Top 15 Huge NHL Trades That Almost Happened

It seems hockey fans today have been left starved for big trades. GMs seem to be more conservative than ever regarding trades, as they don't want to be seen as that guy who traded away a star player to see him succeed elsewhere. Making a so-called "hockey trade" today gets even harder when cap hits and contract lengths have to be taken into the equation.

We've seen one big "hockey trade" this year and all the stars had to align perfectly for that to go down. With the Nashville Predators being so deep on defense and in their Stanley Cup contention window, they traded their 2013 fourth overall pick Seth Jones in exchange for Ryan Johansen who has the makings to be an elite top centre in this league, but had fallen out of favor with Columbus. In addition to that, the Jackets were starving for a no.1 D-man, hence everything made sense for both teams.

Many trades have happened throughout history that have altered the course of franchises. There's also an old saying of sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make. That's what we'll be looking at here. The trades that reportedly almost happened. These trades would have shaken the league and the outlook of these teams would be a lot different. Had some of these gone down, we also would have seen different teams hoisting the Stanley Cup. Some GMs can thank their lucky stars they didn't make these trades, while some fans can cringe, as their teams would have benefited greatly had these trades gone down.

It's important these trades are rumors and heresay from insiders at the time these trades were rumored to go down.

15 Corey Schneider to Colombus for Gilbert Brule

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Back when the Vancouver Canucks were set in goal with Roberto Luongo and a young emerging star in Cory Schneider, Dave Nonis gave Doug MacLean a call. McLean was running the Blue Jackets at the time and the team was struggling (sound familiar?). They were reportedly offered goaltending prospect Cory Schneider by the Canucks GM for Gilbert Brule, who was disappointing the Jackets after having picked him fourth overall in 2005.

The Jackets didn't pull the trigger on this trade and MacLean found himself fired at the end of the 2006-07 season. Brule would be traded the next year for Raffi Torres, not quite the same return as a future top-tier goalie.

14 Evander Kane to Philadelphia

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Evander Kane was seemingly swirling in trade rumors from the moment he arrived in Winnipeg, following the Thrashers' move up north to become the Jets. Kane's reported attitude problems, but potentially elite talent saw him coveted by other teams. The Flyers are always active in looking for another scoring forward and they were very close to landing Kane a couple of seasons ago.

Bob McKenzie reported a couple of years ago that the situation was: "We've got to get past all this sophomoric ambiguity on tweets and what they mean and everything else. He just needs to be a happy, functioning, performing member of the hockey club."

The tweet in question was Kane favoriting a tweet where a fan suggested him getting traded to Philly.

13 Thomas Vanek to Boston for Tyler Seguin

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Oh what could have been for the Sabres. Thomas Vanek their captain was in a contract year and it was becoming clear that Vanek intended to test free agency at the end of the 2013-14 season. The Bruins had decided that Tyler Seguin was not a fit with their club and were seeking a trade partner in the 2013 offseason. The Buffalo News reported that the division rivals were close to pulling off a deal that would have sent Vanek to Boston for the young center. The Bruins were in a 'win now' mentality while the Sabres were looking to build for the future.

The Sabres reportedly balked at the trade due to the Bruins wanting another member off their roster. Considering how the Sabres dismantled their team the last couple of years, that would have been a small price to pay to land who is now an elite centerman in the league.

12 Maple Leafs and Oilers Swap Cities

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Now, wouldn't this have been quite the trade. It's not often you hear of the possibility of teams changing cities. Former Oilers owner Peter Pocklington said in his book "I'd Trade Him Again" that then Leafs owner Harold Ballard was having financial problems and made a proposal in 1980 for the two teams to swap cities, with an additional $50 million going to Ballard. Pocklington was in favor of moving the Oilers to Toronto, as he would have gotten a much bigger market to showcase Gretzky and all his young stars. Ballard backed out at the last moment though, according to Pocklington. "I was actually pretty excited," Pocklington said in his book. "I did the numbers. Christ, I would have made a fortune in Toronto."

Could you imagine the Toronto Oilers or the Edmonton Maple Leafs?

