At the trade deadline in late February or early March rental players are the primary property exchanged, minimizing the long-term impact of mistakes. That safety net disappears in June at the draft, where the managing eye gazes further forward into the future.
What’s become evident over the past few years is that there will be either a frantic frenzy of trade activity this weekend, or the highlight of the day may be one of our HOTH contributors getting dealt for a conditional sixth-round pick in 2015.
After flipping through the draft day trades over the past few seasons there’s only one certainty: any team that trades for Chris Pronger goes to the Stanley Cup Final
With the draft just two days away, smokescreens are in abundance, and the buzz surrounding potential moves is mounting. Leafs GM Brian Burke holds two picks in the back half of the first round (25th and 30th) and has been busy with his pre-draft posturing, but no one is biting his lines yet. Meanwhile, Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson is reportedly intent on moving the eighth overall pick, and the Oilers could get creative with their 19th and 31st overall picks.
So in the spirit of both feeding the hunger for the possible draft chaos and using hindsight to remember cautionary trading tales, let’s look back on the most notable draft day trades over the past three years that involved first round picks.
Other than Dan Hamhuis’ rights being traded seemingly 19 times in June (one of which was on draft day to the Penguins) before he eventually landed in Vancouver, last year was oddly quiet in terms of trade activity. But the one move of significance involved the eventual Presidents’ Trophy winners.
The Canucks sent Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner, and their 25th overall pick to Florida for defenceman Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich. That pick turned into Quinton Howden, who had two goals and five points over seven games for Canada’s World Junior team last December.
Aside from Howden’s hopeful future, this trade became a rare lose-lose. Ballard turned into a defensive liability and massive disappointment in Vancouver, while Grabner led all rookies with 34 goals, but none of them were scored for the Panthers. He was placed on waivers by Florida in October and picked up by the Islanders.
Pronger, the league’s foremost puck-stealer, was traded for the second time in four years on draft day. He went from Anaheim to Philadelphia in a deal that netted the Ducks Joffrey Lupul, the rights to defenceman Lucas Sbisa, two first round picks, and a conditional third round pick.
Lupul was later flipped to Toronto at the 2010 trade deadline, which in turn meant that the Pronger trade led to the re-acquisition of Francois Beauchemin. It also continued Pronger’s streak of appearing in the Stanley Cup Final the next spring after being involved in a draft day deal. In 2006 Pronger left Edmonton following the Oilers’ playoff run that nearly ended in a championship. He then won his ring the next June with Anaheim, and he was of course a key piece in Philly’s 2010 cup final appearance during his first season as a Flyer.
This is a trade that clearly worked well for Philadelphia, with Pronger adding to the Flyers’ brutish and jerkish ways. The Ducks finished 11th in the Western Conference and six points shy of the playoffs. Lupul contributed little and played in only 23 games during the 2009-10 season due to injury, scoring 14 points. He appeared in just 49 games for the Ducks before being shipped to Toronto.
The most notable draft day deal from this far off time three years ago involved Michael Cammalleri, with Brian Campbell’s move from Buffalo to San Jose finishing a close second.
With his contract expiring the next summer, Los Angeles saw an opportunity to capitalize on Cammalleri’s value. A three-way mess eventually resulted in Calgary leaving the draft with Cammalleri, Buffalo getting the opportunity to select Tyler Myers, and the Kings doing the same with Colten Teubert. All of that happened through the Ducks’ 12th overall pick, which was received from the Oilers as compensation for the signing of restricted free agent Dustin Penner. Follow all that? Good.
The trade had a happy ending for Cammalleri, who had a classic contract year production boom, but it wasn’t the conclusion Calgary had in mind. The undersized forward spent only one season on a Flames team bounced in the first round. That was more than enough time for Cammalleri to boost his open market value significantly with 39 goals–good enough for ninth in the league–and a career-high 82 points before his contract expired.
Cammalleri then led the smurf revolution in Montreal during the summer of 2009, signing a five-year, $30 million contract.