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The Best Trade in Every NHL Team's History

Rob VollmanContributor IJanuary 10, 2017

The Best Trade in Every NHL Team's History

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    Eric Lindros leaves Quebec, Wayne Gretzky goes to Los Angeles, Buffalo acquires Dominik Hasek and Boston deals for Phil Esposito. Is there a way to compare these trades? Using a new system developed in my book, Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract, we can find the best trades in every franchise's history and even compare them between teams.

    The major ground rule is to treat the players as if they remained with their new franchise or, at the very least, were only later exchanged for players of equal value. After all, this is all about who left the table that day with the better end of the deal, not whether or not it was later squandered.

    The other ground rule is to set aside financial considerations and the character-based intangibles you'd need to actually be in the dressing room to fully understand.

    In many cases it's surprising how great a role luck plays in the success of a trade, either through injury, a fortunate break on a draft choice or a prospect (Hello, Boston!). It's also interesting how some players appear repeatedly, including the legendary sniper featured in the very first trade.

     

    Note: In this article when you see the net difference in goals, it is not being measured by the literal number of goals the players scored, but with a nifty statistic called Goals Versus Threshold (GVT) invented by Tom Awad of Hockey Prospectus.

    All advanced statistics are via writer's own original research unless otherwise noted. 

     

Anaheim

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    1996: Acquired Teemu Selanne, Marc Chouinard and a fourth-round selection (Kim Staal) from Winnipeg for Oleg Tverdovsky, Chad Kilger, and a third-round selection (Per-Anton Lundstrom)

    Net difference: 156 goals

    Financially strapped, especially after having to match captain Keith Tkachuk's offer sheet from the Chicago Blackhawks, the Phoenix Coyotes organization (then located in Winnipeg) was forced to deal away one of their high-priced forwards. GMs John Paddock and Bobby Smith ultimately chose Teemu Selanne for departure despite being used to promote their new team to Phoenix fans.

    Struggling with knee injuries and less effective since being split up from star playmaking defenseman Phil Housley, they felt that Selanne's value to the team wouldn't persist through the extended rebuild coming up, especially compared with the young prospects they got in exchange. Whoopsie-daisy!

    Also of note is the summer 2000 transaction where goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere was acquired from the Calgary Flames for a second-round selection (Matt Pettinger) in a deal involving a difference of 121 goals.

Boston

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    1978: Acquired first-round choice (Ray Bourque) from Los Angeles for Ron Grahame

    Net difference: 538 goals

    In 1977-78 the Stanley Cup finalist Boston Bruins were flush with goaltending talent, including future Hall of Famer Gerry Cheevers, Gilles Gilbert and two-time WHA goalie of the year Ron Grahame. That placed them in the perfect position to negotiate with the Los Angeles Kings, who were desperate for some goaltending help after losing superstar Rogie Vachon to Detroit via free agency.

    The 1979 draft year was unusually strong, and even with the eighth overall selection the Bruins managed to grab the most accomplished defenseman in NHL history. As for Grahame, he was unfortunately a bust in California, making this arguably the most one-sided swap ever.

    No NHL team can match Boston's legacy of making incredible trades.

    The deal where they acquired Phil Esposito from Chicago had a net difference of 371 goals, and another 243 goals from a deal with Vancouver where they landed Cam Neely and Glen Wesley. Getting Rick Middleton from the Rangers meant a net difference of 151 goals, while trading Terry Sawchuk to Detroit for Johnny Bucyk meant 195 goals.

    Even the deals to acquire Sawchuk in the first place or to trade away Esposito were well over a hundred. An amazing tradition!

Buffalo

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    1992: Acquired Dominik Hasek from Chicago for Stephane Beauregard and a fourth-round pick (Eric Daze) 

    Net difference: 324 goals

    When the Chicago Blackhawks decided to go with prospect Jimmy Waite as Vezina winner Ed Belfour's backup, Buffalo Sabres GM Gerry Meehan sensed an opportunity to address their woeful goaltending situation by getting Dominik Hasek on the cheap.

