The doldrums of the NHL offseason are officially upon us, and all we have to do now is wait for October. The 2017 offseason so far has seen individuals from a less-than-impressive UFA class find new homes throughout the league, but its featured very few summer blockbusters thus far.
Sure, there have been a few mid-size trades; the Oilers sent Jordan Eberle to the Islanders for Ryan Strome, and of course we witnessed Brandon Saad’s return to Chicago for Artemi Panarin. Derek Stepan will begin next season in the desert, and Travis Hamonic and Jonathan Drouin also have new homes; but all-in-all, it’s been pretty quiet compared to years past.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t expect more deals in the coming weeks and months. A quick look at the offseason’s of yesteryear have shown us that big trades can happen anytime, often well into the summer. With a handful of names still rumored to be available—Colorado’s Matt Duchene highlighting that list—it’s still entirely possible we see a few more big deals before training camp opens in September.
Ever since the turn of the millennium there have been dozens of big summer blockbuster deals, and some of them have been as lopsided as the 2017 NBA season. We went through all of them and picked the 20 most one-sided NHL summer trades since the 2000 offseason. Enjoy!
20 July 21, 2009: TBL trades Radim Vrbata to ARI for Todd Fedoruk and David Hale
There are two players who are actually featured on this list twice, and one of them is Radim Vrbata. Vrbata had split the 2008-09 season between Tampa Bay and a few different teams in the Czech league, and the Lightning decided they were done with the winger later that summer. They probably didn’t realize they had such a solid player at the time, as they received only Todd Fedoruk and David Hale in return when they sent him to Arizona.
Vrbata of course went on to have some spectacular seasons in the desert, including an impressive 62 point season in 2011-12 when the Coyotes made it all the way to the Western Conference Final. Hale and Fedoruk, on the other hand, played a combined total of 89 games with Tampa and posted cumulative boxcars of 3-7-10.
19 Aug. 16, 2004: ANA trades Vaclav Prospal to TBL for a 2nd
Vaclav Prospal is the other player to appear on this list twice, and the first one here is due to the deal in the 2004 offseason that sent him back to Tampa Bay after just one season in Anaheim. The Ducks received just a second round pick in return, and although it was the 31st overall selection (high value for a second rounder), they ended up selecting the underwhelming Brendan Mikkelson with it.
Prospal had already had a 79 point season at the time of this deal, and he reached the 80 point plateau in the 2005-06 season with Tampa (2004-05 was of course lost to the lockout). If you’re giving up a player who produces at that level, I think it’s safe to say that, as an organization, you’re hoping it yields more than what Mikkelson brought to the table.
18 July 1, 2010: CHI trades Andrew Ladd to ATL for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 2nd
Looking back at the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks, I’d argue there hasn’t been a better Stanley Cup championship team since. They were stacked throughout the lineup, and as a result they were unable to re-sign a handful of the players on that championship squad. Winger Andrew Ladd was one of the first out the door, as he was sent to Atlanta on July 1, 2010, in exchange for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a second round pick that turned into Adam Clendening.
Vishnevskiy never players another NHL game after that trade, while Clendening eventually broke into the league and has played 81 games to date, albeit just four of which came in a Blackhawks sweater. The Hawks were in a tough position in the summer of 2010 and certainly were poised to lose some deals, but this was just highway robbery by the Thrashers, as they acquired their next captain for peanuts.
17 July 10, 2001: FLA trades Vaclav Prospal to TBL for Ryan Johnson and a 6th
As promised, Vaclav Prospal is featured again in the list, this time for the 2001 deal that sent him to Tampa Bay for the first time in his career. The Panthers were the suckers of the deal this time around, as they traded Vinnie to the lightning for Ryan Johnson and a sixth round pick that turned into Doug O’Brien.
To be fair, Johnson did go on to have a long career, playing 701 games (only a small percentage of which were for in Florida, however). It was just unfortunate timing for the trade is all, as Prospal wasted no time in breaking out, reaching 55 points in his first season in Tampa and following that up with a 79 campaign, tying for 15th in scoring in the NHL.
