In 2008, there was a trade between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Phoenix Coyotes. Who do you think won?
You guessed it: The Nashville Predators.
It’s funny. The NHL Trade Deadline is a hugely significant day on the hockey calendar but I think we too often look at it as the be-all and end-all. The following trade tree shows a great example of a deal going down at the deadline and then exploding after the NHL Draft. Actually, this particular deal didn’t end up exploding until the next draft over a year later.
Let’s go back in time to February 2007.
Yanic Perrault was having a renaissance. The 1991 draft pick and world-renowned lord of the face-off dot was in his 13th NHL season and aging like a fine wine. He scored only 31 points in 69 games with the Montreal Canadiens in the 2003-04 season just before the lockout. After which, however, with several new rules in place and scoring on the rise, Perrault bounced back. In 2005-06, Perrault put up 57 points in 69 games with the Nashville Predators. The following season with the Phoenix Coyotes, Perrault had 19 goals and 33 points in 49 games. That’s decent. So decent, in fact, that he was named to the 2007 Western Conference All-Star roster.
The Coyotes ended up finishing second-last in the league so this made Perrault the perfect trade bait.
Then there’s the Leafs.
Paul Maurice’s Leafs were actually decent that season. Mats Sundin continued to trudge onward with a team-leading 76 points while Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe had 58 and 57, respectively. Having two defenders score 50-or-more points in today’s NHL is a rarity, to say the least.
The problem? They couldn’t stop a beachball.
There were 53 goalies who played 20-or-more games that season. Andrew Raycroft finished 42nd among them with an .894 save percentage in 72 games. Think that’s bad? Backup goalie J.S. Aubin finished second-last with an abysmal .876 save percentage, ahead of only Dan Cloutier.
Bad goaltending aside, the Leafs were in the playoff hunt so they decided to buy.
Here’s the deal:
Toronto acquired Yanic Perrault and a 2008 fifth-rounder in 2008 from Phoenix in exchange for defender Brendan Bell and a 2008 second-rounder.
Hey, this could be neat! After all, Perrault was drafted by the Leafs and played in Toronto for some time. This could be a cool story!
Perrault scored just two goals and five points in 17 games with the Leafs as Toronto missed the playoffs by a single point. The Leafs could’ve made it if it weren’t for the infamous Scott Clemmensen vs. Wade Dubielewicz game.
Then what happened?
We wait a year. Perrault left Toronto for the Chicago Blackhawks in free agency. Brendan Bell played two games for the Coyotes in 2007-08 before signing with the Ottawa Senators. All that remained of this deal were the draft picks.
The Leafs kept the fifth-round draft pick they acquired and used it to select Joel Champagne. They never even bothered signing him so their end of this trade tree is done.
Now the fun part…
Coyotes GM Don Maloney must’ve been drinking a lot of coffee in June 2008. According to NHLTradeTracker.com, he made five trades during the two days of the 2008 NHL Draft, including another just four days later.
Three of the five moves the Coyotes made at the 2008 draft are connected to this trade tree, at least loosely.
1. The Panthers
On day one of the 2008 draft, the Coyotes acquired Olli Jokinen from the Florida Panthers for Keith Ballard, Nick Boynton, and a second-rounder that was pick 49 in the draft.
2. The Preds
On day two of the 2008 draft, the Coyotes traded down, sending the 2008 second-rounder they got from Toronto, the 38th overall pick, to Nashville. In exchange, the Coyotes got a third-rounder (pick 76) and a second-round pick (No. 46).
3. The Panthers again.
After the deal with Nashville, the Coyotes called up the Panthers again, this time to trade down and acquire even more picks. Phoenix sent the 46th pick, the one that had just received from Nashville, to Florida. In exchange, the Coyotes got a 2009 fourth-rounder and the 49th overall pick in 2008, which is the second-rounder they sent to Florida in the Olli Jokinen trade just one day earlier.
I’ll get to the point.
With the 49th pick, the Coyotes selected Jared Staal, the fourth of the famous Staal brothers. His career never quite reached the height of the others.
The 2008 third the Coyotes got was Mathieu Brodeur and the 2009 fourth was Justin Weller, neither of whom made the NHL.
But guess what?
With the 38th overall pick in 2008, the draft pick that the Leafs originally gave the Coyotes in the Yanic Perrault deal, the Nashville Predators select…
As in Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi. As in the Roman Josi who is still part of arguably the NHL’s best defence core about a decade after being drafted.
Here is the full trade tree with relation to the Roman Josi pick, with a couple extra parts I haven’t mentioned yet.
Josi is well on his way to his fifth-straight season of 40 points or more. The Predators were two wins shy of the Cup last season and many hockey fans seem to agree that they’re even better this year. Yeah, you could say this was a good pickup for Nashville.
The Leafs drafted Luke Schenn fifth-overall in 2008, so they probably left that draft pleased with how they did on defence. Phoenix had an opportunity to pick Josi ten spots before Nashville did, but opted for Russian forward Viktor Tikhonov instead.
So tell me if this has ever happened to you:
The team you cheered for traded away a pick, but it was for next year. Did you feel better about it because the pick one year later? I’ve definitely done that before.
Let this trade be a reminder: When it comes to trade demons, you can run but you can’t hide.