Acquiring talent is the goal of every General Manager in every single sport. Trades are the most talked about method of accomplishing this, but seldom do General Manager's ever seem to work out a major deal.
It makes sense though; if a trade backfires it looks far worse than a draft pick or a free agent signing bust. This is because when a GM loses a trade, he directly helps one of his competitors. The outrage becomes far worse.
The NHL is the exception to this. If you look through the transactions of many of the league's historic Superstars, you might believe that their GMs had a gambling addiction. Even "The Great One" was traded. In fact, nearly all of the NHL's top all-time scorers have been traded at one point, some of them several times.
In most sports, acquiring high profile talent in their prime is nearly impossible. But not in the NHL. This article will cover every NHL team's greatest trade acquisitions. It will largely forgo evaluation of the trade itself and instead focus on the accomplishments of the player acquired. So without further ado, here are the very best trade additions every NHL team has ever made.
30 Anaheim Ducks - Teemu Selanne
Teemu Selanne was the Jets 10th overall pick in 1988, though didn't begin his NHL career until 1992. He spent three and a half highly productive years in Winnipeg, kicked off by one of the all-time greatest rookie seasons.
He was dealt to Anaheim midway through the 1995-96 seasons. In exchange, the Jets received Oleg Tverdovsky, Chad Kilger and a third round pick.
Selanne worked out marvelously in his first four full years with the Ducks. He had never scored fewer than 70 points over that period. Furthermore, he exceeded 100 points in 97' and 99', as well as led the league in goals in 98' and 99'.
29 Arizona Coyotes - Jeremy Roenick
Jeremy Roenick has had a wildly successful NHL career. He was productive everywhere he went and has become a favorite among multiple fan bases as a result.
He began his career in Chicago where he had recorded three straight 100 point seasons at one point. But after eight years he was dealt to Phoenix in return for Alex Zhamnov as well as a first round pick.
28 Boston Bruins - Phil Esposito
Phil Esposito had spent three solid years in Chicago before joining Boston as part of a six player trade in 1967.
Everything he accomplished as a Bruin is nothing short of outstanding. For six straight seasons he led the league in goals, three times he led the league in assists, and five times in scoring. He was named as a first team All-Star six times, twice a second team All-Star, twice he won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.
27 Buffalo Sabres - Dominik Hasek
Dominik Hasek was a 10th round pick in 1983. Just two years ago, in 2014, he was inducted in the Hall of Fame. The legend has come a long way.
He spent his first two years with the Blackhawks, beginning in 1990, where he only played 25 games over that period. In 1992, he was dealt to Buffalo in a less than noteworthy trade.
26 Calgary Flames - Jarome Iginla
Jarome Iginla began his career with the Flames and will always be known as a Flame. However, he wasn't drafted by the team. Rather, they traded the talented Joe Nieuwendyk in exchange for Iginla only a few months after the draft.
Iginla spent 16 years in Calgary and was everything you could ask for in a player. He rarely missed a game, he put up a point-per-game for the bulk of his career, and he served as captain of the Flames for nine years.
25 Carolina Hurricanes - Rod Brind'Amour
Rod Brind'Amour was 29 years old when the trade took place, but he still managed to stay in the NHL and remain productive for another decade. He was consistently among the top point producers for the Hurricanes over his tenure, in addition to winning the Selke Trophy twice for top defensive forward.
24 Chicago Blackhawks - Chris Chelios
Chris Chelios had already endured seven solid years under his belt, including a first team All-Star selection and a Norris Trophy. The price to acquire him was Denis Savard, a player who had exceeded 100 points five times and never had fewer than 90 with the exception of his rookie season.
The trade was met with concern from fans, to say the least. Two Norris Trophies and several All-Star appearances went a long way to softening the transition though.
23 Colorado Avalanche - Patrick Roy
Patrick Roy is among the most skilled goaltenders to ever play the game. He was key to the success of the Avalanche in the late 90s and early 2000s. They consistently made deep playoff runs over the course of his tenure, winning the cup twice.
In his first Stanley Cup victory with the Avalanche, he lost only six of 22 games in the playoffs while recording three shutouts.
In 2001, he recorded a staggering .934 SV%, 1.70 GAA, and four shutouts over the course of the playoffs en route to a narrow 4-3 victory over the Devils to take home a second cup for Colorado.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets - R.J. Umberger
R.J. Umberger was a fan favorite in Columbus going back to his days at Ohio State. He was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia in exchange for Colorado's first round pick (which Columbus had previously acquired).
