A history of cap-era Stanley Cup winners trade deadline moves

Chris Johnston joins Hockey Central to discuss the Calgary Flames trading for Michael Stone.

Buying at the trade deadline: Is it worth it?

Every year we make a big fuss over the buyers and sellers of the NHL trade deadline. We focus on the biggest names, the best players, pending UFAs, cap scenarios, the world of prospects and draft picks.

What we probably don’t discuss enough is whether major buys at the deadline even work?

There have been 11 Stanley Cup winners since the NHL adopted a salary cap. Let’s look at what those teams did within two or three weeks of the deadline.


  • Anton Babchuk
  • 2007 4th-rounder
  • Doug Weight
  • Mark Recchi
  • Rights to Errki Rajamaki


  • Danny Richmond
  • 2006 1st-rounder
  • 2006 3rd-rounder
  • 2006 4th-rounder
  • 2007 2nd-rounder
  • 2007 4th-rounder
  • Rights to Magnus Kahnberg
  • Jesse Boulerice
  • Mike Zigomanis
  • Kystofer Kolanos
  • Niklas Nordgren

A recurring theme you’ll notice is that many winning teams seem to make a lot of moves but most of them are minor-league deals.

The Hurricanes spent like a pre-cap team in 2006. Weight and Recchi were the only true buys at the total cost of a first, second, two fourths, and two prospects. Those two contributed 16 playoff points each, two of the highest contributions from deadline buys since 2005.


  • Brad May
  • 2007 1st-rounder
  • Gerald Coleman
  • Doug O’Brien
  • Future Considerations


  • Shane O’Brien
  • 2007 3rd-rounder
  • Shane Endicott
  • Joe Rullier
  • Michael Wall

The Ducks pretty much sold at the 2007 deadline, only acquiring Brad May and selling off Shane O’Brien for a first round pick. Their big buy was Chris Pronger which was done the previous summer.

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf holds up the Stanley Cup after the Ducks won the finals with a 6-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in 2007 (Mark Avery/AP)


  • Brad Stuart
  • Francis Lemieux


  • 2008 2nd-rounder
  • 2009 4th-rounder
  • Brett Engelhardt

Is a second and a fourth too much for Brad Stuart, a veteran depth defender? If that’s all you really need, then probably not.


  • Bill Guerin
  • Chris Kunitz
  • Eric Tangradi
  • Andy Wozniewski


  • Ryan Whitney
  • Danny Richmond
  • 2009 3rd-rounder

What a great deadline. A third-rounder for Guerin, who had 15 playoff points, and you lose Whitney but gain Kunitz and Tangradi, who each had three years left on their contracts.


  • Kim Johnsson
  • Nick Leddy
  • Danny Richmond
  • Hannu Toivonen
  • Nick Boynton


  • Cam Barker
  • Darryl Boyle
  • Joe Fallon
  • Future Considerations

Cam Barker was a casualty of cap hell, but he wasn’t even needed. Kim Johnsson was a failsafe and Nick Leddy was a steal for the future. The 2010 Blackhawks practically sold.

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane celebrates after scoring in overtime to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 win in Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. (Kathy Willens/AP)


  • Tomas Kaberle
  • Chris Kelly
  • Rich Peverly
  • Boris Valabik
  • Stephane Chaput
  • David Laliberte
  • Anton Khudobin


  • Joe Colborne
  • 2011 1st-rounder
  • 2011 2nd-rounder
  • 2012 2nd-rounder (conditional on playoff success)
  • Mark Stuart
  • Blake Wheeler
  • Brian McGratten
  • Sean Zimmerman
  • Jeff Penner
  • Rights to Mikko Lehtonen

This was an extremely expensive deadline but guys like Kelly, Peverly and Khudobin stuck around. History would have viewed this deadline as a disaster if Montreal had won in Round 1. But Boston came through and Kaberle led all Bruins defenders with 11 points. Blake Wheeler, though, … who cares? Just win, baby!


  • Jeff Carter


  • Jack Johnson
  • 2013 1st-rounder

What an underrated heist. The Kings went from the playoff bubble to winning their first Cup and having an elite goal-scorer locked up for 10 years. Is it really a deadline “buy” if you’re adding to your core long term?

Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown kisses the Stanley Cup after the Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils 6-1 in Game 6 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)


  • Michal Handzus
  • Kirill Gotovets
  • Maxim Sauve


  • 2013 4th-rounder
  • Philippe Paradis
  • Rob Flick

So basically just a fourth for Handzus, a guy who contributed 11 points to their Cup run and who stuck around the next season. Cheap, simple and useful.


  • Marian Gaborik
  • 2nd-rounder
  • Another 2nd-rounder
  • Brayden McNabb
  • Johnathan Parker


  • 2014 2nd-rounder
  • Conditional 3rd-rounder
  • Matt Frattin
  • Hudson Fasching
  • Nicolas Deslauriers

The Kings locked Gaborik up long term after he led the team in playoff goals (14) and put up 22 points. The Kings picked up a pair of seconds for a pair of prospects, which isn’t a buy or sell. Gaborik was the Kings’ only deadline “buy” and he was a relatively cheap one. If the Kings call, the Blue Jackets need to let it go to voicemail.


  • Antoine Vermette
  • Kimmo Timonen
  • Andrew Desjardins
  • Spencer Abbott


  • 2015 1st-rounder
  • 2015 2nd-rounder
  • 2016 conditional pick
  • Conditional 2017 7th-rounder
  • Klas Dahlbeck
  • Ben Smith
  • T.J. Brennan

Vermette only had seven playoff points, although one was an overtime winner. Timonen’s ice time was low and he had no points in 18 games. Desjardins was a nice depth add. That’s a lot to pay for depth and spare parts but when you win, nobody seems to mind.

Antoine Vermette celebrates his game winning goal during the third period in Game 1 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)


  • Justin Schultz (extended)
  • Dustin Jeffrey
  • Dan O’Donoghue
  • James Melindy
  • Matthias Plachta
  • 2017 Conditional pick


  • 2016 3rd-rounder
  • Sergei Plotnikov
  • Matia Marcantuoni

All you need to know here is Justin Schultz for a third, which time has proven to be a great deal. The rest is noise.

The theme here seems to be a lot of moving minor-league parts but very little in the way of additions. The players that are “bought” at the deadline are almost always depth adds with the exception of Weight and Recchi in 2006 and Kaberle in 2011. Carter had so much term left that he doesn’t count. You could split hairs about Gaborik but he’s still in LA.

Buying at the deadline is extremely expensive. The 2015 Vermette deal is a great example of that. If you win then nobody cares but if you miss your shot, you’ve hurt your chances of winning in the future.

The moral of the story seems to be that almost all of these teams were elite with an exceptional core long before the trade deadline. If you need to add a major piece, like a top six forward, top four defender, or starting goalie, maybe you don’t belong with the big dogs in the first place.

Most students cram the night before a test. Great students hit the books early.

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