As hockey fans, we love to analyze trades. As soon as a swap is made, we all have opinions on who won or who lost the trade, but to give a true evaluation of any NHL deal, you need to revisit it a few years down the road.
Since the 2004-05 lockout, there have been hundreds of trades involving hundreds of players spread out across the league’s 30 teams. The vast majority of these trades seem like decent deals for both sides; these general managers are in their positions for a reason. However, every now and then you’ll look at a deal from a few years back and wonder just what the heck a GM was thinking when he pulled the trigger.
For today’s list we looked back at all of the trades made since the 2004-05 lockout and picked the worst one made by each team. Some teams haven’t really made huge errors in the past decade so it was a little tougher to pick (see Chicago and Detroit). Conversely, there are some teams that have been fleeced a handful of times and therefore it was tough to cut it down to just one bad trade (see Edmonton and Toronto).
It’s likely not a coincidence that the Blackhawks and Red Wings have been good for the past decade while the Oilers and Leafs have been terrible, but I digress. Take a look at our selections for the worst trade made by every NHL team since the 2004-05 lockout:
30 Anaheim Ducks - Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi to Pittsburgh for Ryan Whitney
Ryan Whitney wasn’t terrible with Anaheim, and they did manage to flip him for Lubomir Visnovsky less than two years later, but this is still a brutal trade for Anaheim.
The Ducks have always searched for a solid complimentary player to skate with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, and little did they know Kunitz was about to turn into one of the best complimentary wingers in the league, playing on Crosby’s wing in Pittsburgh.
29 Arizona Coyotes - Devan Dubnyk to Minnesota for a 3rd round pick
I totally understand why this deal was made by the Coyotes, but if a team traded an award nominee mid-season then there’s a good chance that trade ended up on this list.
Dubnyk of course went on to carry the Minnesota Wild to the playoffs, almost single-handedly, earning a Vezina nomination. Of course if Brendan Warren (the 3rd round pick) turns into a star we will be re-evaluating this trade, but that seems unlikely.
28 Boston Bruins - Joe Thornton to San Jose for Wayne Primeau, Brad Stuart and Marco Sturm
The Bruins have made two of the biggest trades since the lockout, and they’ve lost both of them (the other being the Tyler Seguin deal with Dallas).
This Joe Thornton trade, though. Oh man. Thornton went on to win the scoring race and the Hart Trophy THAT SEASON. Anybody remember what happened with the other three players involved in this trade? I know I don’t.
27 Buffalo Sabres - Jan Hejda to Edmonton for a 7th round pick
Surprisingly, Buffalo hasn’t made too many bad trades in the past decade. We settled on this deal that sent defenseman Jan Hejda to the Oilers. Hejda hadn’t cracked the Sabres lineup after being drafted in 2003, and they more or less gave up on him.
Hejda didn’t break out big in Edmonton, but eventually he became an NHL regular with Columbus first, then Colorado.
26 Calgary Flames - Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie and Fredrik Sjostrom to Toronto for Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan and Ian White
Dion Phaneuf established himself as a force in Calgary, which makes this trade a bit of a head-scratcher. None of the four players who Phaneuf brought back held anywhere close to the value Phaneuf had.
Matt Stajan was the only player who stayed a Flame for more than a couple seasons, and he was a replaceable role player that whole time.
25 Carolina Hurricanes - Andrew Ladd to Chicago for Tuomo Ruutu
The Carolina Hurricanes definitely lost this deal, as Tuomo Ruutu never became the player they wanted him to be and Ladd went on to win a Stanley Cup in Chicago and then captain the Winnipeg Jets.
Today, Ladd finds himself in Chicago again playing a top six role, ready to compete for another Cup. Ruutu is in New Jersey, still looking for his first point of the season. Carolina has only made the playoffs once since their 2006 Cup run.
24 Chicago Blackhawks - Andrew Ladd to Atlanta for Ivan Vishneskiy and a 2nd round pick
The only bad deals Chicago has made in the past decade were forced upon them because of the salary cap. After winning the 2010 Stanley Cup, Andrew Ladd was part of the exodus.
Chicago obviously had few options, but you’d think that Ladd would have garnered more of a return—especially considering the amount of success he had had in Chicago, and the fact that he turned out to be pretty good captain material to boot.
23 Colorado Avalanche - Craig Anderson to Ottawa for Brian Elliott
Sure, both of these goalies have been off-and-on starters ever since the trade, but Anderson has done so with the Senators, and Elliott won two games for the Avalanche before moving onto the Blues.
Anderson, meanwhile, is now 2nd in all-time wins for the Senators with 245, trailing franchise leader Patrick Lalime by 38 wins—basically, he could potentially hold the franchise record by the end of next season.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets - Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore and a 6th round pick for Marian Gaborik, Blake Parlett and Steven Delisle
At the time it looked like Columbus was acquiring the best player in the trade (Marian Gaborik). Today, however, Derick Brassard is the best player of the six involved in this trade.
Had Gaborik given the Jackets even just a few years of consistent production, it might have been worth it. His time with the club (less than a calendar year) was plagued with injury and apathy, and he only notched 22 points in the 34 games he played with the Jackets.
