Ranking the 5 Worst Trades in Pittsburgh Penguins History
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Legendary baseball executive Bill Veeck once said, "The best trades are the ones you don't make."
While that advice was directed to the baseball establishment, it's also good advice for the hockey world as well.
As with any franchise, the Pittsburgh Penguins have seen their share of blockbuster trades. While some trades have helped the franchise, others have proven to be disastrous.
As the Penguins enter what promises to be an eventful offseason, let's examine the five worst trades in Pittsburgh Penguins history.
No. 5: Alexei Kovalev to New York for Prospects and Cash
By 2003, the Pittsburgh Penguins were a team in free fall.
Having been forced to trade away Jaromir Jagr in 2001 and facing the specter of bankruptcy, the Pens were faced with a choice. Should they allow star players to leave in free agency or trade them away in an effort to rebuild?
Given the shrinking budget and with the uncertain future of the franchise, Craig Patrick opted for the latter and, on February 10, 2003, traded Alexei Kovalev, one of the top goal scorers in the NHL, along with Dan LaCouture, Janne Laukkanen and Mike Wilson to the New York Rangers for Mikael Samuelsson, Rico Fata, Joel Bouchard, Richard Lintner and cash.
While Patrick had hoped to acquire the pieces needed to rebuild the Pens and return them to playoff contention, that proved not to be the case.
Mikael Samuelsson proved to be a useful asset and was later traded by the Pens to the Florida Panthers to acquire the first-overall pick in 2003.
However, none of the other prospects acquired in the deal would develop into the players that Craig Patrick hoped they would be when he decided to trade one of the game's elite players in Alexei Kovalev.
No. 4: Glen Murray to Los Angeles for Ed Olczyk
Sometimes, what seems like a good trade in the short term can turn out to be a bad trade in the long term.
That certainly was the case with Penguins GM Craig Patrick's decision to ship Glen Murray to the L.A. Kings.
Having been acquired by the Pens from the Boston Bruins along with Bryan Smolinski for Kevin Stevens and Shawn McEachern in the summer of 1995, Murray would struggle to live up to expectations.
Viewed by the Pens as a future All-Star playing alongside Mario Lemieux when they acquired him, Murray never seemed comfortable in his high-profile role and only tallied 25 goals and 51 points in 135 games.
After two frustrating seasons with the Pens, Murray was traded to the Kings at the trade deadline in 1997 for Ed Olczyk. Olczyk showed immediate chemistry with Lemieux and tallied 11 points in 12 games.
Unfortunately, Lemieux would retire following the season and Olczyk would struggle in his absence.
Glen Murray, on the other hand, would go on to average almost 30 goals per season with the Kings and Bruins over the next twelve seasons.
No. 3: Sergei Zubov to Dallas for Kevin Hatcher
Widely regarded as one of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL, Sergei Zubov was thought to be the final piece that could help the Penguins once again challenge for the Stanley Cup.
While he would help a team win the Stanley Cup, it would not be the Penguins.
Despite being a point-per-game contributor during both the regular season and in the playoffs, Zubov's stay with the Pens would be short.
After struggling to mesh with Pens' team captain Mario Lemieux, Zubov was traded after just one year in Pittsburgh to the Dallas Stars on June 22, 1996 for Kevin Hatcher.
While Hatcher did give the Pens the big-bodied defenseman that the Pens had lacked, Zubov's play in Dallas clearly proved this to be a bad trade.
In 13 years with the Stars, Zubov would average around 10 goals and 55 assists per season and helped lead the Stars to the Stanley Cup in 1999. While Hatcher was productive for the Pens, he would last just three years in Pittsburgh before being dealt to the New York Rangers.
No. 2: Jaromir Jagr to Washington for 3 Prospects
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Sometimes, bad trades are made by choice. Sometimes, they are forced upon you.
The deal that sent Jaromir Jagr to the Washington Capitals certainly falls into the latter category.
Although he was one of the highest-paid players in the NHL at the time and despite the Pens' efforts to cater to his every wish, Jagr was not happy in Pittsburgh.
Perhaps feeling overlooked by the return of Mario Lemieux after a three-year retirement, Jagr decided that he wanted to play elsewhere and demanded a trade.
With limited offers for one of the league's greatest but most expensive and enigmatic players, Pens GM Craig Patrick had little leverage and received few offers.
Faced with the possibility of a holdout that would further weaken his hand, Patrick dealt Jagr and defenseman Franticek Kucera to the Washington Capitals for centers Kris Beech and Michal Sivek, defenseman Ross Lupaschuk and future considerations.
While Jagr would continue to play at an MVP level, none of the prospects that the Pens received ever developed into NHL caliber players and all of them were either later traded or simply released.
No. 1: Markus Naslund to Vancouver for Alek Stojanov
Having drafted Markus Naslund in the first round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, the Penguins had hoped he would develop into an All-Star caliber goal scorer in the NHL.
However, after years of promise and disappointment, the Pens had become frustrated by his inconsistency. Dubbed "Mr. September" by the local media for his annual strong preseason play followed by his regular season struggles, Naslund had the look of a first-round bust.
The 1995-1996 season would be his final chance in Pittsburgh. Despite playing with Hall-of-Fame linemates in Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, Naslund's production slipped again as the season went along.
After being scratched from the lineup as the playoffs approached, the Pens decided that Naslund would be more valuable in a trade than on the ice and he was dealt at the trade deadline to the Vancouver Canucks for Alek Stojanov.
Despite good initial returns from the trade, it soon became clear that it had been a huge mistake. Stojanov, who had been drafted eight spots ahead of Naslund in the 1991 draft, was injured in a car accident and went on to play just 45 games.
After two injury-plagued seasons in Pittsburgh in which he scored just two goals and four assists, Stojanov was forced to retire.
Markus Naslund, in the meantime, would go on to score 395 career NHL goals and played 12 seasons with the Canucks before retiring as the franchise leader in almost all offensive categories.