Ranking the 10 Worst NHL Trades of the Past Decade

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2015

Ranking the 10 Worst NHL Trades of the Past Decade

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The NHL has seen its share of bad trades throughout its history. The past decade (2005 to 2015) was no exception.

    Various reasons can turn a trade that seemed fair into a bad deal for one of the teams involved. Players fail to reach expectations. Draft picks or prospects exchanged in the trade turn into busts. Sometimes, it's simply a case of a general manager making a bad decision. 

    The following slideshow ranks the 10 worst NHL trades since 2005. The caliber of talent, quality of return and long-term effects of these trades factored into this list. Feel free to voice your opinions in the comments section.

10. Dallas Stars Trade James Neal and Matt Niskanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    The Trade

    On Feb. 21, 2011, the Dallas Stars traded winger James Neal (pictured above) and defenseman Matt Niskanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins for defenseman Alex Goligoski.


    At the time of the trade, ESPN.com's Mark Stepneski reported then-Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk wanted to improve his defense. Neal and Niskanen were slumping that season.

    Stepneski also reported the Penguins were seeking roster depth. They were missing 10 regular players (including Sidney Crosby) to injury.

    Why It's Among the Worst

    Goligoski remains a steady puck-moving blueliner for the Stars, but he didn't noticeably improve their defense. Neal regained his offensive touch with the Penguins, while Niskanen became one of their better defensemen. Both helped the Penguins remain among the NHL's top teams.

    With Neal now in Nashville and Niskanen in Washington, one can argue the Stars won this deal in the long run. Perhaps, but the Stars would have been a better team if Nieuwendyk had had more patience with Neal and Niskanen.

9. San Jose Sharks Acquire Craig Rivet from the Montreal Canadiens

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Trade

    On Feb. 25, 2007, the San Jose Sharks traded defenseman Josh Gorges and a first-round pick in 2007 to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Craig Rivet.


    The Associated Press (via ESPN.com) reported Sharks general manager Doug Wilson wanted to bolster his defense corps for the 2007 NHL playoffs. 

    Rivet was slated to become an unrestricted free agent that summer. The Canadiens were struggling and wanted to rework their lineup.

    Why It's Among the Worst

    Although the Sharks re-signed Rivet, he didn't last long in San Jose. In 2008, the team traded him to the Buffalo Sabres. Put simply, the Sharks overpaid for an aging veteran defenseman.

    Gorges went on to spend several productive seasons as a defensive stalwart in Montreal. The Canadiens used that first-round pick to select left wing Max Pacioretty, who's among the NHL's top goal scorers and one of the Habs' core players.

8. Montreal Canadiens Acquire Scott Gomez from the New York Rangers

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The Trade

    On June 30, 2009, the Montreal Canadiens traded Christopher Higgins and the rights to Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko and Doug Janik to the New York Rangers for center Scott Gomez, forward Tom Pyatt and the rights to Michael Busto.


    At the time of the trade, NHL.com's Dan Rosen reported it was a move by two clubs that were seeking to shake things up. Rosen called it a trade "that seemingly helps both sides."

    Gomez's numbers declined in 2009-10, and the Rangers wanted to dump his $7.357 million-per-season contract. The Canadiens were in the market for a playmaking center.

    Why It's Among the Worst

    This deal would have been a washout for both teams had McDonagh not blossomed into a top-two defenseman. After three seasons, the Canadiens bought out the remainder of Gomez's contract in 2013. 

    Giving up a promising blueliner in a deal for an overpaid, fading center ranks among the worst trades in Canadiens history. It's also among the league's worst since 2005. 

7. Philadelphia Flyers Trade Patrick Sharp to the Chicago Blackhawks

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    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    The Trade

    On Dec. 5 2006, the Philadelphia Flyers traded forwards Patrick Sharp (pictured above) and Eric Meloche to the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Matt Ellison and a third-round pick in 2006.


    At the time of the trade, Philadelphia Inquirer beat writer Tim Panaccio reported then-Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke explained his club was too crowded at center.

    Clarke believed Ellison, who played center or wing, would provide the Flyers with more versatility at forward.

    Why It's Among the Worst

    Somebody should have told Clarke that Sharp could also play left wing. He enjoyed five 62-plus point seasons as a left winger with the Blackhawks. He also helped them win two Stanley Cups.

    Ellison played only seven games with the Flyers over two seasons and left the NHL following the 2006-07 campaign.

6. Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Tuukka Rask to the Boston Bruins

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Trade

    On June 24, 2006, the Toronto Maple Leafs dealt the rights to goaltender Tuukka Rask to the Boston Bruins for netminder Andrew Raycroft.


    The Maple Leafs had two promising young goalies in their system in Rask and Justin Pogge. On June 8, 2013, the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons explained then-Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. didn't want to move Pogge, who backstopped Canada to a gold medal at the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championships.

    Simmons also claimed Ferguson thought Rask might prove difficult to sign because Pogge was already under contract.

    Why It's Among the Worst

    Raycroft, the 2004 Calder Trophy winner as NHL rookie of the year, lasted only two seasons with the Leafs. His final NHL season was 2011-12. Pogge's NHL career lasted one season, as he played just seven games with the Leafs in 2008-09. 

    Rask went on to backstop the Bruins to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final and won the 2014 Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie. He is considered among the league's elite netminders.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets Acquire Jeff Carter from the Philadelphia Flyers

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    The Trade

    On June 23, 2011, the Columbus Blue Jackets traded right wing Jakub Voracek and two draft picks in the 2011 NHL draft to the Philadelphia Flyers for forward Jeff Carter.


