The Vancouver Canucks became an NHL franchise in 1970. The team has definitely had it's ups and downs. They have three Stanley Cup Finals appearances, but no wins. The team has had many stars come through the city. The majority of their best players were home grown through the draft. This is not to say they haven't made some truly great deals. Players like Markus Naslund and Roberto Luongo were acquired through shrewd trades.
Just like any team, they have made their fair share of bad trades, whether it is giving up on young players too early like Michael Grabner and Cam Neely or trading away veteran players that still had a lot to give like Tiger Williams.
This list here will count them all down. You will see some of the biggest players in Canucks history make this list. From their early 90s glory days players like Dave Babych and Kirk McLean to the modern day stars like Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider, and Ryan Kesler.
This list will have it all , covering all eras of the Vancouver Canucks. Make sure to leave a comment and have your voice heard on what you think is the worst deal. So let's get this started as we count down the 15 worst trades in Vancouver Canucks history.
15 The Canucks Trade Ryan Kesler
The Trade: Ryan Kesler and a 2015 3rd round pick for a 2014 1st round pick (Jared McCann), Lucas Sbisa, Nick Bonino and a 2014 3rd round pick.
It was clear that it was time for the Vancouver Canucks to move on from Ryan Kesler. He made his pro debut for the Canucks during the 2003-04 NHL season. He hit career highs during the 2010-11 season, scoring 41 goals and adding 32 assists. There were rumors of him being disgruntled all through the 2013-14 season. The Canucks pulled the trigger sending him and a 3rd round pick in the 2015 NHL draft to their conference rival Anaheim Ducks. In return, the Canucks received a 2014 1st round pick (Jared McCann), Lucas Sbisa, Nick Bonino and a 2014 3rd round pick. Bonino struggled with the Canucks and was moved to the Penguins (for Brandon Sutter).
Jared McCann could never find his footing and was moved to the Panthers for Erik Gudbranson. The only player from the original trade still with the team is Lucas Sbisa. Sbisa is a solid defenseman but he definitely wasn't worth Ryan Kesler.
14 The Canucks Acquire The Cat
The Trade: Canucks trade Kevin Weekes, Dave Scatchard and Bill Mucklat for Felix Potvin, 2000 2nd round pick and a 2000 3rd round pick.
This trade was made with the thought of "we need to win now". Felix Potvin was a star in the league for many years with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canucks were looking for stability in net. The Canucks sent Kevin Weekes, Dave Scatchard, and Bill Mucklat. In return, the Canucks received Felix Potvin, a 2nd and a 3rd round pick. The picks were huge busts that never amounted to anything in the NHL. Potvin would play 69 games over two seasons, with a record of 26-30-10.
Potvin would go on to rejuvenate his career after the Canucks traded him to the Kings. Kevin Weekes would carve out a long career as a backup in the NHL, with a record of 105-163-29. Dave Scatchard would have a lengthy career in the NHL, scoring 128 goals and 141 assists in 659 games. For two seasons of struggling play by Potvin, it really doesn't seem worth it.
13 The Canucks trade Dale Weise
The Trade: The Vancouver Canucks trade Dale Weise to the Montreal Canadiens for Raphael Diaz.
This is one of those deals that seemed small at the time but backfired on the Canucks. Dale Weise played a small role on the Canucks, playing 4th line minutes and providing some grit to the roster. The Canucks deemed him expendable, thus shipping him to the Montreal Canadiens. In return, the Canucks got speedy defenseman Raphael Diaz. Diaz would only last six games with the Canucks, scoring 1 goal and adding one assist. The Canucks would ship Diaz to the New York Rangers for a 5th round pick.
Dale Weise would explode in Montreal, becoming a huge fan favorite. He brought grit that the team desperately needed, and chipped in offensively. He scored a career-high 14 goals in the 2014-15 NHL season. Weise now plays for the Philadelphia Flyers, while Diaz has been out of the NHL since 2015.
12 The Canucks Give Up On Michael Grabner
The Trade: Canucks trade Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner and 2010 first round pick for Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich.
The Vancouver Canucks have a history of giving up on players far too soon. Michael Grabner was their 1st round pick in 2006. He wouldn't make his NHL debut until the 2009-10 NHL season. After scoring 11 points in his first 20 games, it seemed the Canucks thought he was expendable. Looking to shore up their defense, the Canucks shipped Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier and a 2010 1st round pick (Quinton Howden). In return, the Canucks received Victor Oreskovich and Keith Ballard. Oreskovich was a complete bust, playing 17 games over two seasons with a total of 3 assists. Keith Ballard had three solid seasons with the Canucks, mostly playing on the 2nd or 3rd pairing.
Michael Grabner, on the other hand, has become a reliable scorer in the NHL. He reached career highs during the 2010-11 NHL season with 34 goals. He is well on his way to beating that this season. Grabner has 21 goals in just 45 games.
