One Prospect Each NHL Team Wishes It Never Let Go

Kevin Goff@@BrgBrigadeKevinContributor INovember 15, 2011

One Prospect Each NHL Team Wishes It Never Let Go

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    Prospects are the future of your franchise. They are the players that people speculate about for years before they ever lace up a skate in an NHL locker room.

    Some players are obvious success stories, while others seem to come out of nowhere.

    Prospects are also very frequently included in the wheelings and dealings of the NHL world. Teams sometimes bet the future of their franchises on whether or not they think a player will produce for them after a trade.

    These players are ones that got dealt and made their original team wish they had never sent them away.

Anaheim Ducks

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    For the Ducks, I turned to my good twitter buddy Jeff Shibley who writes about Ducks hockey for The Hockey Writers.

    Jordan Leopold was a second round choice by the Anaheim Ducks who never saw a single bit of ice time for Anaheim.

    He was quickly traded to the Calgary Flames where he found most of his best years.

    Leopold is a strong offensive minded defender that is still big and strong in his own zone.

    He had his best year from a goal's perspective just last season with Buffalo, when he scored 13 goals.

    Leopold's presence was one that the Ducks never really got to benefit from until Scott Niedermayer helped lead the team to a Stanley Cup.

Boston Bruins

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    Yes, Ken Dryden was originally drafted by the Boston Bruins way back in the 1964 NHL Amateur Draft and was traded to the Montreal Canadiens before ever playing a game in Bean Town.

    Luckily for Boston, it isn't as if Dryden went on to do anything great.

    He just was a part of six Stanley Cup championship teams, won the Calder Trophy in 1972; the Conn Smythe in 1971; the Vezina Trophy in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979; and was a five-time all-star.

    Plus, that Hockey Hall of Fame induction back in 1983 really wasn't all that much.

    How on earth Boston could let this guy go is totally beyond me. Dryden would have been part of teams that included Bobby Orr.

    Dryden was one of the best to play the game, imagine what a dynasty we could have seen in Boston.

Buffalo Sabres

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    Tom Barrasso is best known for his time playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, backstopping them to two Stanley Cup championships in the early 90s.

    Barrasso was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres fifth overall in the 1983 NHL Draft.

    Barrasso was an early success in Buffalo, winning the Calder and Vezina Trophies in the 1983-1984 season.

    He followed up his rookie year by winning the Jennings Trophy in the 1984-1985 season.

    After five years, he was traded to Pittsburgh where he helped lead the Penguins to the promised land.

Calgary Flames

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    What was Calgary thinking trading this guy?

    Brett Hull, only one of the most prolific snipers in the history of the NHL, played only two season in Calgary before being traded to St. Louis.

    Not long after landing in St. Louis, Hull had years of 41, 72, 86, 70, 54 and 57 goals...consecutively.

    Brett Hull absolutely dominated the NHL and could have helped to create an unstoppable dynasty in Calgary.

    It did take him a while to win his Stanley Cups, but he did get a couple in his career.

    Calgary has to want a do-over on that one.

Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers

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    Chris Pronger was the second overall draft pick in the 1993 NHL Draft, but only played a couple of seasons for the Hartford Whalers.

    Pronger was sent to St. Louis in exchange for Brendan Shanahan.

    Pronger went on to win a Hart and Norris Trophy for St. Louis and has become one of the most dominant and intimidating defenders of his generation.

    It's true that Pronger wasn't very well-liked in Hartford, but his kind of talent doesn't come around all that often, and Pronger's loss definitely hurt the Whalers (now the Hurricanes).

Chicago Blackhawks

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    When the Chicago Blackhawks drafted Dominik Hasek in the 10th round of the 1983 NHL Draft, they didn't realize what a steal they had gotten.

    Hasek didn't actually break the Hawks' roster until 1990, where he served as back-up to Ed Belfour for his short time in Chicago.

    He was later traded to Buffalo where he enjoyed great success.

    He won several Vezinas, a couple of Hart Trophies, and eventually won a few Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings.

    Who knew that the Blackhawks were trading away one of the best goalies to play the position?

Colorado Avalanche

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    This is definitely a much more recent happening for the Avalanche, and some other Avalanche/Nordique followers may have another good name to suggest, but Kevin Shattenkirk is absolutely this in my book.

    Shattenkirk is a former first-round draft pick of the Avalanche, back in 2007, and really produced very well last season.

    Then Shattenkirk was included in the the big trade that sent Chris Stewart to St. Louis and Erik Johnson to Colorado.

    Shattenkirk is a great puck-moving defenseman that would have been great to keep on a pairing with EJ, because ever since the Avalanche traded John-Michael Liles away to Toronto, Johnson doesn't seem to have as much space as he had with the Avalanche towards the end of last season.