    The key to the deal was Stephane Beauregard, whom Winnipeg had previously traded to Buffalo to protect him from the expansion draft. Once acquired from the Sabres, Hawks GM Mike Keenan dealt Beauregard back to the Jets for forward Christian Ruuttu, the player he really wanted.

    As for the Dominator, he went on to almost immediately lead the league in save percentage for six straight seasons, won six Vezina Trophies, two Hart Trophies, and established himself as arguably the best goalie of all time.

    Buffalo is also known for their great success at the trade deadline.

    For example, another great goalie was acquired at the 1999 trade deadline when Rhett Warrener came over from Florida along with the fifth-round selection that would ultimately be used on Ryan Miller—blind luck worth 152 goals.

    Miroslav Satan was acquired from Edmonton at the 1997 deadline in a deal with a net difference of 125 goals, and Danny Briere was snapped up from Phoenix at the 2003 deadline in a deal with a difference of 103.

Calgary

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    1988: Acquired Doug Gilmour, Steve Bozek, Mark Hunter and Michael Dark from St. Louis for Mike Bullard, Tim Corkery and Craig Coxe 

    Net difference: 190 goals

    Much is made in Calgary about the infamous deal that sent Doug Gilmour away, but the 1988 preseason deal in which he was acquired from St. Louis was even more lopsided.

    Mike Bullard had just come off a fantastic season, scoring a career-high 103 points for the powerhouse Flames, including 47 on a power play that was humming along at an absurd 28.5 percent success rate. When an off-ice incident their young two-way playmaker and future Hall of Famer Doug Gilmour, Bullard proved to be just the right enticement for St. Louis GM Ron Caron.

    The Flames had actually plucked another future Hall of Famer from the Blues two years earlier when they acquired Joey Mullen in a deal with a net difference of 114 goals. And their most famous exchange took place a few days before Christmas 1995, when Dallas gifted them with Jarome Iginla and Corey Millen in exchange for Joe Nieuwendyk, a deal with a net difference of 141 goals (and counting).

Carolina

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    1989: Acquired Pat Verbeek from New Jersey for Sylvain Turgeon 

    Net difference: 108 goals

    The oft-struggling New Jersey Devils had an uncharacteristically strong 1987-88 season, thanks in part to Pat Verbeek's 46-goal season, but found themselves right back down the following season.

    The desire for GM Lou Lamoriello to retool the team, combined with Verbeek's aggressive contract negotiation, opened the window for Hartford Whalers GM Ed Johnston to score their franchise's greatest coup in just his second month on the job.

    Verbeek played 13 more seasons, during which he ranked 15th in penalty minutes and 23rd in goals scored—nobody was ahead on both fronts. In exchange for the underrated power forward, the Devils received offensive weapon Sylvain Turgeon, whom they actually used a year later to fleece Montreal for Claude Lemieux.

Chicago

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    1957: Acquired Ted Lindsay and Glenn Hall from Detroit for Johnny Wilson, Forbes Kennedy, Hank Bassen and Bill Preston

    Net difference: 280 goals

    In the 1957 offseason the Detroit Red Wings made headlines by trading away star forward Ted Lindsay, ostensibly as punishment for trying to organize a player's association. Lindsay went to the Chicago Black Hawks in exchange for four prospects and utility players. The real coup for Chicago, however, was the addition of Glenn Hall.

    Hall was coming off a poor postseason and didn't see eye to eye with owner Jack Adams, who generally felt he was slightly below the elite level required to keep your job in a six-team league. Of course, Mr. Goalie actually proved to be one of the best goalies in history, played 14 more seasons, won three Vezina Trophies and set the NHL record with seven first team all-star selections.

    The first-ballot Hall of Famer and grandfather of the butterfly style currently ranks eighth in wins and fourth in shutouts and holds the NHL record for most consecutive games played by a goaltender (502).

    Another couple of gems include acquiring a young Chris Chelios from Montreal in exchange for a declining Denis Savard in a trade with a 153-goal difference and getting Tony Amonte from the Rangers for Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan (116).

