David Legwand (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
The trade deadline is a day of wins and losses for general managers around the league, but sometimes the obvious buyer makes a big mistake or a trade flops altogether. Here are five from the last ten years of deadline action that will leave you scratching your head.
With the trade deadline days away, everyone has taken the time to reflect on the deadline deals that were blockbusters, those that changed a team’s fate or gave them a boost on their road to the Stanley Cup and even looked back at who won long-term.
But what about those deals that looked big at the time but ended up being colossal flops? Not every deal can be a gem and, for one GM in particular, there have been quite a few that looked like they could have made an impact at the time but turned into absolutely nothing.
What constitutes a deadline day flop? The trade has to involve a number of moving parts because, let’s be honest, while a player-for-player deal with two stars is fun, a five- or six-player deal can be much more interesting. In addition, a flop means the trade didn’t work out for either squad, or the team that was supposed to be the buyer, getting the player they believe will put them over the top, has to have the deal backfire badly.
In addition, just for this exercise, the deal has to come: 1) in the last decade, 2) on trade deadline day. Sadly, that leaves one fantastic flop out of the running – the deal that made Keith Tkachuk an Atlanta Thrasher the day before the deadline in 2006-07.
In landing Tkachuk from the St. Louis Blues, the Thrashers gave up Glen Metropolit, a 2007 first-round pick (traded to Calgary; Mikael Backlund), 2007 third-round selection (Brett Sonne) and a 2008 second-rounder (Phil McRae). Tkachuk went on to play 22 total games for the Thrashers, scoring eight goals and 18 points. In the off-season, Tkachuk headed back to the Blues, Metropolit left for Boston and none of the picks panned out for the Blues.
The first-round pick was then dealt to Calgary, along with a third-round selection, so St. Louis could move up in the 2007 draft to nab Ian Cole. And that is a perfect example of a deadline day flop. Sadly, as mentioned, it came the day before the deadline. But these are five that came on the NHL’s annual trade day.
5) Four player deal ends with three players in KHL
2008-09 Trade Deadline
TO COYOTES: Nigel Dawes, Petr Prucha, Dmitri Kalinin
TO RANGERS: Derek Morris
The trade deadline hasn’t been friendly to Glen Sather in the past, and the 2009 deadline happened to provide us with one of the worst trades for no other reason than it didn’t work out for anyone.
Morris, who the big piece in the trade, played a grand total of 25 games with the Rangers before heading to Boston as a free agent the following season. In his short stint with the Rangers, he registered 10 points as New York flamed out in the second round of the playoffs to the top-seeded Buffalo Sabres.
For the Coyotes, Dawes and Kalinin played a combined 27 games. Kalinin left for the KHL immediately following his stint in Arizona, while Dawes headed to Calgary. After one year with the Flames, Dawes joined Kalinin in Russia after failed stints with the Atlanta Thrashers and Montreal Canadiens.
The only player who remained with their new team was Prucha, who spent the next two seasons in Florida. However, in his second season with the Coyotes, he was demoted to the AHL and was in the KHL by the end of the year.
4) Ryane Clowe nets nothing for Sharks
2012-13 Trade Deadline
TO RANGERS: Ryane Clowe
TO SHARKS: 2013 second-round pick (Gabryel Paquin-Bourdeau), 2013 third-round pick (traded to Florida), conditional 2014 second-round pick (conditions not met)
Sather gets back on the board with this one, again playing his part in a deal that ended up in nothing for either side.
By acquiring Clowe, the Rangers were hoping to get the player that was one year removed from a 17-goal, 45-point season. Instead, they got the one who hadn’t scored in the first 28 games of the season. Clowe went on to suit up in 14 games for the Rangers and scored three goals and 9 points while averaging 17 minutes of ice time.
For the Sharks, they got back two picks that have thus far yielded nothing. While Paquin-Bourdeau still stands a shot at panning out, the third-round pick was flipped for Raffi Torres and he’s been sidelined for much of his time in San Jose.
3) Six-player shuffle fails for Rangers, Coyotes
2007-08 Trade Deadline
TO COYOTES: Marcel Hossa, Al Montoya
TO RANGERS: Josh Gratton, David Leneveu, Frederik Sjostrom, 2009 fifth-round pick (Roman Horak)
Honestly, this isn’t about shaming Sather. It just so happens that he lands on this list again because of another deal with the Coyotes that involved a ton of moving parts and resulted in a whole bunch of nothing for either side.
Between the four forwards, a total of 111 games were played. Sjostrom, who played 18 following the trade and 79 the next campaign, accounts for 97 of those. And as for total points, there were only 15 split between the four, all of which came from Sjostrom.
There was a hope that Hossa would become a similar player to his older brother, Marian, but that never quite panned out. After failing to register a point in 14 contests with Phoenix, Hossa left for the KHL. Montoya got out of the minors for five games, Leneveu never saw NHL time in New York, Gratton stayed in the AHL and Horak was dealt to the Calgary Flames before slipping on an NHL jersey and playing in even one game with the Rangers.
This deal at the time had all the workings of one that could have helped revitalize some careers or give an AHL player a shot at the big club. That didn’t happen.
2) Legwand trade a head-scratcher for Wings
If there’s one general manager that’s universally lauded for his ability to build his roster, it’s Detroit’s Ken Holland. But even Holland isn’t safe from a deadline disaster.
For some reason, at last year’s deadline, the player Holland figured his team needed was David Legwand, a veteran center who had spent his entire career with the Nashville Predators.
To say Legwand’s tenure in Detroit was forgettable would be an understatement. He played 21 games for the Red Wings, scoring four goals and 11 points. Come playoffs, what Legwand was brought in for, he was held off the board in all five games as the Boston Bruins eliminated Detroit in the first round.
In order to get Legwand, the Red Wings had to give up one of their young prospects in Jarnkrok. This season with the Predators, the 23-year-old Jarnkrok has six goals and 15 points. It’s not a miraculous rookie campaign by any means, but with room to grow, the buyers got hosed in the deal.
Eaves would last only five games with the Predators before signing as a free agent with the Dallas Stars before 2014-15.
1) The other infamous Forsberg trade
When the trade happened, it didn’t make much sense, but it would have been hard to suggest it was an all out failure then and there. Erat was a consistent scorer for the Predators who was having a tough season and could have provided a bit of offense for the Capitals down the stretch.
History will – and has – remembered it otherwise, though. Erat went bust as a Captial, scoring two goals and 25 points in 62 games with Washington before being shipped to Phoenix at 2013-14 trade deadline. As for Forsberg, well, that’s an entirely different story.
Nashville, the sellers in this situation, picked up a young prospect who has become one of their offensive leaders in his first full season in the NHL. In 62 games this season for the Predators, Forsberg has more than twice as many points than Erat had as a Captial. He’s become a first-liner, while Erat served only to fetch prospect Chris Brown for Washington.
When Capitals fans look back at some of the worst deadline deals in the team’s history, this one will stand out – not just because of Forsberg’s performance, but because Erat didn’t turn out to be even half the player they had hoped.