21 Dallas Stars - Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock and a 2nd round pick for Kris Russell
I’m taking a bit of a risk here, since this trade hasn’t fully played out and it’s possible that Russell plays a key role in a Dallas Stars playoff run, but off the bat this looks like a bad deal for the Stars.
First off, Jokipakka is six years younger than Russell and already developing into a decent rearguard. Throw in Brett Pollock (a 2014 2nd round pick) and ANOTHER 2nd round pick, and that seems like a steep price for Russell, but time will tell on this one.
20 Detroit Red Wings - Calle Jarnkrok, Patrick Eaves and a 3rd round pick for David Legwand
Rentals can get pricey around the deadline, but the price Detroit paid for David Legwand in 2014 was a little ridiculous. The Red Wings only got 21 games out of Legwand (plus five in the playoffs).
Jarnkrok, meanwhile, has established himself as a regular on a good Nashville team, and Legwand is on his second team since departing Detroit after the early 2014 playoff exit.
19 Edmonton Oilers - Ryan Smyth to New York Islanders for Robert Nilsson, Ryan O’Marra and a 1st round pick
There were plenty of options when it came time to pick Edmonton’s worst trade of the past decade, but we had to go with the infamous Ryan Smyth trade back in 2007.
Squabbling over a matter of a few hundred thousand dollars that Smyth wanted after taking a home town discount for many years, GM Kevin Lowe was unable to reach an agreement with Smyth, so he traded him for what eventually amounted to nothing. Goodbye franchise player, hello... Robert Nilsson, I guess?
18 Florida Panthers - Roberto Luongo, Lukas Krajicek and a 6th round pick for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld
The Florida Panthers have since righted this wrong by fleecing the Canucks for Luongo in 2014, but the Canucks were the ones fleecing the Panthers in 2006.
The Panthers essentially got spare parts for Luongo. The centerpiece of the trade was Bertuzzi, and he played all of seven games with the Panthers before shutting it down for the season for back surgery. Not a great return for a franchise goalie.
17 Los Angeles Kings - Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and a 2nd round pick for Mike Richards and Rob Bordson
This one actually isn’t too terrible, as Richards did win two Stanley Cups with the club (playing a fairly key role in the 2012 Cup), but he’s pretty much been worse than Wayne Simmonds overall ever since the trade—not to mention the role Schenn plays in Philly AND the 2nd round pick.
Richards is now barely hanging onto his spot in the league, while Schenn, and especially Simmonds, play in all situations in Philadelphia.
16 Minnesota Wild - Brent Burns and a 2nd round pick to San Jose for Charlie Coyle, Devin Setoguchi and a 1st round pick
No disrespect to Charlie Coyle, but Brent Burns is one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, and his value to the Sharks today cannot be overstated. He already has 60 points this season.
Setoguchi’s best days were already behind him, and the 1st round pick turned out to be pretty inconsequential (Zach Phillips). At the time, this trade looked pretty even; five years later, not so much.
15 Montreal Canadiens - Ryan McDonagh, Chris Higgins, Doug Janik and Pavel Valentenko to New York Rangers for Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt and Michael Busto
A lot of moving parts in this deal, but the key pieces were Scott Gomez and Ryan McDonagh. Gomez, who went to Montreal saddled with a cap hit of over $7 million, never even had a good season with the Canadiens, eventually losing his spot on the roster.
McDonagh is now a stud defender in New York, and Gomez is the player teams sign halfway through the season when they get hit with injuries and become desperate.
14 Nashville Predators - Devan Dubnyk to Montreal for Future Considerations
One year after this trade, Dubnyk was putting the finishing touches on a season that would see him earn a Vezina Trophy nomination.
I went with this trade for Nashville because of the return. This could have well been the biggest motivating factor for Dubnyk to turn his career around. Getting traded for just “future considerations”? What a smack in the face!
13 New Jersey Devils - Johnny Oduya, Patrice Cormier, Niclas Bergfors, a 1st round pick and a 2nd round pick for Ilya Kovalchuk, Anssi Salmela and a 2nd round pick
The Devils made this trade with the expectation that Kovalchuk would be the cornerstone of the franchise for the next decade, at least. Kovalchuk of course played a key role in the Devils run to the Finals in 2012, but then things got weird.
Kovalchuk weaseled his way out of his contract with the Devils and defected to Russia to play at home. Of course there’s a bunch of malarkey going on with Kovalchuk and his KHL club today, so perhaps the Russian needs to grow up a bit still (too bad he’s 32).
12 New York Islanders - Matt Moulson, a 1st round pick and a 2nd round pick to Buffalo for Thomas Vanek
Garth Snow has made a handful of head-scratching moves in his long tenure as Islanders GM, but this deal to acquire Thomas Vanek from the Sabres in 2013 is among the worst.
Matt Moulson, for one, had established incredible chemistry with NYI franchise center John Tavares. Throw in the two draft picks, and the fact that Vanek wouldn’t re-sign with the Islanders beyond the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, and you've got yourself a pretty terrible trade from the Isles' standpoint.