Colorado

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    1992: Acquired Peter Forsberg, Steve Duchesne, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, two first-round selections (Jocelyn Thibault and Nolan Baumgartner) and cash ($15 million) from Philadelphia for Eric Lindros

    Net difference: 368 goals

    No surprise here. The refusal of 1991's first overall selection to report to the Quebec Nordiques may have been the best event in franchise history. 

    Eric Lindros left GM Marcel Aubut no choice but to offer up the prized teenager to the highest bidders—and boy were those bids high. The contributions of Peter Forsberg alone essentially match Lindros', making the other six longtime NHL regulars they received basically a bonus.

    Interestingly, the gold mine extracted from Philadelphia wasn't the highest offer.

    The New York Rangers reportedly offered an even better deal that included Doug Weight, Tony Amonte, Alex Kovalev, John Vanbiesbrouck, James Patrick (or Sergei Nemchinov) and two first-round draft picks and cash. Depending on the exact nature of the deal and the results of the draft picks, the value difference in that deal would likely have been worth well over 500 goals.

Columbus

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    2002: Acquired first-round pick (Rick Nash) from Florida for first-round pick (Jay Bouwmeester)

    Net difference: 61 goals

    The best player in franchise history technically came to Columbus as part of a trade with Florida. GM Doug MacLean swapped his third overall selection to Florida for their first overall selection in order to guarantee that the Blue Jackets would get OHL power forward Rick Nash.

    The Florida Panthers selected Jay Bouwmeester third overall, who was arguably whom they intended to draft all along, especially having secured a deal that the team drafting second overall (Atlanta) would leave him be.

    Nash and Bouwmeester have both been star players since then, and while the margin between them may be relatively small, it's hard to argue against a trade that brought the Jackets their best player ever.

Dallas

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    1989: Acquired Larry Murphy and Mike Gartner from Washington for Dino Ciccarelli and Bob Rouse

    Net difference: 140 goals

    Imagine if the Minnesota North Stars had kept both of the future Hall of Famers they acquired in 1989's shocking trade deadline deal with Washington GM David Poile!

    The speedy and consistent Mike Gartner, who was unfortunately dealt to the Rangers next season for Ulf Dahlen, played nine more seasons and played in three All-Star Games. Larry Murphy, a considerable upgrade from Bob Rouse, played 12 more, played in three All-Star games and won four Stanley Cups—including his triumph with the Pittsburgh Penguins over the same Minnesota North Stars two years later.

    The opportunity that was lost was almost as great as the trade they made that day.

    Speaking of swapping defensemen with Pittsburgh, the Stars did manage to steal Sergei Zubov in the 1996 offseason for Kevin Hatcher in a great deal with a net difference of 126 goals.

Detroit

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    1968: Acquired Frank Mahovlich, Garry Unger, Pete Stemkowski and Carl Brewer from Toronto for Norm Ullman, Paul Henderson, Floyd Smith and Doug Barrie

    Net difference: 167 goals

    Prior to Wayne Gretzky's trade to Los Angeles, the most shocking NHL trade in history was at the 1968 deadline when Punch Imlach traded away Frank Mahovlich in an almost desperate and ultimately failed attempt to extend Toronto's final dynasty.

    Mahovlich played seven more NHL seasons, the first six of which at All-Star level. Most of those years were with Montreal, which exchanged three solid players who would help the Red Wings for even longer (Mickey Redmond, Guy Charron and Bill Collins).

    Detroit's windfall didn't end there.

    Pete Stemkowski played 10 more seasons, and Garry Unger 15 more seasons, including seven All-Star Games, and was part of a nifty trade for Red Berenson. Even throw-in Carl Brewer had three more seasons and an All-Star Game appearance. Perhaps the Leafs should have tried standing pat! 

Edmonton

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    1979: Acquired Dave Semenko and a third-round pick (Mark Messier) from Minnesota for a second-round pick (Neal Broten) and a third-round pick (Kevin Maxwell)

    Net difference: 212 goals

    In order to reacquire enforce Dave Semenko at the 1979 entry draft, Edmonton traded its second-round draft choice to Minnesota and swapped up its third-round pick. Imagine if that last condition hadn't been added: Would Mark Messier still have been available 15 selections later?

    The unfortunate Gretzky deal gets a lot of attention, but the Oilers have actually made quite a few nifty moves over the years.

