NHL Trade Deadline: 20 Best Deadline Deals in History

Scott WeldonCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2011

NHL Trade Deadline: 20 Best Deadline Deals in History

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    Trade deadline day this year in the NHL was anti-climatic at best. Most of the deals were done before the last minute for a change. Dustin Penner and Dennis Wideman were among the biggest names moved yesterday. Next on that list? Rostislav Klesla. 

    When Rusty is in your big three, you know you have a non-event.

    Historically it hasn't always been so. Huge deals have been made ever since a trade deadline was established in the NHL back in 1980. Suddenly there was a cut-off date for NHL GM's to bring in new players and improve their teams before the playoffs. There is nothing like a deadline to inspire a flurry of activity in any office.

    Here for me anyway are my 20 best deals from the last 30 years of deadline deals. 

20. Brain Campbell D for Steve Bernier LW : February 26, 2008

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    Offensive defensemen were a necessity in the run up to the 2008 playoffs. San Jose decided they must have Buffalo's Brian Campbell for their playoff run. They shed young prospect Steve Bernier and a first round pick that turned out to be the speedy Tyler Ennis.

    He did a good job for San Jose with 19 points in the 20 regular season games he played with them. Campbell helped the Sharks into the second round, where they lost to the Dallas Stars in six games. That turned out to be his best regular season and helped him into a big contract in Chicago.

19. Brad Stuart D for 2nd and 4th Pick : February 26, 2008

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    Brad is a hard-hitting defenseman who became a key member of the Red Wings team that won the cup in 2008 and made it to the finals again in 2009. LA gave up the able role player for a second and fourth round pick who turned into Brad Richardson C for LA. They traded the fourth round pick to Atlanta.   

18. Lubomir Visnovsky D for Ryan Whitney D March 3, 2010

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    The Anaheim Ducks packed up young defenseman Ryan Whitney with a sixth round pick for power play quarterback and veteran offensive defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky.

    Visnovsky wasn't able to help the Ducks into the playoffs last season, but he has been a key member on this year's team, fifth in scoring, with nine goals and 46 points in 62 games.

    Ryan Whitney has had some medical problems that have dogged him since his time in Pittsburgh. He has played well in Edmonton when he's been healthy with two goals and 27 points in 35 games. 

    If healthy the 28-year-old Whitney can be a key component of a young rebuilding Oiler team.  

17. Keith Tkachuk RW for Michal Handzus C : March 13,2001

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    The Phoenix Coyotes traded one of their biggest stars in 2001 to the St Louis Blues for Michal Handzus (C), Ladislav Nagy (C), and first round draft pick Jeff Taffe (C).

    Taffe never developed into an NHL player and is currently a Blackhawk prospect playing for their AHL team.

    Nagy had a couple good seasons with Phoenix. He had 52 points in 55 games for them back in 2003/04. Since then, his play declined and he's drifted off to the KHL.

    Michal Handzus only lasted a season in Phoenix before he joined the Flyers. A competent checking center, he's had trouble becoming a useful offensive player in the NHL. 

    In Keith Tkachuk, the Coyotes lost a power forward who had been with the team since 1991. He played nine more years in St Louis, with a break to be a Thrasher rental back in the 2006-07 season. He was one of the Blues' best players for that entire period, scoring forty goals once, more than thirty goals in a season three times and between twenty and thirty in a season three more times.  

16. Brad Richards C for Jussi Jokinen LW : February 26, 2008

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    New Tampa Bay Lightning ownership decided to lower their cap load in 2008 by trading the youngest of their "Big Three" of Vincent Lecavilier, Martin St Louis, Brad Richards and goaltending prospect Johan Holmquist to the Dallas Stars for shootout phenomenon Jussi Jokinen, Dallas backup goalie Mike Smith, checker Jeff Halpern and a fourth round pick.

    Holmquist is back in Sweden and everyone else in this deal is already with another team except for Richards. He is currently the Dallas Stars' best player. In his first season with the team he helped them on a playoff run with 15 points in 18 games. His 91 points last season tied for his career best and led the team. Despite concussion problems in 2011, Brad has 63 points in 56 games and has already equaled last season's goal total with 24.