11 Patrick Roy to Colorado for Owen Nolan, Stephane Fiset and Adam Deadmarsh

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Without a doubt, the worst trade in Canadiens' history was trading Patrick Roy and captain Mike Keane for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko. Trading away your franchise player and not landing a single star in return? Well, Serge Savard never would have done that. While Savard has said he had an offer on the table for Roy, the return was much better. At the beginning of the 1995-96 season with the Habs starting 0-4, Savard had a deal in place to send Roy to Colorado for Owen Nolan, Stephane Fiset and a draft pick (some report Adam Deadmarsh was the third piece). However on October 16 1995, Savard was fired as GM and replaced with Rejean Houle.

With that deal off the table, Nolan would instead go to the Sharks for Sandis Ozilinsh.

We all know the trade that eventually went down. While trading Roy still seems like a bad idea, a return including Owen Nolan would have been far easier for Habs fans to swallow.

10 Islanders Trade Entire Draft for Ryan Murray

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The Islanders were in desperate need for defence at the 2012 draft.  Picking a defenceman would have made sense for Edmonton, who were picking first, but they instead went with the consensus top prospect Nail Yakupov. According to the Columbus Dispatch, The Islanders offered a huge package to Colombus, who were expected to pick Ryan Murray next. Garth Snow reportedly offered all of his 2012 draft picks for Murray. Columbus reportedly decided against the offer, seeing Murray as the best way to build their team. The Isles then settled on Griffin Reinhart at no.4.

9 Jeff Carter to Toronto for Tomas Kaberle

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This trade idea right here is a reason why the Flyers often find themselves taking one step forward and two steps back. Whenever they have young stars, they quickly look for immediate help. Back in 2008 when Jeff Carter was still establishing himself as a top centre, the Flyers reportedly had a deal in place with Toronto to send Carter up north along with a 1st round pick for Tomas Kaberle. Kaberle was still an effective player, but this move would have been very short-sighted. Kaberle refusing his no-trade clause proved to be a blessing in disguise for Philly. Carter broke out the following year and was a key piece in the Flyers reaching the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

8 Claude Giroux to Tampa Bay for Paul Ranger

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In 2009, Claude Giroux was just breaking into the NHL, having been a 1st round pick in 2006. He put up 27 points in 42 games, but with the Flyers in a win now mentality, they seeked help on the blue line. Then Philly GM offered Giroux to Tampa Bay for Paul Ranger. Former Lightning GM Brian Lawton admitted to receiving the offer but balked at sending the top-four defenceman for an unproven player. Yet another move where the Flyers would have shown their historical impatience.

7 Steven Stamkos to New York

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Steven Stamkos could very well be going elsewhere this offseason, as elite scoring centers don't often get to hit the market in today's NHL. However there was a time when Stamkos could have been on the move early on. Always eager to add star power, the Rangers had a deal in place with Lightning co-owner Len Barrie. Stamkos had been struggling out of the gate in his 2008-09 rookie season and the Rangers were prepared to take advantage of a foolish owner.

The deal the Rangers offered to Tampa was for the Lightning's choice of three of these players: Evgeny Grachev, Brandon Dubinsky, Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan, or Michael Del Zotto.

How close did we come?” said Rangers GM Glen Sather “We shook hands on it, that’s how close.“I had an agreement with Len Barrie. I asked him if he had the authority to make the trade, and he assured me that he did, because he was an owner.

6 Pavel Datsyuk for Scott Gomez

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Man, Lou Lamoriello would have swindled Ken Holland with this one. With Pavel Datsyuk on an expiring contract and negotiations at a stall, the Red Wings considered trading Datsyuk for fellow upcoming UFA Scott Gomez. Both were having amazing years, with Datsyuk having recorded 87 points to Gomez's 84. The Wings were then able to swing a deal with Datsyuk, who followed the 2006-07 season up with back-to-back 97 point seasons. The Wings would win the Stanley Cup in 2008 and made it back to the final in 2009.

Gomez would leave New Jersey in free agency to sign a seven-year, $51.5 million deal with the Rangers, who gave up on him after one year, sending him to Montreal. Bullet dodged, Wings.