21 Dallas Stars - Sergei Zubov
When it comes to having a scoring touch from the backend, few in recent memory have displayed more talent than Sergei Zubov. Currently, the Russian defenseman is third all-time in scoring among Dallas Stars, behind only Mike Modano and Neal Broten. What did they give up to get this terrific defender? Kevin Hatcher, who was good for the Pens, but never to the level of Sergei Zubov.
20 Detroit Red Wings - Brendan Shanahan
Brendon Shanahan came to Detroit as part of a major trade involving Paul Coffey, Keith Primeau and a first round pick in 1996. In his first two seasons with the team, he recorded a total of 144 points and 74 goals, helping Detroit secure back-to-back Stanley Cups.
He routinely exceeded 30 goals a season over his nine year tenure with the Red Wings and was often the team's most productive offensive player.
19 Edmonton Oilers - Doug Weight
Doug Weight was a second round pick of the Rangers in 1990. He spent two years there and averaged about 35 points a season. After being traded to Edmonton in a straight up deal for Esa Tikkanen, he took his game to another level.
18 Florida Panthers - Olli Jokinen and Roberto Luongo
In 2000, Florida traded Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha for Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen. Wow.
Olli Jokinen was the third overall pick by the Los Angeles Kings in 1997. He did not pan out to start. Over his first two years, he played 74 games and managed only 21 points. He was shipped off to the Islanders the following season and still only managed 21 points.
It took him until his sixth season (his third with the Panthers) to finally break out - with a solid 36 goals and 65 points in 2002-03, and similar numbers the following year. Over his prime years he averaged 90 points and nearly 40 goals. He was a true Superstar with the Panthers and is currently the highest scoring Florida Panther in history.
Roberto Luongo, on the other hand, was the 4th overall pick in 1997 who was pushed out by the selection of Rick DiPietro on Long Island. Bobby Lu would become the face of the franchise and the best goaltender in team history.
17 Los Angeles Kings - Marcel Dionne
Wayne Gretzky is the best player in NHL history. On nearly every team he would be penciled in immediately, but Los Angeles is the exception.
Marcel Dionne is perhaps the most underrated player in NHL history. This is the result of playing in the shadow of Gretzky. On the stat sheet, he often found himself in second place in nearly every major offensive category.
Dionne was dealt by Detroit in 1975, four years into his career. He had already proven himself at that point, with over 350 points to his name. He didn't slow down in Los Angeles either; exceeding 100 points seven times and 130 three times.
16 Minnesota Wild - Nino Niederreiter
Nino Niederreiter was the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. Over his first two years with the Islanders, he recorded a grand total of three points in 64 games. As a result, Minnesota was able to acquire the prospect for far cheaper than what most former fifth overall picks would cost: Cal Clutterbuck and a third round pick.
15 Montreal Canadiens - Pete Mahovlich
In 1969, Pete Mahovlich, a former second overall pick, was acquired by Montreal in a deal that sent 1963 first overall pick Garry Monahan to Detroit. Neither player had accomplished much at the time of the trade; Mahovlich had fewer than 20 points in 82 games over four years. Monahan has only played in 14 games despite being drafted six years prior.
The following season Mahovlich broke out for the Habs. He was among the talented team's top producers for the bulk of the 70s. His best years came in the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons where he recorded a combined 222 points.
14 Nashville Predators - Kimmo Timonen
Nashville has had no shortage of talented defensemen recently, between Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and now Roman Josi. They've had a ludicrous amount of wealth at the position.
It started with Kimmo Timonen. A 10th round pick in 1993 who never got a shot with Los Angeles. He was acquired by the Predators six years later for future considerations and instantly became a key part of their lineup.
13 New Jersey Devils - Bobby Holik
Following his second NHL season, Bobby Holik was acquired from Hartford in a deal involving Sean Burke and Eric Weinrich. Despite not being in the league very long, Holik had already proven himself at the NHL level with consecutive 40+ point seasons.
12 New York Islanders - Bob Bourne
Bob Bourne was a third round pick in 1974 who was traded to the Islanders for the rights to Larry Hornung a day after the season officially began. He would remain with the Islanders for the next 12 years.
Bourne was productive throughout his tenure with the team. He was a goal scorer who hit the 30 goal mark three times with the Islanders and he's seventh all-time among Islanders in goals.
11 New York Rangers - Mark Messier
Mark Messier is currently second all-time among time in scoring. He is one of the elite Superstars in NHL history.
