The Bruins made headlines last week by trading Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars as part of a seven-player deal. The move was unusual, since Seguin is still only three years removed from being the second overall pick in the draft, and is generally considered to be one of the most promising young players in the league. The Bruins had their reasons — the team was reportedly concerned about his off-ice partying and whether he was committed to winning — but they’re still taking a significant risk.
How significant? Let’s just say that NHL history is filled with examples of teams giving up on young players too soon. So many, in fact, that you could probably fill out an entire roster using nothing but future stars that some unfortunate team let slip away. And today, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
As with any attempt at this sort of undertaking, we’ll need to establish some random and completely arbitrary ground rules:
• We’re looking for young players, so let’s say they have to have been moved before they turned 25. That age cutoff eliminates a few obvious candidates you may be expecting to see, like Joe Thornton, Dominik Hasek, and Phil Esposito.
• These have to be actual players who were traded, not future draft picks that were used on star players. If you’d rather read about teams trading away draft picks who turned out to be Hall of Famers, I’d suggest you try here.
• We’re doing a full roster: four centers, eight wingers, six defensemen, and two goalies. We won’t bother differentiating between left wing and right wing, because I hope to someday join the PHWA.
• While I don’t want to get too deep into defining what it means to give up on a player, we’ll exclude certain unique cases where it was clear that the team had no choice but to trade a guy through no fault of their own. That includes the Nordiques trading Eric Lindros and the Thrashers moving Dany Heatley.
• Yes, I will probably forget a few guys. Yes, you will yell at me about this in the comments. Yes, I will act like this doesn’t bother me even though it totally does, then spend the rest of the day passive-aggressively taking it out against my family.
Everyone got all that? Cool, let’s get started