    Shortly before the 1991 season began, for example, GM Glen Sather traded legends Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr (and Craig Berube) to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Vincent Damphousse, Luke Richardson, Scott Thornton and Peter Ing. Those may not be big names, but they combined for almost 50 NHL seasons. That trade had a net difference of 192 goals.

    My favourite is probably the midseason 1989-90 deal where Sather acquired Petr Klima, Joe Murphy, Adam Graves and Jeff Sharples from Detroit for Jimmy Carson, Kevin McClelland and a fifth-round choice (Brad Layzell). It was a deal that carried a net difference of 183 goals.

Florida

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    2000: Acquired Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen from the New York Islanders for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha

    Net difference: 304 goals

    At the 2000 NHL entry draft, when Islanders GM Mike Milbury was asked about the wisdom of trading away 21-year-old prospect Roberto Luongo (not to mention 22-year-old prospect Olli Jokinen), he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "In the end, we thought the quality that DiPietro will bring is just a notch above Luongo. If we're wrong, we may have made an unbelievable mistake. It'll be bonehead city."

    Luongo, of course, has arguably been the league's best goalie since then and currently ranks second among active goalies in shutouts and third in save percentage. Jokinen has scored 655 points as a top-six forward. Parrish and Kvasha have combined for just 473.

    Though it wasn't enough to get them into the postseason, score it as a big retirement present from Florida's Bill Torrey, the former Islanders GM.

Los Angeles

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    1975: Acquired Marcel Dionne and Bart Crashley from Detroit for Dan Maloney, Terry Harper and a second-round draft pick (Jim Roberts)

    Net difference: 197 goals

    Yes, the best trade in Los Angeles team history was indeed a superstar heading for California's financial prosperity, but it isn't the Hall of Famer you think.

    In June 1975, "The Little Beaver," Marcel Dionne, and his agent Alan Eagleson worked out the richest deal in history with Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke. That trade was made with Detroit, and California's only team had its franchise player.

    As center of one of hockey's greatest lines, the Triple Crown Line, Dionne piled up the points. When he won the scoring race in 1980 it would be the last time anyone except Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux or Jaromir Jagr would win it until Jarome Iginla 22 years later.

    Another underrated deal was when Glen Murray was acquired from Pittsburgh for Ed Olczyk, a trade that carried a net difference of 97 goals. 

Minnesota

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    2000: Acquired Manny Fernandez and Brad Lukowich from Dallas for a third-round pick (Joel Lundqvist) and a fourth-round pick (Aaron Rome)

    Net difference: 108 goals

    In the summer of 2000 the expansion Minnesota Wild were looking for a goaltender that could face a lot of rubber, and the wealth of goaltending talent in Dallas made one available. Manny Fernandez made an immediate impact on the brand-new club, finishing sixth in the league in save percentage (.920) and actually posting a winning record.

    Fernandez would play six full seasons for the Wild before ending his NHL career with two seasons as a Boston Bruin. The Minnesota Wild also received dependable third-pairing, stay-at-home defenseman Brad Lukowich, who played eight more full seasons (but was traded back to Dallas two weeks later).

Montreal

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    1964: Acquired Ken Dryden and Alex Campbell from Boston for Guy Allen and Paul Reid

    Net difference: 225 goals

    Ken Dryden was a Bruin! This is a funny one, because the players involved didn't even know that they were traded until years later (38 years later in the case of Paul Reid).

    The NHL entry draft was a new and relatively unpublicized event, so when Montreal and Boston decided to swap some of their draft choices, the involved players always assumed they had simply been drafted by their new teams in the first place.

    While three of the involved players never made the NHL, the fourth became one of the great goaltenders in history. Ken Dryden won four straight Vezina Trophies (five total) and six Stanley Cups in only eight seasons.

    Another great trade occurred at the conclusion of the 1970 season when GM Sam Pollock traded prospect Ernie Hicke and their first-round selection in the upcoming draft to the rebranded California Golden Seals for young defenseman Francois Lacombe and the team's first-round draft choice in the next draft.

