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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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