Underestimating potential can be a devastating thing. Whether it be the pimple-ridden, nerdy girl that you refuse to talk to in junior high who then becomes a perfect 10 by the time senior prom rolls around, or that NHL prospect whose ceiling appears limited until he is traded away only to blossom into a superstar.
NHL general managers make themselves look foolish quite often, but hindsight is 20-20. So, let's use are perfect 20-20 hindsight to put those GMs underneath the microscope. Because I'm sure they don't get that enough.
Here are the 10 most lopsided trades in hockey history.
Most trades on this list will involve a prospect who burst onto the scene after a change of scenery. However, Roberto Luongo had already established himself as a star when the Florida Panthers traded him.
In notorious Panther fashion, the team traded away the only true talent on the roster and was only able to get Todd Bertuzzi, Alex Auld and Bryan Allen in return. This trade was not bad scouting, rather, it was sheer stupidity.
The Detroit Red Wings have been a dominant team since the mid-90s, but imagine if they had managed to hang on to Adam Oates for a bit longer.
Instead, the Wings sent him to St. Louis and only had Bernie Federko and Tony McKegney to show for it. Whoops.
When tons of players are involved in a trade, a general manager is increasing the odds of one of those players he traded away coming back to bit him someday. That's what happened when Calgary's Doug Gilmour was involved in a multi-player deal and got lost in the shuffle.
In addition to Gilmour, the Leafs acquired Jamie Macoun, Ric Nattress, Rick Wamsley and Kent Manderville in exchange for Gary Leeman, Jeff Reese, Michel Petit, Alexander Godynyuk and Craig Berube.
I can't remember a team ever giving up so much for one single player.
Eric Lindros had a prolific career for the Philadelphia Flyers, piling up points and even captaining the team for a number of years. However, the price he commanded was the most outrageous in the history of the league. The Flyers sent Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Chris Simon, a draft pick and $15 million to the Quebec Nordiques in exchange for Lindros.
Considering some of the players dealt helped the Colorado Avalanche to a pair of Stanley Cups, the price may have been a bit steep.
The Calgary Flames have quite the history of regrettable trades.
The most regrettable of the bunch has to be trading away the legendary Brett Hull to St. Louis for Rick Wamsley and Rob Ramage.
Hull only went on to score 40 or more goals in eight of the 10 seasons he played in a Blues uniform.
The Edmonton Oilers made a grave mistake when they allowed financial reasons to trump actual on-ice realities.
Early in 1991, the Oilers traded Mark Messier to the New York Rangers for three players that would never pan out. Messier, on the other hand, dominated in New York, eventually winning a Hart Trophy and Stanley Cup before his career was over.
On August 9, 1988, the landscape of the Edmonton Oilers organization changed forever. They traded the single greatest player to ever lace up the skates.
This was another move the Oilers made strictly for financial reasons, and while the team won one last Stanley Cup without Gretzky, it's tough to tell if the fans have ever truly forgiven the team for parting ways with the greatest icon in Canadian sports history.
The Vancouver Canucks gift wrapped one of the best power forwards in the history of hockey to the Boston Bruins and even threw in a first-round pick.
All they asked for in exchange was Barry Pederson. That's a modest price by anyone's measure.
To make matters worse, Cam Neely recently hoisted the Cup on Vancouver's home ice as the Bruins' Team President.
Phil Esposito is one of the best players in Boston Bruins history. The amazing thing is that he was acquired by the team in exchange from the Chicago Blackhawks for Pit Martin, Gille Marotte and Jack Norris.
Even more stunning is the fact that the Bruins landed Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield in the process.
In 1991, the Toronto Maple Leafs made a subtle move to improve their defensive depth, trading away their first-round draft pick to acquire Tom Kurvers.
Had they known that the draft pick would be future Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer, they may have thought twice about how much they really needed that depth. Plus, something tells me that down the line Scott Niedermayer would have provided them with all of the defensive depth they needed.
Well, hindsight is 20-20, right?