The Worst NHL Deadline Day Trades in the Past Decade
The clock is ticking for the NHL's 30 general managers.
The Feb. 29 trade deadline is almost upon us. Teams will get their last chance of the year to try to add impact players to their rosters in hopes of taking a run at the Stanley Cup—or to sell off their assets in the hopes of collecting draft picks and prospects and maybe putting themselves in a better position at the draft.
The time around deadline day is usually when we see the most daring deals in a league where the salary cap has made old-school "hockey trades" nearly extinct.
Sometimes, those big moves work out. Think of Marian Gaborik joining the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, Antoine Vermette fitting in with the Chicago Blackhawks last season or even Ray Bourque seizing his chance to leave the Boston Bruins behind for a chance to win a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche—though he had to play a full season after his 2000 deadline deal before finally hoisting the coveted trophy in 2001.
For every trade-deadline success, there are a lot of failures. Some of which can cripple franchises for years.
Going year by year since the season-long lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 campaign, here are the worst deals we've seen during the last 10 NHL trade deadlines.
2006: Vancouver Canucks Acquire Keith Carney and Eric Weinrich
Date: March 9, 2006
The Deal: Keith Carney was traded from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to the Vancouver Canucks with Juha Alen for Brett Skinner and the New York Islanders' second-round pick (previously acquired, Anaheim selected Bryce Swan) in the 2006 draft.
Eric Weinrich was traded from the St. Louis Blues to the Vancouver Canucks for Tomas Mojzis and a third-round pick in the 2006 draft (Vladimir Zharkov).
The Result: The Vancouver Canucks had been one of the NHL's most exciting teams heading into the 2004-05 NHL lockout but lost a good part of their mojo on March 8, 2004, when Todd Bertuzzi infamously sucker-punched Steve Moore.
When the Canucks struggled to find their form upon their return from the lockout, first-year general manager Dave Nonis made a couple of desperation deals, acquiring veterans Carney and Weinrich to shore up his defense in hopes of continuing a four-year string of playoff appearances.
It didn't work. Carney, then 36, collected just two assists in 18 games in Vancouver, while 39-year-old Weinrich went pointless and tallied a minus-13 in 16 games.
The Canucks went 7-9-2 after making the deals and ended the season in fourth place in the Northwest Division, out of the playoffs.
Both players moved on after season's end and coach Marc Crawford was relieved of his duties after six years of service in Vancouver.
2007: San Jose Sharks Acquire Craig Rivet and Bill Guerin
Date: February 25, 2007 and February 27, 2007
The Deal: Craig Rivet was traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the San Jose Sharks with a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft in exchange for Josh Gorges and a first-round pick in the 2007 draft (Max Pacioretty).
Bill Guerin was traded from the St. Louis Blues to the San Jose Sharks for Ville Nieminen, Jay Barriball and the New Jersey Devils' first-round choice (previously acquired, St. Louis selected David Perron) in the 2007 draft.
The Result: Both before and after the lockout, the San Jose Sharks were one of the strongest teams in the West. At the 2007 trade deadline, Joe Thornton was coming off a season in which he won the Hart and Art Ross Trophies after a midseason trade from the Boston Bruins. Thornton looked like he was poised to challenge for both awards once again but ended up losing out to a young Sidney Crosby.
Looking for veterans to boost his team's playoff chances, San Jose general manager Doug Wilson traded two first-round draft choices and a few other odds and ends for 32-year-old defenseman Craig Rivet and 36-year-old right winger Bill Guerin.
They didn't help. San Jose was ousted in the second round for the second straight year.
Guerin moved on as a free agent at season's end, while Rivet stuck around through the 2008-09 campaign before he was sold off for draft picks.
Nearly a decade later, the Sharks still haven't advanced past the conference final. Meanwhile, the picks they discarded for a quick fix turned into Max Pacioretty and David Perron, who are at the age when they should be peaking as NHLers.
2008: Tampa Bay Lightning Trade Brad Richards
Date: February 26, 2008
The Deal: Brad Richards was traded from Tampa Bay Lightning to the Dallas Stars along with with Johan Holmqvist in exchange for Jeff Halpern, Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen and a fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft.
The Result: Most of these trades focus on teams who paid too big a price to chase their Stanley Cup dreams. In the case of Brad Richards, he was shuffled off from a cash-strapped Tampa Bay Lighting team less than four years after winning the Conn Smythe Trophy and leading his team to the 2004 Stanley Cup.
