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A history of blockbuster trades

by Mike G. Morreale

Wayne Gretzky was traded to the L.A. Kings from the Edmonton Oilers in 1988. In his first season with the Kings, Gretzky set a team record tallying 168 points. 
Photo gallery: top 10 blockbuster trades
When it comes to blockbuster deals, the trade that sent Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings takes the cake. But the NHL has not been immune to big deals over the years.

Leaving the Gretzky deal in a category by itself, counts down 10 more blockbusters that sent the hockey world spinning.


10 – In 2001, the Colorado Avalanche acquire D Rob Blake and C Steven Reinprecht from the Los Angeles Kings for D Aaron Miller, C Adam Deadmarsh, a first-round pick in 2001, a conditional draft pick and a player off the Avalanche prospects list.

The Avalanche couldn't bring home the Cup in 2000 despite bringing in Ray Bourque and Dave Andreychuk from Boston at the deadline, so one year later they got Blake, one of the NHL's premier defensemen. Blake had six goals and 13 assists in 23 Playoff games for the Avs and, most importantly, helped send Bourque into retirement with the Stanley Cup he had chased since entering the League in 1979.

The Kings' end of the deal would have looked better if Miller and Deadmarsh had stayed healthy. Miller, a defensive defenseman, played in L.A. for five-plus seasons but was able to suit up for more than 56 games just twice. He signed by the Vancouver Canucks in July 2007. Deadmarsh played in 114 games for Los Angeles in two-plus seasons before retiring in 2005 with concussion-like symptoms. He did, however, help the seventh-seeded Kings upset second-seeded Detroit in the opening round of the 2001 Stanley Cup playoffs in six games. Deadmarsh scored the overtime game-winner in Game 6 of a 3-2 victory.

9 - In 2007, the Anaheim Ducks acquire D Chris Pronger from the Edmonton Oilers for F Joffrey Lupul, D Ladislav Smid, a first-round pick in 2007, a second-round pick in 2008 and a conditional draft pick.

This deal gave Anaheim General Manager Brian Burke one of the best one-two defensive pairings in NHL history in Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. Pronger would play an important role in the Ducks' run to their first Stanley Cup championship. He finished second on the team in Playoff scoring with 15 points in 19 games and tied for the League lead with a plus-10 rating. It was Pronger's second straight Finals appearance after coming over from Edmonton, which dropped a seven-game series to the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2005-06 Cup Finals.

Lupul never materialized into the player the Oilers expected, posting 16 goals and 12 assists with a minus-29 rating in 2006-07 before being dealt, along with defenseman Jason Smith, to the Flyers in July 2007.

8 - In 2000, the New Jersey Devils acquire F Alex Mogilny from Vancouver for C Brendan Morrison and F Denis Peterson.

Trades that work out well for both parties are rare, but this deadline deal could very well be the benchmark for equality. The Devils not only led the League in goals in 1999-2000, but the addition of six-time 30-goal scorer Mogilny provided a spark and some extra space for teammates in the club's run to a second Stanley Cup title. In 2000-01, he scored 43 goals and had 83 points in 75 games — his first 80-plus point total in six seasons.

Morrison, meanwhile, didn't miss a game in his first six seasons with the Canucks, averaging more than 60 points per season, including 70 in 2002-03.

7 – In 1994, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquire C Mats Sundin, D Garth Butcher, F Todd Warriner and a first-round pick in 1994 (No. 10) from the Quebec Nordiques for F Wendel Clark, D Sylvain Lefebvre, F Landon Wilson and a first-round pick (No. 22).

It's quite possible that by the time you finish reading this capsule, Sundin could be playing for his third team in 18 NHL seasons. After beginning his career in Quebec, Sundin rose to stardom following his trade to the Leafs, where the 6-foot-5 center has excelled since 1994.