    They've missed the playoffs for the last two seasons in a row under his leadership, but he is undoubtedly the Star's best player. Tampa Bay has nothing left to show for trading him.      

15. John Tonnelli C for Steve Konroyd D : March 11, 1986

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    The Calgary Flames traded for veteran New York Islander center John Tonelli in 1986. They gave up young defenseman Steve Konroyd and winger Richard Kromm in order to get a veteran presence for their playoff run. 

    Tonelli had been on four Stanley Cup winning teams with the Islanders. During his first year with calgary he had 16 points in 22 playoff games. He helped the Flames beat their Albertan rivals,the Wayne Gretzky lead Edmonton Oilers in the playoffs, for the first time in franchise history. He lead the team to the Stanley Cup finals, where they just fell short against the Montreal Canadiens. Tonelli had two more good seasons in Calgary and just missed being on the team that finally won the Flames' first and only Stanley Cup in 1988-89.  

14. Jerry Korab D for Phil Housley D : March 10,1980

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    The Buffalo Sabres, on the first trade deadline day, decided to move veteran defensive defenseman Jerry "King Kong" Korab to the Los Angeles Kings for their 1982 first round pick.

    Korab was a legendary hitter with a big shot; think a meaner Bryan McCabe. He was famous for crushing Russian superstar Alexei Yakushev with a body check in a game between the Sabres and the Soviet Wings back in 1976. Buffalo was the only NHL team to beat the Wings that year (1975-76), but between Gilbert Perreault and Korab they crushed them, 12-6.

    Korab had three and half good seasons in LA, including one 52-point season.

    The draft pick turned out to be Phil Housley, one of the greatest offensive defensemen in NHL history. He played wing and defense in Buffalo and had 66 points as a rookie. He spent eight years as a Sabre and was nearly a point per game defenseman for them.

    Housley went on to play 22 seasons in the NHL, scoring 338 goals and amassing 1232 points in 1495 games.    

13. Randy Carlyle D for Doug Bodger D : March 5, 1984

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins traded veteran offensive defenseman Randy Carlyle to the Winnipeg Jets for young defensemen Doug Bodger and Moe Mantha.

    Mantha spent three and a half seasons with the Penguins, topping out at 15 goals and 67 points. He spent another five years in the NHL.

    Bodger was more of a two-way defensemen. He stayed in Pittsburgh for four seasons and had a productive 1986-87 season, with 49 points. He had a long distinguished career after this, spending 16 seasons in the NHL, mostly with Buffalo.

    Randy Carlyle had been more than a point per game defenseman for the Penguins. He became the face of the Winnipeg Jets, spending the last 10 seasons of his career in Winnipeg. Carlyle's best offensive season in Winnipeg was 1987-88, when he had 59 points.

    All the players in this deal contributed to the teams they joined and had significant NHL careers after the deal. However, none of them took their teams even as far as the Stanley Cup finals. 

12. Alex Stojanov RW for Markus Naslund LW March 20,1996

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    After two seasons in Pittsburgh, the Penguins decided to trade the young talented Swede Markus Naslund for the much bigger, tougher Alex Stojanov. Each player had been the first round pick of their teams back in 1991.

    Stojanov was a dominant physical force in junior hockey, but couldn't make the transition to the AHL, let alone the NHL. Stojanov played 45 games in Pittsburgh, netting two goals and four assists before returning to the minors for the rest of his career.

    Naslund went on to play 12 stellar seasons with the Canucks. He scored 40 goals or more in a season three times and more than 30 three more times. He was simply the best left winger in Vancouver Canuck history and one of the best NHL players of his era.      

11. Craig Janney C for Jeff Brown D : March 21,1994

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    An earlier Canuck deal for Craig Janney had proven a mistake as the play-making center refused to report to Vancouver. He insisted on a trade to the St Louis Blues and by deadline day the Canuck's GM managed to trade him for offensive defensemen Jeff Brown, center Nathan LaFayette and defenseman Bret Hedican.

    All three played a key role in Vancouver's cup run that season. Brown quarterbacked the power play and had 15 points while playing in all 24 Canuck playoff games. LaFayette was a role player on that Canuck team and managed nine points in 20 playoff games. Hedican played in all the playoff games that season and four and half more seasons for Vancouver.

