As an NHL general manager, your job is simple: you are to build a hockey team consisting of a full complement of players, with the ultimate goal of preparing them to, hopefully, challenge for a Stanley Cup.
There are myriad ways a GM can go about collecting the proper assets. Every franchise adds seven-or-so names to their prospect bank at the annual NHL Entry Draft, but those players aren’t often immediately ready for NHL duty. There’s always free agency, where a GM can sign a UFA at the cost of only money; an RFA offer sheet will cost them more in the way of draft picks, but nonetheless it’s an avenue available to them (albeit rarely exercised).
Trades are another option for general managers, and as fans that’s probably the most exciting tool a GM has at his disposal. Everybody loves a good blockbuster—as long as your favorite team isn’t on the clear losing end of the deal, which does happen.
Today we look at the recent deals that already seem one-sided. By recent, I mean the deal had to have happened no earlier than the 2015-16 season. There have been 211 NHL trades since then, and I’ve parsed through them to find the 15 most one-sided deals of the bunch. Enjoy:
20 T.J. Oshie to Washington From St. Louis for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley, and a 3rd
When it became clear to the St. Louis Blues that they would be unable to hold onto T.J. Oshie at his contract, they sent him to Washington in the summer of 2015 in exchange for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley, and a 3rd round pick. To be fair, Copley is still a pretty decent goalie prospect, but still far from a sure thing.
Although Brouwer had a decent run in the 2016 postseason with the Blues, that was sort of a curse in disguise, because that strong playoff performance priced Brouwer out of St. Louis, and he’s no longer there. That 3rd round pick ended up making its way back to Washington before the 2016 draft, so that isn’t helping the Blues today. Oshie, conversely, is one-third of the Caps’ top line, which happens to be one of the NHL’s most potent.
19 Justin Schultz To Pittsburgh From Edmonton for a 3rd
Justin Schultz had a bad time in Edmonton. He was forced in way over his head, logging top-pairing minutes against tough competition, which is simply not a role to which Schultz is best suited. The Penguins were able to acquire the services of Schultz during the 2015-16 season for just a 3rd round draft pick, and when they got him they tried something the Oilers never did: they deployed him to his strengths.
The result? Well, Schultz is now a two-time Stanley Cup champion, and he actually finished 10th in Norris Trophy voting this season (adding some credibility to Craig MacTavish, former GM of the Oilers who weathered public ridicule after stating he thought the whipping boy had “Norris potential”). It turns out Schultz can be mightily effective if given the proper role. Who knew?
18 Marc Methot To Dallas From Vegas for Dylan Ferguson and a 2nd
The Vegas Golden Knights loaded up on defensemen at the expansion draft in June, meaning they were left with an abundance of NHL-caliber defensemen. Ergo, they had to deal a few, and one of the guys they sent out of town was Marc Methot. Methot has played a key complementary role as Erik Karlsson’s D partner in Ottawa over the past few years.
The market for all these defensemen that Vegas picked up was perhaps cooler than expected, so they were forced to sell low on a few of those gathered assets. They ended up sending Methot to Dallas for goalie prospect Dylan Ferguson and a 2nd round pick. Ferguson had just been drafted in the 7th round by the Stars, 194th overall. On top of that, many 2nd round picks never even play in the NHL, so it’s entirely possible they will get zero NHL games from the asset.
17 Patrick Maroon to Edmonton From Anaheim for Martin Gernat and a 4th
As far as steals go, it doesn’t really get any better than Peter Chiaralli’s con job at the 2016 trade deadline. The above details actually don’t even do it justice: the Ducks—in addition to giving up the only real NHL player in the deal—also retained some of Maroon’s salary. Gernat is a nothing prospect that the Oilers probably insisted was included to keep the number of contracts on the books balanced.
Maroon has been nothing short of a revelation for the Oilers since his arrival in Northern Alberta. Riding shotgun to NHL MVP Connor McDavid, Maroon has been a scoring machine for Edmonton, potting 35 goals in 97 games since arriving. The only problem for Maroon here is he may be pricing himself out of Edmonton and thus off of a plush spot on the LW.
