NHL Trades That Shocked the League, Part III

Sebastien TremblayCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2008

In 2005, Boston traded center Joe Thornton to San Jose Sharks for Wayne Primeau, Brad Stuart, and Marco Sturm.

This one was such a shocker. Seriously, who would’ve thought a team could trade Joe Thornton?

At that point, he was the best center the NHL had to offer. He can easily put up 100-point seasons, makes his teammates better, and turn the game around in his favor.

He’s the kind of player you can build your team around. He’s the kind of player that will bring you championships.

So what were they thinking in Boston? Let us see.

The only two reasons I can think of are leadership and his playoffs performances.

Thornton is unfortunately not a leader. He wasn’t on the Bruins and he’s not with the Sharks either. Usually teams like it when their best player can lead their team—as is the case with Iginla, Lecavalier, Crosby etc.

He’s a great player, but not the type of guy to be heard in the locker room or be a "clutch" player.

As for his playoff performance, I can remember when the Canadiens eliminated Boston, coming from behind three to one and taking three games in a row to win the series four to three.

I remember listening to to game seven and hearing the announcer complain about Joe Thornton’s play—and it hit me, Thornton had no points at all through seven playoff games. Somehow, Thornton disappeared the second he stepped on the ice.

He was non-existent. Even at this point in his career he still under-performs in the playoffs. It’s unfortunate that Joe Thornton can’t seem to step up when it’s important.

In the long run, when your best player is not leading your team and is not helping you in the playoffs, what do you do? Expect him to suddenly realize he has to step it up? He’s already your best player!

I assumed that was their reason, better to get a big return in the trade right? I’m not so impressed with the players they got in return for one of the best NHL players in years.

The payoff for Thornton was ridiculous.  After that trade, the Sharks became a true powerhouse and contender right through to today. It took a few years for Boston to heal from that loss.

It took them at least two complete seasons to come out of the last five spots, and it isn't Sturm, Primeau or Stuart who helped turn the team around. Rather the arrival of Marc Savard, Zdeno Chara, the resurgence of Tim Thomas and the coaching of Claude Julien that saved the Bruins.

Of the three, only Marco Sturm remains, and although good, his numbers are not quite impressive. Wayne Primeau is a third- or fourth-line player at best. And Brad Stuart obviously was not interested in playing for Boston.

Both were gone after about a year—and to my surprise, there were no first-round picks in that trade. The trade had quickly became Joe Thornton for Marco Sturm. Would you have done this trade? I didn’t think so.

What to think about this trade? I feel Boston somehow wanted Joe Thornton out quickly. They probably took the "best offer," trying to avoid rebuilding the team. They took players they felt would compensate for Thornton’s loss but were wrong. Boston is doing better now, but just imagine what they would be like with Joe Thornton still in the fold.


In 2006, Florida traded Roberto Luongo, Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round pick to Vancouver for Todd Bertuzzi, Barry Allen, Alex Auld and a conditional pick in 2007.


Here is one we all still remember. This is a trade that made me go "Huh, the Panthers did what"?

We all knew Luongo was on his way out of Florida. For a goalie of his caliber, playing on a bad team is never fun.

It didn’t matter how many saves he made every night and how great his GAA and save-percentage were—Florida would still lose and miss the playoffs. So, they had to trade Luongo for a big return. Luongo was and still is compared to Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy.

On Vancouver’s side, Todd Bertuzzi also needed out. His presence in the Western Conference was quickly becoming a nuisance.

His attack on Steve Moore, doubled by his previous suspensions and questionable hits, made him expendable in Vancouver. Bertuzzi was struggling badly, his production was dropping, the fans wanted him out and the media was constantly on his case. A change of scenery should’ve been beneficial for Bertuzzi.

Unfortunately, Bertuzzi got injured after only seven games in Florida and spent the last year of his contract on injured reserve.

Barry Allen is just not an impact player, whichever way you look at it. And Alex Auld, who was thought to be the one to replace Luongo, looked like there were holes in his pads. He just couldn’t stop the 2500 shots per season that Luongo was used to stopping. So he dropped to No. 2 and Florida got Vokoun a bit later to replace him. Except now in Ottawa, he was never considered a number-one goaltender.

Luongo, on the other hand, carried Vancouver to a division championship, into the playoffs, and is now the only goaltender captain in the NHL. He is still considered one of, if not the best goaltender in the NHL and is the heart and soul of the Canucks.

Even if we completely forget about Lukas Krajicek and the sixth-round pick, Vancouver wins this deal all the way.


In 2007 Edmonton traded left-winger Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders for forwards Ryan O'Marra, Robert Nilsson, and a first-round pick

Technically, it isn't such a bad trade.

I’ll admit, I was disappointed too when "Captain Canada" was tradedto an American team, no less. Smyth was sent to the Islanders at the trade deadline, the Oilers were missing the playoffs for sure after reaching the finals the year before.

It was truly heartbreaking trade for the Oilers fan and Ryan Smyth himself, who left the club that drafted him and gave him his chance for more than 11 seasons. It was even more painful, as the Islanders didn’t even go through the first round of the playoffs. Smyth had essentially been traded for nothing.

With the pick, Edmonton selected Western Hockey League defenceman Alex Plante, who has yet to show his worth after a far below average year in 2007-08. They also received center Robert Nilsson and Ryan O’Marra, the first has yet to break out in the NHL and the second hasn’t played an NHL game yet.

Why is this a bad trade and how are you suppose to feel about it? Just think about Gretzky when he left Edmonton.

Okay I’ll admit Smyth never had the impact Gretzky had on the ice but still, in a league where players rarely spend their entire career with one team, Edmonton had Smyth they could rely on.

The city felt betrayed they lost one of their best player, a fan favorite for years, a leader, the guy that represented the team, the face of the Oilers. These days, players are moved and traded so often that someone spending such a long period of time with the same team inevitably becomes the "face" of the franchise. Smyth was that face.

If it weren’t for that trade, I’m sure he would still be there. Maybe the Oilers felt they needed change and a new face for their franchise, maybe Smyth will come back and finish his career as an Oiler in a few years—we’ll just have to wait.


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