Ah, the NHL Trade Deadline. For some hockey fans it's the most wonderful time of the year, but for others it's a time that invokes fear and the hugging of top prospects and assets. Every year we see plenty of big trades that change the outlook of the National Hockey League. Many of those deals are praised from the moments they are made, while others are torn apart by pundits and analysts alike. Regardless of how people feel about them at the time, the deals that are good usually end up with the player acquired by the buying team hoisting the Stanley Cup, and the deals that do not go as planned end up with those players leaving for another team, having purged the team that acquired them of assets.
It's one of the toughest times of the year for general managers, as they are forced to try to understand whether their teams are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders or not with no room for error. A team can go all in, they can beat around the bush, or they can choose to be sellers. There are so many angles in which General Managers can fail at the deadline, be it through selling when the team actually had a chance, buying when the team didn't have an actual chance, or standing pat when the window was open. Let's take a look at 15 deals made by NHL General Managers in recent years that those GMs would like a re-do on.
15 2013 Trade Deadline - Capitals Trade Filip Forsberg
In what will likely go down as the worst trade in Washington Capitals history, the Capitals traded Filip Forsberg and a bit more to the Washington Capitals for Martin Erat at the 2013 Trade Deadline. Let's break this down a bit further. Forsberg was the top prospect in the Capitals system, an NHL ready forward under the age of 20. Martin Erat was an albatross of a contract that only wanted to play for the Capitals, tying the Predators' hands. With that in mind, the Capitals should have been able to acquire Erat for pennies on the dollar. Instead, they dealt their top prospect for him, watching Forsberg develop into an elite scorer, while paying Erat to eventually leave the team. Worst deal in team history.
14 2017 Trade Deadline - Wild Acquire Martin Hanzal
Yes, we know that this deal happened less than 48 hours ago, but we're already ready to say it's one that Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher will want back. Perhaps Hanzal can win the Stanley Cup for the Wild and prove us wrong, but we do not see that happening. Hanzal will at best be a complementary player in Minnesota, bringing the Coyotes a first round draft pick, a second round pick, and more. That's the same Martin Hanzal that has never scored 20 goals in a season, and has topped out at 41 points in a single season. He was simply acquired because he was the biggest forward name available, which is no reason to make a move at all, better yet for that price.
13 2011 Trade Deadline - Stars Acquire Alex Goligoski
This is not an example of a player being bad at hockey by any means. Alex Goligoski was one of the best defensemen on the Dallas Stars' roster for a number of years. He led the defense and was a fan favorite for years before he left for the Arizona Coyotes this past off-season. Yet what the Stars gave up to acquire Goligoski from the Pittsburgh Penguins was far, far too much. Pittsburgh gained James Neal and Matt Niskanen from the Stars, giving them a top line forward and a top pair defenseman in exchange for a top pair defenseman. Thus, the Stars gave up a top line forward for a straight swap of defensemen essentially. Doesn't make the most sense now does it?
12 2016 Trade Deadline - Rangers Acquire Eric Staal
At the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, it was obvious to everyone except for the New York Rangers that the biggest need in the Big Apple was a defenseman. The Rangers saw that their own defenseman Marc Staal's brother, Eric was available for acquisition in the trade market. Eric Staal had a full no movement clause, so he had the right to essentially choose his destination in a trade. Enter the Rangers and a match between the Rangers and the Hurricanes. New York decided to acquire Staal instead of Cam Atkinson or a defenseman, moving two 2nd round picks and a top prospect for Staal. Staal immediately fell out of position in New York, failing to contribute in any meaningful way and leaving in the off-season.
11 2013 Trade Deadline - Rangers Acquire Ryan Clowe
In a familiar turn of events, the Rangers needed one thing so they acquired another. The 2013 New York Rangers needed scoring and/or defense help, so of course they got one of the few options on the market that provided neither. Ryan Clowe had zero goals to his name when the Rangers acquired him from the San Jose Sharks at the deadline. With that in mind his price tag must have been low, right? You'd think so. But instead, he cost the Rangers two second round picks and a third round pick. For contextual purposes, the Rangers were already low on future draft picks when they made the deal. The deal made no sense at the time and resulted as all expected it to.
10 2013 Trade Deadline - Blue Jackets Acquire Marian Gaborik
The New York Rangers were busy at the 2013 Trade Deadline, agreeing to trade Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, and John Moore on the same day as their Clowe move. While the Clowe move was a disaster for the Rangers, the Rangers were on the other end of the disaster in the Gaborik trade. The Rangers got a top six forward, a solid fourth liner, and a bottom pair defenseman for one year of Marian Gaborik. Even worse for the Blue Jackets, Gaborik's addition did not end up aiding them to a playoff berth, and the team eventually moved Gaborik in a minor deal. They lost valuable depth for a missed post-season attempt. It's safe to say, it did not go as planned.
9 2015 Trade Deadline - Red Wings Acquire Erik Cole
The Detroit Red Wings have made the post-season every year for over two decades now. In 2015, they wanted to not only extend that streak, but also further their chances of winning the Stanley Cup. To do so, they thought they needed additional depth up front. Erik Cole wished to be traded by the Dallas Stars to a contender, so there was a match made in heaven. Unfortunately for Detroit, they far over-valued the player they were acquiring as many teams do, shipping away Mattias Janmark, a highly valuable young depth player, and a 2nd round pick for Cole. Cole was a fine addition for the Red Wings, but likely should have cost at most a third or fourth round pick. Not a valuable future piece and more.
