NHL: Trades and More Trades Even Gretzky Was Traded
December 1, 2016
Twenty-eight years ago the Edmonton Oilers rocked the sports world when they traded Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings for $15 million.
The trade also included two or three additional players, and draft picks, but for the cash-strapped Oilers it was strictly a business deal.
Every year NHL coaches spend countless hours in offices and on their cell phones, speaking with scores of players, including draft picks and unrestricted free agents who are free to negotiate and sign contracts with any team.
Teams are then left to see whether their trade decisions were solid or not. The current season trade deadline is February 28, 2017, 3pm EST. Between May 25 and November 16, 35 trades have been completed.
Trade decisions are difficult for fans to justify to their own satisfaction. The inability to see the bigger picture within a team makes second-guessing a favorite fan past time, one that I must admit I have engaged in many times.
The LA Kings’ goal tender situation is but one example of how convoluted the process of securing a player can become. In 2015 the NHL announced that Peter Budaj had signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Los Angeles Kings and was subsequently waived and assigned to the Ontario Reign of the AHL.
Budaj excelled with the Reign and after delivering a string of solid performances secured the starting goaltender duties.
Budaj helped The Reign win the AHL Pacific Division title and was awarded the title of AHL’s best goaltender. In early 2016 he was recalled by the Kings on an emergency basis and made a victorious debut.
When he returned to Ontario Budaj signed a one-year contract extension with the Kings. He became the Kings’ starting goaltender when Jonathon Quick, widely considered one of the best goalies in the NHL, was placed on injured reserve.
Quick has been out with a lower body injury since the first game of the season. Recently he had a non-surgical procedure to repair the injury and is now out indefinitely. The Kings gave Budaj the opportunity to step up and he has continued to improve.
Bringing trade controversy closer to home, last season there were rumors that the Kings were entertaining the possibility of trading Anze Kopitar.
There is little question that Kopitar’s ability to win games makes him very valuable. He creates jaw-dropping plays at just the right moment. Now that he has assumed the role of team captain his leadership on the ice and in the locker room will be invaluable.
After signing a multi-year contract extension Kopitar has started his 11th season with the Kings. I believe it’s safe to say that any rumors about a trade were just that…idle rumors.
In June of this year The Edmonton Oilers made another unexpected move by trading one of their young star forwards for a defenseman. They moved former first overall pick Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for a promising young player, Adam Larsson.
The Oilers have been looking for a good defenseman and Larsson could very easily be the answer. Hall is now on the injured reserve list, expected to miss 3-4 weeks after recently having successful arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee.
One of the most controversial trades in the past several seasons sent forward PK Subban from the Montreal Canadiens to the Nashville Predators for forward Shea Weber. From a purely physical standpoint the trade was fairly even. Subban has three years on Weber, but Weber has one of the most dangerous shots in the League. Both players have multiple years left on their contracts.
Subban was a very visible team representative in the community, making the trade highly controversial. He has superior playmaking skills, and the ability to drive possession. Shea Weber’s skills will bring Nashville the credibility that has eluded them.
Weber has been on Stanley Cup winning teams twice. This experience alone will bring the Predators’ Stanley Cup hopes much closer. Possible injuries aside, both players should continue to have a big impact no matter where they play, or how they are used.
In all professional sports the possibility of being traded is always present. There are players in the league who have been on the roster of as many as eight teams during their career.
Staying at the top of his or her game by improving skills must be foremost in every player’s mind. After all, if Wayne Gretzky was traded…