    That selection turned out to be the first overall and it was used on Guy Lafleur, making the net difference of the deal a whopping 218 goals.

Nashville

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    1998: Acquired Kimmo Timonen and Jan Vopat from Los Angeles for an agreement not to selection Garry Galley in the expansion draft

    Net difference: 125 goals

    The Nashville Predators secured a great many players in 1998 in exchange for agreements not to select certain NHL players in the expansion draft, but none proved nearly as valuable as Kimmo Timonen.

    Timonen is currently entering his 15th season, during which time he's played 1,015 games, scored 536 points and played in four All-Star Games. The former statistic ranks fourth among defensemen over that time span, and the latter fifth.

    In an unfortunate footnote, Timonen was ultimately packaged with Scott Hartnell and dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers to get back their first-round draft choice that they used on Jonathan Blum, almost making the entire situation a wash. Either way, this trade will no doubt be soon overtaken by the lucky 2004 trade that sent Timo Helbling to Tampa Bay for the eighth-round selection used to draft Pekka Rinne.

New Jersey

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    1989: Acquired first-round draft choice (Scott Niedermayer) from Toronto for Tom Kurvers

    Net difference: 181 goals

    The New Jersey Devils had a surplus of defenseman in 1989, something Toronto's new head coach was keenly aware of since Doug Carpenter coached the team two years earlier. Desperate for help on the blue line, new Leafs GM Floyd Smith offered up a future first-round draft pick for a solid offensive defenseman in Tom Kurvers, which essentially began an unfortunate tradition of trading away great draft picks.

    This deal might have actually been fairly even if that draft choice hadn't surprisingly turned out to be third overall or if San Jose hadn't selected Pat Falloon second, both of which goes to show just how much great trades can rely on blind luck.

    Scott Niedermayer played 17 full seasons, won four Stanley Cups (including three with New Jersey), played in five All-Star Games, won the Norris Trophy in 2004, the Conn Smythe in 2007 and was outscored by only Sergei Zubov and Nicklas Lidstrom over the course of his great career.

New York Islanders

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    1991: Acquired Pierre Turgeon, Benoit Hogue, Uwe Krupp and Dave McLlwain from Buffalo for Pat LaFontaine, Randy Wood, Randy Hillier and a fourth-round draft choice (Dean Melanson)

    Net difference: 228 goals

    Islanders GM Bill Torrey's problems began when the previous season's leading team scorer, Pat Lafontaine, refused to report to the team, citing broken ownership promises. Fortunately Torrey found a trading partner in Buffalo GM Gerry Meehan (no relation to Lafontaine's agent Don Meehan), who had a disgruntled high-scoring center of his own, Pierre Turgeon.

    Turgeon, frustrated with the loss of ice time after the club acquired Winnipeg Jets legend Dale Hawerchuk in an effort to finally escape the first round of the postseason, was thrilled to join the Islanders, scoring an amazing 313 points in his first 221 games.

    Despite Turgeon's start, and getting the better set of secondary players, the trade was actually fairly even until LaFontaine's career was unfortunately cut short by injury.

    Add this to the deal where the first-round selection used on LaFontaine was initially acquired (from the Colorado Rockies for Bob Lorimer and Dave Cameron) and you can get another 166 goals of net difference.

    Speaking of first-round selections, another great deal was the acquisition of the one used on Roberto Luongo from Toronto, along with Kenny Jonsson and two others, for Wendel Clark, Mathieu Schneider and D.J. Smith (175 goals).

New York Rangers

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    1991: Acquired Mark Messier and Jeff Beukeboom from Edmonton for Bernie Nicholls, David Shaw, Steven Rice and Louie DeBrusk

    Net difference: 149 goals

    When Mark Messier refused to report to the Oilers for the 1991-92 season, everybody knew that he had to be dealt. New York Rangers GM Neil Smith had what Edmonton really wanted. No, not Bernie Nicholls, but cold, hard cash.

    Though cash transactions weren't required to be reported at the time, it has since been revealed that a few million helped seal the deal for the Rangers, bringing them the man that ultimately brought them their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. Despite being 31, Messier played 13 more seasons, played in eight All-Star Games, and won the Hart Trophy in his first season in New York.

