The 10 Most Lopsided NHL Trades of the Last Decade

Mark Jones@@CanesReportSenior Analyst IJanuary 26, 2013

The 10 Most Lopsided NHL Trades of the Last Decade

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    To be a good general manager in the National Hockey League, one must be cunning in negotiation, patient with decisions and responsible with money.

    One must also not make any of the trades listed on the coming slides.

    Not too surprisingly, the NHL's list of shockingly lopsided trades—even in just the past decade, our time period for this compilation—is colossal.

    From trading Jussi Jokinen for Wade Brookbank to dealing the draft picks that became Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton for Phil Kessel, some GMs simply make some terrible decisions from time to time.

    And amazingly, we weren't even able to include those aforementioned trades. We couldn't find a place for the Roberto Luongo-to-Vancouver blockbuster or the Joe Thornton-to-San Jose exchange.

    So what could possibly make the cut when those blunders don't? A look at the 10 most lopsided trades in the past decade—ordered by date, not severity of imbalance—is a click away.

Briere to Buffalo (Mar. 10, 2003)

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    To Buffalo Sabres: Danny Briere, 2004 third-round pick (Andrej Sekera)

    To Phoenix Coyotes: Chris Gratton, 2004 third-round pick (Liam Reddox)

    One of the NHL's most unheralded future Hall of Famers began his relevancy with this 2003 trade deadline deal.

    Danny Briere had bounced between the NHL and AHL for much of his time in Phoenix, but arrived in Buffalo to complete one of the dynasties of the mid-2000s.

    Briere scored 12 points in his first 14 games for the Sabres and then, several years later, capped off his brief but successful stint in Western N.Y. with 95 points during the 2006-07 regular season and 34 points in 34 games during the '06 and '07 playoffs.

    Sekera has also become a defensive mainstay for Buffalo in recent years; he had 42 points and a plus-14 rating during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons combined.

    Meanwhile, Gratton registered 30 points in 84 career appearances for the Coyotes before being dealt along with the draft pick that became Paul Stastny to Colorado. Reddox scored 14 points in 100 NHL games with Edmonton and now plays in Switzerland.

Sharp to Chicago (Dec. 5, 2006)

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    To Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Sharp, Eric Meloche

    To Philadelphia Flyers: Matt Ellison, 2006 third-round pick (Ryan White)

    Sharp took a while to blossom fully, but by the time the Blackhawks captured the Stanley Cup in 2010, he had become one of the franchise's cornerstones. 

    The 6'1" forward scored 66 points during the 2009-10 regular season and then 17 points in 22 postseason games to complete the Hawks' run. He then racked up 71 and 69 points (including 34 and 33 goals) over the next two seasons, respectively, and has started this year with six points in four games to date.

    The other three players eventually involved in this deal have scored a combined 24 NHL points during their three respective careers. White is still a depth forward in the Montreal organization; Meloche and Ellison are both currently playing overseas.

Coburn to Philadelphia (Feb. 24, 2007)

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    To Philadelphia Flyers: Braydon Coburn

    To Atlanta Thrashers: Alexei Zhitnik

    The Atlanta Thrashers proved themselves the NHL's king of terrible trades before their eventual demise (and move to Winnipeg), and this one-for-one swap was certainly no exception.

    Coburn, the Thrashers' eighth overall pick in 2003, grabbed the spotlight during the 2007-08 season (his first full campaign in Philadelphia) and has played at least 80 games in every season since. The blueliner has 135 points, 392 PIM and a plus-38 rating in 464 career games.

    Zhitnik, on the other hand, lasted only 83 games and scored a mere five goals for Atlanta before bolting for Russia and eventually retiring in 2010.

Hartnell, Timonen to Philadelphia (June 18, 2007)

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    To Philadelphia Flyers: Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen

    To Nashville Predators: 2007 1st round pick (Jonathan Blum)

    Twenty-three-year-old defenseman Jonathan Blum is still a respectable prospect for the Predators, consistently putting up impressive numbers for the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals and showing promise in scattered NHL call-ups over the last two seasons.

    But he's nothing compared to Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen.

    Long-haired Hartnell scored 17 points in 23 games to push the Flyers to the 2010 Cup Final, and has become a reliable on-ice and locker room leader for Philadelphia over the last five seasons. He scored a career-high 37 goals and 67 points last season, and recent news of a serious foot injury has Philadelphia down another key player.

    Timonen has also become one of the Flyers' night-in, night-out stars over the five seasons since his arrival and proved himself to be a solid star on the top defensive pairing. He's 26 games short of 1,000 lifetime appearances.

Karlsson Draft Pick to Ottawa (June 20, 2008)

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    To Ottawa Senators: 2008 15th overall pick (Erik Karlsson)

    To Nashville Predators: 2008 18th overall pick (Chet Pickard), 2009 third-round pick (Taylor Beck)

    A simple trade-down situation for the Nashville Predators in 2008 has turned into a disaster in recent years as Karlsson has emerged as one of the league's best defensemen.

    Karlsson played with the Senators during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, but his unbelievable 2011-12 campaign—the defenseman scored a whopping 78 points (including 59 assists) in 81 games—won the mere 22-year-old the Norris Trophy.

    Pickard, meanwhile, busted quickly and was last seen playing for the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones. Beck has a respectable 27 points in 34 games for AHL Milwaukee this season but isn't considered much of a promising prospect.

