There are many trades made every year, some of them blockbuster and some not so much. The NHL is no exception, Blockbusters happen every year. Just last year P.K Subban got dealt for Shea Weber and Taylor Hall went for Adam Larsson. For every major blockbuster that happens there are many that seem to fall apart for one reason or another. Either no trade clauses come into play or GM’s come to their senses and change their minds. Some GMs change their minds and then live to regret it because they missed out on a steal of a deal.
All types of blockbusters that fell through are featured on this list. From Tomas Kaberle refusing to waive his no trade clause, To the Blue Jackets being gifted Cory Schneider only for them to say no. There are even 2 teams that almost changed locations. The common thread that all these trades have is they definitely would have changed the landscape of the NHL. For better or for worse these trades didn’t happen for one reason or another.
So let’s go through them together as we count down the 15 Near NHL Trades That Would Have Changed The League Forever.
15. Jeff Carter To The Toronto Maple Leafs For Tomas Kaberle
In 2008, The Philadelphia Flyers were looking to boost their defense to make a run at the Stanley Cup. They felt that young center Jeff Carter was expendable and had a deal in place with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flyers would send Carter and a 1st round pick for defenseman Tomas Kaberle. The Flyers were saved by the fact that Tomas Kaberle refused to waive his no trade clause.
Jeff Carter would stay in Philly for a few more seasons, helping them reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010. He would be traded to Columbus, and then the L.A Kings where he finally helped a team win the big one. The Kings have won 2 Stanley Cups with Jeff Carter helping to lead the way. There is some doubt if they would have won those cups without Carter, The Kings should send Kaberle a nice fruit basket or something.
14. Claude Giroux To Tampa Bay For Paul Ranger
The Flyers never learn do they? One year after almost giving up future 40+ goal scorer Jeff Carter, The Flyers tried to trade another young star in Claude Giroux. The Flyers had discussed a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Flyers would have sent Claude Giroux to the Tampa Bay Lightning for steady defenseman Paul Ranger. Ranger is nothing special but he is a stable influence on the back end. Giroux, on the other hand, is a potential game changing centerman. He has 70-90 point potential and that would have paired well with another Lightning star Steven Stamkos.
13. Tyler Seguin To the Sabres For Thomas Vanek
It feels like the Buffalo Sabres have been rebuilding since the late 2000s with no end in sight. Can you imagine if they had pulled off this blockbuster of a deal and picked up Tyler Seguin? Boston was sick of the immaturity that Seguin kept expressing and worried about his influence on other young stars. Seguin was almost moved to the Sabres for a package that included Thomas Vanek. Yet again it was the team that would have been the winner that turned the deal down. Buffalo balked at the asking price and kept Vanek, who is now not even half the player that Seguin has become. Buffalo could have kick started their rebuild and built around one of the best centermen in the entire league.
12. Cory Schneider To The Blue Jackets For Gilbert Brule
Everyone knows the Vancouver Canucks traded Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the 9th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft (Bo Horvat). Did you know that Schneider was almost a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets? Rumor says that Schneider was offered the Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Gilbert Brule. Brule had been struggling in Columbus, and the Canucks were set in net with Roberto Luongo.
The shocking part of this was that it was the Blue Jackets who turned this deal down. Considering this, it was no big shock that their GM Doug MacLean was fired shortly after. The Canucks are thought to have lost their actual trade, but this would have been a highway robbery from Columbus if they had just said yes.
11. Corey Perry To Edmonton For Mike Comrie
As a lifelong Edmonton Oilers fan, this trade not happening hurts. Corey Perry became one of the NHL’s premier power forwards and a constant threat for 30 goals and 70 points. Back before the Anaheim Ducks knew what he would be come they offered him to the Edmonton Oilers. The trade was Corey Perry and a 1st round pick to the Edmonton Oilers for Mike Comrie. This would have changed the landscape of the NHL in a big way. No dream team of Getzlaf and Perry to lead the Ducks to success. This deal fell apart because of the stupidity/cheapness of Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe. Kevin Lowe demanded Mike Comrie pay back his 2.5 million dollar signing bonus but he refused. The Ducks refused to cover it as well and Lowe canceled the move because of it. Thank god Kevin Lowe has no say in hockey decisions these days!
10. Frank Mahovlich To The Chicago Blackhawks
Frank Mahovlich is one of the most beloved Toronto Maple Leafs in team history. The former Calder trophy winner was having a good career with the Leafs before he was almost moved to the Blackhawks at the age of 24. Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard was having a few drinks with Blackhawks owner James Norris. Norris made the shocking offer of $1 million for Frank, the highest amount of money ever offered for a player at that time. Imagine pitching $1 million to land a player like that today? Ballard initially said yes before he was convinced by Toronto Maple Leafs legend Conn Smythe to change his mind. Toronto would keep Frank Mahovlich for another six years before moving him in another blockbuster trade, this one to Montreal.
9. Pavel Datsyuk To New Jersey For Scott Gomez
Well, no doubt, if this deal had gone through the Red Wings playoff streak, would have ended much sooner than last year. The story goes that the negotiations between the Detroit Red Wings and Pavel Datsyuk’s agent were not going well. Not wanting to lose an asset for nothing, Red Wings GM Ken Holland had a deal in place with then New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello. The deal would have seen Datsyuk go to the Devils for Devils pending UFA Scott Gomez.
Thankfully for the Red Wings and Holland’s job, Datsyuk signed a new deal and this trade was quickly forgotten about. Datsyuk went on to be one of the most beloved Red Wings of the late 2000s/mid-2010s. Gomez, on the other hand, would struggle after signing a big contract with the Rangers and would bounce around the league with very little success.