    Shattenkirk runs the power play very efficiently and he's responsible in his own zone. Of all the defenders that Colorado could have sent away, Shattenkirk is really the one I was the saddest to see go.

    He'll make Colorado pay down the line each time the Blues play Colorado.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    The Columbus Blue Jackets haven't really been around long enough to have gotten rid of too many people, and the people that have moved on from Columbus haven't really been elite level players.

    The one that jumped out to me was Adam McQuaid.

    He's a solid, young defenseman that has played pretty well for Boston and already has a Stanley Cup with Boston.

    Columbus would like to have that kind of player on the team.

Dallas Stars

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    The Dallas Stars drafted Jarome Iginla 11th overall in 1995 and traded him before he ever took the ice.

    Jarome Iginla has become one of the greatest players—and one of the best leaders—of this generation of the NHL.

    Iginla is one of the most dominant power forwards to ever play the game, and very few people have ever played the game with the same type of consistency and intensity that he does.

    Not only will Iginla score big goals, he will also dominate people physically. Iginla isn't afraid to drop the gloves with anybody and can cause huge momentum swings for his team.

    Dallas definitely lost out by sending Iginla away.

Detroit Red Wings

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    The Detroit Red Wings have had a reputation, especially in recent history, of making outstanding draft picks that they develop into stars for their team.

    With this recent history of amazing draft strategy, it seems crazy that they could have let a guy like Marcel Dionne go.

    Dionne had four really good years with Detroit before being sent to the L.A. Kings before the 1975-1976 season.

    Dionne had the best years of career with the Kings. Out of his 11 years in the yellow and purple, Dionne only had three seasons where he scored fewer than 40 goals.

    In the 70s and into the 80s, the Red Wings weren't among the most elite teams in the NHL, and a player the caliber of Marcel Dionne could have gone a long way towards keeping them respectable.

Edmonton Oilers

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    The Edmonton Oilers have a history of drafting exciting players that end up being legendary names. Mark Messier, Esa Tikkanen and Wayne Gretzky, just to name a few.

    One name that surprised me a little bit when I saw him was Shjon Podein.

    Podein was only part of the Oilers for a couple of years before moving to Philadelphia.

    Podein was a very effective third-line player who was immensely effective in his own zone and on the penalty kill that could pitch in from time to time offensively.

    Podein was one of the unsung players on the 2001 Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup Championship team, and a guy who easily would have benefited the Oilers for a long time.

Florida Panthers

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    The Florida Panthers have had difficulty developing their prospects and finding general success as a franchise.

    Filip Kuba is an example of a player that they got in a very late round that has turned into a very solid defender in the NHL that Florida couldn't develop or see the potential in.

    He was traded to Calgary and then claimed by Minnesota in the 2000 expansion draft.

    Kuba has made it to an all-star game in his career and found really good success away from the Panthers.

Los Angeles Kings

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    The L.A. Kings drafted Kimmo Timonen in the 10th Round of the 1993 NHL Draft and promptly traded Timonen to the Nashville Predators.

    Timonen has turned out to be a very solid defender that has the ability to score some points for his team as well.

    He's a three-time All-Star who topped 40 points seven seasons in a row.

    The Kings have only just been able to get that kind of production out of Drew Doughty, who demanded a huge contract and now isn't living up to it after the hold-out.

    Timonen might have been a better solution, L.A.

Minnesota Wild

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    I kind of have to cheat on Minnesota because they haven't really been around that long to have let many prospects go, or they still have most of them.

    The only one that they don't have anymore that you know the team wishes it had was Marion Gaborik.

    He was a game changer for the Wild the minute that he was drafted and stepped on the ice as a rookie. Gaborik is now scoring goals for the New York Rangers, and is probably enjoying that system far more than he liked the sit back system played in Minnesota while he was there.

    He played a good amount of years there, but you know Minnesota didn't want to let him go.

Montreal Canadiens

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    The Montreal Canadiens drafted John LeClaire back in 1987, and he never really did too much for the Habs.

    So, after a few seasons, and in the middle of a career season at the time, the Canadiens traded LeClaire to the Philadelphia Flyers where he immediately took off.

    Being partnered on the same line with Eric Lindros definitely didn't hurt him in his time there.

    A year after being traded to the Flyers, LeClaire had three straight seasons scoring 50 goals followed up by a couple more 40 goal seasons.

    LeClaire was a part of the well known Legion of Doom line that dominated hockey for a couple of seasons.

    If Montreal could have gotten the right people around him, LeClaire could have dominated for them.

Nashville Predators

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    Karlis Skrastins was a superb NHL defenseman in his time and was one of the greatest iron men that the game has ever seen.

