We are beginning a week-long feature, looking at past trade deadlines and seeing how they affected the teams and players involved...
The Blockbuster: Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey New Jersey: Ilya Kovalchuk, Anssi Salmela, 2nd round pick Atlanta: Niclas Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, (P) Patrice Cormier, 1st round pick, 2nd round pick
Devils GM Lou Lamoriello sent shockwaves through the NHL the night he acquired Kovalchuk. He went outside the box, acquiring the highly-coveted goal-scorer from Atlanta. Lamoriello sent some valuable assets to the Thrashers, including Bergfors and a first-rounder.
Though the players that Atlanta acquired in the deal haven’t been big contributors, trading Kovalchuk has changed the attitude of the franchise, for the better. They are in playoff contention and were even leading the division at point earlier this season.
New Jersey, on other hand, hasn’t performed up to expectations since bringing in Kovy. The team exited in five games last spring, went through the contract debacle with Kovalchuk this summer, and have taken over half a season to get back to their usual winning ways.
When the deal went down, the Devils were the big winners. But a year later, it looks like the Kovy-less Thrashers have gotten the upper hand.
The Blockbuster, Part 2: Dion Phaneuf to Toronto Toronto: Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom, (P) Keith Aulie Calgary: Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White, Jamal Mayers
Brian Burke shocked the hockey world last winter when he was able to pry Dion Phaneuf and others from the Flames without paying a premium. Burke and the Leafs immediately anointed Phaneuf and then-newcomer Phil Kessel as the core to build the future around. Over the summer, the organization named Phaneuf as captain.
Phaneuf has struggled to contribute offensively with just 23 points and a minus-9 rating in 66 games. Aulie is starting to see some time in the NHL, which is a feather in Burke’s cap in this trade.
What was just as shocking was that Flames GM Darryl Sutter traded away Phaneuf without getting equal value. White and Mayers are no longer with the team, while Stajan and Hagman haven’t been the best fits under Brent Sutter. They have only gone downhill ever since the trade. They could have gotten more than just role players for Phaneuf.
A year-plus later, this surprising blockbuster just doesn’t have the same significance as it did when it actually happened.
The Steal: Ville Leino to Philadelphia
Philadelphia: Ville Leino Detroit: Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, 2011 5th round pick
Ville Leino made some waves in Finland in the few years prior to making the move to North America. With Jokerit in 2007, he racked up 77 points and was named SM-liiga’s best player.
When he signed with Detroit, he was viewed as the next ‘diamond in the rough’ pickup by GM Ken Holland. However, those plans changed when Holland dealt Leino to the Flyers for Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a fifth-rounder.
Leino went on to compile 21 points in 19 playoff games, providing a big lift to the Flyers in their run to the final. This season, he has 39 points and a plus-19 rating in 54 games. For comparison purposes, Tollefsen never played a game with Detroit and is currently overseas.
Yeah, I think Philly GM Paul Holmgren would do that trade again…
The Win-win: Lubomir Visnovsky for Ryan Whitney Anaheim: Lubomir Visnovsky Edmonton: Ryan Whitney, 6th round pick
It seems like every trade deadline there are one or two player-for-player trades that end up working for both sides. Ryan Whitney and Lubomir Visnovsky struggled to find consistency in Anaheim and Edmonton, respectively, so they were swapped for one another. Both have flourished with their new teams.
Visnovsky has stepped up in a big way for the Ducks this season following the retirement of Scott Niedermayer. He has a very solid 57 points in 71 games with Anaheim, including 24 assists on the power play. Some have even considered Visnovsky as a dark-horse candidate for the Norris Trophy.
Meanwhile, Whitney has found his groove with the Oilers (before getting hurt, obviously). He has 38 points in 54 games with Edmonton, along with a plus-20 rating – which is impressive with the Oilers.
The Seller: Carolina Hurricanes Traded: Matt Cullen, Joe Corvo, Niclas Wallin, Stephane Yelle, Aaron Ward, Andrew Alberts, Scott Walker Acquired: Brian Pothier, Alex Picard, (P) Oskar Osala, (P) Justin Pogge, (P) Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll, 2nd round pick (WSH), 2nd round pick (OTT), 2nd round pick (SJ), 3rd round pick (VAN), 4th round pick (ANA), 6th round pick (COL), 7th round pick (WSH)
Carolina GM Jim Rutherford maximized his assets and got a solid return on some expiring contracts. Although the prospects may not turn into NHL regulars, Rutherford compiled seven draft picks… so you’d have to think at least two or three will eventually see some time in the NHL. On top of that, he was able to re-sign Corvo this summer after the Capitals used him as a rental.
The Cup Champion’s acquisitions… Chicago Blackhawks: Acquired: Nick Boynton, Kim Johnsson, (P) Nick Leddy Traded: Cam Barker
Most champions don’t make a huge move at the deadline, and Chicago went down that path as well. Nick Boynton provided depth in the postseason, Kim Johnsson was doing alright before getting injured, and Nick Leddy is now getting time with the big club. GM Stan Bowman stayed pretty conservative at the deadline, and it paid off in the end.
Other notable deals…
Toronto: J.S. Giguere
Anaheim: Jason Blake, Vesa Toskala
NY Rangers: Olli Jokinen, Brandon Prust
Calgary: Ales Kotalik, Christopher Higgins
Dallas: Kari Lehtonen
Atlanta: Ivan Vishnevskiy, 4th round pick
Montreal: Dominic Moore
Florida: 2nd round pick
Pittsburgh: Jordan Leopold
Florida: 2nd round pick
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.