16 June 23, 2012: PHI trades James Van Riemsdyk to TOR for Luke Schenn
At the time of this trade, it seemed pretty fair. Both players still had a lot more room to grow, and Toronto needed scoring help while Philly needed help on the back end. Unfortunately for the Flyers and their fans, Luke Schenn never really improved since that fateful day in June of 2013, whereas James Van Riemsdyk has since become a lethal offensive producer for the Leafs.
JVR has cracked the 60 point barrier twice since becoming a Leaf, including a very impressive 62 point 2016-17 campaign. Schenn, on the other hand, never exceeded that bottom pairing role during his time with Philadelphia, and they eventually gave up on him and sent him to the Kings in the middle of the 2015-16 season, along with Vinny Lecavalier, for a pick and a prospect.
15 June 24, 2011: CHI trades Brian Campbell to FLA for Rostislav Olesz
Brian Campbell recently announced his retirement, and we at TheSportster would like to congratulate him on an impressive career. He was a member of the aforementioned 2010 Chicago championship team, and although he managed to stick around Chi-town for one more season, the Hawks had to deal Campbell at the 2011 draft in order to open some cap space.
The return of Rostislav Olesz was underwhelming, to put it lightly. He had a handful of NHL games under his belt by then, but he was effectively finished. The Czech native only found his way into six games with the Blackhawks, as he spent the majority of his time with the franchise skating with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. Meanwhile, Campbell put up 53 points in his first year with the Panthers, which stands as his career high.
14 June 29, 2016: EDM trades Taylor Hall to NJD for Adam Larsson
There is a pocket of fans in Edmonton who stand by this trade, claiming that Adam Larsson was the piece that made things fall into place in 2016-17 for Edmonton. While I like Larsson as a defenseman, I tend to largely credit Edmonton’s resurgence to things like the maturation of Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl, the Vezina-caliber play of Cam Talbot, and a healthy Oscar Klefbom.
If there’s one thing Peter Chiarelli has proven as a GM, it’s that he isn’t afraid to give up the better player in a trade if he feels he's adequately addressing an area of weakness on his roster. However, giving up Taylor Hall, who is probably a top five left winger in this league, for Larsson, who probably isn’t even a top 50 defenseman, seems like a weird choice to voluntarily make.
13 June 29, 2016: MON trades P.K. Subban to NAS for Shea Weber
How could I include the Hall/Larsson trade and leave this one out? These trades broke just moments apart in late June 2016, and they were equally shocking to fans from coast to coast. Again, this is a controversial one, as some people believe Montreal actually won this trade, but I’m here to tell you that those people are wrong.
Shea Weber is a fantastic defenseman, but he’s not as good as P.K. Subban is today. Put them both in their primes, then sure, maybe I’d take Weber. But Weber will turn 32 in August, and he’s under contract until 2041 (okay, 2026, but you get our point!) and is making a lot of money along the way. Subban, on the other hand, is in the heart of his prime at 28 years old. I still have no idea what GM Marc Bergevin was thinking here.
12 Aug. 11, 2007: CHI trades Radim Vrbata to ARI for Kevyn Adams
Here I am delivering on the promise that Radim Vrbata would once again show up on this list. This entry is to recognize the 2007 trade that sent him from Chicago to Arizona in exchange for Kevyn Adams. Vrbata had trouble finding a permanent home in the NHL before landing in Arizona, but he broke out immediately upon his arrival, notching 56 points for the Coyotes in 2007-08.
Kevyn Adams is a pretty weak return here if you ask me. Sure, the guy is a Stanley Cup champion with the Hurricanes in ’06, but he had nothing left in the tank at this point in time. The season after this trade was his last professionally, and he only found his way into the Blackhawks lineup 27 times in 2007-08, and he never scored.
11 June 10, 2000: CGY trades J.S. Giguere to ANA for a 2nd
J.S. Giguere was a Hartford Whalers draft pick, which really dates the guy. After playing just eight games with the Whalers, he went to Calgary where played 22 spread out over two seasons. The Flames decided they’d seen enough, so they sent Giguere to Anaheim prior to the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, and they received a second round pick that turned into Matt Pettinger in return.
It didn’t take long for Giguere to establish himself as the starter in Anaheim, and his career really took off from that point on. He of course won a Stanley Cup as the Ducks starter in 2007, but perhaps even more impressive from an individual standpoint was his Conn Smythe win in the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs. Pettinger never even put on a Flames jersey, to put thing into perspective.