    At one point, Skrastins had played more than five straight seasons without missing a game.

    He was one of the best shut down, shot blocking defenders that always showed up night in and night out.

    Nashville traded him to Colorado after a few years in the Predators organization, and I think it's safe to say that they wish they hadn't.

New Jersey Devils

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    For the Devils, I reached out to Devils Correspondent, Levinakl.

    The New Jersey Devils have always been pretty rich in defensemen, but they may take a look at Sheldon Souray and think that he was the one that got away.

    Souray is a large, strong defender who has an absolute cannon from the blue line, but he didn't really produce that much for New Jersey as a young player.

    You could pretty easily make a case that New Jersey's system worked against his abilities.

    Since being traded from New Jersey, Souray has managed to break 10 goals four different times, and even broke the 20 goal mark twice.

    New Jersey definitely gave up on this guy too early, and I'm sure they wish he was still a part of their team.

    Check out Levinakl's piece ranking the top coaches in Devils' history, here.

New York Islanders

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    As much heat as Roberto Luongo takes in Vancouver, he really is an elite goalie that was just given away by the New York Islanders.

    Luongo could have been a consistent stronghold between the pipes for the Islanders who just have not had any success in finding a consistent goalie for a long time.

    Rick DiPietro's injuries have been insane, Al Montoya is their current inconsistent goalie, Nabokov didn't even want to play for them.

    Imagine how strong this young team could be if Luongo had his elite skill in net there. It could be very different for both sides of things if Luongo hadn't been traded to Florida.

New York Rangers

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    The New York Rangers have had a lot of major star players go through their ranks, and Tony Amonte could have been a guy that lit things up for the Rangers for a long time.

    He had a great rookie season, and scored more than 30 goals in each of his first two seasons.

    In his third season, however, he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks where he had years upon years of great success.

    Amonte's first season in Chicago was the only year that he had less than 60 points, and Amonte even topped himself out with 84 points.

    The Rangers were always very talented in the 90s, and Amonte could have kept them on top for a long time.

Ottawa Senators

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    The Senators drafted defenseman Andrej Meszaros in the first round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and enjoyed his production for three straight years.

    In his first three years in Ottawa, Meszaros was close to 40 points each year before being traded to the Lightning.

    This wouldn't have been a terrible loss if Zdeno Chara hadn't left Ottawa as well, because they have really missed his offensive abilities.

    Ottawa does currently have Sergei Gonchar, one of the most prolific offensive defenders in the game's recent history, but Meszaros would have provided some great numbers pretty consistently for them.

Philadelphia Flyers

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    Flyers Featured Columnist Jason Sapunka was my helping hand on this particular slide, and his insight was greatly appreciated.

    My first thought was to go with Peter Forsberg in the gigantic trade the brought Eric Lindros out to Philadelphia.

    Though Lindros never did win a cup in Philly, he was still very effective and won several awards. He was also part of one of the most dominant lines in the NHL during the 90s.

    Patrick Sharp, on the other hand, was drafted by the Flyers in 2001 and was traded to Chicago in 2005-2006 after a couple years that were less than special.

    In Chicago, Sharp has developed into an elite sniper with a powerful shot.

    He is a great compliment to the talent of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, providing that extra weapon that will make teams pay for paying too much attention to Toews and Kane.

    Check out Jason's article about some Flyers who might end up on the trade block this year, here.

Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets

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    Back when the Phoenix Coyotes were the Winnipeg Jets, they drafted one of the greatest young players to come around in quite a long time in Teemu Selanne.

    Selanne immediately set the ice ablaze once he made the team, and set a rookie record for most goals scored in a rookie season with 76.

    But, just before the Jets moved to Phoenix, he was traded to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, now just the Anaheim Ducks, where he has enjoyed a great amount of success, including a Stanley Cup.

    Just imagining Selanne having played a whole career along guys like Shane Doan and Keith Tkachuk make one sit back and just shake their head at the Jets/Coyotes for not just laughing anybody out of town who even tried to take him away from their team.

    Selanne will be in the Hall of Fame after he retires, no doubt, and who knows how different things might have been for Phoenix if he had moved with the team.

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    For the Penguins, I reached out to Pittsburgh Penguins Featured Columnist, Alison Myers.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Matt Moulson in the 9th round of the 2003 NHL draft but never played a game for the Penguins.

    He first played in the NHL for the Los Angeles Kings back in 2007 and found his way to the New York Islanders a couple of seasons later.

    Since being on the Islanders, Moulson has been a source of consistent goal scoring, tallying 30 goals in each of his last two seasons.

    Pittsburgh is doing pretty well at the moment, but you can't help but look at that type of consistency from a guy you let go and think, oh well.