10. Dino Ciccarrelli RW for Mike Gartner RW : March 7,1989

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    The Washington Capitals traded Mike Gartner (RW) and Larry Murphy (D)to the Minnesota North Stars for Dino Ciccarelli (RW) and Bob Rouse (D).

    Gartner had been a star in Washington since they drafted him fourth overall in 1979. He was a point per game, 30-goal scorer for Minnesota before they traded him to the Rangers the next season.

    Murphy, as noted before, was one of the greatest offensive defensemen of his time. He was still in his prime when Washington traded him to Minnesota. He had a bounce back season with the North Stars, scoring ten goals and 68 points in 1989-90. Minnesota traded Murphy away to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who went on to win their first Stanley Cup Championship with him in 1991.

    Rouse was a career defenseman who lasted about as long in Washington as the other two did in Minnesota.

    Ciccarelli was the most important player in the deal. He was almost a point per game player for the Capitals for the next three sesons in the regular season, and over a point per game player in the playoffs.  

    He had been the face of the franchise in Minnesota and his trading signaled a decline that would soon see them move to Dallas. Ciccarelli was a valuable competitor in Washington, but he could never get them to a Stanley Cup.   

9. Larry Murphy D for Future Considerations : March 18, 1997

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    Larry Murphy was one of the greatest offensive defensemen of all time. He starred for Canada at the 1987 Canada Cup, overshadowing the highly regarded Ray Bourque. He was a key member of the Penguins' teams that won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. 

    However, in 1997, the Toronto Maple Leaf fans were down on the 36-year-old defenseman because of his defensive failings. This was despite the fact that he scored 61 points in 82 games in his first season in Toronto, and put up 39 points in 69 games before being traded to Detroit. 

    Murphy proved to be an excellent element on a great Detroit team, as they won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1998-99.

    He teamed up for a while with Sergei Federov, when Scotty Bowman was experimenting with the back end. He spent most of his time in Detroit partnered with a young Nick Lidstrom, and was an offensive and defensive contributor until he retired after the 2001 season, at the age of 40.     

8. Marian Hossa RW for Colby Armstrong RW : February 26, 2008

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins won the trade deadline lottery in 2008, when they traded Colby Armstrong, Erik Christenson and perennial prospect Angelo Esposito along with their first round pick to Atlanta for the rental of Marian Hossa and checker Pascal Dupuis (LW).

    Armstrong, a gritty forward, played more than two seasons with the Thrashers. He scored 22 goals and amassed 40 points in his best season in Atlanta. Erik Christensen played less than a season before being moved to the Ducks. Esposito, a once can't-miss prospect, is struggling offensively in the minors. At 21, the window is quickly closing on his NHL potential.

    The first round pick in 2008 was 29th overall, as the Penguins made it to the Stanley Cup finals. That pick was Michigan State center Daultan Leveille. The 20-year-old is likely to play another season in the NCAA.

    Hossa proved to be a great rental for the Penguins. He had ten points in 12 regular season games and 12 goals and 26 points in 20 playoff games, as he was first on the team in playoff goal scoring and second only to Sidney Crosby in playoff points. Hossa was a huge part of the team that made it to the Stanley Cup finals and lost to Detroit.

    The Penguins also picked up able checker Dupuis, who had 10 points in 20 playoff games in 2008. He was part of the team that won the Stanley Cup the following season, although he didn't score a point in the 16 playoff games he appeared in. Dupuis is still a Penguin and contributing to the team.     

7. Geoff Courtnall RW for Dan Quinn C : March 5,1991

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    The Vancouver Canucks traded Dan Quinn (C) and Garth Butcher (D) to the St Louis Blues for Geoff Courtnall (LW), Robert Dirk (D), Cliff Ronning (C) and Sergio Momesso. All these players but Dirk played on the Vancouver Canuck Stanley Cup losing team in 1994. 

    Momesso was a big physical winger who made contributions on all the Canucks teams he played on.

    Ronning was a tiny but quick playmaking center. He had a career season in 1992-93 with 29 goals and 85 points. He had 68 points in the Canucks' 1993-94 Stanley Cup run, and followed up with 15 points in 24 playoff games, as the Canucks barely lost to the New York Rangers in one of the great seven game Finals series.

