David Poile’s resume is unassailable.
The Nashville Predators general manager became the winningest GM in NHL history Thursday, surpassing Glen Sather when the Preds topped the Oilers.
Poile’s teams have racked up 1,320 wins under his watch in the 35-plus years he’s worked as an NHL GM. The 68-year-old became the Washington Capitals GM in 1982. Under his supervision the team went 594-454-124 and made the playoffs every season save for his final one with the team in 1997.
He left the Caps to join an expansion Predators franchise and he’s been there ever since. The Preds failed to appear in the post-season until the franchise’s sixth season but since 2003 they’ve only missed the playoffs thrice and are coming off an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.
So in honour of Poile’s accomplishment, here’s a look back at his most notable trades in chronological order.
Sept. 9, 1982: Acquires Langway from the Habs
His first move as an NHL GM was sending Mike Palmateer to the Maple Leafs for cash but on the same day he completed a six-player trade with the Canadiens, sending Rick Green and Ryan Walter to Montreal for Brian Engblom, Doug Jarvis, Rod Langway and Craig Laughlin.
Laughlin was a steady producer for the Caps for five seasons but getting Langway was the crux of the deal as the blueliner won the Norris Trophy in each of his first two seasons in D.C., went on to become an all-time Caps great and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.
Oct. 18, 1983: Steals Murphy from the Kings
Poile turned Brian Engblom (acquired in the Langway deal) and Ken Houston into Hall of Famer Larry Murphy, who spent the better part of six seasons in Washington.
Jan. 1, 1987: Flips Carpenter to the Rangers
Bobby Carpenter’s first five seasons in the NHL were nothing short of impressive after being drafted third overall by the Caps in 1981. Midway through his sixth season he was sent to the New York Rangers along with a second-round pick for Bob Crawford, Kelly Miller and Mike Ridley.
Carpenter’s best days were already behind him and the draft pick turned into Jason Prosofsky, he of zero career NHL games. Meanwhile, Ridley was a mainstay for the Caps for seven-plus seasons and Kelly ended up playing 940 games in a Washington uniform.
June 13, 1987: The Hunter era begins
Poile added a layer of toughness to his team when he got Dale Hunter from the Nordiques. Hunter is the franchise leader in penalty minutes. The Caps also received goalie Clint Malarchuk and heading back the other way was Gaetan Duchesne, Alan Haworth and a first-round pick…
Which Quebec used to select Joe Sakic.
March 7, 1989: Ships away two HOFers
When you think of Mike Gartner and Larry Murphy, you probably don’t associate them with the North Stars. But those two hockey legends had a spell in Minnesota after Poile traded them for Dino Ciccarelli and Bob Rouse. Ciccarelli was an impact player with the Caps for a few years but this deal didn’t have a long-term impact on Poile’s team.
March 21, 1994: The Iafrate for Juneau swap
Joe Juneau had 193 points in 161 games to begin his NHL career with the Bruins so when Poile sent Al Iafrate to acquire the young star it was a big deal. Iafrate only ended up playing 12 games with the Bruins, while Juneau registered 234 points in 312 games with the Caps.
March 1, 1997: A blockbuster for his finale
Poile’s last move as Capitals GM was a big one. He sent Jason Allison, Anson Carter, Jim Carey (one year after he won the Vezina Trophy) plus a couple draft picks to Boston for Adam Oates, Bill Ranford and Rick Tocchet. Allison and Carter both had solid stints with the Bruins, as did Oates with Washington.
June 26, 1998: First notable move with the Preds
Poile was busy in the days leading up to the 1998 NHL Expansion Draft and he swung a deal with the Kings that would have a long-term impact on the Preds. He acquired Kimmo Timonen and Jan Vopat for future considerations (a.k.a. an agreement that the Preds wouldn’t select Garry Galley in the expansion draft).
Timonen spent the first eight years of his career with the team and held the franchise record for games played and points from a Preds defenceman until Shea Weber came along and broke his records.
June 27, 1998: Acquiring the team’s first draft pick
One day after the Timonen trade, Poile did some business with the Sharks. He sent the third-overall pick and a second-rounder to San Jose for the second-overall pick and a third-rounder.
