February 18, 2012
Top 10: Deadline day not a big deal
By DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency
While so much focus is put on deals that go down at the NHL trade deadline, often the best ones are made much earlier than the annual swap-meet -- during the summer, at the draft or in the early part of the season. Deadline day might make for riveting (or mindless) TV, but some of the biggest deals in history were consummated during the other 364 days of the year.
10. Bobby Lou heads west
Roberto Luongo now has detractors aplenty, but fans probably were dancing in the streets of Vancouver when the Canucks landed the goaltender in a trade with the Florida Panthers just before the 2006 draft. Todd Bertuzzi, the key player going the other way, played seven (yes, seven) games with the Panthers before being moved to Detroit. Sure, Luongo hasn't backstopped the Canucks to the Stanley Cup but, in five-plus seasons, he has won 217 games and kept the Canucks in the hunt every year.
9. Detroit, Dionne, dumb
Coming off a 47-goal, 121-point season in 1974-75, Marcel Dionne understandably asked the Detroit Red Wings for a decent raise. They said no, and, cutting a long story short, traded him (and defenceman Bart Crashley) to the Los Angeles Kings for defenceman Terry Harper, gritty winger Dan Maloney and a second-round pick. Dionne, a Hall of Famer since 1992, had seven seasons of 100-plus points in L.A. and helped solidify hockey in Southern California.
8. St. Patrick's day in Denver
Patrick Roy didn't give the Canadiens much of a choice after going all "Slapshot" (remember goalie Denis Lemieux's classic "Trade me right f---ing now" line?) during a game against the Red Wings in 1995. But, seriously? Roy and Mike Keane for Jocelyn Thibeault, Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko? Roy really was the last piece of the puzzle for the Colorado Avs, who went on to win the first of two Stanley Cup titles in 1996.
7. Blues brother
Obviously the Red Wings didn't realize exactly what they had before they traded Adam Oates to the St. Louis Blues in the summer of 1989 for a declining Bernie Federko and Tony McKegney. Oates developed into one of the league's premier setup men -- Brett Hull topped 70 goals three times with Oates feeding him the puck. Only one other player in the 1990s (Wayne Gretzky) had more assists than Oates. Federko played one forgettable season in Motown.
6. Neely for nothin'
The Cam Neely-to-Boston trade is without question one of the most lopsided deals ever made. While cringe-worthy for Canucks fans, it is cause for celebration in Beantown. In the summer of 1986, Neely (Hall of Fame class of 2005) and a first-round pick (Glen Wesley) were swapped for young centre Barry Pederson. In three-plus seasons with the Canucks, Pederson had a total of 60 goals. Neely finished his injury-shortened career with 360 goals in black and gold.
5. Leafs fleece Flames
Maple Leafs fans probably consider the trade for Doug Gilmour in 1992 as the steal of the century. They wouldn't be far off. Even Gilmour for Gary Leeman straight up -- 10 players actually swapped teams, making it the biggest deal in NHL history -- would have been brutal. Gilmour was unable to lead the Leafs to the Promised Land but he almost single-handedly rejuvenated a franchise badly in need of something positive. And Leeman? He scored 11 goals in 59 games for the Flames.
4. Moose on Broadway
Mark Messier didn't single-handedly end the New York Rangers' Stanley Cup drought in 1994, three years after he was traded to the Big Apple by the cost-cutting Edmonton Oilers. But it's hard to believe the Rangers would have won without him. That's what makes this deal one of the best in NHL history. Messier didn't cost New York much -- Bernie Nicholls (28 goals as an Oiler), Steven Rice and tough-guy Louie DeBrusk -- and he paid off with the league's ultimate prize.
3. Nords get last laugh
OK, let's get this out there right off the hop. Eric Lindros was, at his peak, a dominant force for the Philadelphia Flyers. But the fact of the matter is, he was also indirectly responsible for helping the Avalanche win the Cup in 1996. The Quebec Nordiques, who would relocate to Denver in 1995, reaped a harvest for the wunderkind. Philly sent Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci and four others (plus two first-round picks) for Lindros, effectively stocking the Nords for years to come.
2. Gretzky heads to Hollywood
Some will argue this trade should top the list. After all, it is probably the most talked-about trade ever. Here's betting most Edmontonians would be able to tell you the date (Aug. 9, 1988) that the Oilers traded a tearful Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. The Oilers made out OK in the deal, too. Now, the Kings still haven't won the Stanley Cup but the mere presence of Gretzky in Hollywood attracted so much attention that the game was allowed to grow in a field that many considered fallow.
1. Iggy, who?
This one tops the list because it worked out perfectly for both teams. When the Calgary Flames traded established star (and captain) Joe Nieuwendyk to the Dallas Stars for junior sensation Jarome Iginla in 1995, no one could have envisioned the end result. Nieuwendyk helped the Stars win the Stanley Cup in 1999 and Iginla developed into one of the game's greats in Calgary. When it's all said and done, this deal can be judged simply -- one Hall of Famer (2011) for a soon-to-be-Hall of Famer.