    Courtnall was another quick and skilled forward who was more of a sniper than Ronning. He had 19 points during the playoffs in 1993-94.

    Courtnall and Ronning came over in a deadline deal in 1991 and were the second and third leading scorers on the Vancouver team that made it to the finals in 1994.

    Quinn had scored forty goals with the Penguins five seasons before. However his career had started to decline. He managed 11 points in 13 games in the Blues 1994 playoff run, but was gone to Philadelphia the next season. Butcher provided a nasty defensive presence for the Blues over the next two seasons, but wasn't really worth giving up Courtnall and Ronning for.        

6. Tony Amonte RW for Brian Noonan RW : March 22,1994

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    The New York Rangers made one big deadline deal on their way to winning the Stanley Cup in 1994. They traded the highly regarded, talented scorer Tony Amonte and career minor leaguer Matt Oates to the Chicago Blackhawks for grinder Stephane Matteau (LW) and the little-known Brian Noonan (RW).

    Losing Amonte was huge. He had scored 30 goals in each of his first two seasons with the Rangers. In Chicago, Amonte had 6 consecutive seasons in which he scored 30 goals or more. He scored more than 40 goals three times and could have been a first-rate Ranger for a decade.

    Matteau, on the other hand, became a gritty playoff hero with two double overtime goals. He scored the winner versus New Jersey in game seven to get the Rangers into the 1994 finals. Matteau only lasted two more seasons in New York barely playing in half of their games. The nine points in 23 playoff games during the Stanley Cup run was more than he managed in any of his regular seasons in New York.

    Noonan was a more offensively gifted player than Matteau. He was a regular goal scorer in the International Hockey League, but in the NHL he proved to be only a role player. During the Rangers' Stanley Cup run, he had 11 points in 22 playoff games. He only lasted another season in New York.

    This trade resembles the classic deadline deal in some ways. The team taking a run at the cup traded young talent for veteran grit. The team won the cup and the young talent excelled somewhere else. Both teams got what they wanted from the trade.    

5. Jamie Langenbrunner LW for Jason Arnott C : March 19,2002

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    The New Jersey Devils in 2002 traded Jason Arnott (C), Randy McKay (RW) and a first round pick—which ended up in Buffalo and became Daniel Paille—to the Dallas Stars for Jamie Langenbrunner (LW) and Joe Nieuwendyk (C).  

    It was an interesting deal, because Arnott and McKay were key members of the New Jersey Devil's Cup win in 2001 and the game seven loss in the final to Colorado in 2002. Langenbrunner and Nieuwendyk were key members of the Stars' 1999 Cup win and their loss to the Devils in 2000 in the finals. All four players were good and had abundant Stanley Cup experience. 

    Nieuwendyk was slowing down at this point in his career and, while he was a contributor, he was no longer a star in New Jersey. Langenbrunner, on the other hand, starred for the Devils for years after the trade. He tied with Scott Niedermayer for the team lead in points in the playoffs when New Jersey won the Cup again in 2003.

    McKay's career was over by the time he was traded to Dallas.

    Arnott was a big contributor in Dallas, having his best career season with 32 goals and 76 points in 2005-06. However the Dallas Stars have never really challenged for the Stanley Cup again since they made this deal.    

4. Bill Ranford G for Andy Moog G : March 8,1988

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    At the trade deadline in 1988 the Boston Bruins traded their young up and coming goaltending prospect Bill Ranford, their second round pick in 1988 (Petro Koivunen RW) and young scorer Geoff Courtnall to the Edmonton Oilers for veteran starting goalie Andy Moog.

    Moog proved to be a stabilizing influence in nets for Boston while teaming up with Reggie Lemelin.

    Courtnall was a disappointment in  Edmonton and they moved him to Washington the next season, where he immediately proved his worth. He scored 42 goals and 80 points in his first season with the Capitals. Koivunen never played in North America.

    Bill Ranford was a starter for two seasons in Edmonton, replacing troubled Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr in the nets.

    The two goalies would face each other in the 1990 Stanley Cup finals, as the Boston Bruins met the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers were to win their first and only Stanley Cup without Wayne Gretzky. Bill Ranford won the battle of the deadline deal goalies, but both players made huge contributions to their teams.    

