Ranking the Best Offseason NHL Trades Since 2000

Bleacher Report

Who doesn't like trades?

One team going all-in for the present while another looks to the future. Standout players being sent off for a change of scenery after wearing out welcomes. Or two general managers simply stirring things up.

Doesn't matter why they happen. We're just happy they do.

And lest anyone think the time between the Stanley Cup parade laps and the opening of training camps is a dull, hockey-less glut, remember that many significant moves do occur during the so-called offseason.

Here in 2021, we're looking at you, Jack Eichel.

Anyway, firmly aware of that transactional reality, the B/R hockey writing types set off on a summertime research project to review and ultimately rank the best offseason trades made since 2000.

Of course, "best" is an ambiguous term. A best deal for one team could be recalled as a nightmarish event for another. So we tried to find trades that provided at least some benefit both ways. Or, in some cases, we went with the ones that were so successful in one direction it's impossible to deny them a placing.

Take a look at what we came up with, and drop a line or two in the comments.

 

10. Ryan O'Reilly to the St. Louis Blues

As we said, not every deal is a bell-ringer on both sides.

In fact, some are simply hand-wringers.

File this one with the latter category, at least when it comes to the Buffalo Sabres.

Buffalo brought in rugged center Ryan O'Reilly from the Colorado Avalanche as the centerpiece of a deal that included five players and a draft pick, and he signed a seven-year contract extension worth $52.5 million.

He was a 20-goal scorer in each of three seasons with the Sabres but ended the 2017-18 campaign with a media session in which he claimed he had lost his love for the game, among other issues.

Not surprisingly, he was dealt away from his hockey purgatory less than three months later, landing with the St. Louis Blues in exchange for three players and a pair of draft picks.

Sabres fans will be quick to remember that O'Reilly not only hoisted the Stanley Cup and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy at the end of his first season with the Blues, but he also won the Selke Trophy as the league's best two-way forward. He was named the team's captain prior to the 2020-21 season.

Buffalo, meanwhile, has gotten a combined 23 goals in three years from Tage Thompson, Vladimir Sobotka and Patrik Berglund,

Ouch, Western New York. Just ouch.

 

9. Sergei Bobrovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets

Where have you gone, Bernie Parent?

For nearly every moment—or at least a lot of the moments—since the Philadelphia Flyers last won the Stanley Cup in 1975, they have been searching for the sort of franchise goaltender who, like Parent, could backstop them to the promised land.

They have had short-term success with a lot of imitators over the years but haven't managed to secure another parade down Broad Street in spite of six subsequent trips to the championship round.

They stumbled on to another possibility upon signing Sergei Bobrovsky to an entry-level contract in 2010 and watching him earn the starting gig to begin the 2010-11 season. He became the youngest goalie in franchise history to win a season-opening game, the first Flyers rookie to win to win his debut since 2004 and wound up with 28 wins and a 2.59 goals-against average in 54 games.

It was a magical time. Until 10 goals allowed in 186 playoff minutes convinced the team that it had to go big-game hunting—signing Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal—to address the issue.

Bobrovsky was relegated to backup status for 2011-12 and appeared in only 29 games before the Flyers dumped him to Columbus for three draft picks, none higher than a second-rounder.

The picks didn't materialize into much, but Bobrovsky quickly became a sensation in middle Ohio, posting a 2.00 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage across 38 games, good enough to earn him the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie. He won 30 or more games five times in the subsequent six seasons, including a career-high 41 in 2016-17, before heading to Florida as a free agent in 2019.

Bryzgalov, meanwhile, spent just two seasons in Philadelphia before the team bought out the final seven years on his contract.

 

8. Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers

When the New York Islanders made Rick DiPietro the first pick in the 2000 draft, it was a big deal.

He was a teenager. He was heading to New York. And he was the first goalie ever taken at No. 1.

But that wasn't the only big deal.

To make room for their precocious youngster, the Islanders blew up their goaltending tandem from the 1999-2000 season, jettisoning both Roberto Luongo and Kevin Weekes in separate deals.

The trade that sent Luongo to the Florida Panthers was particularly memorable because the then-20-year-old blossomed into one of the league's best goalies, posting five shutouts in his initial season with the team and boosting his win total across each of the next four seasons—culminating with 35 wins in 2005-06.

He later won 47 games and helped backstop a push to the Stanley Cup Final in separate seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and ultimately won 489 games, good for fourth in league history.

The Islanders got Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha in exchange for Luongo. And though their 169 goals with the team were respectable enough, they don't quite measure up. As for DiPietro, he reached double-digit wins just four times and was bought out of the final eight years of his 15-year contract.

 

7. Chris Pronger to the Anaheim Ducks

Here's a tip: If you're going to discuss this one with an Edmonton Oilers fan, duck.

Because you're just as likely to get a confrontation as a conversation.

For those who don't recall, Pronger spent one uber-successful season in northern Alberta after arriving to the Oilers in a deal with the St. Louis Blues and signing a five-year, $31.25 contract extension.

He helped the team advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006 after qualifying as the eighth seed in the Western Conference, and though they were beaten in a seven-game series by the Carolina Hurricanes, hope sprang eternal for a return to relevance the following season.

Until four days later, that is.

That's when Pronger's agent informed the team that his client had requested a trade because of personal reasons, a suggestion that birthed a thousand rumors before culminating eight days later in a deal that sent Pronger to the Anaheim Ducks for two players and three draft picks.

Pronger got his name on the Cup with the Ducks following that first season in California, while the Oilers plummeted into a decade of darkness and didn't see the playoffs again until 2016-17.

As for the Pronger return, the Oilers got little to no production from forward Joffrey Lupul, some respectable work on bad teams from defenseman Ladislav Smid and turned one of the picks into Jordan Eberle, who was taken in the first round in 2008 and spent seven seasons in Edmonton.

#hockey, #nhl

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