11 The Canucks Acquire Martin Rucinsky
The Trade: Martin Rucinsky for Martin Grenier and R.J. Umberger
Martin Rucinsky was a solid player in the 90s. He could be relied upon to chip in close to 20 goals a season and be defensively reliable. The Canucks unfortunately acquired Rucinsky long after those days were gone. During the 2003-04 NHL season, the Vancouver Canucks traded Martin Grenier and R.J. Umberger to the New York Rangers for the aging Rucinsky. Martin Rucinsky only lasted 13 games with the Canucks, scoring 1 goal and adding 2 assists.
R.J. Umberger was not an elite forward by any means, however he would go on to have five seasons of more than 20 goals with the Flyers and Blue Jackets. It's safe to say the Canucks could have used his offensive and gritty play for the last 10 years.
10 The Canucks Trade Mike Sillinger
The Trade: Mike Sillinger to the Flyers for a 5th round pick.
Mike Sillinger has been traded more times than he would ever care to admit. The Canucks have to take the cake when it comes to Mike Sillinger trades though. When Mike Keenan took over as GM of the Canucks, he promised wholesale changes. In a short span, the Canucks traded away many of their stars (some of which appear on this list). The Mike Sillinger trade is unique. The Canucks traded Mike Sillinger to the Philidelphia Flyers in exchange for a 5th round pick...that they would never use.
The 5th round pick was coupled in with another player and traded just a few short months later (this trade will also appear on the list). Mike Sillinger retired with 548 points in 1,049 games, a long career that the Canucks gave up on in 1998.
9 The Canucks Trade Costly Draft Pick
The Trade: 2007 2nd round pick (Wayne Simmonds), 2008 4th round pick (Justin Jokinen) for Brent Sopel
Brent Sopel was a solid defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks in the late 90s to early 2000s. The Canucks traded him in 2005 but were looking to bring him back in 2007. The Vancouver Canucks traded their 2nd round pick in the 2007 NHL Draft and their 4th round pick in the 2008 NHL Draft to the L.A Kings for Sopel. The Canucks quickly learned Sopel was not the answer they needed on defense. He struggled through 20 games before leaving as a free agent. The 4th round pick became Justin Jokinen, who never amounted to anything.
What makes this trade hurt is that 2nd round pick. The Kings used that pick to select Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds has become one of the premier power forwards in the NHL. Simmonds hit career highs last season, scoring 32 goals and adding 28 assists along with 147 PIMs. He would have brought an element of grit that is desperately needed on the Canucks. This is assuming they would have been smart enough to pick him.
8 The Canucks Trade 2 Young Stars
The Trade: Canucks trade Rick Vaive and Bill Derlago to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Tiger Williams and Jerry Butler
Rick Vaive would go on to be an elite scorer in the NHL, scoring 441 goals and adding 347 assists. Unfortunately, only 13 goals and 8 assists came with the Canucks. The Canucks packaged Vaive and Bill Derlago 416 career points in 555 games) to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Tiger Williams and Jerry Butler.
Tiger Williams was one of the best Canucks of all time, once scoring 35 goals and added 343 PIMs in 1980-81. Jerry Butler however was a huge bust for the Canucks. Butler would play 128 games for the Canucks, only scoring 19 goals and adding 20 assists. Tiger Williams became the all-time NHL leader in penalty minutes. Rick Vaive and Bill Derlago both put up big points in their NHL careers. Tiger Williams was a solid star for the Canucks, who they would foolishly trade away (more on that later),
7 The Canucks Trade A Team Icon
The Trade: Canucks trade Dave Babych and a 5th round pick to the Flyers for a 3rd round pick (Justin Morrison).
I said it would be featured on this list as well. After dealing Mike Sillinger, the Canucks' fire sale continued. Dave Babych was one of the most beloved Vancouver Canucks of all time. Babych had a huge following in Vancouver, but he was getting up there in age at the time of the deal. Keenan decided that enough was enough and moved the fan favorite to the Flyers.
The Canucks traded Dave Babych and the 5th round pick they got in the Mike Sillinger trade. In return, the Flyers sent them their 1998 3rd round pick. The Canucks used that pick on Justin Morrison. Morrison would never play a game for the Canucks, as he struggled in the ECHL and AHL. He started playing overseas in 2006 and was retired by 2011. Not a great return for what amounted to two solid NHL quality players.
6 The Canucks Trade Tiger Williams
The Trade: Canucks trade Tiger Williams to Detroit for Rob McClanahan.
I said there would be more on Dave "Tiger" Williams. After acquiring him from the Maple Leafs, Tiger became the face of the franchise. He played five years for the Canucks, totaling 83 goals and 82 assists in 312 games. More importantly, Tiger added 1,324 PIMs with the franchise. The Canucks thought that Tiger's best years were behind him. On August 8th, 1984 the Canucks traded Tiger Williams to the Detroit Red Wings for Rob McClanahan. Williams would play another four years in the NHL, still racking up the penalty minutes.
Rob McClanahan never played a single game for the Vancouver Canucks. In fact, he never played another NHL game period. A very disappointing return for someone that the fans had become so attached to.
5 The Canucks Gamble On Hedberg
The Trade: Canucks trade their 2004 2nd round pick (became Alex Goligoski) to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Johan Hedberg.
