“How often do you see a straight one-for-one trade that can really benefit both teams?” Steven Stamkos wondered this week.
Which got us wondering as well.
Stamkos was speaking less than 24 hours after news of his decision to keep his talents in Tampa was eclipsed by a pair of straight-up, your-guy-for-our-guy deals that knocked the hockey world on its collective Cooperalls.
“I was just as surprised as everyone else,” Stamkos said of the P.K. Subban–Shea Weber blockbuster. “Those are two of the best defencemen in the game.”
Weber owns gold medals at the world junior and world championship levels, plus two more from the Olympics. Four times he’s been named to the NHL’s first or second team all-star squad. He’s been a Norris finalist in multiple years and possesses the scariest slap shot in the world.
Subban has two world junior golds, another one from the Olympics, plus a Norris Trophy. He has 278 points through 434 games and he’s only 27 years old.
How surprised would you be to see both these players enter the Hockey Hockey of Fame when all is said and done? Not very.
Depending how long these two blueliners remain elite, Subban-Weber has the potential to go down as the greatest one-for-one trade in NHL history.
To think that this shock exchange followed 20 minutes after what might another top-10 one-for-one deal is not only head-scratching, it also puts the lie to the common complaint that we don’t see pure “hockey trades” anymore (i.e., swaps that do not involve draft picks, salary dumps, wait-let-me-Google-this-guy prospects, retained salary, or rentals).
Taylor Hall is one of the best left wings in the game, and should only improve. Adam Larsson, 23, will also get better. And (chin up, Edmonton) it’s not unreasonable to envision Larsson playing a top-four role on some epic Connor McDavid rosters down the line.
Impressive is Nashville Predators GM David Poile’s recent willingness to pull the trigger on these types of straight-up deals. If Ryan Johansen and Subban help bring a championship to Nashville — not a farfetched idea at this point — and if Seth Jones, who just inked a team-friendly six-year extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets Wednesday, keeps developing into the No. 1 defenceman we expect him to be, 2016 may be remembered as the year of the monster one-for-one.
We did some digging on the history of the NHL one-for-one to come up in attempt to come up with an earth-shaker on par with Weber-Subban. Not only are these deals rare, but far too frequently do they look comically lopsided in hindsight.
Jaromir Jagr for Anson Carter. Luke Shenn for James van Riemsdyk. Tuukka Rask for Andrew Raycrost. I’m laughing just typing some of these.
Here are the five star-for-star deals Subban-Weber must leapfrog in order to be considered the most memorable one-for-one trade in NHL history.
Chris Pronger for Brendan Shanahan, July 27, 1995
Hall of Famer for Hall of Famer. Second overall pick for second overall pick. Triple Gold Club member for Triple Gold Club member.
Not too shabby. Before both of these hard-edged players joined the NHL’s department of player safety, they were pieces of a rare exchange of elite talent, setting the bar for one-for-one deals.
The deal was orchestrated by Hartford Whalers GM Jim Rutherford and St. Louis Blues GM Mike Keenan. Pronger was developing at a rate slower than Rutherford hoped. More critical: the rookie was one of six Whalers caught barroom brawling in Buffalo and was arrested for driving drunk that off-season in Ohio.
The older Shanahan was a point-per-game star forward who would captain the Whalers for one 44-goal season before getting traded again, upon request, to the Detroit Red Wings.
Ken Hodge for Rick Middleton, May 26, 1976
This winger-for-winger deal saw Middleton, a 20-goal man in each of his first two seasons with the New York Rangers, head off to Boston for the veteran Hodge.
The deal ended up historically lopsided. Hodge played just one full year as a Ranger while Middleton went on to rack up nearly 900 points with a B on his chest. Middleton’s 105 points in 1983-84 tied Hodge’s franchise record for most points by a right winger in one season.
Terry Sawchuk for John Bucyk, July 10, 1957
In an Original Six-era exchange of Hall of Famers, Sawchuk — a three-time Cup champ, Calder winner, and seven-time all-star goaltender at the time — was shipped from Boston back to his original club, Detroit, for a young forward who would go on to do great things.
The durable Bucyk went on to become one of the most durable and decorated wings in Bruins history, finishing his NHL career with 1,369 points.
Brian Bellows for Russ Courtnall, Aug. 31, 1992
This deal ticked off Bellows, one of the greatest North Stars forwards ever, and then he went and won a Stanley Cup with Montreal in his first season as a Hab.
Courtnall’s first season in Minnesota led to a career-high 79 points, which he followed up with 80 points the next year, after the franchise moved to Dallas.
A major win-win deal for a pair of excellent forwards. Bellows finished his career with more than 1,000 points; Courtnall put up 744 points in his career.
Claude Lemieux for Sylvain Turgeon, Sept. 4, 1990
Search this deal on the Interwebs and you’ll find such helpful articles as “25 Worst Trades in Montreal Canadiens History” and “15 Worst Trades in Montreal Canadiens History.”
Turgeon was coming off a brilliant 30-goal campaign in New Jersey. In two seasons as a Hab, he scored a grand total of 14 goals. The following season, he put up 25 in Ottawa. This is hilarious.
Lemieux won the 1995 Stanley Cup with New Jersey and hoisted the Conn Smythe Trophy for good measure.