6 Worst Trade Gambles in NHL History

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6 Worst Trade Gambles in NHL History
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Brian Burke, recently dismissed from his duties as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, need not have his trade for Phil Kessel lumped into the low points of his tenure. Not yet, anyway.

Although Burke effectively squandered two opportunities to inject new blood into a team that had just missed four straight postseasons in 2009, he still reeled in a reliable young scorer. Kessel’s yearly output has exponentially increased in his first three seasons with the Leafs, whom he led with a career-high 64 points in 2010-11 and with 82 last year.

Those who would classify that deal as a detrimental trade gamble on Toronto’s part either have too broad a scope or too little patience in that respect. Giving up a chance to rebuild a franchise or relinquishing solid established pieces for the sake of an unknown future only prove to be a bad move if the return package does not deliver.

Kessel still has time to constitute a part of Toronto’s rejuvenated nucleus. Although, this deal could start to look a lot worse in a few more years if the Leafs are still missing the playoffs while the Boston Bruins are thriving with the help of Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.

If the new face is an immediate bust or abruptly starts to decline within two or three years of the deal in question, then the move is a losing gamble. The notion of a lost bet is only compounded when the other party reaps rewards from the other player longer than the “losing” team even sticks with its new piece.

The jury is still out on the Kessel deal. Ditto the trade between Columbus and Philadelphia that yielded Jeff Carter’s abbreviated gig with the Blue Jackets and the import of youngsters Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier by the Flyers.

Depending on what unfolds for those parties in the coming years, they just might join the company of these one-sided swaps as moves that one franchise must wish it could take back.

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