16 Alex Burrows From Vancouver To Ottawa for Jonathan Dahlen
I do get that Ottawa knowingly gave up a good prospect for the “win now” motive, and heck, it almost worked. The Sens ultimately fell one goal short of a berth in the Stanley Cup Final though, and now they’re stuck with the depreciating Alex Burrows for the next two seasons, and they also have to watch Jonathan Dahlen likely develop into a top-six forward in the league.
Sure, no prospect is a sure thing, but the 2016 2nd round pick broke out in a big way in 2016-17, notching 44 points in 45 games with Timra IK of the Swedish League. Those are impressive boxcars for a teenager playing in any men’s league, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dahlen play in the Canucks’ top-six for the better part of 2017-18.
14 Nikolay Goldobin and a 4th to Vancouver from San Jose for Jannik Hansen
The Vancouver Canucks were sellers at the 2017 trade deadline, and we’ve already covered the steal of Dahlen from the Sens in exchange for Burrows. They pulled off a similar heist in a trade with the San Jose Sharks, who acquired veteran Jannik Hansen in exchange for Nikolay Goldobin and a 4th round pick. Goldobin is a nice prospect (27th overall in 2014), and should make the jump to the NHL in 2017-18.
Hansen is of course a serviceable vet, but this was a lopsided trade, especially when you consider that the Sharks took an early first-round exit in the postseason, and Hansen did a whole lot of nothing in that series against Edmonton. Hansen is still with the Sharks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Goldobin is more effective in 2017-18 than Hansen.
11 Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening, and a 2nd To Pittsburgh From Vancouver for Brandon Sutter and a 3rd
Canucks GM Jim Benning is pretty much hated by the fan base, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if 2017-18 turned out to be his last season in Vancouver. If that’s the case, it will be because of moves such as this one he made in the 2015-16 offseason, sending Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening, and a 2nd round pick to Pittsburgh for Brandon Sutter and a 3rd.
First off, Bonino is the best player in this trade, not Sutter. Why the Canucks were the ones downgrading in the draft is a mystery to me. Since leaving the West Coast for Steel City, Bonino (who is now a member of the Nashville Predators, as he priced himself out of Pittsburgh) has won two Stanley Cups with Sidney Crosby and the Pens. Sutter has been plagued with injuries and, frankly, underwhelming when he has dressed.
10 Zach Hyman and a 7th to Toronto From Florida for Greg McKegg
One of the oldest trades to appear on our list was made between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers in June 2015. The Leafs sent Greg McKegg to Florida in exchange for Zach Hyman and a 7th round pick. At first it seemed like a fair trade, albeit pretty inconsequential. They were both minor leaguers at the time, so the big clubs weren’t immediately effected.
A few years later, and it’s looking like the Leafs maybe got away with one here. McKegg has yet to establish himself as a full-time NHL player, whereas Hyman had somewhat of a breakout year, scoring 28 points and factoring in as a key member of the team’s penalty kill. Hyman will likely play a prominent role in Toronto’s bottom six in 2017-18.
9 Cam Talbot To Edmonton From New York for picks
Former Rangers GM Glen Sather called it “a favor to his old club,” and fans of the Oilers can’t thank him enough. Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli factors into this list more than any other GM in the league (on both the good and bad side), and that’s probably because he’s proven unafraid to pull the trigger on a big deal. In the summer of 2015 he traded three picks (2nd, 3rd, and 7th round picks) for Cam Talbot, and Talbot has since established himself as an elite goalie in this league.
Talbot played more minutes and games than any other goalie in the league in 2016-17, and he was hovering around elite status in every major goaltending category by season’s end. According to most 2016-17 shot quality charts, it wasn’t an easy year for Talbot, either. Despite the Oilers surrendering the eighth fewest goals in 2016-17, they still gave up the most high-quality shots against in the NHL.
8 Hunter Shinkaruk to Calgary From Vancouver for Markus Granlund
If you’re a Canucks fan reading this, don’t worry—it hasn’t been a complete disaster under Jim Benning. Take for instance this trade from back in February 2016 between the Canucks and Flames. The ‘Nucks sent prospect Hunter Shinkaruk to the Flames in exchange for Markus Granlund. At the time it seemed like a simple swapping of fairly equal prospects, but Granlund has emerged as the superior player—by far.