5 Corey Perry to Edmonton for Mike Comrie

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Mike Comrie had a great start to his career in Edmonton, but soon found himself embroiled in a contract dispute after recording 133 points in 192 games. With no deal in place in December of the 2003-04 season, Oilers GM Kevin Lowe was looking to move Comrie. The Ducks offered a 1st rounder to Edmonton, as well as Corey Perry, whom they had just drafted five months earlier. Looking back, that's a hell of a return for Edmonton, right?

What prevented this trade from happening? Lowe demanded Comrie return his $2.5 million signing bonus. Comrie refused and soon would be dealt to Philly for Jeff Woywitka, Rob Schremp, and Danny Syvret.

Nice one, Lowe.

4 Vincent Lecavalier to Montreal 

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What everyone knows is that the Montreal Canadiens had a deal in place to bring local born star Vincent Lecavalier to Montreal. What has gotten muddled is what the return would have been. In 2009, Lecavalier was in midst of an eventual 67-point season, a big dip from the 97 and 102 points he had posted the years before. He was also 29 years old on a very long contract of 11 years at $85 million.

When the sides were discussing a trade, a return of Tomas Plekanec, Chris Higgins and Josh Gorges to Tampa was on the table, according to Bob Gainey. The deal was nixed, as Lecavalier wanted to stay in sunny Tampa over pressure cooker Montreal.

Years later, more reports surfaced regarding a Lecavalier trade to Montreal included a far more significant package. It's been rumored that the Canadiens were prepared to give Carey Price, P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty. Price was in his second year as a goalie, while Subban and Pacioretty were two blue-chip prospects.

Thank goodness neither deal went though for Montreal. Maybe Lecavalier as a Quebec native vetoed the trade to save his childhood team.

3 Steve Yzerman for Alexei Yashin

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Would you believe it if someone said Pierre Gauthier, former Canadiens' GM could have been seen as a genius? After the Red Wings' disappointing Stanley Cup Final loss to the Devils in 1995, questions were amounting if Steve Yzerman was the leader that would bring the Wings a Stanley Cup. Yzerman's hometown Ottawa Senators, a young franchise, were willing to give up a young, talented Alexei Yashin for Yzerman.

Detroit ownership nixed the trade and Yzerman would soon lead the Wings to three Stanley Cups. Yashin would go on to hold out for better contracts whenever possible and soon became the most despised player in Senators history.

2 'The Next One' to New York

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Eric Lindros ended up in a Rangers uniform after some great years in Philadelphia, but there was once a deal in place that would have sent Lindros to the Big Apple to start his career. After refusing to play for the Nordiques, Quebec had two deals on the table for the no.1 overall pick who was thought to be the next Wayne Gretzky.

The Flyers had offered a deal involving Peter Forsberg, Steve Duchesne, Ron Hextall, Kerry Huffman and Mike Ricci, a 1st round pick and $15 million.

The Rangers offered John Vanbiesbrouck, Tony Amonte, Alexei Kovalev, Doug Weight, three first round picks and $12 million.

An arbitrator, Larry Bertuzzi, ruled in favor of the Flyers, and thus the deal was settled. The arbitrator later ruled that Chris Simon and a 1994 first rounder would be added to the trade.

1 Wayne Gretzky to Vancouver

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The Great One that got away? The Canucks know that all too well, as Gretzky slipped through Vancouver's hands not once, but twice. Before the whole phone call with Pat Quinn fiasco happened in 1996 though, 'The Trade' could have seen Gretzky going to Vancouver instead of Hollywood.

Owner Peter Pocklington was shopping Gretzky around following the 1987-88 season and offered him to Vancouver for five 1st round picks and $22 million.

Gretzky ended up going to Los Angeles with Marty McSorely and  for Martin Gelinas and Mike Krushelnyski for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three first round picks and $15 million. Just imagine where the Canucks could have been with The Great One. At the very least, Gretzky would have stayed in Canada. Perhaps the Canucks win that 1994 Stanley Cup with Gretzky playing alongside Pavel Bure.

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