The National Hockey League has seen its fair share of player swaps over the past 10 years. Hence why events like the trade deadline and the opening day of free agency on July 1 have become televised spectacles.
And although not every trade is a blockbuster, it’s the ones which are that can completely change the complexion of a franchise.
During the last decade, here are the three most impactful and star-studded trades to happen in the NHL.
New Jersey Devils trade Adam Larsson to the Edmonton Oilers for Taylor Hall - June 29, 2016
This 1-for-1 trade is maybe the most famous (or infamous depending on where your allegiances lie) of all-time.
The Oilers had just missed the playoffs for the 10th consecutive year and desperately needed help on defence. Unfortunately, it seems general manager Peter Chiarelli and co. were too determined to add a blue-liner that they didn’t realize exactly what they were giving up.
And while Adam Larsson has been just merely serviceable in Edmonton, playing oftentimes in a top-pairing role not suited for him, what the club sent to the Devils has been game-changing.
It took Taylor Hall a season to catch on in New Jersey, but once he did, he proved to be unstoppable.
After somewhat of a lacklustre first season with the Devils, the winger went off during the 2017-18 campaign. His 39-goal, 93-point offensive outburst single-handedly secured the team a playoff spot. Additionally, Hall took home the Hart Memorial Trophy, proving to be the most valuable player from across the league.
And although Hall’s latest season was hampered by a knee injury, he figures to play a very important role on a recently revamped New Jersey squad.
Certainly a big trade, but not one that by any stretch can be considered fair.
Buffalo Sabres trade Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues for Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson, 2019 1st round pick (Ryan Johnson) and 2021 2nd round pick - July 1, 2018
Pretty simply put: If the Blues did not go out and trade for Ryan O’Reilly, there is no worst-to-first Stanley Cup championship in 2019.
The only constant for St. Louis during its 2018-19 season was the impressive play of the native of Clinton, Ont. On Jan. 1, O’Reilly was the only Blues skater among the top-100 point scorers in the NHL. And while the club was tied for last in standings at that point, it could’ve been even worse had he not been on the club.
The 28-year-old wound up finishing the season with a career-best 77-points, and added 23 more points across 26 playoff games en route to leading the Blues to a Stanley Cup, while also receiving the Conn Smythe Trophy for post-season MVP. Later on at the NHL Awards, O’Reilly was awarded the first Frank J. Selke Trophy of his career for being the league’s premiere two-way forward.
Not a bad addition at all.
And while it’s still a little too soon to judge the Sabres on their return, the early reports aren’t overly encouraging.
Tage Thompson is still only 22-years-old, but he failed to impress last season. The former first-round selection recorded just seven goals and 12 points in 65 games with Buffalo last season.
Sobotka, 32, struggled mightily last year. In 69 contests, the centre notched only five goals and 13 points. Patrik Berglund, well, after 23 matches he just stopped reporting to the team citing overall unhappiness with regards to the club’s situation.
Buffalo obviously ended up with a lower first-round pick than it had hoped for after St. Louis won the Cup, so it took Ryan Johnson from the University of Minnesota 31st overall in the 2019 NHL Draft. The organization also holds the Blues’ second-round selection in 2021.
So there is a chance that the Sabres can maybe break-even, but it’s going to take a lot to compete with the O’Reilly breakthrough in St. Louis.
Montreal Canadiens trade P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber - June 29, 2016
How bizarre is it that two of the biggest trades from the decade happened on the exact same day?
The NHL was really put into a blender near the end of June 2016, and it was another 1-for-1 deal that sent shockwaves around the league. Rarely do you see a pair of teams swap their No. 1 blue-liners, but that’s exactly what happened here.
That summer, the Canadiens were coming off of a season where they missed the post-season for the first time in three years. Looking for a deal that would shake up their roster while remaining competitive, they added Shea Weber from Nashville in exchange for P.K. Subban.
Weber, when healthy, has been an impact player in Montreal’s lineup. After captaining the Predators, it took the veteran blueliner a couple of seasons to assume that role in Montreal. Durability has been a bit of an issue, however, as he has only suited up in 84 contests over the past two years due in large part to a knee injury. The team hasn’t had overwhelming post-season success since the trade, making the playoffs just once.
In Subban, Nashville acquired a defender who was four years younger, and possessed similar traits to Weber. Maybe not as strong defensively, the former Norris Trophy winner is still solid in his own zone. Additionally, he has offered more upside offensively in recent years. In his first season with the Preds, Subban and the squad finished just short of a Stanley Cup, losing in the Finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The team qualified for the playoffs each year he played on the Preds, although his last campaign was hindered by an upper-body ailment.
Subban no longer plays for the Predators, as he was recently dealt to the Devils. Both teams ended up with a good player, but Nashville, given durability, got the better return.
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