Oilers trade history: Ugly Dustin Penner departure still paying dividends

Edmonton Oilers left wing Dustin Penner (27) celebrates his goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during second period NHL hockey action in Edmonton, Alberta on Thursday, October 22, 2009. (Jimmy Jeong/CP)

EDMONTON — The first-ever National Hockey League trade consummated by the Edmonton Oilers landed them a Hall of Fame winger. Nice start.

You know the old saying: You can’t win ’em all if you don’t win the first one. The Oilers certainly haven’t won them all — where have you gone, Taylor Hall? — but promising the Minnesota North Stars that they would lay off defenceman Paul Shmyr in the 1979 Expansion Draft, then getting a fourth-round pick in ’79 and spending it on Glenn Anderson?

That’s like buying an old junker for your first car and finding $10,000 hidden under the back seat.

In the ensuing 300-plus transactions, the Oilers have given hockey everything from the iconic “Gretzky Trade/Sale” to the lesser known (but far tastier) “Takko-Bell Deal,” when Glen Sather moved goaltender Kari Takko to the North Stars in return for defenceman Bruce Bell and futures.

Those futures turned out to be extra salsa and napkins, please.

We took a look back at the Oilers’ trading history. With a big thanks to NHLTradeTracker.com, here’s what we found:

Best recycling job

On March 9, 1982, Edmonton parted ways with useful centreman Stan Weir, sending him to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for one Ed Cooper, a Loon Lake, Sask., winger whose time as an Oiler property would be spent exclusively in Wichita.

That summer, Weir found his way to the New Jersey Devils, which promptly traded him back to Edmonton for — get this — Ed Cooper. Alas, being reunited with Sather in Edmonton wasn’t so great for Weir, who was shipped to Detroit for cash that September. He would finish his career with the Montana Magic, and finally the Brantford Mott’s Clamato’s.

Best job of throwing a reporter off the scent

On March 20, 1994, I was standing inside the visitors’ dressing room at La Colisee in Quebec City when I asked Sather if he was indeed fixing to trade defenceman Brad Werenka, as a source had said. “Are you kidding?” Sather said. “Brad’s got a great future in this town!”

The next day, as we landed at the Edmonton International Airport, it was announced that Werenka had indeed been dealt. To Quebec.

Best “wrong guy” trade

On July 22, 1988, Edmonton picked up left winger Greg C. Adams from Washington in exchange for the rights to speedy winger Geoff Courtnall.

The problem? They got the second-best left winger named Greg Adams in the game at the time, a fact they were reminded of when, every now and again, a stick order destined for the Greg “Gus” Adams in Vancouver would arrive in Edmonton’s dressing room.

Adams played 49 games in Edmonton — scoring four goals and nine points — and 545 NHL games in total. “Gus” Adams, who spent eight seasons in Vancouver, had nine 20-goal seasons and played over 1,000 games. He was forever known in these parts as “the good Greg Adams.”

Best “get this guy off our hands” trade

On Sept. 10, 1993, the Oilers received Link Gaetz from San Jose in exchange for a 10th-round pick. Gaetz had worn out his welcome in San Jose with various antics, some acceptable under Northern California law, others maybe not so much. Sather gave up a 10th-rounder for him, which seemed like nothing, right?

Who possibly could you draft with the 235th pick in the draft, or lower? Well, here were some names left on the board when the Sharks selected one Tomas Pisa, who never played in the NHL: Richard Zednik, Tomas Holmstrom, Kim Jonsson and Sergei Berezin.

Best “we can’t stand our guy either” trade

Former Oilers coach Craig MacTavish simply could not stomach any more of Dustin Penner, and he exploded.

“He’s not competitive enough or fit enough to help us, so why put him back in? He’s never been fit enough to help us,” MacTavish once said. “We signed him to be a top-two-line player and that’s kind of where it ended. The difference was we thought the contract was a starting point, and he’s viewed it as a finish line. I can’t watch it for — certainly not another two-and-a-half years.”

So the Oilers dealt Penner a few years later — on Feb. 28, 2011 — to Los Angeles for defenceman Colten Teubert, a third-round pick and a first-rounder that would turn into Oscar Klefbom. Today, Klefbom is Edmonton’s top D-man, and at age 26 is expected to spend the rest of his prime in Edmonton, if not longer.

The worst Oilers trade of all-time

Some would say that dealing Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson — straight across — should win this category. But we would argue that, as bad a trade as this was, Larsson is an everyday, top-four defenceman who will likely play 1,000 NHL games.

Undoubtedly, another Peter Chiarelli gem — acquiring current Kunlun Red Star Griffin Reinhart from the Islanders for first- (Mathew Barzal) and second-round picks (turned into Anthony Beauvillier) — is a top candidate here as well. But in the end, our voters settled on the March 18, 1997 stunner that sent Miroslav Satan to Buffalo for Craig Millar and Barrie Moore, the trade that wins Best in Show at this dog competition.

Satan, an Oilers fifth-round draft, would play 1,050 NHL games, score 363 goals and 735 points. Between them, Moore and Millar played 153 games, scoring 10 goals and 30 points. In trading Satan, Sather proved it is impossible to come out ahead when making a deal with the devil.

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