11 New York Rangers - Two 2nd round picks and a 3rd round pick to San Jose for Ryane Clowe
At the time of this trade I feel like there was a widespread belief that Ryane Clowe was a big, strong depth player who could really turn it up when it’s all on the line (AKA the playoffs). If that were true in San Jose at one point, the Rangers never got to experience it.
Clowe only laced ‘em up for two of the Rangers postseason games that year, and then he left New York and signed with New Jersey—NYR’s biggest rival—that summer.
10 Ottawa Senators: - Ben Bishop to Tampa Bay for Cory Conacher and a 4th round pick
When this trade was made, Cory Conacher was off to a hot start in his rookie campaign. It was a small sample size, but Ottawa had seen enough and they decided that Craig Anderson was the better bet moving forward (especially with prospect Robin Lehner knocking on the door).
Well, Conacher pretty much fell off a cliff after going to Ottawa, and Bishop has since established himself as one of the more reliable starters in the league.
9 Philadelphia Flyers - Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus for a 2nd round pick and two 4th round picks
As long as you’re not a Flyers fan, this one is especially funny because Philadelphia hasn’t had a reliable starter since, who… Ron Hextall? The year after they trade Bobrovsky, what happens? He wins the Vezina Trophy in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
Meanwhile, Steve Mason and Michael Neuvirth share the crease in Philly, which has been nothing if not inconsistent.
8 Pittsburgh Penguins - Kenneth Agostino, Ben Hanowski and a 1st round pick for Jarome Iginla
This would have been a fine trade if the Penguins had any sort of playoff run to write home about that season, but they were swept out of the Conference Finals by the Bruins. While a Conference Finals appearance sounds like a good season, that year was Cup or bust for Pittsburgh.
Iginla then left Pittsburgh to sign with the Bruins, the team that defeated them. So, the Pens gave up a 1st rounder and two prospects for 13 regular season games and 15 playoff games worth of Iginla’s services.
7 San Jose Sharks - Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to Vancouver for Daniel Rahimi and Patrick White
This was a bad trade for San Jose based on the fact that Christian Ehrhoff was far and away the best of the four players involved in this deal, and the two prospects the Sharks received combined for zero NHL games.
Ehrhoff would play extremely well for the Canucks in his two seasons with the club, playing a key role in the 2011 team that came one game away from winning the Stanley Cup.
6 St. Louis Blues - Chris Pronger to Edmonton for Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka
I have no idea how the Oilers pulled this one off, but the Blues should have laid charges because to get a defenseman like Pronger for Brewer and spare parts is blatant robbery. No disrespect to Brewer, a fine defenseman, but we’re talking about Pronger here.
Pronger led the Oilers to within one win of the Cup in his only season with the club. His time in Edmonton ended badly, as we’re all aware, but this trade is still as one-sided as they get.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning - Jussi Jokinen to Carolina for Wade Brookbank, Josef Melichar and a 4th round pick
The Lightning took a chance here, dealing Jokinen for two prospects at the time (plus the 4th round pick, of course). It didn’t work well for Tampa, as neither Brookbank nor Melichar laced up the skates for the Lightning.
Jokinen has been a stellar NHLer ever since the trade, and is still finding ways to contribute for his current club, the Florida Panthers.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs - Two 1st round picks and a 2nd round pick to Boston for Phil Kessel
Toronto had a lot of options here—the other one that really stuck out was the 2006 trade of Andrew Raycroft to Boston for the rights to Tuukka Rask. However, I had to go with the infamous Phil Kessel trade.
Let’s make one thing clear: Kessel was Toronto’s best player for his entire tenure with the team. But two of the three picks that they traded turned out to be Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. Toronto could sure use the services of those players today.
3 Vancouver Canucks - Cory Schneider to New Jersey for a 1st round pick
I chose this trade because I truly believe that Cory Schneider is a top-5 goalie in the NHL. A goalie as good as him should get more than just one draft pick, even though it was a top-10 selection (Bo Horvat).
The other candidate for Vancouver's worst trade was the Luongo trade made in 2014 (back to Florida). It was basically a coin toss between the two trades, but the way that Vancouver screwed up their enviable goaltending situation is worth a special mention.
2 Washington Capitals - Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat and Michael Latta
This looked like a bad trade the day it was made, as Filip Forsberg was a very promising prospect, and today it’s easy to see why that is. At the time, however, it still sort of made sense for Washington; they were beefing up for a playoff run, and Erat had been a solid player for the Preds for years.
It was Erat’s inability to help the team in any constructive way that makes this trade the worst for the Caps. In the 62 regular season games he played with Washington before being shipped to the desert, Erat scored two goals.
1 Winnipeg Jets - Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to Pittsburgh for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a 1st round pick
This trade is as one-sided as they come. Needless to say, Hossa was the best player involved in this deal, but Pascal Dupuis was the second best, including the 1st round pick (which turned out to be Daultan Leveille).
From the Thrashers end (AKA the Jets), Armstrong gave them a few solid years of service, but Christensen and Esposito never factored into the team in any meaningful way.