When Wayne Gretzky was traded from Edmonton to Los Angeles it shook the hockey world. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)
The off-season usually brings a number of high-profile NHL trades and we’ve already seen a couple with the Jordan Staal-Brandon Sutter and James van Riemsdyk-Luke Schenn swaps. What are the biggest summertime swaps in league history? That’s the focus of this week’s THN.com Top 10:
10. Senators trade Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries to Thrashers for Dany Heatley
In the summer of 2005, Ottawa was coming off a disappointing first round exit at the hands of the Leafs prior to the lockout, while Heatley was still coping with the emotional ramifications of a car accident that claimed the life of Atlanta teammate Dan Snyder. Trading Hossa – a key component of the Sens’ core – for Heatley gave both players fresh starts in new cities. Heatley played four seasons in Ottawa and Hossa played two-and-a-half in Atlanta.
9. Rangers trade Gump Worsley, Dave Balon, Leon Rochefort and Len Ronson to Canadiens for Jacques Plante, Phil Goyette and Don Marshall
It was June of 1963 when the Blueshirts and Habs made a deal involving two future Hall-of-Fame goalies. Worsley had won the Calder Trophy as a Ranger, but fell out of good favor with management; Plante had won a Hart and Vezina Trophy as well as six Stanley Cups as a Canadien, but also wasn’t in the good books of team brass. The trade turned out to be a big win for Montreal, who got the best years of Worsley’s career (and four more Cups with him in net), while Plante played just one-and-a-half more seasons before retiring for the first time.
8. Jets trade Dale Hawerchuk and their 1990 first round pick to Buffalo for Phil Housley, Scott Arniel, Jeff Parker and the Sabres’ first round pick
Hawerchuk was Winnipeg’s marquee player when he was suddenly dealt to the Sabres for star defenseman Housley. Interestingly enough, the two draft picks involved in the swap – Brad May for Buffalo and Keith Tkachuk for Winnipeg – became crucial to their respective teams’ success as well.
7. Oilers trade Chris Pronger to Anaheim for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, a 2007 first round pick and conditional 2008 first and second round picks
This deal angered Edmonton fans in a big way when it was consummated in July of 2006 – and when Pronger won his first Cup as a Duck the following season – but it actually turned out to be a decent deal for the Oilers, who drafted young star Jordan Eberle with the conditional 2008 first-rounder (22nd overall) they got from Anaheim.
6. Maple Leafs trade Wendel Clark, Sylvain Lefebvre, Landon Wilson and a 1994 first round pick to Nordiques for Mats Sundin, Garth Butcher, Todd Warriner and a 1994 first round pick
Jaws dropped in Toronto on June 28, 1994 when Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher sent beloved star Clark to the Nords for young dynamo Sundin, who went on to star for the Buds for the next 13 seasons. Clark spent only one season in Quebec, but was part of a subsequent trade that brought Claude Lemieux to the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise.
5. Canadiens trade Chris Chelios and a 1991 second round pick to Chicago for Denis Savard
Chelios was a Norris Trophy-winner and Stanley Cup champion in Montreal by age 28, which made it all the more shocking when the Habs shipped him to the Hawks for fellow star Savard in June of 1990. Chelios played nine seasons in Chicago, while Savard played only three in his home province before playing for Tampa and then the Hawks again.
4. Red Wings trade Johnny Bucyk to Bruins for Terry Sawchuk
Bucyk had just finished his first full season in Detroit when he was shipped to Boston for the legendary Sawchuk’s goaltending talents in July of 1957. Bucyk played 21 seasons for the Bruins and won two Cups; Sawchuk disappointed in his second of three stints in Detroit and was left unprotected in the intraleague waiver draft of 1964.
3. Blackhawks trade Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge Sr. and Fred Stanfield to Bruins for Pit Martin, Gilles Marotte and Jack Norris
Esposito’s first three full NHL seasons were spent in the Windy City before he was dealt to Boston in May of 1967 and immediately raised his game to superstar levels. Hodge and Stanfield also became key contributors for the Bruins, making this deal one of the more lopsided in league history.
2. Flyers trade Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Mike Ricci, Steve Duchesne, Kerry Huffman, Chris Simon, 1993 and 1994 first round picks and $15 million to Nordiques for Eric Lindros
Hailed as the next truly elite player along the lines of a Wayne Gretzky or Mark Messier before he’d played a single NHL game, Lindros famously said no to playing in Quebec and set in motion a bidding war that landed the Nords franchise a huge return for him in June of 1992. The trade – and the course of history of the league – would have been very different had a league arbitrator not ruled against Quebec’s attempt to nullify the Flyers deal and trade him to the Rangers instead.
1. Oilers trade Wayne Gretzky, Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski to Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three first round picks and $15 million
Gretzky was the standard-bearer on the ice for a generation and his first NHL trade remains the measuring stick for all blockbuster trades. It not only turned the Kings into a Cup contender, but also helped drive American interest in the game and helped create the right kind of atmosphere in which the league could expand operations into a number of new U.S. markets. Oh, and it made The Great One cry, too.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.