10 June 26, 2015: EDM trades a 1st and 2nd to NYI for Griffin Reinhart
Another gem from GM Peter Chiarelli shows up here on our list at number 10. Shortly after Chia took over the reins in Edmonton, he traded the 2015 16th and 32nd overall picks (in a deep draft) to the Islanders for defenseman Griffin Reinhart. The trade had its fair share of critics at the time, and now, over two years later, it looks like a disaster.
The Islanders used the 16th overall pick to draft Matthew Barzal, who looks to break into the league this year and seems poised to make an immediate impact in Brooklyn. Reinhart, on the other hand, was the Vegas Golden Knights’ pick from the Oilers in the expansion draft last June, and he’s not yet considered a full time NHL player. At this point, it's fair to ask: will he ever be an NHL player?
9 June 24, 2011: TOR trades its 1st and 2nd to Anaheim in order to jump up to 12th Overall
On the surface, this trade makes sense. It’s not uncommon for a team to trade two picks in exchange for the privilege of jumping up in the draft order, and that’s just what the Leafs did here, giving up the 30th and 39th overall picks for the privilege of picking 22nd overall. It’s what the Leafs did with that pick, combined with what the Ducks did with the two they received, that make this deal so brutal for Toronto.
Tyler Biggs was the Maple Leafs pick at 22, and he’s one of the few first round picks from 2011 who never played a single game in the NHL. The Ducks managed to grab Rickard Rakell at 30, and he just put the finishing touches on a 30 goal campaign in Anaheim. Adding insult to injury, Anaheim also grabbed John Gibson at 39, and he’s now their starting goaltender. A 30 goal scorer and a starter for Tyler Biggs? Yikes.
8 June 30, 2009: MTL trades Ryan McDonagh, Chris Higgins, Doug Janik, and Pavel Valentenko to NYR for Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt, and Michael Busto
There were a lot of moving parts in this beast of a trade, but the important thing is to know that Ryan McDonagh and Scott Gomez were the respective centerpieces of this deal. McDonagh was a prospect at the time, but he’s since developed into a top pairing defenseman and is still in that role in New York today. Gomez’s game fell apart shortly after the trade, and he even spent time in the ECHL while with the Montreal organization.
What makes this trade even worse than it is from the Montreal perspective is that they probably gave up the best complementary piece as well in Chris Higgins. Any way you look at this deal, it’s a huge loss for the Canadiens, and you can still see Habs fans cringe when you bring it up in conversation.
7 June 24, 2011: MIN trades Brent Burns and a 2nd to SJ for Charlie Coyle, Devin Setoguchi and a 1st
I will say this: at least the Minnesota Wild got a decent haul for Brent Burns. In fact, at the time, this was pretty reasonable market value. In the years since this 2011 trade, however, Burns has established himself as one of the league’s most dangerous defensemen, and he just collected the Norris Trophy as the league’s top rearguard.
Charlie Coyle is no slouch though, and he’s coming off somewhat of a breakout year that saw him muster 56 points. The first round pick Minnesota got in this deal turned into Zack Phillips, so that’s nothing. It’s well-documented that Devin Setoguchi’s best years were already beyond him by the time he arrived in Minny. The Sharks eventually traded the 2nd they got from Minnesota so never actually used it, but it ended up in Nashville and they picked Pontus Aberg.
6 July 4, 2013: BOS trades Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, and Ryan Button to DAL for Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith, and Matt Fraser
Yet another Peter Chiarelli trade rears its ugly head on our list! This one was made when he was at the helm in Boston, and it’s the infamous Tyler Seguin deal. Chiarelli sent the franchise center to Dallas, along with Rich Peverley and Ryan Button, in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith, and Matt Fraser.
Flash forward to today, just over four years after that fateful July 4 in 2013, and the Bruins have exactly zero assets to show for that trade. Seguin, meanwhile, forms half of what is one of the most potent duos in the NHL (along with Jamie “I don’t bunch mox”” Benn). What’s spectacular is Chiarelli didn’t seem to learn from this, as exemplified by the 2016 Taylor Hall deal.