Excluding his first season and lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, Sundin has scored at least 70 points and played in at least 70 games each season. He's led the Leafs in points in each of his 13 seasons with the exception of 2002-03, when Alex Mogilny finished seven points higher. Sundin is the first Swedish-born player to score 500 career goals and currently holds franchise records in goals (420) and points (984). Clark, who was coming off a 76-point season with Toronto in 1993-94, managed just 12 goals and 18 assists in 37 games for the Nordiques following the trade. Prior to the 1995-96 season, he was sent to the New York Islanders in a three-way deal that brought Claude Lemieux to Colorado and Steve Thomas to the Devils. Clark played in 58 games with the Islanders before finishing the season back in Toronto.

Gus Bodnar and Bud Poile, two-thirds of the Maple Leafs' "Flying Forts", were traded to Chicago in exchange for hall-of-famer Max Bentley and forward Cy Thomas.
6 – In 1947, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquire C Max Bentley and F Cy Thomas from the Chicago Blackhawks for F Gus Bodnar, F Bud Poile, F Gaye Stewart, D Ernie Dickens and D Bob Goldham.

The seven-player deal, which at the time was considered the biggest trade in hockey history, included the Leafs entire "Flying Forts" line of Poile, Bodnar and Stewart, as well as highly regarded defensemen Goldham and Dickens. In return, the Leafs obtained  two-time scoring champion Bentley and minor-leaguer Thomas, who would play in only eight games with Toronto. Bentley, who won the Hart Trophy as League MVP in 1946, was one of three players in NHL history to change teams after winning a scoring title (Joe Malone moved from Quebec to the Montreal Canadiens; Jaromir Jagr moved from Pittsburgh to Washington) and would help the Leafs to three Stanley Cup championships over the next four seasons (1948, '49 and '51). Bentley was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.

The trade wasn't so kind to the Blackhawks, who finished last in the League in eight of the next 10 seasons.

5 – In 1995, the Colorado Avalanche acquire G Patrick Roy and F Mike Keane from the Montreal Canadiens for G Jocelyn Thibault, F Martin Rucinsky and F Andrei Kovalenko.

In Montreal, it was labeled simply as "Le Trade." After 10 productive seasons in Montreal that included two Stanley Cups, two Conn Smythe trophies as Playoff MVP and three Vezina trophies as the League's top goaltender, Roy was unceremoniously sent packing. In his first season with Colorado, he helped lead the club to its first Stanley Cup, going 16-6 with a 2.10 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 22 games. He would win another Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy with the Avalanche in 2000-01, finishing 16-7 with a 1.70 GAA and a career-best .934 save percentage in 23 games.

Roy, whose jersey No. 33 has been retired by the Avalanche, is the only player in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy three times. The 11-time NHL All-Star, including five as a member of the Avalanche, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006, his first season of eligibility.

Thibault appeared in 11 Playoff games over four seasons with Montreal, posting a 2-7 mark with a 4.45 GAA and .841 save percentage. He played six seasons with Chicago and two with Pittsburgh before spending 2007-08 as Ryan Miller's backup with Buffalo. Rucinsky spent seven seasons with the Canadiens, collecting 134 goals and 297 points in 432 regular-season games in Montreal. He's bounced around since then and played with St. Louis in 2007-08. Kovalenko had 34 points in 51 games before being traded to Edmonton. He played with the Oilers, Flyers, Hurricanes and Bruins before returning to Russia after the 2000-01 season, finishing with 173 goals in 620 NHL games

The Quebec Nordiques drafted Eric Lindros, however Lindros refused to play for the club and opted to play junior hockey.
4 – In 1992, the Philadelphia Flyers acquire C Eric Lindros from the Quebec Nordiques for D Kerry Huffman, D Steve Duchesne, F Peter Forsberg, C Mike Ricci, G Ron Hextall, F Chris Simon, a first-round draft pick in 1993, a first-round pick in 1994 and $15 million.

The Nordiques drafted Lindros in 1991 even though he had said repeatedly that he would never play for the team. Instead of turning pro, Lindros went back to junior hockey, then joined Team Canada and won a silver medal at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.

At the 1992 Entry Draft, the Nordiques worked out trades for Lindros with both the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers. Arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi eventually ruled in favor of the Flyers, for whom No. 88 played from 1992 through 2000. The Rangers, incidentally, were willing to part with Doug Weight, Tony Amonte, Alexei Kovalev, John Vanbiesbrouck, three first-round draft picks (1993, 1994 and `95) and $12 million for the rights to Lindros.