    Check out Alison's piece about Kris Letang making an early case for the Norris Trophy, here.

San Jose Sharks

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    The San Jose Sharks drafted Sandis Ozolinsh in 1991, and saw some great potential in this young defender who knew how to light the lamp.

    In just his second year in the league Ozolinsh had 64 points with the Sharks, but was traded a couple of seasons later to the Colorado Avalanche.

    The Sharks did get long time captain Owen Nolan out of this deal, but lost out on a very prolific goal scorer on the back end that could quarterback a power play better than almost anybody in that particular time.

    Ozolinsh went on to win a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche, and the Sharks still have yet to crack the finals themselves.

    If I were San Jose, I would want this one back.

St. Louis Blues

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    Rod Brind'Amour was drafted by the St. Louis Blues back in 1988 and only played two season with the Blues before he went to the Philadelphia Flyers.

    In Philly, Brind'Amour had the best seasons of his career, scoring 70 points or more five straight seasons (including a career high 97 points).

    Eventually, Brind'Amour would end up in Carolina and would be captain of the Hurricanes the year they won their Stanley Cup.

    Brind'Amour was a very good player that could score and grind very well and was a great leader. St. Louis definitely missed out on having him on their team.

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Daymond Langkow was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1995 and came right into the league the same year.

    He only lasted a couple of seasons before he was sent to Philadelphia as part of the big Mikael Renberg and Chris Gratton trade that was one of the biggest busts in history.

    Langkow, on the other hand, got better as his career went along.

    He had some okay seasons in Philadelphia, but managed to break out and become a 30-goal scorer when he got to Calgary.

    Tampa Bay was a team for a long time that lived in the cellars of the NHL, as you generally expect from expansion franchises.

    Langkow could have helped lead them to more successes a bit earlier had they never gone forward with that Renberg/Gratton trade that set both franchises back a bit.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    I received a very definitive answer in my quest for advice from Toronto Maple Leafs Featured Columnist, Jeff Landgridge.

    The Leafs drafted Tuukka Rask in the first round of the 2005 Entry Draft and ended up trading Rask to the Boston Bruins in return for Andrew Raycroft.

    The Leafs got an average back-up goalie whose best days were behind them, and the Bruins got a very talented young goalie that is going to be able to step right into the starting role as soon as Tim Thomas retires.

    Toronto seems to constantly be in search of the next goalie that will be the future of their franchise, and it appears that they really let THE one go way too early.

    Check out Jeff's latest article on the 15 most painful injuries in NHL history, here.

Vancouver Canucks

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    Joel Prosser, Vancouver Canucks Featured Columnist here at Bleacher Report, helped me out on this one.

    The Canucks knew that they had to have a good one in Neely since he was drafted with the ninth overall pick in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, but traded him away a couple of years later.

    As we all know, Cam Neely is now a Hall of Famer who was one of the most dominant power forwards in Boston Bruins history.

    Neely's career numbers aren't huge, but that is because his career was cut short by a horrible knee injury, and he was out of the NHL by age 30.

    Still, even in the years he did play, he scored more than 30 goals six times, more than 40 goals four times, and more than 50 goals three times.

    Neely was an amazing player that would have helped the Canucks to great days of success.

    Check out Joel's article about the Canucks/Blackhawks rivalry, here.

Washington Capitals

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    Capitals Featured Columnist Ryan Davenport gave me a helping hand for Washington.

    Jason Allison might not necessarily be counted as a prospect by some because he played for three and a half seasons with the Capitals before they traded him, but that still is on the border in my book.

    Allison was drafted in the first round by Washington in 1993, and though he managed to make the line-up right away, he never really produced all that much for Washington.

    Once he was traded to Boston, Allison became a 30-goal scorer multiple times.

    His career was not long, unfortunately, so he wasn't a total loss to Washington; but the Capitals definitely missed out on the most productive years that he had to offer and I'm sure they would have liked those back.

    Check out Ryan Davenport's piece comparing Alex Ovechkin to Mike Bossy, here.

Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers

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    Before the Winnipeg Jets moved out of Atlanta, they selected a very talented young goalie named Kari Lehtonen with the second overall draft pick in 2002.

    Lehtonen is the only goalie that played for the Atlanta Thrashers that was able to lead the team into the playoffs.

    In 2010, the Thrashers sent Lehtonen over to Dallas for a song and he has really risen to the challenge in Dallas.

    Lehtonen is beginning to emerge as one of the better goalies in the NHL this season, and may very well lead Dallas back into the playoffs this season.

    Kevin Goff is a Featured Columnist for the Colorado Avalanche and NHL on Bleacher Report. For more NHL news and discussion, 

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