Every calendar year brings about dozens of trades in the NHL, with the bulk of them occurring in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline or at the draft table in June. With the trade deadline looming (or already past, depending if you’re reading this beyond March 1), we thought it would be fun to look back through recent history and pick out the most lopsided deals from each of the past 15 years.
To do so, I reviewed every trade that’s happened in the league since 2002. That’s a lot of trades, most of which were inconsequential, but there were certainly a handful each year that stuck out as a raw deal for one club involved.
Sometimes the deal was obviously one-sided from the get go, and in other cases it took a few years for the smoke to clear and the winner of the trade to emerge. This is especially true when a player is traded for picks and those picks turn into something far more valuable than the player who the picks were traded for.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the 15 most one-sided deals in the NHL from each calendar year since 2002. Enjoy:
15 2002: ATL acquires Marc Savard from CAL for Ruslan Zainullin
This trade is so lopsided that I can’t even find a general internet consensus on how Ruslan spells his last name. Some sources have it as Zaynullin, while others have it as Zainullin. Either way, Marc Savard was traded from the Calgary Flames to the Atlanta Thrashers on Nov. 15, 2002, for Ruslan Zainullin. This is obviously a very lopsided deal, even taking into consideration the fact that Savard’s career was cut short due to concussions.
14 2003: BUF acquires Daniel Briere and a 3rd round pick from ARI for Chris Gratton and a 4th
This one is a real head-scratcher, as it’s difficult to know just what the Coyotes organization was thinking with this trade. Chris Gratton was a few years older at the time and sure, he’d played a handful of more games than Daniel Briere had at the time, but Briere recently broke out as an offensive stud, notching 60 points in the 2001-02 season, his first full one in the NHL.
13 2004: NYR acquire Jaromir Jagr from WAS for Anson Carter
Jaromir Jagr is a legend who will go down in history as one of the greatest players of all time. Anson Carter is not that at all, which is crazy because on Jan.23, 2004, the Capitals sent Jagr to the Rangers in exchange for the dreadlocked winger, straight up. No disrespect to Carter here, who was a solid NHL winger for many years, but Jagr finished second in league scoring the following season (after the lockout that ensued) with 123 points.
12 2005: SJS acquires Joe Thornton from BOS for Wayne Primeau, Brad Stuart, and Marco Sturm
This one is perhaps the most lopsided trade in league history, let alone of 2005. On. Nov. 30, the Bruins sent Joe Thornton to San Jose in exchange for a trifecta of what (in comparison) amounts to trash. The players who came back the other way were Wayne Primeau, Marco Sturm, and Brad Stuart. Thornton won the Hart Trophy as league MVP that season, and the Bruins missed the playoffs by a lot.
11 2006: BOS acquires Tuukka Rask from TOR for Andrew Raycroft
Toronto fans likely expected this trade to show up on this list, so here you go. At the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs sent the rights to former first-round draft pick Tuukka Rask to Boston in exchange for Andrew Raycroft. At the time of the trade, Rask was still toiling away in Finland and Raycroft had won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year a few years prior.
10 2007: BOS acquires Carl Soderberg from STL for Hannu Toivonen
Carl Soderberg has been involved in two trades during his NHL career, and in both cases the team that got him won the deal. Most recently, he was traded from Boston to Colorado at the 2015 draft table in exchange for a 6th round pick, but since the Bruins were basically just dealing away his negotiating rights that doesn’t really count. However, when the Bruins got him from St. Louis on July 23, 2007, in exchange for backup goalie Hannu Toivonen, they made off like bandits.
9 2008: STL acquires Alexander Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo from TOR for Lee Stempniak
The Toronto Maple Leafs factor in on this list a few times, coming up on the wrong side of some pretty lopsided deals over the past 15 years. On Nov. 24, 2008, the Leafs sent Alexander Steen and Carlo Calaiacovo to the Blues in exchange for Lee Stempniak. Now, no disrespect to Stempniak, who is a legitimate veteran of nearly 850 games, but Steen has developed into a star in this league.
8 2009: LAK acquires Justin Williams from CAR for Patrick O’Sullivan and a 2nd round pick
This deal was actually a smaller part of a larger, three-way deal that saw the Oilers send Erik Cole to Carolina. However, this is the official deal that is on the books, so it makes the cut. Justin Williams is a clutch player, and since this trade went down on March 4, 2009, Williams has won his second and third Stanley Cups, capturing the Conn Smythe in 2014.
7 2010: OTT acquires David Rundblad from STL for a 1st round pick
Now, if this was just David Rundblad for a 1st round pick, that would be a one-sided deal no matter who was picked with that 1st rounder. The 1st round pick that went to St. Louis in this case was a 15th overall selection, and the Blues decided to grab Russian Vladimir Tarasenko with the pick. Tarasenko is currently one of the best wingers in the NHL, and Rundblad is playing for Zurich SC.
6 2011: ATL acquires Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart from BOS for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik
Blake Wheeler has developed into a great NHL player, but his development did not take the form of a straight line. Wheeler started his NHL career in Boston but he fell out of favor there, often accused of taking shifts off and avoiding the hard areas. They traded him to Atlanta on Feb. 18, 2011, along with Mark Stuart, in exchange for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik.
5 2012: CBJ acquires Sergei Bobrovsky from PHI for two 4th round picks and a 2nd
The Philadelphia Flyers traded Sergei Bobrovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets on June 22, 2012, in exchange for three draft picks (a 2nd round pick and two 4th round picks). The Flyers had acquired the services of Ilya Bryzgalov the year before, and decided that they were all set in the crease and they had no use for the prospect Bobrovsky moving forward.
4 2013: NAS acquires Filip Forsberg from WAS for Martin Erat and Michael Latta
Sometimes a team will roll the dice and trade a prospect for a veteran at the deadline. These deals will often come back to bite the team who trades the prospects, and that is just the case with the Washington Capitals in this situation. On April 3, 2013, they sent 2012 1st round pick (11th overall) Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat and Michael Latta.
3 2014: MON acquires Devan Dubnyk from NAS for Future Considerations
Devan Dubnyk had a rollercoaster of a 2014, as he was dealt a few times within the span of three months. He was first sent to Nashville from Edmonton for Matt Hendricks, which in hindsight is a pretty bad deal for the Oilers. Nashville, however, wasn’t happy with Dubnyk either, so they traded the netminder to Montreal for futures.
2 2015: EDM acquires Griffin Reinhart from NYI for the 16th and 33rd overall picks
While the Edmonton Oilers are the beneficiaries of the 2016 trade on our list (you'll see next), they were the suckers of the 2015 trade that made the cut. At the draft on June 26, 2015, the Oilers sent a 1st round pick and a 2nd round pick to the New York Islanders in exchange for Griffin Reinhart. The Oilers badly needed help on defense and decided to take a chance on the former Edmonton Oil King.
1 2016: EDM acquires Patrick Maroon from ANA for Martin Gernat and a 4th
On Feb. 29, 2016, the Edmonton Oilers fleeced the Anaheim Ducks in a trade by sending Martin Gernat and a 4th round pick to Orange County in exchange for the services of Patrick Maroon. Maroon has found success playing on Connor McDavid’s wing in 2016-17, already having scored 20 goals on the year. Gernat is not projected to ever become a regular NHLer (and he wasn’t at the time of the trade).
Adding insult to injury is the fact that the Ducks are paying a quarter of Maroon’s salary through 2017-18. The fourth round pick they acquired in the deal was used to draft winger Jack Kopacka, who is playing his third year of junior with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Perhaps Kopacka will change things in the future, but today this is looking like a real steal for GM Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers.
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