The trading of draft picks is never an exact science. It is hard to judge a GM by trading a pick for someone that can help the team now. That is the risk you take in the NHL, and it has backfired on many teams (don't you think the Leafs would have preferred having Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton over Phil Kessel?). The problem is when you trade a pick that is used to get a decent player for someone who did nothing good for your franchise. The Vancouver Canucks of the early 2000s struggled in net. They tried to address this need by sending their 2004 2nd round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In return, they thought they were getting a potential answer to their struggles in Johan Hedberg. Hedberg had been a serviceable goaltender for the Penguins, reaching career highs during the 2001-02 NHL season with 25 wins. He was not the same goalie for the Canucks. Hedberg struggled in Vancouver lasting only 21 games. He had a record of 8-6-2.
The Penguins used that pick to draft Alex Goligoski. Goligoski evolved into a solid top-4 defenseman with the Penguins. He has since become a strong offensive force in the NHL, registering 56 goals and 234 assists in his career thus far. Goligoski currently plays for the Arizona Coyotes, but I bet the Canucks would have loved to have his offensive flair when they were going on their Stanley Cup run in 2011.
4 The Canucks Botch Schneider Deal
The Trade: Canucks trade Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for 2013 1st Round Pick (Bo Horvat).
Bo Horvat may one day be a hell of a hockey player. He has played well for a Canucks team that struggles to score on a nightly basis. He is on pace to have a career year this season with 30 points in 45 games. However, he is not nearly as elite as Cory Schneider. The Canucks simply panicked in 2013, trading their young goaltender when it seemed that a Roberto Luongo trade wasn't going to happen. The Canucks sent Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the 9th overall draft pick. Since the trade, Schneider has established himself as one of the best goalies in the NHL. He hit career highs last season with 27 wins. This season has been a trying one for Schneider and the Devils. The fact remains however that Vancouver gave away one of the best goalies in the world and did not receive nearly enough for him.
3 The Canucks Say Bye to Bobby Lu
The Trade: Canucks trade Roberto Luongo and Steven Anthony to the Florida Panthers for Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias.
It was never an if, but when the Canucks would trade Roberto Luongo. It had been sports news fodder for well over a year. After being signed to an extremely long term contract, the Canucks soured on Luongo as he didn't lead them to a cup win. The rise of Cory Schneider put even more pressure on the Canucks to find a home for their high priced goalie. Instead, the Canucks traded Schneider at the 2013 NHL draft. On March 4th, 2014 the Canucks finally pulled the trigger dealing Luongo and Steven Anthony to the Florida Panthers for Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias. Since the trade, Luongo returned to his all-star form winning 35 games last season. Matthias was an okay 3rd line player for the Canucks, scoring 21 goals and adding 13 assists in 96 games. Markstrom struggled initially but blossomed into a solid starter last season. Markstrom won 30 games last season, this season the struggles have returned. Only time will tell if he can right the ship and make this trade a little less one sided.
2 The Canucks Trade A Team Icon Part 2
The Trade: Canucks trade Martin Gelinas and Kirk McLean to the Hurricanes for Sean Burke, Enrico Ciccone, and Geoff Sanderson.
Kirk McLean was a huge part of the Vancouver Canucks. He backstopped the team to a Stanley Cup run in 1994. Over 11 seasons with the Canucks, Mclean compiled a record of 211-228-62. Not elite numbers by any means but good for his era. With new management in place, they decided to move on from their stable netminder. The Canucks packaged McLean and Martin Gelinas (who had just come off a career-best 35 goal season) to the Hurricanes for Sean Burke, Enrico Ciccone, and Geoff Sanderson. McLean was never the same, only winning 32 games over the last four seasons of his career.
Gelinas would go on to play another nine seasons in the NHL and could always be relied upon to pitch in 15-20 goals a season. Sean Burke would struggle in Vancouver, compiling a record of 2-9-4 before revitalizing his career elsewhere. Geoff Sanderson would only play nine games with the Canucks, scoring no goals and adding three assists. Enrico Ciccone would also not last long with the Canucks, only playing in 13 games. You would expect to get more from your franchise goalie and a potential breakout star forward.
1 The Canucks Give Up On Cam Neely
The Trade: Canucks trade Cam Neely and 1987 1st round pick(#3 Glen Wesley) to the Boston Bruins for Barry Pederson.
Cam Neely had shown flashes of brilliance with the Vancouver Canucks but they gave up on him too early. The Canucks traded Cam Neely and their 1987 first round pick to the Boston Bruins for Barry Pederson. Cam Neely played 525 games over 10 years for the Boston Bruins, scoring 344 goals and adding 246 assists. He played a physical game, racking up 921 penalty minutes in that time. The throw-in on the deal was a first round pick (which was #3 overall due to the Canucks' poor play). The Bruins used that pick on defenseman Glen Wesley. Wesley was a solid defenseman during his seven years in Boston. Wesley scored 77 goals and added 230 assists while a member of the Bruins. Wesley would have a long career in the NHL finally retiring after the 2007-08 NHL season.
Barry Pederson was a complete failure as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. He struggled to only 60 goals, and 137 assists during four years in Vancouver. He did not showcase the same goal scoring prowess that he had with the Bruins, never cracking the 80 point mark with the Canucks.