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NHL's worst trades ever

What lessons can be learned from the worst NHL trades of all time?

Originally Published: February 17, 2011
By Robert Vollman | Hockey Prospectus

With the NHL trade deadline fast approaching and teams frantically trying to position themselves for the postseason, the possibility of a disastrous trade increases every day. For instance, in their panic last season the New Jersey Devils gave up Johnny Oduya, two young, first-round prospects in Niclas Bergfors and Patrice Cormier, and their first two draft choices to the Atlanta Thrashers to rent Ilya Kovalchuk for 27 games. The Devils re-signed Kovy, but that trade could easily mark the turning point for two franchises that were previously headed in different directions.

What can be learned from the NHL's vast history that can help reduce the chances of lopsided deals? Using GVT we can compare players of all types, and across all different eras, helping us find the five most lopsided deals of the post-expansion era.

The deal: Chicago Blackhawks trade Dominik Hasek to the Buffalo Sabres for Stephane Beauregard and future considerations

The cost: 417.9 goals

The lesson: Don't trade away goalies before establishing their potential.

In 1992 the Chicago Blackhawks had perhaps the greatest goalie in NHL history, and didn't even know it. Dominik Hasek was the MVP of the Czech league three times, and goalie of the year five consecutive seasons before the end of communist rule allowed him to play in North America. In his first season his stats matched those of teammate Ed Belfour, who was recognized as one of the best netminders in the league at the time. Despite his obvious talent, Hasek was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres for virtually nothing.

Goalies have the capacity to carry a franchise all by themselves, and it can take several seasons to establish their true talent level, so think twice before trading away goalkeepers with only a couple of years of experience.

Other examples: The Boston Bruins trade Ken Dryden and Alex Campbell to the Montreal Canadiens for Guy Allen and Paul Reid.


The deal: Chicago Blackhawks trade Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield to the Boston Bruins for Pit Martin, Jack Norris and Gilles Marotte

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