8 2014 Trade Deadline - Wild Acquire Matt Moulson
The Minnesota Wild decided that Matt Moulson's struggles after leaving the New York Islanders for the Buffalo Sabres in a trade were not indicative of his success stemming from playing with John Tavares, but rather indicative of a rough stretch that would not last. The Minnesota Wild were wrong. The Wild acquired Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick, dealing away Torrey Mitchell and two second round picks. Considering the Wild's lack of assets, trading away two second round draft picks was no minor decision. Moulson struggled mightily in Minnesota, both through injuries and ineffectiveness. He made no lasting impression and was one of the main reasons the Wild failed to advance any further than they normally did in the playoffs. A bold move, but a misguided move.
7 2014 Trade Deadline - Canadiens Acquire Thomas Vanek
The worst trade of the 2014 season was the one when the New York Islanders acquired Thomas Vanek from the Buffalo Sabres. However, that was not at the Trade Deadline, but Thomas Vanek was still traded at the Deadline anyway. The Islanders realized they were not about to make the playoffs, so they moved Vanek at the last minute to the Montreal Canadiens. They were unable to recoup many of the assets they lost, but they still managed to come out on top in the trade. Montreal dealt a second round pick and a prospect to the Islanders, only to see Vanek end up in the doghouse for the majority of the regular season and the playoffs. Vanek left Canadiens fans angry, not with a Stanley Cup.
6 2014 Trade Deadline - Blue Jackets Trade Marian Gaborik
That deal we were talking about earlier involving Marian Gaborik? Yeah, this was just as bad as the one the Columbus Blue Jackets made to acquire Marian Gaborik. Gaborik's Blue Jackets tenure did not go as planned to say the least. He was solid for a year, but the Blue Jackets were not about to make the playoffs or re-sign their scoring winger. The Los Angeles Kings badly needed additional scoring depth, so they wanted to acquire Gaborik. Rather than acquiring a first round pick for the best scoring forward available on the market, the Blue Jackets only managed to bring in a few second and third round picks that amounted to far less than they should have been able to get for Gaborik.
5 2011 Trade Deadline - Avalanche Acquire Erik Johnson
This is another example of a trade in which the player acquired is not the problem, but instead the price paid is. Erik Johnson has been a valuable player for the Colorado Avalanche, and could even be named captain if Gabriel Landeskog is traded. However, the price the Avalanche paid to acquire Johnson was far higher than the team should have been willing to deal. The Avalanche received Johnson, Jay McClement, and a first round pick for Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk, and a second round pick. Shattenkirk has gone on to be one of the best defensemen in the entire National Hockey League since the trade, leading to questions of whether or not the Avalanche needed to deal the top defenseman to one of their division rivals at all.
4 2010 Trade Deadline - Wild Acquire Cam Barker
Cam Barker has certainly disappointed the Minnesota Wild enough times in his career. Barker is now out of the National Hockey League, having never contributed to any team's success in his career. However, Barker did contribute plenty of pain to the hearts of Wild fans. Barker originally was selected way too early in his draft, serving as one of the biggest draft busts in NHL history. At the 2010 NHL Draft, the Chicago Blackhawks found a way to move the defenseman, trading him to the Wild for a roster player and a prospect by the name of Nick Leddy. Two championships and plenty of postseason victories over the Wild later, Leddy and the Blackhawks certainly had the last laugh on the deal between the two.
3 2016 Trade Deadline - Stars Acquire Kris Russell
The 2016 Dallas Stars needed defense, no one would ever argue against that truth. Part of the reason they needed defense, however, was that Jim Nill could not identify defensemen at all. Hence, when the Stars were in the market for a defenseman at the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, the Stars went hard after the defenseman with the worst underlying numbers. What happened next was predictable. Kris Russell, the acquired defenseman, failed to contribute much to the Stars as they finished up their season. The Stars were bounced out of the playoffs in the second round, then Russell left as a free agent for the Edmonton Oilers. The Calgary Flames got a defenseman, a prospect, and a draft pick for a half a season of Russell.
2 2016 Trade Deadline - Blackhawks Acquire Andrew Ladd
Andrew Ladd was one of the worst free agent acquisitions of this past off-season, serving as a huge negative for the New York Islanders. Ladd was more than just that, however, as he also caused another team to suffer. Ladd was traded from the Winnipeg Jets to the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline. Ladd brought back to the Jets top prospect Marko Dano, a first round pick, and a third round pick. The Blackhawks used Ladd to help them on their run to the playoffs, but he failed to pay off much at all, as the Blackhawks were bounced out in the first round by the St. Louis Blues. It was a waste of a trade and everyone knew it at the time.
1 2017 Trade Deadline - Kings Acquire Ben Bishop, Lightning Trade Ben Bishop
Before you get too confused, let us explain. The recent deal between the Los Angeles Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning that saw Ben Bishop moved to the Kings for a draft pick, a prospect, and Petr Budaj was an awful deal for both clubs. It's a rarity in the National Hockey League or sports in general, but such deals do occur every now and then. The Kings have no need for Bishop, acquiring a goalie that should give them the same production Budaj gave them for most of this season. The Lightning dealt Bishop for pennies on the dollar, moving a top goaltender for the price of an unknown goalie. Overall, the deal was a disaster for both teams, and will go down as such.