    On the flip side, Nicholls initially refused to report to Edmonton and was traded to New Jersey halfway through the following season.

    Another great trade: acquiring Mathieu Schneider's rights from Toronto for Alexander Karpovtsev and a fourth-round draft choice (Mirku Murovic) for a net difference of 109 goals.

Ottawa

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    2001: Acquired Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and a first-round draft choice (Jason Spezza) from the New York Islanders for Alexei Yashin

    Net difference: 269 goals

    Alexei Yashin wasn't a popular man in Ottawa, having missed an entire season refusing to report because he felt he wasn't paid enough. Soon to be a restricted free agent, Yashin was feared to be preparing to demand upward of eight million dollars a season.

    Ottawa GM Marshall Johnston made lemons out of lemonade, trading the former Hart finalist to the New York Islanders at the 2001 NHL draft for the second overall pick, Jason Spezza. Though he has struggled with injuries, Spezza blossomed into one of the game's best playmakers, currently ranking ninth among active players in assists per game.

    The Senators also received towering defenseman Zdeno Chara in the deal, though he was only expected to add a little grit to their blue line. Chara had just 29 points in 231 NHL games thus far. Instead he developed into one of the game's best defensemen, appearing in six All-Star Games and winning the 2009 Norris Trophy.

    Yashin played only five more NHL seasons before being bought out and was actually the highest cap hit on the Islanders as recently as 2010-11—three years after he left the NHL.

Philadelphia

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    1973: Acquired Bernie Parent and a second-round draft choice (Larry Goodenough) from Toronto for Doug Favell and a first-round draft choice (Bob Neely)

    Net difference: 231 goals

    The Toronto Maple Leafs had actually acquired Bernie Parent from the Philadelphia Flyers in 1971, but an angry contract dispute not only resulted in his defection to the WHA, but his insistence on being traded back to the Flyers upon his NHL return the next year.

    In perhaps the best goaltending performance in history, Parent backstopped the Philadelphia Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cups, winning both the Vezina and Conn Smythe both seasons. After that he enjoyed four more solid seasons until a career-ending eye injury.

    The Philadelphia Flyers had a few other great trades.

    In 1991 they acquired a 21-year-old Rod Brind'Amour from St. Louis in a deal with a difference of 194 goals. In 1995 they got John Leclair, Eric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne from Montreal for Mark Recchi in a deal with a difference of 137 goals. And more recently they picked up Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen from Nashville for the first-round draft choice used on Jonathon Blum in a deal with a net difference of 112 goals (so far).

Phoenix

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    2001: Acquired Ladislav Nagy, Michal Handzus, the rights to Jeff Taffe and a first-round pick (Ben Eager) from St. Louis for Keith Tkachuk

    Net difference: 46 goals

    The St. Louis Blues were stocking up for the postseason big-time at the 2001 trade deadline and were willing to part with two solid young Slovakians, their previous first-rounder and their next first-rounder in order to secure Phoenix's high-scoring captain.

    While Keith Tkachuk played eight more seasons, topping 30 goals in his first three, the players the Coyotes received have played over 25 seasons (and counting).

    Ladislav Nagy replaced Tkachuk's offense almost completely before leaving the NHL shortly before his 29th birthday, while Michal Handzus provided the exceptional defense—he's currently eighth among active players in short-handed goals.

    Even Ben Eager provided some grit and was later used to get a highly effective Mike Comrie. While trading Tkachuk was no doubt an undesirable financial decision, kudos to GM Cliff Fletcher for maximizing the return.

    Two other great trades Phoenix fans will remember include the acquisition of Jeremy Roenick for a package that included Alexei Zhamnov (net different 45 goals) and when they got Zbynek Michalek from Minnesota (39).

Pittsburgh

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    1995: Acquired Sergei Zubov and Petr Nedved from the New York Rangers for Luc Robitaille and Ulf Samuelsson

    Net difference: 168 goals

    In the 1995 offseason Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick took advantage of what New York Times reporter Joe LaPointe called "a continued and perhaps desperate quest for another Stanley Cup championship before the end of the Mark Messier era."

