Friday February 22nd, 2008

If the league's general managers seem a little more hesitant to pull the trigger than in years past, it might not be just the constraints of the salary cap and no-trade clauses that have them sitting on their hands.

Their memories may be growing a little longer.

While the majority of deals made during the frantic hours approaching the deadline are as memorable as the sitcom Hello, Larry (Shane Hnidy for a third-round pick? Tom Koivisto for future considerations?), the siren song of a quick fix has led some hapless GMs to disastrous last-minute decisions.

The history of deadline day is littered with swaps that included stars who helped turn their new team into champions, and no-name prospects and draft picks that developed into superstars. It's no wonder that so many of the guys who made those calls and got the short end of the deal will be watching this deadline day unfold on TV with the rest of us common folk.

So as a public service to the men who'll be driven to fiddle with their patiently constructed rosters in these final, nailbiting, should-I-or-shouldn't-I hours, we present a cautionary look back at nine last-minute deals that went awry.

9. Florida obtains Mike Wilson from Buffalo for Rhett Warrener and a 1999 fifth round pick (March 23, 1999).

Proof positive that those little sweeteners can go a long way, Buffalo made out like bandits in this otherwise non-descript deal. Wilson, the former first-rounder Florida identified as a possible blueline stalwart, spent parts of three seasons in Miami before he was cut loose. Warrener gave the Sabres four seasons of physical, but mistake-prone defense.

A win for the Sabres on that count alone, but factor in that they turned that fifth- rounder into netminder Ryan Miller. Since joining the team full-time in 2005-06, he has emerged as one of the best stoppers in hockey. Last season, he became the first netminder in Sabres history to record 40 victories in a season.

8. Edmonton trades Laurie Boschman to Winnipeg for Willy Lindstrom (March 7, 1983).

The deal might not seem so dramatic 25 years later, but it was an epic mismatch in favor of the Jets. Boschman, the NHL's version of the Boy Named Sue, was a nasty customer, but not much more with the Maple Leafs and then the Oilers. He found his niche with the Jets, scoring at least 25 goals in four of his seven seasons in Winnipeg. Of course, he also found his share of trouble running shotgun alongside Dale Hawerchuk or Thomas Steen, picking up more than 1,300 penalty minutes to ensure his place as one of the most beloved Jets of all-time.

Lindstrom, a former 40-goal and 80-point man with the Jets, won a pair of Cups in Edmonton, but he was never more than a bit player. After three seasons, he was waived by the Oilers.

7. Buffalo trades Jerry Korab to Los Angeles for the Kings' 1982 first-rounder (March 10, 1980).

The Kings had plenty of offense with both Charlie Simmer and Marcel Dionne topping 50 goals and 100 points, but needed a physical element to bolster a non-descript defense led by Doug Halward and Rob Palmer. Korab was an immediate hit, but powerless in a postseason run that was quickly cut short. The Kings were waxed by the Islanders in four, including an 8-0 blowout in the clincher.

The Sabres, who would fleece the Kings in a similar fashion the following year, had to cool their heels for two seasons before claiming their prize with the pick, but Minnesota high-schooler Phil Housley made it worth the wait. The fleet- footed defender played eight seasons in Buffalo, never scoring fewer than 62 points.

6. Edmonton sends Miroslav Satan to Buffalo for Barrie Moore and Craig Millar (March 18, 1997).

Even ignoring the perspective of time, this one's hard to fathom. Satan had scored 18 and 17 goals in his first two season with the Oilers, but fell out of favor with management over his work ethic. The Sabres, who seem to have made a habit of fleecing opponents on deadline day, gladly took him on and got seven seasons and 224 goals out of the shifty left winger. The Oilers didn't fare quite as well. Moore was pointless in four games before being cut loose. By comparison, Millar was the gem of the deal, chipping in four goals and six points in 36 games before being given his walking papers.

5. Buffalo deals Rick Martin to Los Angeles for its 1981 third-round choice and 1983 first-rounder (March 10, 1981).

First round picks weren't as highly prized back then as they are now, so the Kings likely were thrilled to add veteran right winger Martin and his 382 goals without touching their roster. The Sabres likely were just as pleased to move some damaged goods. Martin had been limited to just 21 games that season due to chronic back troubles. The move to sunny Southern California did nothing to ease the pain. While Martin averaged nearly two points per game for the Kings, he played just four games in the purple and yellow before being forced to retire. The Sabres used that first-rounder --fifth overall -- to claim netminder Tom Barrasso, who went on to capture both the Vezina and the Calder as a rookie on the way to 369 career victories, a stat that ranks him 13th all-time.

4. Toronto trades Larry Murphy to Detroit for future considerations (March 18, 1997).

The Leafs looked at this deal as a tender mercy. The aging Murphy had become a favorite target of the local boo-birds, and his minutes were dwindling as his effectiveness declined. But the deal to Detroit added wings to his feet, as well as to his sweater, and he became an integral part of back-to-back Cup winners.

The Leafs side of the deal? They agreed to pay part of Murphy's salary. Hard to believe that Toronto hasn't won a Cup in 40 years considering that kind of solid asset management.

3. Philadelphia sends Alexei Zhitnik to Atlanta for Braydon Coburn (Feb. 25, 2007).

It might be a little early to put the stamp on this one, but the early results look disastrous for the Thrashers, a team that saw a certain playoff berth slipping away after a blazing hot start. Zhitnik was looked upon as a steady, physical presence for the blueline, but he's been a major -- and expensive --disappointment since arriving in Blueland.

Coburn, on the other hand, looks to be developing into exactly the type of player the Thrashers hoped they'd be getting out of Zhitnik. His learning curve this season has been startling, and many observers have labeled him as Philly's best defender. Coburn soaks up more than 20 minutes a night, and his plus-12 rating is second best on the team.

2. Boston trades Geoff Courtnall, Bill Ranford and future considerations to Edmonton for Andy Moog (March 8, 1988).

Desperate to upgrade their goaltending in an effort to break a 16-year Cupless streak, the Bruins anted up for Moog. But to get the proven veteran, they had to give up two of their top youngsters...and the deal ended up biting them hard.

Though Moog teamed up with Reggie Lemelin to lead the Bruins to the Finals the following year against his old team, it was Ranford who stole the show. The Oilers netminder was given the Conn Smythe after holding his ex-mates to just eight goals as Edmonton won the Cup in five games.

1. Pittsburgh trades Markus Naslund to Vancouver for Alek Stojanov (March 20, 1996).

When fans talk about the most lopsided trades of all time, this one's always in the mix. Despite being almost a point-per-game player that season, Naslund was perceived by the Pens as soft and incapable of reaching his potential. Stojanov, a hulking, 6-4, 232-pound winger, was seen as a better fit. The seventh overall pick in 1991, he was fearless in the corners and a willing combatant who'd be the perfect complement for Pittsburgh's Euro-heavy lineup.

Unfortunately, he had less hockey sense than a bag of pucks, and lasted just 45 games with the Pens. Naslund has gone on to score more than 800 points in Vancouver, where he's also served as captain for seven seasons.

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