With the 2012 NHL trade deadline just days away, it's important to remember that this time of year doesn't always produce the most significant deals in the history of most franchises. The Vancouver Canucks are a perfect example of this.
Sure, the Canucks have made some good deals at or near the deadline, but the majority of their best trades have been consummated either in the offseason or much closer to the start of the regular season.
The eight best trades in team history are a perfect example of this. Let's get right into it.
To Vancouver: Christian Ehrhoff
To San Jose Sharks: Patrick White and Daniel Rahimi
This was a great trade for the Canucks for two reasons.
First, they acquired the puck-moving defenseman they badly needed in the summer of 2009 after Matthias Ohlund signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ehrhoff was one of the Canucks' best defensemen in the two years he spent with the team and was a key to their power play that was the best in the NHL last season. The Canucks likely would not have won the President’s Trophy and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011 without his production from the blue line.
Secondly, general manager Mike Gillis atoned for the error made by former GM Dave Nonis when he actually got a decent return for of one of the worst first-round draft picks in team history by sending Patrick White to the Sharks, along with Daniel Rahimi, who now plays in the Swedish Elite League.
While the main reason the Sharks made this deal was to free up cap space in order to trade for Dany Heatley, it’s still hard to imagine them accepting it, knowing how much of a bust White was.
Neither White nor Rahimi has ever played a single game of professional hockey in North America since this one-sided trade was consummated.
To Vancouver: Richard Brodeur and a fifth-round draft pick
To New York Islanders: A fifth-round draft pick
Prior to the 1980-81 season, the Vancouver Canucks essentially got Richard Brodeur for nothing from the New York Islanders. Granted, the Canucks swapped a higher fifth-round pick for a lower fifth-round pick, but how often do those late-round picks ever work out?
Brodeur led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals just one season later and turned out to be one of the best goalies in team history. He was selected to play in the 1983 NHL All-Star Game and was the Canucks starting goaltender for seven seasons. Not bad for a player that was basically given to them for free.
To Vancouver: Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe and a third-round draft pick
To New York Islanders: Trevor Linden
Thank you, Mike Milbury!
This was just one of the many awful decisions made by the former Islanders GM. He decided to give up a great young power forward in Todd Bertuzzi, along with a solid defenseman in Bryan McCabe and a third-round draft pick that eventually turned into Jarkko Ruutu. Ruutu became a solid role player for the Canucks.
As much as everyone in Vancouver loves Trevor Linden, he was nearing the end of his prime at the time of this trade, which made it a steal for the Canucks.
Bertuzzi was one of the best wingers in the entire NHL for a short time with the Canucks, and is ninth on the team's all-time scoring list. Linden, by comparison, produced just 54 points in 107 games for the Islanders.
to Vancouver: Kirk McLean and Greg Adams
to New Jersey Devils: Patrik Sundstrom and a fourth-round draft pick
Patrik Sundstrom was a talented forward for the Canucks in the early to mid-1980s, but the value he gave the Devils was nothing compared to what Kirk McLean and Greg Adams brought to the Canucks.
Adams was a wonderful power forward, and is No. 14 on the Canucks' all-time scoring list—one spot ahead of Sundstrom. He scored many clutch goals during the Canucks’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994. At the very least, he was an even trade for Sundstrom as a one-for-one deal.
However, the Canucks also received their franchise goaltender for most of the 1990s in Kirk McLean. Any Canucks fan knows how much Captain Kirk meant to the organization, as he was arguably the biggest reason the Canucks came within one game of the winning the Stanley Cup in 1994.
McLean was also an All-Star twice and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy twice as a member of the Canucks.
To Vancouver: Roberto Luongo, Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round draft pick
To Florida Panthers: Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld
On the surface, it appeared as though the Canucks gave up a decent amount of talent in order to acquire Luongo. In reality, they really gave up next to nothing.
While Todd Bertuzzi had some great years in Vancouver, he had worn out his welcome after his sucker punch on Steve Moore, followed by his lackluster season after the lockout ended. He also only played half a season for the Panthers. Most of that time was spent on the injured list.
Alex Auld never realized his potential, and he has been a career backup goaltender, while Bryan Allen has always been a solid defenseman, but is far from a player you’d build a team around.
Luongo, on the other hand, is a franchise goaltender and the best at the position in Canucks history. Sure, he’s had some inconsistencies, but the stats and accolades should tell you all you need to know about how much he’s meant to the organization since his arrival in 2006.
To Vancouver: Cliff Ronning, Geoff Courtnall, Sergio Momesso, Robert Dirk and a fifth-round draft pick
To St. Louis Blues: Dan Quinn and Garth Butcher
This trade, along with the McLean and Adams deal, was a huge moment in Canucks history, as it helped define the organization in the early 1990s. Without this deal, the Canucks probably would not have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994. The best part is that they gave up very little to get these important pieces.
Dan Quinn was never the same after this trade and only ended up playing 14 games for the St. Louis Blues. Garth Butcher was a solid stay-at-home defenseman, but the Canucks got close to his value in Robert Dirk alone.
Add two talented top-six forwards in Cliff Ronning and Geoff Courtnall to the mix, not to mention the tenacious Sergio Momesso, and this was an extremely one-sided trade.
To Vancouver: Daniel and Henrik Sedin
To other teams: Bryan McCabe and a bunch of draft picks that ended up being busts
Technically, the maneuvering that brought Daniel and Henrik Sedin to Vancouver involved multiple trades by former Canucks GM Brian Burke.
But are you going to argue that the moves to acquire the two best players in Canucks history shouldn’t be included on this list based on a technicality?
Try to follow along, as I do my best to explain how it all went down.
Burke made his first move a few days before the 1999 NHL entry draft, when he traded Bryan McCabe and one of the Canucks two first-round picks in 2000 to the Chicago Blackhawks for the fourth overall pick in the 1999 draft.
Then, Burke traded the fourth overall pick that he had just acquired, along with two third-round picks, to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first overall pick in the same draft.
Finally, he dealt the top pick in the draft to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for the second overall pick and a conditional third-round pick. This move came with a verbal agreement that the Thrashers would not select either of the Sedins with the top pick.
That left Burke to take with the No. 2 pick that he just acquired and the No. 3 pick, which the Canucks owned to begin with.
Are you still with me?
If not, the first 30 seconds of the video above shows Burke going over the final stages of the deal with his assistant and the other general managers involved just minutes before the 1999 draft began.
It was a brilliant series of deals that made it possible for the Canucks to draft two potential Hall of Famers, especially considering the other disappointing lottery picks in the 1999 draft such as Patrik Stefan and Pavel Brendl.
To Vancouver: Markus Naslund
To Pittsburgh Penguins: Alek Stojanov
Not only is this the most lopsided trade in Canucks history, but it also might be the most lopsided trade in NHL history.
After being traded to Vancouver, Naslund went on to record 346 goals and 756 points as a Canuck. He is currently the franchises all-time leader in both categories.
He was selected to play in the All-Star Game five times as a Canuck and was a finalist for the Hart Trophy in 2003.
As captain of the team for eight years, Naslund led the Canucks out of their darkest era in the late 1990’s, turning them into a Cup contender in a just a few short seasons.
As for Stojanov, he was nothing more than a fringe tough guy at the NHL level. After the trade, he played only 45 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, recording only six points in the process.
As great as this deal was for the Canucks, can you imagine if the Penguins hadn’t accepted this one-sided trade and had a healthy Mario Lemieux in the late 1990s? A Naslund-Lemieux-Jagr line would have been downright scary.
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