Poile used the No. 2 pick to select David Legwand, who remains to this day the franchise leader in goals, assists and games played. The picks the Sharks got turned into Brad Stuart and Jonathan Cheechoo.
Feb. 16, 2004: Two picks for an all-star
Second-round picks in 2004 and 2005 were used to pry Steve Sullivan away from the Chicago Blackhawks, and considering those picks were used to choose Ryan Garlock (zero career NHL games) and Michael Blunden (127 NHL games) it was a steal for Poile.
Feb. 15, 2007: In the market for a superstar
The Preds had never won a playoff series and Poile wanted to change that. So ahead of the 2007 trade deadline he entered the rental market and added Peter Forsberg for Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent plus first- and third-round picks in that year’s draft. The Swedish great had 15 points in 17 regular-season games, and four points in five playoff games, but the Preds failed to get out of the first round again and Forsberg left in the off-season.
This wouldn’t be the last time Poile would acquire a talented Forsberg from an Eastern Conference team.
June 20, 2008: Poile trades Erik Karlsson!
In 2008, Poile held the 15th-overall pick but moved down three spots in the first round in order to acquire an additional third-round selection from Ottawa. The Senators used the No. 15 pick to choose their current captain.
Whenever teams swap picks at the draft it’s a bit of a crapshoot, so this move won’t impact Poile’s legacy. If nothing else, it’s trivia with which you can stump your friends.
June 21, 2008: Moves up to draft Josi
One day after trading the Karlsson pick to the Sens, the Preds made a deal with the Coyotes to move up eight spots in the second round. They traded the 46th pick (which turned into Colby Robak) and the 76th pick (Mathieu Brodeur) to take Roman Josi at No. 38.
Signing Josi to a seven-year deal at an average of $4 million per season is as big an accomplishment as pretty much any trade on this list.
Feb. 10, 2011: Captain Fisher joins the fold
Mike Fisher went on to become an all-time Preds fan favourite and all it cost Poile was a late first-rounder (that became Stefan Noeson) plus a conditional third.
June 15, 2012: Acquiring assets for a backup
Anders Lindback was supposed to be the next Pekka Rinne so he came at a cost for the Lightning. Tampa sent two 2012 second-round picks as part of the deal and Poile capitalized on them by selecting Pontus Aberg and Colton Sissons.
April 3, 2013: The steal of the century
This one was a doozy. The Capitals traded Filip Forsberg (the 11th-overall pick from 2012) to the Nashville Predators for Martin Erat and Michael Latta in perhaps the most lopsided trade of the past decade.
Check out “Closing the book on the Filip Forsberg trade once and for all” for a more thorough breakdown of the deal and its long-term impact on both teams, but just know that Poile won the trade…and it’s not even close.
June 27, 2014: Got a sniper in a classic hockey trade
Nashville acquired James Neal from the Penguins for 2005 Mr. Irrelevant Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. The deal worked for both teams. Neal holds the Preds franchise record for most even-strength goals in a single season with 27.
Jan. 6, 2016: Swapping superstars
You don’t see trades like this one too often. The Preds needed a forward and the Blue Jackets wanted to add to their blue line so Ryan Johansen and Seth Jones were swapped for one another. The jury’s out on which team won the deal but both clubs have benefitted from it.
June 29, 2016: The trade Habs fans love to hate
Every time a Montreal Canadiens fan hears P.K. Subban’s named mentioned in the Norris Trophy conversation, they pop a Tums. The Subban for Shea Weber trade will go down in infamy and depending on how much success Subban has with the Preds it will always be a stain on Marc Bergevin’s resume.
Nov. 5, 2017: Making a statement in three-team deal
Poile worked his magic to involve himself with the Sens and Avs, and the three teams pulled off a blockbuster earlier this season. Nashville needed more long-term stability down the middle so they landed Kyle Turris. They had to give up defensive prospect Samuel Girard, which was a significant cost, plus Vladislav Kamenev and a 2018 second-rounder.