The Tampa Bay Lightning broke up their Stanley Cup core when they traded Brad Richards to Dallas in 2008. Reflecting back on the blockbuster, who won the deal?
Brad Richards has had a very good, well-decorated career. He’s won a Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy and been paid richly for his efforts.
He’s also been the subject of some criticism, particularly in New York the past few years, and was bought out following the Blueshirts’ playoff run.
During his latter days in Tampa Bay, Richards was part of a triumvirate of stars, along with Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St-Louis, who were eating up a healthy helping of the Lightning’s cap space and there was strong speculation one would be moved. The needle landed on Richards.
In 2008, with the club struggling, he was shipped to Dallas for a bounty of players. Six years later, as part of a recurring feature in which we re-open a cold file from a deal that transpired five or more years ago, we re-assess the swap.
Feb. 26, 2008: Tampa Bay trades Richards and Johan Holmqvist to Dallas for Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen, Mike Smith and a fourth round draft pick
Richards: The 2004 Conn Smythe winner was set free in what was largely viewed as a salary dump. He stepped into the Stars lineup and contributed to the club’s drive to the Western Conference final versus Detroit. Richards experienced an offensive rebound in subsequent seasons, collecting 91 points in 2009-10 and starring on a high-flying line with James Neal and Loui Eriksson. On the downside, Dallas failed to qualify for the post-season in every year of Richards’ tenure there, other than 2008. Worried about the financial instability of the franchise, and wanting to play in the east, Richards bolted to New York as unrestricted free agent in 2011.
Johan Holmqvist: the one-time Lightning starter played all of two games for Dallas before heading home to Sweden the subsequent season.
Jeff Halpern: Halpern managed 17 goals in 71 games for Tampa before being moved for Teddy Purcell and a third-round pick (Tampa selected Brock Beukeboom) in 2010. Purcell was a force for the Lightning in the 2011 playoffs, but never consistently matched that level and was moved to Edmonton this summer in what amounted to a salary dump. Beukeboom didn’t pan out and was traded to St. Louis, with a third-round pick, for Eric Brewer.
Jussi Jokinen: Sent to Carolina a year after his acquisition, Jokinen fetched Wade Brookbank, Josef Melichar and a fourth-round pick. None of the incoming assets made an impact.
Mike Smith: The big netminder showed flashes of promise, but injuries and turmoil derailed him in an adversity-filled 2010-11. He walked as a UFA and has subsequently rejuvenated his career in Arizona.
Dallas, by a hair.
Neither side used the trade as a springboard for excellence, but Richards was a contributor to the Stars' run to the conference final and, in the subsequent three years, he generated excitement in Texas at a time when there wasn't a ton to cheer about. Tampa, on the other hand, got little bang from the players it acquired directly for Richards. True, they made it to a conference final in the wake of the deal and two off-shoots from the trade were significant contributors. Purcell had six goals and 17 points in 18 games and was a force for the Lightning, while Brewer logged a team-high 25:36 of ice time per night in the club’s dramatic run. But they weren't part of the original swap. If Smith and Jokinen had blossomed in Tampa the way they have more recently, this deal would swing in the Lighting's favor.