3. Chris Chelios D for Anders Eriksson D : March 23rd 1999

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    The Chicago Blackhawks traded veteran defenseman Chris Chelios to the Detroit Red Wings for Anders Eriksson and two draft picks, who wound up being Steve MacCarthy and Adam Munro.

    Chelios had already enjoyed the better part of a 16-year NHL career. His offensive skills were waning, and Chicago must have felt this was the perfect time to trade the veteran for picks and young talent. They didn't bank on him playing another 10 seasons in Detroit, or on him being a key contributor in 2002, when the Red Wings won the Cup. He was also on the team that won the Cup in 2008, although he was much less of a contributor.

    Eriksson turned out to be just about the worst NHL defenseman I've ever seen play in the league. Adam Munro was a minor league goalie and now plays in Italy and McCarthy is a journeyman defenseman who has never played a full NHL season.    

2. Ron Francis C for John Cullen C : March 4, 1991

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    This blockbuster deal saw the Penguins trade John Cullen (C), Jeff Parker (RW)and Zarley Zalapski (D) to the Hartford Whalers for Ron Francis (C), Grant Jennings (D) and Ulf Samuelsson (D).

    Francis was the face of the Hartford Whaler team, their captain and best player. Only 28 and fresh off an 101-point season and scoring 76 points in 67 games, the Whalers saw fit to trade him for the slightly younger Cullen (26), who was in the middle of a 31-goal, 94-point season in Pittsburgh.

    The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Francis had two fantastic back-to-back playoff runs in Pittsburgh, as the second line center behind Mario Lemieux. He had 17 points in 24 games the first time the Penguins won a Cup and 27 points in the mere 21 games it took them to win a second Cup in 1992.

    He played seven more seasons in Pittsburgh, seldom missing a game. He had an 100 point season in 1992-93, along with a career-high 119-point season in 1995-96. Francis still had enough in the tank to move on to Carolina and play most of six seasons for the Hurricanes. He was their leading playoff scorer in their first failed run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2001-02, as a 39-year-old.

    Cullen, meanwhile, was a point per game player in one season with the Whalers before getting moved to Toronto. His career tanked with the Leafs and he never again scored 20 goals in a season.

    Samuellsson and Zalapski both played big roles on their respective teams. Ulf Samuelsson was the big nasty shutdown defenseman for Pittsburgh for the next four seasons. Zalapski was more of an offensive defenseman, who scored 20 in a season for Hartford and lasted slightly over two seasons before they traded him to Calgary.

    Parker only played four games for Hartford and Jennings played as a depth defenseman for the Penguins.    

1. Butch Goring C for Billy Harris RW : March 10, 1980

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    On the first ever trade deadline day, the steadily improving New York Islanders made a deal that was destined to cement not only a Stanley Cup victory, but an NHL dynasty. The Islanders were laden with great young talent, but were gaining a reputation around the league as a team that could not win in the playoffs.

    Think Pittsburgh Penguins before they won their most recent Cup, or of the Washington Capitals now. Only multiply it by 10, as their team had Billy Smith and Chico Resch in nets, Dennis Potvin and US Olympian Ken Morrow on defense, Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier and Clark Gilles on the first line. Throw in checkers Bob Bourne, John Tonelli and Bob Nystrom, and the team seemed to lack nothing except playoff success.

    They traded their original No. 1 overall pick from 1972, Billy Harris, and one of their veteran defensemen Dave Lewis to the Los Angeles Kings for 29-year-old center Robert " Butch" Goring.

    Goring had been the scoring center in LA before he took on the second line role for the Islanders. He had 19 points in his first playoff action for New York, as they won the first Cup in team history. The next season, he had 20 points in 18 playoff games, as the Islanders won their second Cup.

    Goring was one of the cleanest, hardest working players of his era. He was a defensive whiz, as well as an offensive talent. He was an integral member of all four Islander Stanley Cup winning teams.

    Harris had one 20-goal season in LA, but he was in decline when traded and never equaled the success he had in New York. Lewis was a useful NHL defenseman for three seasons in LA. His career ended with the Red Wings in 1987-88.