8. The Toronto Oilers and Edmonton Maple Leafs?
It is hard to believe Peter Pocklington at some points. The man built and then ruined the Edmonton Oilers due to his personal financial hardships. He has made a lot of claims over the years, however his most outrageous one is the one we will discuss here. According to Pocklington, he almost had a deal with embattled Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard. This was not your typical hockey trade however. The deal was to trade cities. Yes, that’s right, actually swap cities. Pocklington would bring his team to Toronto where he could showcase all his young stars and make millions more than he was in Edmonton. Pocklington would also pay Ballard $50 million. Thankfully for Oilers fans, Ballard sobered up and the deal was dead in the water, but can you imagine?
7. Patrick Roy To The Colorado Avalanche… With A Better Return For Montreal
I know what you are thinking; this trade happened so why is it on this list? Well, the fact is this trade almost happened even earlier. After a poor start to the 1995-96 season, the Montreal Canadiens had a deal in place sending Patrick Roy to the Avalanche in exchange for Owen Nolan, Stephane Fiset, and a draft pick (although some pundits say it was actually Adam Deadmarsh) Before the trade could be completed the Canadiens had fired GM Serge Savard and replaced him with Rejean Houle.
Houle wanted no part of the deal and killed it immediately. Later he would trade Patrick Roy for much less than Savard had negotiated for. It was destiny that Roy would end up with the Avalanche but I think this would have been the better move for the Canadiens. Rather than getting pieces like Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko, at least they could have received two impact players in Nolan and Deadmarsh in return.
6. Steven Stamkos To The New York Rangers
This is why owners don’t get involved in hockey trades and it almost bit the Tampa Bay Lightning in the butt. The story goes that the Lightning were frustrated with Stamkos’s lack of production during his rookie season. In jumped the ever opportunistic Glen Sather who made the offer to Lightning co-owner Len Barrie. The Rangers offered up any three of Dan Girardi, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Michael Del Zotto, or Evgeny Grachev.
Sather has said the deal was done and agreed to on a handshake with Barrie but the Lightning luckily did not follow through with the idiotic actions of their owner. Can you imagine how stacked the Rangers would have been with Stamkos leading the way? The Lightning definitely avoided disaster here.
5. Eric Lindros To The New York Rangers (As A Rookie)
It is well known that Eric Lindros was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers after refusing to play for the Quebec Nordiques the team that drafted him. Quebec worked out two deals at the same time and it required an arbitrator to pick which trade was the fairer one. Obviously, the Flyers’ bid won out and that trade helped the Colorado Avalanche win their first cup in their first year of existence after relocating.
However, the Rangers had made a pretty solid offer as well including John Vanbiesbrouck, Alex Kovalev, Tony Amonte, Doug Weight, three first round picks and $12 million. The Rangers with Lindros could have added another cup or 2 potentially. The careers of all of those players could be vastly different as they all went on to have their greatest successes off of the New York Rangers. Maybe if the deal goes through, Amonte actually wins a Cup, the Oilers never get Weight… The possibilities are endless.
4. Mark Messier/Brett Hull Blockbuster
Mark Messier was the conquering hero. He had led his New York Rangers team to their first Stanley Cup win in over four decades. Yet somehow the Rangers were close to moving Messier just a few short months later. The story goes that Messier really wanted to play for Mike Keenan who had just left the Rangers to go coach the St. Louis Blues. On the other side of the spectrum, Brett Hull wanted nothing to do with playing for a hard nosed coach like Keenan. Hull liked to stay in his wheelhouse to score goals, which was something that didn’t mix with Keenan’s style of coaching.
It seemed like the stars were going to align for this blockbuster deal until the lockout happened. The lockout threw ice on this hot trade rumor and each team kept their respective NHL Hall Of Famers.
3. Steve Yzerman To The Ottawa Senators For Alexei Yashin
Steve Yzerman is one of the most beloved players in the proud history of the Detroit Red Wings. It is shocking to think he was almost traded before any of the Stanley Cup wins he would lead his franchise to but it’s true. After their loss in the finals in 1995, the Red Wings almost pulled the trigger on a deal moving Stevie Y to the Ottawa Senators for Alexei Yashin. Thankfully ownership was vehemently against the deal and it was quickly killed but can you imagine Yzerman in another team’s jersey? His hometown Senators at that? Who knows if it becomes the Senators that are the storied franchise of the 90s/2000s and the Red Wings are just another team living on past glories. This definitely would have sent shockwaves throughout the league.
2. Vincent Lecavalier To The Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens had long coveted French-Canadian center Vincent Lecavalier. Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey was so in love with Vinnie that he almost dismantled his teams future during the 2009 offseason. A deal was in place with Vincent Lecavalier going to the Canadiens, Montreal was sending Carey Price, P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty, and a first round pick to the Lightning. Let that sink in for a moment, The team’s franchise goaltender, their future Captain, their number one defenseman and a first round pick just for a few years of a depreciating asset in Lecavalier.
The only reason the trade didn’t go through was Vinnie refused to waive his no trade clause. Gainey should thank his lucky stars that Vinnie hated the idea of playing in Montreal. The whole province would have lynched him if it went through.
1. The Great One to the Vancouver Canucks
I know to Oilers fans this seems blasphemous but it is true. Wayne Gretzky was first offered up to the Vancouver Canucks before “The Trade” to the Los Angeles Kings. The deal would have involved five first round picks and $22 million. The Canucks shockingly balked at adding the greatest player in NHL history. One has to think that Wayne Gretzky could have made all the difference in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers.
Instead, Vancouver is left to dream about what could have been. The team has still yet to win a Stanley Cup and they missed their golden opportunity by not picking up The Great One!
Ironically, Gretzky would again almost become a Canuck in the 1996 offseason, but thanks to meddling ownership, Gretzky felt uncomfortable and balked out of signing a deal.
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