    In exchange for two older and higher-priced superstars that could help the Rangers immediately, the Penguins gained two younger stars.

    Not only were their young stars able to contribute for much longer, they were also able to contribute right away. Petr Nedved, for instance, actually outscored Mario Lemieux at even strength that very first year. Ultimately he'd be traded away in a swap for Alexei Kovalev.

    Sergei Zubov was dealt a year later in an unfortunate exchange for Kevin Hatcher, but did play 12 more full seasons, played in three All-Star Games and was only outscored by Nicklas Lidstrom over that span among defensemen.

    As for the departed Ulf Samuelsson, the Penguins also had good luck when acquiring him in the first place. He came along with Ron Francis and Grant Jennings in a deal with Hartford that cost them John Cullen, Zarley Zalapski and Jeff Parker for a net difference of 115 goals. 

San Jose

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    2001: Acquired Teemu Selanne from Anaheim for Jeff Friesen, Steve Shields and a second-round choice (Vojtech Polak)

    Net difference: 128 goals

    The best trade in franchise history wasn't necessarily the Joe Thornton deal with Boston.

    The 2001 deadline deal that made Teemu Selanne a Shark is often overlooked because of what actually was and not what it could have been. Selanne has played 11 more seasons (and counting), played in three All-Star Games and ranks 12th in goals and 23rd in points since then.

    And the Sharks gave up very little value in return.

    Unfortunately Selanne's two full seasons as a Shark were considered disappointments with just 54 and 64 points. His single season in Colorado was even worse, scoring just 32 points. After returning to Anaheim Selanne was back to normal, scoring at least 90 points in his first two seasons and is currently suiting up for his ninth post-return season with the club. With the right situation and some patience, it could have been San Jose enjoying the full benefits of what it left the trade table with that day.

St. Louis

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    1988: Acquired Brett Hull and Steve Bozek from Calgary for Rob Ramage and Rick Wamsley

    Net difference: 250 goals

    Hall of Famer Brett Hull scored 741 goals (third all-time), leading the league three straight times and capturing the Hart Trophy in 1991 and was a dominant goal-scoring force for two decades. And if the Calgary Flames hadn't needed some veteran pieces for a Stanley Cup run in 1988 (in which they were ultimately successful the next season) and if they hadn't seen the youngster as slow as lazy, these great accomplishments might have taken place north of the border instead of St. Louis.

    Hull may not have reached those incredible scoring heights without his gifted playmaking center Adam Oates, who was also acquired in a fantastic deal. The Blues gave up Tony McKegney and Bernie Federko, who already had one foot on the retirement golf course, to get Oates and Paul MacLean from Detroit in a deal with a net difference of 206 goals.

    Two other great deals of note include acquiring Pierre Turgeon and Craig Conroy from Montreal in a trade with a net difference of 181 goals and getting Pavol Demitra from Ottawa (160). 

Tampa Bay

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    2002: Acquired Dan Boyle from Florida for a fifth-round draft pick (Martin Tuma)

    Net difference: 119 goals

    In January 2002 Florida's Dan Boyle was hardly regarded as the star he is today. Small and uncommitted to defensive play, having public arguments with coach Mike Keenan and his frequent AHL demotions didn't exactly make him the league's best trade bait.

    Even so, it wasn't exactly a big risk for Tampa Bay GM Rick Dudley to give up a fifth-round draft pick for someone that could provide offensive depth on the blue line (at the very minimum). Interestingly, Dudley resigned a month later and became Florida's GM the following October.

    Boyle found instant success in Tampa Bay, earning a 50 percent increase in ice time by scoring 20 points in 41 games the rest of the way. Since then he has been outscored by only Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Gonchar among defensemen and is still among the game's best blueliners. 

Toronto

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    1971: Acquired Bernie Parent and a second-round draft pick (Rick Kehoe) from Philadelphia for Mike Walton, Bruce Gamble and a first-round draft choice (Pierre Plante)

    Net difference: 246 goals

    Bernie Parent only played a year-and-a-half for the Leafs before a contract dispute sent him to the WHA, after which he ultimately yearned to go back to Philadelphia, but what if he had stayed? He was the game's best goalie at the time, possibly even good enough to have thrust the mediocre Maple Leafs into the Stanley Cup picture.

