NHL Trade Tree
Every Canadian loves the NHL Trade Deadline Day (except maybe the NHL players themselves). In fact, it should be a national holiday, or at least moved to the weekend. Looking at you Gary Bettman! It’s always an exciting time for fans even though sometimes it can be frustrating. Some trades have you jumping for joy, while others leave you confused and shaking your head. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you knew which team “won” the trade? Or who your favorite team could’ve had if they didn’t make that trade?
Hindsight is a horrible, yet wonderful thing. My plan is to open your mind to what could’ve been, or have you thinking ‘what a steal’ in a new series called “Trade Tree Tuesday”. I will be focusing mainly on my favorite team, the Vancouver Canucks. However, there will also be other teams thrown into the mix. Leafs fans beware. Some trades may anger you as much as a certain high stick that still gets talked about, but at least I’ll be laughing. Let’s dive in.
Vancouver Canucks & St. Louis Blues
Deadline day, March 6, 1990. The Canucks trade defenseman Harold Snepsts, winger Rich Sutter, and a 1990 2nd round draft pick to the Blues. In return they receive defenseman Adrien Plavsic, a 1990 1st round draft pick, and a 1991 2nd round pick. Immediately after, the Canucks flipped the ’91 2nd round pick to Montreal in exchange for a promising young defenseman. His name? Jyrki Lumme.
I was eight years old when this trade happened, so I can’t give any reasoning as to why the trade was made. Knowing what I know now though, Lumme was a steal for a 2nd round pick. Lets take a look at the trade as a whole.
Who the Canucks Gave Up
Looking at the trade tree there’s one name that jumps out. However, before you start thinking ‘sure the Canucks got Jyrki Lumme, but the Blues got WAYNE GRETZKY’, lets look a little closer. The Canucks traded away fan favorite Harold Snepsts for the second time (the first being 1984 to the Minnesota North Stars). Snepsts ended his career after playing 61 games for the Blues. He was later inducted into the Canucks “Ring of Honour” in 2011 and is currently serving on the teams scouting staff as of this post.
Rich Sutter played four seasons with the Blues, collecting 40 goals, 81 points and 351 penalty minutes in 250 games played. Sutter also played in 42 playoff games for the Blues collecting 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) and 73 penalty minutes. Sutter was later claimed by the Chicago Blackhawks in the waiver draft on October 3rd 1993.
The 1990 2nd round draft pick sent to St. Louis was used to select Craig Johnson, 33rd overall. This is where hindsight makes fans crazy. There were a couple of eventual All Stars in Doug Weight (selected 34th) and Geoff Sanderson (selected 36th) still available. Johnson played 64 games for the Blues before being the key player in a trade that brought in an aging Wayne Gretzky at the 1996 trade deadline. Gretzky played in the remaining 18 games of the season netting 21 points, and then collected 16 points in 13 playoff games. Gretzky ended up leaving St. Louis later that year to sign as a free agent with the New York Rangers.
Who the Canucks Received
For a Canucks team that was at the bottom of the standings it was understandable to ship out a couple of veterans for picks and prospects. Defenseman Adrien Plavsic was a young prospect that played 182 games for the Canucks. He collected 65 points in those games, and another 8 points in 13 playoff games. Plavsic was later traded to Tampa Bay for a 1997 5th round pick. The Canucks selected David Darguzas with the pick, but he never played in the NHL.
The 1st round draft pick was used to select Shawn Antoski 18th overall. Canucks fans may not like this, but Keith Tkachuk (selected by Winnipeg 19th overall) and Martin Brodeur (selected by New Jersey 20th overall) were still available (oops). Antoski played arguably his best hockey in the ’93-’94 playoff run that saw the enforcer and the Canucks come within one win of hoisting the Stanley Cup. Antoski was traded to Philadelphia the next season for Josef Beranek.
Beranek played two seasons for the Canucks and scored 41 points (14 goals, 27 assists) in 98 games. He was traded to Pittsburgh for a 5th round pick in 1998, where the Canucks failed to find NHL talent with the late pick.
The 2nd round pick from the Blues was immediately flipped to Montreal for Jyrki Lumme. The offensive defenseman did not fit into the Canadiens’ playing style, but proved to be a valuable pickup for the Canucks. Lumme was voted as the top defenseman on his team four times in his eight seasons with the Canucks. Before signing as a free agent with the Phoenix Coyotes in 1998, Lumme scored 83 times and added 238 assists for 321 points in 579 regular season games.
It’s hard to deny that the Canucks made out pretty well from looking at the stats. Here’s the thing about hockey though… It’s not always about goals and assists. The Blues and the Canucks were going in very different directions when this trade was made. The St. Louis Blues were looking to go deep into the playoffs and win the ultimate prize. The Canucks were at the bottom of the standings and selling for the future.
Adding veterans and depth could have been in the Blues best interest, but that comes with a price. Maybe they felt they needed more grit and toughness. That’s a stat that doesn’t appear on graphs, so can we really say they “lost” the trade? At the end of the day, every team is looking for the right pieces that will bring home the Stanley Cup. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, but finding the right pieces is hard to do when they’re all flipped upside down.
The Canucks got what they wanted in Jyrki Lumme, and even though they pulled him out of Montreal, they used the Blues asset to do so. After the trade, the Canucks improved from the bottom of the standings to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, but couldn’t win the prize. The Blues stayed consistent in reaching the playoffs, but they too couldn’t win the Cup. In the end, that’s the main goal.
I hope you found this interesting and had fun reading it. Now it’s time for you to decide who “won” this trade. Take the poll below and let me know your thoughts in the comment section.