In fact, had Granlund not lost the last three weeks of the season to an injury he would have hit the 20 goal plateau. Heck, he finished just one goal behind Bo Horvat for the team lead on the 2016-17 offense-starved Canucks. Shinkaruk, conversely, spent the 2016-17 season primarily as a member of the Stockton Heat, playing in only seven games with the Flames.
6 Ben Scrivens To Montreal From Edmonton for Zack Kassian
Another boon for Peter Chiarelli, this one in the form of Zack Kassian. Kassian was a member of the Montreal Canadiens when he got wasted and got in a car with two co-eds who had also been drinking. They crashed the car, and Kassian (with an injured foot) was sent through the NHL’s rehabilitation program for alcohol abuse.
The Canadiens had seen enough from Kassian before he’d even played a single game with the club, and they elected to send him to Edmonton for some goaltending depth in Ben Scrivens following Carey Price's injury in the 2015-16 season. Scrivens has since defected to the KHL (where he’s had some success, to be fair), while Kassian has established himself as a key member of Edmonton’s bottom six forward grouping. This is a big win for Chiarelli and the Oilers.
4 Jordan Eberle to NYI From Edmonton for Ryan Strome
This one is fresh from the 2017 offseason, so there haven’t been any games yet we can use to evaluate it. That said, this trade looks pretty lopsided in favor of the Islanders from where I sit. Eberle became public enemy #1 in Edmonton this season, for reasons that are somewhat unclear. Sure, he doesn’t play the blue-collar game Oilers fans have always loved so dearly, but he puts up first line numbers at a very consistent pace.
When you consider that, by all accounts, Eberle had an off year in 2016-17, yet he still managed 51 points, you wonder why Chiarelli handed him over to New York for Strome, whose career high is actually one less than Eberle’s off-year total. Perhaps Strome and Connor McDavid will click and Strome put up 65 points in 2017-18, but that’s a pretty big “perhaps.”
3 Scott Darling To Carolina From Chicago for a 3rd
Everyone loves a good underdog story, and Scott Darling has penned himself quite the saga. The recovering alcoholic worked his way up through the Chicago system and eventually started playing so well that the Blackhawks were forced to trade him at the end of this past season because they couldn’t afford him.
Darling is now a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, a club that hopes it finally solved its goaltending issue that seems to have been going on for the better part of a decade now. Darling only garnered the Blackhawks a 3rd round pick, but as I stated before, ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman sort of had his back up against the wall here, and he was certainly negotiating from a position of weakness. A steal for the 'Canes nonetheless.
2 Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson
Okay, Edmonton fans, I get it. The Oilers traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson and then immediately returned to the postseason for the first time in a decade. That must mean that they won the trade, right? No, it absolutely doesn’t and I’ve pretty much heard enough of that misguided up logic. Hall is a top-five left winger in the NHL, and Larsson is maybe a top 60 defenseman. In what world is this not a lopsided trade?
Again, Edmonton fans who support the trade will point to the fact that the Devils are bad and that the Oilers are good. A more level-headed approach looks at the most likely reasons Edmonton improved, and sees that the Hall for Larsson deal accounts for only a minuscule amount (McDavid, Oscar Klefbom, and Talbot are the three biggest reasons for sure). Edmonton also got owned when McDavid wasn’t on the ice in 2017-18, and Hall has proven to be able to drive a line by himself. I promise you that history will judge this deal harshly, and that the Oilers will miss having a second driver on the roster.
1 P.K. Subban for Shea Weber
The Hall for Larsson trade was the most one-sided trade of the 2016 offseason for all of 10 minutes or so. Soon after news of that trade broke, the Subban for Weber trade news broke, and this deal is even more one-sided. Subban’s contact, albeit slightly more expensive on an AAV basis than Weber’s, ends when he turns 32 and not 42, like Weber’s deal.
Initially, Habs fans who supported this deal said they could stomach it on account that the club is in a “win-now” mode. However, now just one season into the deal, it’s safe to say that Nashville is the team that is in win-now mode, and Montreal is probably the team that needs to figure out how to “score now” before they get to the winning part. In my opinion, we don’t need to wait any longer to evaluate this. It’s a huge loss for Montreal.