    At the time the Philadelphia Flyers were in desperate need of offense and felt there would be more interest in Parent than in their other goalie Doug Favell. Part of the deal was moving Mike Walton to Boston for Rick MacLeish, who certainly did the trick.

    Thanks to Rick Kehoe, the Leafs certainly didn't suffer offensively. Finishing second in team scoring in his first full season, Kehoe went on to play 13 seasons, topping 30 goals six times and even finishing fourth with 55 in 1980-81—unfortunately with Pittsburgh.

    Toronto made several other great trades of note.

    There was a net difference of 228 goals when it acquired Dave Andreychuk, Daren Puppa and Kenny Jonsson from Buffalo for Grant Fuhr, a net difference of 202 in the deal with Quebec that swapped Wendel Clark for Mats Sundin, and of course the famous Doug Gilmour and Gary Leeman trade that had a net difference of 135. Oh yes, and getting Turk Broda from Detroit for $7,500 (94 goals).

Vancouver

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    1991: Acquired Cliff Ronning, Russ Courtnall, Sergio Momesso and a fifth-round draft pick (Brian Loney) from St. Louis for Dan Quinn and Garth Butcher

    Net difference: 215 goals

    Though the trade was without any single individual superstar, the net impact of all three players was absolutely huge for the Vancouver Canucks and their new coach and GM Pat Quinn. The three immediately combined for 28 points down the 11-game stretch, following by between 165 and 190 points in each of the next three seasons. 

    This wasn't the last time Vancouver's success was engineered with trades.

    A decade later the top line of Todd Bertuzzi and Markus Naslund was carrying the club, with both players being acquired in fantastic deals. Naslund came from Pittsburgh for Alex Stojanov in a trade with a net difference of 152, while Bertuzzi and Bryan McCabe were acquired from the Islanders for Trevor Linden in a deal with a net difference of 183 goals.

    Better yet, McCabe was later a key piece of the three-part trade that helped engineer the 2000 drafting of Henrik and Daniel Sedin that had a net difference of 144 goals.

Washington

30 of 31

    1983: Acquired Larry Murphy from Los Angeles for Brian Engblom and Ken Houston

    Net difference: 227 goals

    Great trades are often a matter of making the right offer at the right time to the right GM. That's what happened early in the 1983-84 season when Washington GM David Poile offered two experienced veterans for the Kings' high-scoring young defenseman, Larry Murphy.

    Murphy scored 204 points over his first three seasons and was looking for the kind of money that GM George Maguire simply couldn't pay a 22-year-old. Salary arbitration didn't go Murphy's way, so he wanted out of town and Maguire quickly obliged. Perhaps too quickly!

    The Caps also got a great deal with the New York Rangers in 1987, shipping out Bobby Carpenter and a second-round draft pick for Mike Ridley, Kelly Miller and Bob Crawford in a deal with a net difference of 156 goals. The celebrated Jaromir Jagr trade with Pittsburgh took place in 2001 and carried a net difference of 124 goals.

Winnipeg

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    2002: Acquired Marc Savard from Calgary for Ruslan Zainullin

    Net difference: 83 goals

    Playmaking center Marc Savard was in coach Greg Gilbert's doghouse and desperately wanted out of town. So desperately, in fact, that Atlanta was able to acquire him for Russian prospect Ruslan Zainullin.

    Who is Ruslan Zainullin? Drafted by Tampa Bay and already traded twice, Zainullin had just eight points in 63 games in the Russian Super League (through the end of that season). He was considered a long shot to play in the NHL and even then only on a checking line. Oh, and Greg Gilbert was let go less than three weeks later anyway.

    Why did the Flames want Zainullin so badly? That's a matter of some controversy, but it did make for the best trade in Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise history. Only Peter Forsberg, Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton averaged more assists per game than the two-time All-Star in his remaining seven seasons.

     

    Rob Vollman is author of Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract, co-author of the annual Hockey Prospectus guides and a featured ESPN Insider writer. @robvollmanNHL

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