NHL Draft day trades: The good, bad and ugly

One of the most compelling parts of the annual NHL Draft is when commissioner Gary Bettman steps to the podium and announces, “we have a trade.” There have been many notable draft day trades – some that benefitted both teams and others that were clearly one-sided.

Here is a look at some of those memorable draft day trades, starting in 1987.


Washington dealt three assets, including the 15th overall pick, to the Quebec Nordiques for Dale Hunter and Clint Malarchuk. In the end, Hunter worked out for the Capitals while Malarchuk had an average two seasons before moving on to Buffalo. The best piece the Nordiques received in the deal was the first-round pick, which was used to draft (you may have heard of him) Joe Sakic. Sakic had an amazing career, racking up 1,641 points in 20 NHL seasons.


Buffalo and Winnipeg pulled the trigger on a blockbuster draft-day trade in 1990. Winnipeg dealt Dale Hawerchuk and a first-round pick (Brad May) to the Sabres in exchange for Phil Housley, Scott Arniel, Jeff Parker and a first-round pick (Keith Tkachuk).

Hawerchuk tallied 385 points in 342 games with the Sabres, while Housley and Tkachuk were very productive in their respective stints with the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise.


Hartford wanted to jump up to second overall, so they traded the sixth-overall pick and forward Sergei Makarov to San Jose to jump four spots.

With the second pick, the Whalers drafted future Hall of Fame defenceman Chris Pronger, who only spent two seasons in the organization. The Sharks drafted Viktor Kozlov at sixth overall and received two solid seasons from Makarov.

Could you imagine if the Sharks had ended up with Pronger?


In a subtle move at the time, New Jersey traded a pair of second-round picks to Dallas for the 27th overall selection. The Devils drafted Scott Gomez with the pick.

Gomez spent seven seasons with the Devils and was an integral piece of their Stanley Cup victories in 2000 and 2003. Meanwhile, neither second-round pick (John Erskine and Tyler Bouck) was effective with the Stars.

Also, the Nashville Predators went from third to second overall and took David Legwand in the franchise’s first-ever draft. San Jose acquired the third and 29th overall picks (Brad Stuart and Jonathan Cheechoo) in return.


When you think of draft day trades, the one you often remember is when Vancouver Canucks GM Brian Burke made a trade to draft Daniel and Henrik Sedin at second and third overall. After taking Daniel second overall, Burke had to surrender Bryan McCabe and a first-round pick in 2000 (Pavel Vorobiev) to Chicago to acquire and draft Henrik with the third overall selection.

I’d say it was worth it.

The Sedin twins are one of the league’s top duos, helping the Canucks reach the playoffs in 10 of their 12 NHL seasons. Henrik won the Art Ross and Hart Trophies in 2010; Daniel claimed the Art Ross in 2011.


This trade didn’t involve any picks, but it was a blockbuster that occurred on draft day. The New York Islanders traded Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen to Florida in exchange for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha.

Though they didn’t make the playoffs in their time in Florida, Luongo and Jokinen were All-Stars with the team. As for Parrish and Kvasha?

While respectable players in their own right (Parrish did score 30 goals in 2001-02), they didn’t quite justify the trade for Islanders GM Mike Milbury. To no one’s surprise, this wasn’t the only bad trade Milbury made on draft day.


A year after trading away Luongo and Jokinen, Milbury developed another brain-cramp. To pry Alexei Yashin out of Ottawa, the Islanders traded the No. 2 pick (Jason Spezza), Zdeno Chara and Bill Muckalt.

Chara was an anchor on the Senators blue line through some of their better years, while Spezza is still putting up point-per-game numbers. To make matters worse, the Islanders’ cap penalty for the buyout of Yashin’s 10-year, $71 million contract won’t end until 2015.


At third overall, the Columbus Blue Jackets swapped picks with Florida, who had the top selection. The Blue Jackets took star forward Rick Nash with the top pick, while the Panthers drafted defenceman Jay Bouwmeester.

Nash has been the face of the Blue Jackets franchise for almost a decade now. Bouwmeester had a successful six-year stint in Florida.

To ensure they would get Bouwmeester, the Panthers traded a third- and fourth-round pick to Atlanta at second overall.


For many reasons, this is one of the more memorable drafts that just keeps on giving.

In a trade with the Panthers, Pittsburgh jumped from third to first to obtain goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. In the trade, Florida also gave a third-round pick (Dan Carcillo) and, in turn, acquired the third-overall pick (Nathan Horton) and a second-rounder.

Edmonton’s poor drafting was magnified in 2003, as they dropped back five spots to 22nd overall and watched the New Jersey Devils take Zach Parise at 17.

Who did the Oilers end up with at 22? Marc-Antoine Pouliot had 53 points in 176 games with the Oilers.

Parise, as you know has 410 points in 502 games with the Devils and is considered one of the NHL’s top forwards.

Finally, St. Louis traded veteran Cory Stillman to Tampa Bay for a third-round pick. Stillman helped Tampa Bay win the Stanley Cup in 2004, while St. Louis drafted present captain David Backes at 62nd overall.


Do I need to remind hockey fans in Toronto that the Maple Leafs and Bruins swapped Tuukka Rask and Andrew Raycroft on draft day in 2006? Too late.


In Nashville’s firesale, goaltender Tomas Vokoun was shipped to Florida for three draft picks. Two of them, Colin Wilson and Nick Spaling, have turned out to be useful players for the Predators.

Vokoun had four stellar seasons with the Panthers despite only having two winning campaigns.


Sixteen years after being a part of a draft day deal, Chris Pronger returned to the trade block in 2009.

Minutes before the draft commenced, Anaheim traded Pronger to Philadelphia in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and two first-round picks (Kyle Palmieri and Emerson Etem). Pronger helped the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, while Sbisa, Palmieri and Etem are a big part of the Ducks’ future.

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