What do Boston Bruins trades from 1986, 1994 and 2006 all have to do with each other, let alone with the team’s drought-splashing Stanley Cup victory in 2011?
Read the following slideshow carefully and you will see the chain-linked connections between those four developments. Each trade and the personnel dealt away from Boston therein have either a first-, second- or third-degree connection with one of the key forwards who delivered a long-awaited championship last spring.
Over the last decade, there have been three other trades either made on the day of the draft or involving future draft picks that included members of the eventual title team in 2011. In addition, long before any of those events, one of the faces on the Bruins’ answer to Mt. Rushmore was effectively brought to New England through a draft pick obtained in a preceding trade.
That transaction leads off the following chronology of eight major draft-related trades in Bruins history.
Despite a solid 26-6-7 run through his first NHL season with the Bruins, goaltender Ron Grahame was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings for that team’s top pick in the upcoming draft. When that pick gave Boston the eighth overall selection, they chose a Quebec League defenseman by the name of Ray Bourque.
As it happened, Bourque’s 80 appearances with the Bruins the following season exceeded the 74 NHL games Grahame played for the remainder of his career between L.A. and the Quebec Nordiques.
Bourque proceeded to play an additional 19-plus seasons in Boston, including three as co-captain followed by a dozen as the sole captain. The eventual Hall of Famer still holds three Bruins all-time records with 1,518 games-played, 1,111 assists and 1,506 points.
Barry Pederson had logged five-plus seasons in Boston before he was traded in the 1986 offseason in exchange for Cam Neely and the Vancouver Canucks’ top draft choice for the following summer.
That pick, Glen Wesley, was taken third overall in 1987 and promptly joined Neely and the rest of the Bruins. Both were key contributors to a Boston team that reached the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals and put in another championship appearance on the heels of a President’s Trophy in 1990.
In Wesley’s seven-year career with the team, which ended with a summer 1994 trade to Hartford, Boston won 12 playoff rounds. Ditto Neely’s decade-long tenure, which was cut short by knee injuries, but nonetheless made him Hall of Fame material.
The aforementioned Wesley swap with the Whalers before (lockout-delayed) training camp in 1994 gave Boston an extra first-round choice for 1995, 1996 and 1997. In order, those were used to enlist Kyle McLaren, Jonathan Aitken and Sergei Samsonov.
McLaren was swiftly brought on board in 1995 and logged 417 games over seven seasons with Boston. Samsonov likewise came right on in 1997 and eclipsed No. 1 pick and teammate Joe Thornton as he lassoed the Calder Trophy, the first top-rookie accolade for a Bruin since Bourque in 1980.
Aitken, the 1996 selection, never saw substantial NHL action, but did partake in a landmark moment for the organization in his rookie year when he won the 1999 Calder Cup with Providence.
Prior to the 2003 draft, the Bruins opted to trade down and seek quality via quantity in a deal with San Jose. The Sharks would use their newly obtained 16th overall pick to land Steve Bernier, now a fourth-liner for the New Jersey Devils.
The three would-be Sharks choices were 21st, 66th and 107th. And just like the Wesley blockbuster, the two sandwiching Bruins picks saw more success than the middle man, namely Masi Marjamaki.
The first and fourth-round choices, defenseman Mark Stuart and forward Byron Bitz, were both regulars in The Show by the end of the 2008-09 season. Neither stuck around long beyond that, but Stuart’s importance was underscored after he was traded along with Blake Wheeler to Atlanta.
In that February 2011 deal, the Bruins imported Rich Peverley, who emboldened the third line and later filled the void left by the concussed Nathan Horton as part of the team’s run to the Stanley Cup.
Barely three months removed from discharging Thornton, soon-to-be-fired general manager Mike O’Connell relinquished the other 1997 first-rounder, namely Samsonov, at the 2005-06 trading deadline.
The return package from the Edmonton Oilers included established forwards Marty Reasoner and Yan Stastny and the team’s second-round pick in the upcoming draft.
Neither of the players were already in the NHL nor would the man who obtained them last in Boston beyond the next year. But O’Connell’s successor, Peter Chiarelli, would oversee the rise of that 50th overall pick; someone answering to the name of Milan Lucic.
In an essential reverse of their 2003 deal with the Sharks, the Bruins traded up prior to the 2006 draft, which essentially restored the third-round pick they lost to Ottawa as compensation for Chiarelli.
With the 71st overall choice obtained from the Islanders, the Bruins brought on Brad Marchand. He would not debut until a little less than four years later, but was a top-sixer and Stanley Cup champion by the end of his first full NHL season.
Unlike Grahame, the Bruins did not deal Raycroft until one season after his failed attempt to follow up on a radiant first NHL season. On the heels of a Calder Trophy and a season-killing lockout, Raycroft went 8-19-2 in 2005-06, coupling his record with a 3.70 goals-against average and .879 save percentage.
On the day of the subsequent summer’s draft, the Bruins offered him to Toronto in exchange for the rights to Tuukka Rask. The following year, Raycroft was the consensus starter for the Leafs, playing 72 games, while Rask remained in his native Finland.
Since then, while Rask has variously fostered his skills in Providence and engaged in a healthy competition with Tim Thomas, Raycroft has played no more than 31 games in a single season. He has changed employers three times and most recently spent the better part of 2011-12 with the AHL’s Texas Stars.
Rask, on the other hand, is all but a lock to permanently take the torch from Thomas in 2012-13.
A three-year mixed affair with the Bruins’ top choice in the 2006 draft ended prior to the 2009-10 training camp as Kessel was dealt to the Leafs. For the next two seasons, Bruins fans rooted for the downfall of their divisional rivals in hopes of reaping high picks even in the midst of their team’s ascending success.
As part of the swap, Toronto landed and was forced to relinquish the second and 32nd overall pick in the 2010 draft. In turn, the much-hyped Tyler Seguin found himself shaking hands with Chiarelli, as did promising farm/depth forward Jared Knight.
Within 12 months, Seguin had a Stanley Cup ring and the Bruins had a ninth overall pick to utilize a mere nine days after claiming the title. They used it to nab prolific playmaking point patroller Dougie Hamilton, who could break in with the big club next training camp.