The Rangers didn't acquire him until 1991 when he was already 31 years old. The NHL greats all manage to excel past their prime and Messier is no exception. In his first season with the team, he took home both the Hart Trophy and the Pearson Trophy (known now as the Ted Lindsay Award).
10 Ottawa Senators - Wade Redden
Wade Redden is known for the terrible contract the Rangers signed him to nearly a decade ago. It's easy to forget what he did to earn that insane contract (though, perhaps not quite that great).
The Senators acquired the former second overall pick before he had played his first NHL game. He lived up to the hype in Ottawa. He could be counted on to hit 40 points every season, with the exception of some of his early years.
9 Philadelphia Flyers - Bernie Parent
Bernie Parent was originally acquired by the Flyers in the 1967 expansion draft. He played solid hockey for nearly three years with the franchise before being traded to Toronto in 1971.
The Flyers shortly realized their mistake and made a deal yet again with the Leafs to get him back. In the two years following his return to Philadelphia, he led the league in both GAA and shutouts, winning the Vezina trophy. He also led the Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories those years, winning the Conn Smythe trophy both years.
8 Pittsburgh Penguins - Ron Francis
Ron Francis was selected fourth overall in the 1981 Draft by the Hartford Whalers. He stayed there for nearly a decade before being traded to Pittsburgh towards the end of the 1990-91 season.
Francis had already established himself as one of the NHL's elite players at the time of the trade. He spent seven full seasons in Pittsburgh and continued his dominance over that stretch. He exceeded 80 points in all but two seasons over his tenure with the team, as well as leading the league in assists twice.
7 San Jose Sharks - Joe Thornton
It isn't often that a young Superstar gets traded. Though, in 2005, San Jose was able to pry away Joe Thornton, for Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau. The trade took place 23 games into the 2005-06 season and Thornton went on to record an outstanding 125 point season. He took home the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy and was named a first team All-Star.
Since that historic season, he's been an offensive force for the team. Nine times he's scored at least 70 points, the bulk of which come from assists.
6 St. Louis Blues - Brett Hull
Brett Hull was a sixth round pick by the Flames in 1984. Despite being such a late round pick, in his first NHL season he recorded 26 goals in just 52 games with Calgary. Even still, they decided to deal him to St. Louis during that year, perhaps attempting to take a buy low/sell high approach. Fortunately for St. Louis, it didn't work out like that.
As it stands, Brett Hull is the second all-time leading scorer of the Blues, with exactly 300 more points on the third place Brian Sutter.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning - Nikolai Khabibulin
Nikolai Khabibulin was not a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning for a long time, only lasting four years in Tamp Bay. But he did the most valuable thing a goaltender could ever do for a franchise: he carried his team through the playoffs to an unlikely Stanley Cup victory after being acquired from the Coyotes.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs - Mats Sundin
Mats Sundin was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. That honor was earned during his time with the Leafs. He spent 18 years in the NHL; all but five were in Toronto.
He wasn't cheap to acquire, but it certainly paid off when Toronto pulled the trigger in the 1994 off season. Most notability, Toronto had to give up Wendel Clark (a former first overall pick) and Landon Wilson (1993 first round pick), along with some other pieces.
3 Vancouver Canucks - Markus Naslund
Markus Naslund was a mid-first round selection in the 1991 NHL Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Vancouver acquired him in a straight up deal for 1991 7th overall pick Alek Stojanov. We all know hindsight is 20/20, but it's hard to see how this trade ever made sense.
The exchange took place five years after the draft, in 1996. Though both players had been a disappointment (statistically) prior to the 1995-96 season. The big difference between them was that Naslund took a big step forward that year and Stojanov did not. Naslund had 52 points in 66 games with the Penguins and Stojanov had 1 point in 58 games.
2 Washington Capitals - Rod Langway
Rod Langway served as captain of the Capitals from 1982 to 1993. He was a force on the back end and helped Washington make many deep playoff runs.
1 Winnipeg Jets - Blake Wheeler
Blake Wheeler is an interesting story. He was initially a fifth overall pick by the Coyotes in 2004. However, he never made it into the NHL with them. Instead, he signed as a free agent with the Bruins in 2008 and instantly became a player capable of putting up a solid 40 points a year.
In 2011, he was part of a deal between the Bruins and Thrashers. He continued roughly at the same pace over the next several years, while dealing with some injuries. However, he's since taken the next step and shown what made him a top five pick.
Over the past three years, he's been the Jets most productive player. His most notable season was this past one, where he recorded an impressive 78 points, which was sixth best in the NHL. His size and skill along with some serious hockey sense will make him an elite player for years to come.
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