While Lindros did have eight productive seasons with the Flyers, collecting 290 goals and 659 points in 486 games, the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final just once, losing in four games to the Detroit Red Wings in 1997. The Nordiques, who became the Colorado Avalanche in 1995, went on to become a powerhouse following the deal. Since the trade, the Avs have won eight division titles, reached the Conference Final six times and captured two Stanley Cups due in large part to the play of Forsberg and the later addition of Patrick Roy, whom the club received in a package deal with Montreal that included that '93 first-round pick — Thibault.

3 – In 1975, the New York Rangers acquire C Phil Esposito and D Carol Vadnais from the Boston Bruins for D Brad Park, C Jean Ratelle and D Joe Zanussi.

The Nov. 7, 1975, deal was almost unimaginable, considering that the two teams (both fans and players) detested each other.

The deal worked out well for the Bruins. Park was paired with Bobby Orr on the blue line, then supplanted him when Orr's knees gave out. The seven-time NHL All-Star, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988, had 417 points in 501 games with the Bruins after collecting 378 points in 465 games as a Ranger. Ratelle, a two-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy for skill and sportsmanship and named to the Hall of Fame in 1985, had 31 goals and 90 points in 67 games with his new club in 1975-76 and averaged more than a point a game with the Bruins before retiring after the 1980-81 season.

The deal wasn't nearly as good for the Rangers. Esposito, who won five scoring titles and twice won the Hart Trophy as MVP in 1969 and '74 as a member of the Bruins, never put up those kind of numbers in New York. The Rangers missed the Playoffs in 1976 and 1977 and were bounced in three games in 1978. But with Fred Shero behind the bench in 1978-79, Esposito was a key player as the Rangers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final before losing in five games. Espo, who was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1984, scored at least 30 goals in four of his six seasons with the Rangers and had 20 points in 18 Playoff games in 1979. Vadnais was a competent defenseman, but nowhere near as good as Park.

With the acquisition of Ulf Samuelsson in 1991, the Penguins were able to add toughness along their blue line.
2 – In 1991, the Pittsburgh Penguins acquire C Ron Francis, D Ulf Samuelsson and D Grant Jennings from the Hartford Whalers for C John Cullen, D Zarley Zalapski and F Jeff Parker.

This six-player swap that occurred one day before the trade deadline played an integral part in the Penguins' back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and '92. Samuelsson and Jennings added toughness along the Penguins' blue line, but the addition of Francis really put the club over the top. The Hall of Fame center scored four game-winning goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that spring and finished with seven goals and 17 points in 24 games. The following season, Francis had eight goals and 27 points in 21 postseason games as the Penguins became the first team since Edmonton in 1987 and '88 to win consecutive championships. Francis, like Goring a decade before him, was considered a solid two-way performer with excellent offensive ability, which meant teams couldn't gang up on Mario Lemieux and his line.

1 – In 1980, the New York Islanders acquire C Butch Goring from the Los Angeles Kings for D Dave Lewis and F Billy Harris.

It's only fitting on the anniversary of Gretzky's departure from Edmonton to Los Angeles, that the top-ranked trade in League history include a player moving from the Kings — center Butch Goring.

In 1980, after watching his team underachieve in previous Playoffs, General Manager Bill Torrey dealt veterans Harris and Lewis in return for Goring one day before the trade deadline.

"The more I watched Butchie, the more I saw what he brought to the table and the more I thought he would be an ideal fit," Torrey said. "So we stepped up and he proved to be exactly what we thought he would be.''

The trade was the final piece of the puzzle for Torrey and coach Al Arbour en route to four consecutive Stanley Cups. Goring, who was most recognizable for a helmet that he'd  worn since the age of 12 and continued to wear throughout his entire professional career, scored 27 goals and 62 points in 78 postseason games from 1980 through 1983. He rang up 10 goals and 10 assists in the 1981 Stanley Cup Final against the Minnesota North Stars and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Playoff MVP.

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