Thursday, February 16, 2017

When traded picks become superstars

It’s trade-deadline season in the NHL, which means GMs around the league are working the phones in an attempt to make a move. Some of the deals being discussed will come to fruition, while most will never go anywhere. As much as we may rip on these guys for not getting deals done, the truth is that it really is tough to find a fit in today’s NHL.

But there’s one trick that can make closing out a deal a little easier. When in doubt, why not throw in a draft pick to balance the scales?

It makes sense, and most deals that get done these days have at least a pick or two thrown in somewhere. But every now and then, those picks can come back to haunt you, as we’ll see in these 10 trades that didn’t seem like big deals at the time, but ended up indirectly involving a future superstar.

For this list, we’re not worried about cases where a team traded up on the draft floor to target a specific player. We’re looking at situations where a team acquired a pick months or even years in advance, only to have an eventual star fall into their lap.

So tread carefully, NHL GMs — you never know when that pick you throw in to make a deal work will come back to haunt you.

1. THE TRADE: On Nov. 4, 1983, the Winnipeg Jets acquire defenceman Robert Picard from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a third round pick at the 1984 draft

The rationale: The Jets were trying to build a roster that could do something other than lose in the first round of the playoffs every year, and needed some depth on the blueline. Picard was a solid-enough player, and a third-round pick seemed like a fair price.

But the pick turned into: On draft day, the Canadiens traded up to get picks in the first and second round, which they used on Shane Corson and Stephane Richer. But the deal cost them multiple picks as well as Rick Wamsley, so they needed to replenish their goaltending depth.

They used the Jets' third-round pick to do it, grabbing a skinny kid from the QMJHL named Patrick Roy.

The epilogue: Picard was fine in two seasons as a Jet before being dealt to the Nordiques for Mario Marois.

2. THE TRADE: On the eve of the 1978-79 season opener, the Los Angeles Kings trade their first-round pick in the 1979 draft to the Boston Bruins for goalie Ron Grahame

The rationale: The Kings needed a goaltender after Rogie Vachon had signed with Detroit in free agency. Vachon had been an all-star and he'd appeared in 70 games the year before, so his departure left a huge void. With backup Gary Simmons also out of the picture, the Kings needed somebody to fill the starter's job, and apparently didn't trust prospect Mario Lessard to handle the load.

They turned to the Bruins and Grahame, who'd just put up an excellent half-season and, at 28 years old, seemed like a guy who could be their starter for years to come.

But the pick turned into: The pick ended up being eighth overall in what's now viewed as perhaps the greatest draft ever, and the Bruins used it to pick Ray Bourque.

The epilogue: As it turns out, the Kings didn't even need a goalie after all; Lessard played well enough to beat out Grahame for the starter's job, and held it for four years. Just over two years after trading a first round pick for him, the Kings sent Grahame to the Nordiques for cash in 1980.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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  1. Another bad Leaf trade that you wish you can forget but can't that involved draft picks: On March 13, 2001, they traded Adam Mair and a 2nd round pick to the Kings for Aki Berg. The pick turned into Mike Cammalleri. So that didn't go well at all.

    1. Check back tomorrow on that one. (Leafs also originally owned the pick that became Roman Josi.)

  2. I'm shocked that Pat LaFontaine isn't on this list. Hockey Hall of Famer drafted 3rd overall by the New York Islanders - who had just won their fourth straight Stanley Cup. How did they get that pick? By trading Bob Lorimer and Dave Cameron to the Colorado Rockies in 1981, in exchange for their first round pick in 1983.

    The best part? By the time the Islanders cashed in on the deal they weren't the Colorado Rockies anymore, they were the New Jersey Devils.