5 Aug. 2, 2005: STL trades Chris Pronger to EDM for Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch, and Jeff Woywitka
The 2006 Edmonton Oilers came within one win of bringing the cup back to Canada, and I don’t want to say it’s all because of this trade, but it’s pretty much all because of this trade. Kevin Lowe, who has rightfully received his fair share of criticism over the years, pulled off armed robbery here by prying Chris Pronger from St. Louis after the lockout for absolute peanuts.
Okay, Eric Brewer isn’t exactly peanuts. He went on to continue a good career, but let’s face it, Pronger was one of the best defensemen in the NHL at the time. One day later, Lowe pulled off another deal that brought Michael Peca to town, and that trade narrowly missed making the cut for this list. ‘Twas a good week for GM Lowe, and likely the highlight of his management career.
4 July 11, 2001: PIT trades Jaromir Jagr and Franticek Kucera to WAS for Kris Beech, Ross Lupaschuk, and Michal Sivek
It’s no secret that things between Jaromir Jagr and the Pittsburgh Penguins had soured by the time the 2000-01 season ended. Jagr was still one of the best players in the league at the time though, fresh off a 121 point campaign that saw him take home his fourth and final Art Ross Trophy. So, you should be able to get a king’s ransom if you’re trading the reigning scoring champ, right? Well, apparently not.
The Pens traded Jagr along with Frantisek Kucera to Washington on July 11, 2001, in exchange for Kris Beech, Ross Lupaschuk, and Michal Sivek. I consider myself a pretty big NHL fan, and the only player of these three that I’d ever heard of was Beech. This makes sense, as Lupaschuk and Sivek combined to play 41 NHL games. How is this the best return they could get for Jaromir Jagr in his prime? The mind. It boggles.
3 June 24, 2006: TOR trades Tuukka Rask to BOS for Andrew Raycroft
The Toronto Maple Leafs had trouble finding a reliable starter after Curtis Joseph left in 2002, but little did they know they had a surefire starter in the system in Tuukka Rask, who they drafted in the first round in 2005. They hadn’t even signed the Finnish netminder to his first pro contract before shipping him off to Boston in exchange for goalie Andrew Raycroft.
Raycroft had recently won the 2004 Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, but was fresh off of an awful 2005-06 season that was a pretty good example of a terrible sophomore slump. The Leafs hoped it was just a blip on the radar, but unfortunately it was a good indicator of what was to come from Raycroft for the rest of his career. Rask is, of course, still the go-to guy in Boston.
2 June 24, 2000: NYI trades Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen to FLA for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish
Many people forget that Roberto Luongo’s career actually started with the New York Islanders, the club that drafted him 4th overall in 1997. Three years later, the Islanders held the first overall pick in the 2000 draft, and with it they chose goalie Rick Dipietro. With Dipietro poised to run the show on the island for the next 15 years or so, Luongo became expendable, so the Islanders dealt him—AND Olli Jokinen—to the panthers for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha.
That of course was a poor judgment call, as Luongo went on to become one of the best goalies of the next decade and beyond, a select club that Dipietro was definitely not a part of. Jokinen wasn't exactly a bust either, as he's still the Panthers all-time leading point scorer. So, the Panthers acquired their eventual all-time wins leader and all-time points leader for basically a second and fourth liner.
1 June 22, 2012: PHI trades Sergei Bobrovsky to CBJ for Picks
It would be humorous if it weren’t so tragic. The Philadelphia Flyers are infamous for never being able to find an undisputed starting goaltender (seriously, I think Ron Hextall is their most recent), and little did they know they were trading one away when they sent Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus for a second round pick and two fourth round picks (they amounted to nothing of note). You see, the Flyers had decided that recently acquired Ilya Bryzgalov was to be their goalie of the future, ridding themselves of the need for the pesky Bobrovsky.
This deal is very shockingly bad. Bobrovsky wasted no time in establishing his dominance, winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie in 2013. He just collected his second of such trophies in 2017, Meanwhile, the Flyers used a compliance buyout on Bryzgalov in 2013, and have since welcomed and chased Steve Mason from the fold. They head into 2017-18 with the tandem of Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth (*facepalm*).
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