    When the trade went down, ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported the Blue Jackets added Carter to provide then-captain Rick Nash with a first-line center.

    Carter was about to begin his 11-year, $58 million contract in 2011-12. LeBrun claimed the Flyers needed to shed salary-cap space to sign goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. 

    Why It's Among the Worst

    Carter's tenure in Columbus was short and unproductive because of foot and shoulder injuries. On Feb. 23, 2012, the Blue Jackets dealt him to the Los Angeles Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick. Carter regained his offensive form and helped the Kings win two Stanley Cups.

    The Bryzgalov signing was a disaster for the Flyers, but the return for Carter was a gold mine. Voracek blossomed into a top-scoring winger and currently leads the NHL in points. One of those two draft picks was used to select two-way center Sean Couturier.

4. Atlanta Thrashers Trade Marian Hossa to the Pittsburgh Penguins

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    GREGORY SMITH/Associated Press

    The Trade

    On Feb. 27, 2008, the Atlanta Thrashers traded forwards Marian Hossa (pictured above) and Pascal Dupuis to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forwards Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen, prospect Angelo Esposito and a first-round draft pick in 2008.


    At the time of the deal, the Associated Press (via ESPN.com) reported Thrashers general manager Don Waddell wanted to get something for Hossa, rather than risk losing him to free agency that summer.

    The report also stated then-Penguins general manager Ray Shero saw Hossa as the missing top-line winger for captain Sidney Crosby.

    Why It's Among the Worst

    None of the players the Thrashers received blossomed into stars or improved the club. The first-round pick turned into Daultan Leveille, who never made the NHL. This wouldn't be the last time Waddell failed to get a good return for a superstar.

    Hossa departed the Penguins via free agency later that year but not before tallying 26 points in 20 playoff games as the Penguins advanced to the 2008 Stanley Cup Final. Dupuis had more long-term value for the Penguins, becoming one of their key forwards and helping them win the Cup in 2009. 

3. Florida Panthers Trade Roberto Luongo to the Vancouver Canucks

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Trade

    On June 23, 2006, the Florida Panthers traded Roberto Luongo, defenseman Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for goalie Alex Auld, defenseman Bryan Allen and winger Todd Bertuzzi.


    Nearly two years after the trade, the Feb. 1, 2008 edition of The Vancouver Province (via Canada.com) reported Luongo was moved because of his frosty relationship with then-Panthers general manager Mike Keenan.

    A contract dispute was at the heart of their dispute. On Jan. 29, 2006, ESPN.com reported Luongo rejected a five-year, $30 million contract extension from the Panthers. That set the stage for his trade to Vancouver.

    Why It's Among the Worst

    Regardless of the reasons behind the trade, it did little to improve the Panthers. Bertuzzi missed most of 2006-07 to back surgery and was dealt to the Detroit Red Wings. Auld lasted only one season with the Panthers. Allen, a depth defenseman, spent nearly five seasons in Florida.

    Luongo helped the Canucks become a powerhouse in the Western Conference, backstopping them to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Vancouver dealt him back to the Panthers late last season. While the Canucks didn't get much in return, they at least benefited from several seasons of Luongo in his prime.

2. Atlanta Thrashers Trade Ilya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils

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    Gregory Smith/Associated Press

    The Trade 

    On Feb. 4, 2010, the Atlanta Thrashers traded winger Ilya Kovalchuk (pictured above), defenseman Anssi Salmela and a second-round pick in the 2010 NHL draft to the New Jersey Devils for forward Niclas Bergfors, defenseman Johnny Oduya, prospect Patrice Cormier and first- and second-round picks in the 2010 NHL draft.


    When the trade was made, ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported Thrashers general manager Don Waddell admitted his club couldn't afford to meet Kovalchuk's salary demands. If they had, the Thrashers wouldn't have been able to build a competitive team around him. 

    LeBrun also reported Devils GM Lou Lamoriello believed Kovalchuk would provide his club with explosive scoring, particularly on their power play.

    Why It's Among the Worst

    The return for Kovalchuk failed to improve the Thrashers. Bergfors didn't last two seasons with the Thrashers, and Cormier played only 49 NHL games. Less than a year after the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg, they dealt Oduya to the Chicago Blackhawks. The two draft picks became Kevin Hayes (now with the New York Rangers) and Justin Holl.

    Kovalchuk gave the Devils their share of headaches, including contract issues and his retirement to Russia in 2013. Still, he had nearly four productive seasons in New Jersey, helping the Devils reach the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. Any way you slice it, this deal was lopsided in the Devils' favor.

1. Boston Bruins Trade Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks

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    WINSLOW TOWNSON/Associated Press

    The Trade

    On November 30, 2005, the Boston Bruins traded center Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for defenseman Brad Stuart and forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau.


    When the deal went down, the Associated Press (via ESPN.com) reported Thornton felt he was the scapegoat for the Bruins' poor performance at that point in the season.

    The Sharks were also struggling, going winless in 10 games leading up to the trade. Both teams needed a shake-up.

    Why It's Among the Worst

    After being dealt to the Sharks, Thornton went to enjoy his best NHL seasons. He won the Art Ross and Hart trophies in 2006. He's also the Sharks' all-time assists leader and second in points.

    By comparison, the Bruins fared poorly in this deal. Only Sturm spent significant time with the Bruins. In 2007, they dealt Primeau, Stuart and a conditional fourth-round pick to the Calgary Flames for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew. 


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