Pronger to Philadelphia (June 27, 2009)

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    To Anaheim Ducks: Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, 2009 first-round pick (John Moore), 2010 first-round pick (Emerson Etem)

    To Philadelphia Flyers: Chris Pronger, Ryan Dingle

    One of the most debatable trades on this list is the blockbuster deal that sent Chris Pronger, then one of the league's best defensemen just two years removed from a Stanley Cup victory, to Philadelphia.

    Pronger was a big part of the Flyers offense and defense during their 2009-10 regular season and following Eastern Conference title. Since then, however, injuries derailed Pronger's career into a major salary cap hassle for the Flyers.

    For the Ducks, only Emerson Etem—a moderately promising youngster with AHL Norfolk right now—and Luca Sbisa—a 22-year-old defenseman who scored 24 points in 80 games last year—are still around.

    However, Lupul and the pick that became Moore ended up bringing veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin and top prospect Kyle Palmieri into the Ducks' system, as well.

    The Ducks would not be in a position they are today—a surprisingly young team with serious playoff aspirations in the near future—without the trade that shipped off Pronger at just the right time.

Kovalchuk to New Jersey (Feb. 5, 2010)

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    To New Jersey Devils: Ilya Kovalchuk, 2010 second-round pick (Jonathan Merrill)

    To Atlanta Thrashers: Niclas Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, Patrice Cormier, 2010 first-round pick (Kevin Hayes), 2010 second-round pick (Justin Holl)

    The Atlanta Thrashers were in a desperately sticky situation with Ilya Kovalchuk and did the best they could, but this trade will go down as one of the most lopsided blockbusters of the modern era.

    Kovalchuk has since scored 195 points in 213 total games in a Devils jersey, including eight goals and 19 points in New Jersey's 23-game Stanley Cup Final run last spring. He's off to another hot start this January with two goals and four points through three games.

    Meanwhile, the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise has lost almost all of the assets acquired in exchange—Bergfors bolted for Russia in summer 2011, Oduya was signed as a free agent by Chicago, Hayes and Holl were traded in the Dustin Byfuglien-headlined trade with Chicago and Patrice Cormier is playing for the AHL's St. Johns IceCaps.

Kaberle to Boston (Feb. 19, 2011)

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    To Boston Bruins: Tomas Kaberle

    To Toronto Maple Leafs: Joe Colborne, 2011 first-round pick (became Tyler Biggs), 2012 second-round pick (traded for John-Michael Liles)

    The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, but not due to any help by Tomas Kaberle—the highly-touted "power-play quarterback" scored a mere one goal in 49 games for the Bruins and promptly departed for Carolina the following offseason.

    To get Kaberle, however, Boston sacrificed an impressive handful of future assets.

    Colborne, 22, has been effective for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL (21 points in 36 games this season) and looks poised to fight for an NHL job soon.

    The Leafs traded Boston's 30th overall pick in 2011 in a multi-selection trade with Anaheim for the 22nd choice, used on Tyler Biggs, a now-19-year-old winger with OHL Oshawa. 

    Secondly, the second-round pick was traded to Colorado for defenseman John-Michael Liles, who had 27 points and 111 blocked shots in 66 appearances for the Maple Leafs last season and has one assist and six blocks to start this year.

    Former Toronto GM Brian Burke made more than his fair share of poor deals, but the Kaberle dump may prove to be very beneficial for the Leafs' future.

Neal to Pittsburgh (Feb. 22, 2011)

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    To Pittsburgh Penguins: James Neal, Matt Niskanen

    To Dallas Stars: Alex Goligoski

    There was no way that the Dallas Stars could've seen James Neal's 40-goal, 81-point 2011-12 campaign coming, but if they had, this trade would certainly not have been made.

    Goligoski has, in fact, been the top-pairing stud the Stars were hoping for when this deal was completed season before last. The veteran defenseman scored 15 points in 23 games for the Stars in spring 2011 and then 30 points (in addition to 93 blocked shots) in 71 appearances last year.

    However, Neal became one of last season's biggest breakout stars, cashing in on his newfound Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin connections to rack up a career high-shattering performance. Niskanen has blossomed into a respectable mid-pairing option, too, recording 105 hits, 69 blocked shots and a plus-nine rating a year ago.

    The jury is, to an extent, still out on this deal—but the Penguins are definitely happy with their return for the moment.

Carter to Columbus (June 23, 2011)

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    To Columbus Blue Jackets: Jeff Carter

    To Philadelphia Flyers: Jakub Voracek, 2011 first-round pick (Sean Couturier), 2011 second-round pick (Nick Cousins)

    The Philadelphia Flyers' crazy day of June 23, 2011, drew plenty of skepticism at the time, but both the Mike Richards trade and the Jeff Carter deal have, a year and a half later, seemed to work out in their favor.

    Voracek, still only 23, scored 18 goals and 49 points in the regular season and 10 points (in 11 games) during the postseason to provide the Flyers with some solid secondary scoring.

    Nonetheless, Couturier, the eighth overall pick of the 2011 draft, will likely pan out as the most important acquisition of this deal—the 19-year-old forward scored an unimposing 27 points in 77 games for Philadelphia last season, but he is expected to flourish as one of the NHL's most talented second-year players this time around.

    Cousins is also an average prospect; he's currently playing for Sault Ste. Marie of the CHL. 

    On the flip side, Carter played only 39 injury-laden games with last place Columbus before he was dealt to Los Angeles for defenseman Jack Johnson and a 2013 first-round pick.

    The Blue Jackets never got nearly the production they expected out of the former All-Star center and finished the 2011-12 season with a pathetic 29 wins in 82 contests.


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