After Richards arrived in the Lone Star State, the Stars went on a nice run to the Western Conference Final in 2008 before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Detroit Red Wings. They missed the playoffs for the next three seasons, but Richards was solid, peaking at 91 points in 2009-10 and eventually parlaying his time in Dallas into a gigantic $60 million free-agent contract with the New York Rangers.
The Lightning received some useful pieces in return for Richards but missed the playoffs for the next three seasons. Both Mike Smith and Jussi Jokinen went on to find NHL success after leaving Tampa Bay for other markets.
2009: Carolina Hurricanes Trade Justin Williams
Date: March 4, 2009
The Deal: Justin Williams was traded from the Carolina Hurricanes to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Patrick O'Sullivan and a second-round draft pick (Brian DuMoulin). The Hurricanes went on to flip O'Sullivan and a different second-round pick (Jesse Blacker) to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Erik Cole and a fifth-round pick (Matt Kennedy).
The Result: This is another trade that went badly for the team that dealt the most important player away, as Carolina worked a three-way-deal that meant losing Justin Williams.
Erik Cole was originally a Hurricanes draft pick who had been part of the run-up to the 2006 Stanley Cup but played just two games in the playoffs because of a back injury. He was traded to the Oilers for Joni Pitkanen in July of 2008, but one year later, the Canes decided they wanted him back.
To get him, they sacrificed 28-year-old Justin Williams, who had been a key player in the Cup run but had been limited to just 32 games during the 2008-09 season because of Achilles and hand injuries.
The Hurricanes did reach the Eastern Conference Final in 2009, but Cole logged just five assists in 18 playoff games. Meanwhile, we know now Williams was far from finished. He became Mr. Game 7 with the Kings, winning two Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe Trophy. The league-leading Washington Capitals are counting on him to work his playoff magic this spring.
Now 37, Cole has bounced from the Montreal Canadiens to the Dallas Stars to the Detroit Red Wings since leaving Carolina for good during the summer of 2011. He has played just three playoff games along the way and was not able to come to terms with an NHL team on a contract when he reached unrestricted free agency last summer.
2010: Minnesota Wild Acquire Cam Barker
Date: February 12, 2010
The Deal: Cam Barker was traded from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Minnesota Wild for Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy.
The Result: A big body at 6'3" and 215 pounds, Cam Barker was drafted third overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004 but failed to develop into a reliable NHLer.
Still, it was a surprise to see the Blackhawks deal a pedigreed player such as Barker for a 34-year-old veteran in Johnsson, whose best days were behind him, and a pure prospect in Leddy, who was drafted in 2009.
After acquiring Barker in 2010, the Wild missed the playoffs for the second straight season. The Blackhawks, of course, went on to win the Stanley Cup, though neither Johnsson nor Leddy appeared in a playoff game that year.
Leddy did go on to become an important part of the Chicago blue line and earned a Stanley Cup ring in 2013 before being traded to the New York Islanders before the 2014-15 season because of salary-cap considerations. Barker lasted in Minnesota until the end of the 2010-11 season before brief stints with the Edmonton Oilers, the AHL's Texas Stars and the Vancouver Canucks.
Out of the NHL at age 27, Barker has spent the last three seasons plying his trade in the KHL.
2011: Dallas Stars Acquire Alex Goligoski
Date: February 21, 2011
The Deal: Alex Goligoski was traded to the Dallas Stars by Pittsburgh Penguins for James Neal and Matt Niskanen.
The Result: Goligoski has been a good soldier during his five-and-a-bit seasons in Dallas—consistently playing big, defensively responsible minutes and staying healthy despite being on the small side for a blueliner at 5'11" and 185 pounds.
As he heads toward unrestricted free agency this summer, Goligoski is an important part of this season's dynamic Dallas Stars squad, but previous general manager Joe Nieuwendyk paid a high price to acquire him when he gave up Matt Niskanen—arguably an equally valuable defenseman—and threw high-scoring power forward James Neal into the bargain as well.
Niskanen and Neal both played well for a time in Pittsburgh before moving on to more success in other markets.
2012: Nashville Predators Acquire Andrei Kostitsyn
Date: February 27, 2012
The Deal: Andrei Kostitsyn was traded from Montreal Canadiens to Nashville Predators for a second-round pick in the 2013 draft (Jacob De La Rose) and a fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft (Patrik Bartosak).
