NHL Trade Tree
The hard part about these trade trees is determining which player was the centerpiece of a deal that takes place years after the initial trade I’m breaking down. If you were to simply look at the graphs and stats and not read the blog, it may paint a different picture of who actually won or lost the initial trade.
For example, let’s say Toronto sent a 2nd line player to Vancouver for a 3rd liner and an AHL player. I would follow each player involved and the assets received in future trades to try to decide which team won or did better with their assets. The 2nd line player stayed in Vancouver and was a 20 goal scorer for the next five years. The 3rd liner played one season in Toronto before retiring, and the AHL player was never good enough for the NHL.
Seems pretty obvious who won that trade. Now here’s where stats get skewed. Let say three years after the trade, Toronto decided to trade Austin Matthews to Edmonton for Connor McDavid, but added the AHL player to the deal as “sweetener”. Suddenly the stats show Toronto overwhelmingly won the trade over Vancouver, but is that really accurate? The AHL player didn’t get McDavid, it was Matthews, so the stats after this trade are a little mucky.
The Trade Tree Tuesday: Vintage – Leafs & Wings March 3, 1968 has a couple of those types of trades, which I tried to portray. This next trade is no different and I’m going to continue to show the trees in their entirety as well as the stats. However, I will also make secondary graphs which omit those mucky stats, then let you decide on your own.
Vancouver Canucks & St. Louis Blues
The first place St. Louis Blues wanted some defensive depth for the 1991 playoffs. At the March 5th trade deadline they made a blockbuster trade with the Vancouver Canucks. The Blues acquired defenseman Garth Butcher and centre Dan Quinn. Vancouver walked away with Geoff Courtnall, Robert Dirk, Sergio Momesso, Cliff Ronning, and a 1992 5th round draft pick. Trades at the deadline have a history of turning into some of the worst trades in the NHL.
The trade would be a major turning point for the Canucks who were at the bottom of the league standings. After finishing the 1990-91 season with only 28 wins and 65 points, the Canucks would follow that up with 42 wins and 96 points the next season. Although the Blues had Brett Hull and Adam Oats leading the way, the trade cost them their secondary scoring. Media and Blues fans ultimately blamed this trade for an early second round exit from the playoffs.
Who the Canucks Gave Up
Garth Butcher was a staple on the Canucks defense where he spent nine seasons. He was known as a very aggressive shutdown type defenseman who provided a constant physical presence. Butcher would spend three seasons with the Blues after the trade with the Canucks racking up 508 PIM in 208 regular season games. In January of 1994, Butcher was traded along with Bob Bassen and Ron Sutter to Quebec in exchange for Steve Duchesne and Denis Chasse.
Chasse played 89 games for the Blues collecting 19 points and 241 PIM before being traded to the Washington Capitals for Rob Pearson. Pearson mainly played for the Blues AHL affiliate team and signed in the IHL the following season. Steve Duchesne would play two seasons in St. Louis collecting 69 points (24 goals, 45 assists) in 83 games. In August of 1995, Duchesne was then traded to the Ottawa Senators for a 1996 2nd round draft pick.
The Draft Lottery
The 2nd round pick from Ottawa was traded in a package with Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre and a 1997 3rd round pick. The package brought in Yuri Khmylev and a 1996 8th round pick from the Buffalo Sabres. This trade doesn’t look too good on the Blues, as the Sabres would use the 2nd round pick to select Cory Sarich and the 3rd round pick to select Maxim Afinogenov. Whereas Yuri Khmylev would only play in nine more NHL games.
The 1996 8th round pick was used to select Andrej Podkonicky who was traded to the Florida Panthers before playing an NHL game. St. Louis got Eric Boguniecki in return and he would go on to play 125 games for the Blues, scoring 29 goals and adding 36 assists. In December of 2005 Boguniecki would be traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Steve Poapst. He would only collect one assist in 41 games for the Blues before retiring at the end of the season.
After the trade deadline deal with Vancouver, Dan Quinn would finish the season playing 14 games for the Blues. In the fall, Quinn was traded along with Rod Brind’Amour to the Philadelphia Flyers. This is where the mucky stats come in to play. Rod Brind’Amour was an elite player just starting his long career and already had 110 points through his first two seasons in the NHL. Dan Quinn was the complimentary piece added to complete the deal.
This trade produces quite the list of star players after it. Names like Craig Conroy, Pierre Turgeon, Cory Stillman and longtime Blues centre David Backes.
Who the Blues Gave Up
Robert Dirk took five seasons after being drafted before he finally stuck as a full-time player for the Blues. While the big bodied defenseman lacked offensive and skating skills, he made up for that with the physical and gritty play he brought each game. In his 3rd full season with the now improved Canucks, Dirk was traded at the deadline to make room for other defenseman. In exchange, Vancouver received a 1994 4th round pick from Chicago, which would not produce any NHL talent.
Geoff Courtnall would become one of Vancouver’s core players for their ’94 playoff run. In 65 total playoff games with the Canucks, Courtnall would score 26 goals and 61 points. Before becoming a free agent in 1995 he would collect 246 points (102 goals, 144 assist) in 292 regular season games.
Sergio Momesso played his best hockey as part of the Vancouver Canucks team. Known as a power forward with above average skill, Momesso became a leader for the Canucks. Although he struggled with inconsistent play, the line of Momesso, Martin Gelinas and Nathan LaFayette would play a large role in the 1994 playoff run.
In the summer of 1995, Momesso would be traded to Toronto for Mike Ridley. Momesso finished his Canucks career with 141 points and 655 PIM in 270 regular season games. Ridley would only play two seasons for the Canucks as a result of a bulged disk in his back. The injury would eventually end his 12 year NHL career in 1997. In 112 games for the Canucks, Ridley scored 26 goals and added 47 assists.
After the trade to his hometown team, Cliff Ronning found his stride with the Canucks. In the ’92-93 season, Ronning would post a career best 29 goals and 85 points with the improving Vancouver team. Ronning continued his consistent play each year and helped lead the Canucks to the 1994 Cup Finals. In game seven, playing with a broken hand, Ronning would get an assist on the second Trevor Linden goal in the 3rd period. The Canucks however, would fall short and lose the game 3-2 to the New York Rangers.
In five seasons with the Canucks, Ronning would play in 366 regular season games, scoring 112 goals and 328 points. In 72 playoff games for Vancouver he collected 24 goals and 34 assists. Ronning became a free agent in the summer of 1996.
With St. Louis’ 1992 5th round pick, the Canucks selected Brian Loney. The right-winger would have a successful career in the AHL and overseas, but only played 12 NHL games in which he collected 5 points.
The Blues sacrificed secondary offense to solidify their defense for the grind of the playoffs. The question is, did they give up too much? There is no easy answer and the stats don’t always paint the picture more clear. St. Louis had to give up a superstar player to get back what they gave up, but it took years to get there, and still no Stanley Cup.
Although the Canucks fell short of bringing home the Stanley Cup, they became more competitive and increased the odds. The players acquired became the core of the team for years and they didn’t sacrifice much to make that happen. Does that make them a winner? Maybe not, but it was a step in the right direction.
It’s now time for you to decide. Take the poll below and let me know your thoughts in the comment section.