, right up there behind Fisk, Orr, and Pesky. But even the Bruins’ most die-hard fans wanted him to be traded away at the 2000 deadline.

And of course he was traded to Colorado, along with Dave Andreychuk, in exchange for Brian Ralston, Samuel Phalsson, and a 1st Round draft pick.

Did this trade put Colorado over the top and help them win that Cup the next year? It helped for sure, but a couple of guys named Sakic and Foresberg were already pretty good. Still, this trade is one of the biggest in NHL history for sentimental reasons, so here is sits at #4 on this list.

3. North Stars and Capitals: the supertrade

dino Ciccarelli capitals trade deadline

Behold one of the most star-studded trades in league history: in 1989 the North Stars acquired Mike Gartner (708 career goals) and Larry Murphy from the Caps in exchange for Dino Ciccarelli (608 career goals) and Bob Rouse.

Neither of those teams won the Cup that year, but everyone involved played well for their respective new teams. So it was a win-win.

2. Islanders get the last piece of the puzzle

butch goring islanders trade deadline

In 1980, the Kings traded Butch Goring to the Islanders in exchange for Billy Harris and Dave Lewis.

The new Kings were good players, but the speedy center Goring turned out to be the last piece of the puzzle for the Islanders. In 1980, he put up 19 points in 21 playoff games as the Islanders won the first of four straight Stanley Cups. In 1981, Goring would put up 20 points in 18 games and win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.

So yeah, that was a pretty huge deal.

1. Francis and Ulf become Penguins

penguins 1991 cup

In 1991, Penguins fans were pissed when the team traded young point-producing stud John Cullen, along with Jeff Parker and Zarley Zalapski, for the seemingly less-good Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson, and Grant Jennings.

They didn’t mind so much when the Penguins promptly won two consecutive Stanley Cups.

Turns out, the Penguins were overflowing with talent to which Francis was a perfect compliment. He was the #2 center behind some dude named Mario, and joined a team with scrubs named Jaromir Jagr, Kevin Stevens, Mark Recchi, Paul Coffey, and Larry Murphy.

And speaking of Coffey, he and Ulf were a defensive match made in heaven.

Things didn’t work out as well for the Whalers.