The Result: After winning their first playoff series in franchise history against the Anaheim Ducks in 2011, the Nashville Predators went all in on Eastern Bloc players to push even harder in 2012. Sniper Alexander Radulov was resummoned from the KHL. and Preds general manager David Poile decided to lend support to his effective incumbent winger, Sergei Kostitsyn, by acquiring older brother Andrei for the playoff run.
Initially, all went well. Nashville tidily beat the Detroit Red Wings in five games. But the Predators lost their first two second-round games to the Arizona Coyotes, then found themselves dealing with a big dose of drama when coach Barry Trotz scratched Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for Game 3 of the series after they violated a team rule, per John Manasso of NHL.com.
Nashville won Game 3 without Radulov or Kostitsyn so Trotz kept them out of action for Game 4 as well, but the Predators lost 1-0 to go down 3-1 in the series. By the time the pair were recalled to the lineup for Game 5, it was too late. The Coyotes beat Nashville 2-1 to advance to the Western Conference Final.
After the series was over, Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn hightailed to Russia, where they have been playing in the KHL. After the last lockout ended in 2013, Sergei Kostitsyn returned to the Predators to finish out the 2012-13 season but is now also in his third year in the KHL.
2013: Ottawa Senators Trade Ben Bishop
Date: April 3, 2013
The Deal: Ben Bishop was traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Cory Conacher and a fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft (Tobias Lindberg).
The Result: The lockout-shortened 2012-13 season led to a wild trade deadline as teams jockeyed to position themselves for a Stanley Cup run.
Other questionable trades that went down that year included the Washington Capitals' decision to send prospect Filip Forsberg to the Nashville Predators in exchange for veteran forward Martin Erat and the Pittsburgh Penguins' so-called "win" in the Jarome Iginla sweepstakes, which saw them give up two prospects and a first-round draft pick for the rental player but get swept in the Eastern Conference Final.
Still, the biggest misstep was the decision by Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray to trade goaltender Ben Bishop to the Tampa Bay Lightning in an attempt to boost his team's secondary scoring.
At that moment, the Sens were deep in net. They opted to lean on Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner and make Bishop expendable after just one season with their organization.
Big Ben, of course, has gone on to become a star with the Tampa Bay Lightning, earning a Vezina Trophy nomination in 2013-14 and reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season. Meanwhile, Cory Conacher proved to be a one-season wonder, starting hot in his rookie year but chipping in just three goals in eight playoff games before the Sens fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games in the second round.
After leaving Ottawa in March of 2014, Conacher enjoyed brief stints with the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and the Vancouver Canucks before signing on this season with SC Bern of the Swiss League.
2014: St. Louis Blues Acquire Ryan Miller
Date: Feb 28, 2014
The Deal: Ryan Miller was traded from the Buffalo Sabres with Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues for William Carrier, Chris Stewart, Jaroslav Halak, a first-round pick in the 2015 draft (Jack Roslovic) and a third-round pick in the 2016 draft, reported Adam Gretz of CBS Sports.
The Result: Ryan Miller's tenure in St. Louis lasted just four months and a grand total of 25 games, but the St. Louis Blues still haven't finished paying for their decision to bring him in as their high-profile goaltender for the 2014 playoffs.
The Blues were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the first round, but they still owe the Buffalo Sabres one more third-round draft choice in June in addition to the 2015 first-rounder and the players they've already handed over.
St. Louis learned the hard way—the Sabres are doing an excellent job of biting the bullet and getting top returns for their veterans as they enter their rebuilding phase.
2015: Los Angeles Kings Acquire Andrej Sekera
Date: Feb 25, 2015
The Deal: Andrej Sekera was traded from the Carolina Hurricanes to the Los Angeles Kings for Roland McKeown and a first-round pick in the 2016 draft.
The Result: This one's easy: After winning the Stanley Cup in 2014, the Kings missed the playoffs. Sekera played just 16 games for Los Angele before signing a juicy free-agent contract with the Edmonton Oilers in the offseason. High acquisition price and virtually no reward.
A close second in 2015 was David Poile's mid-February decision to trade a first-round draft pick and a couple of spare parts to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli. Nashville was trying to get ahead of the crowd after a strong start in the 2014-15 season, but Franson and Santorelli turned out to be largely irrelevant in the Preds' first-round loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Both moved on to other teams as free agents during the offseason.
Unless otherwise noted, trade details and stats come from HockeyDB.com.