To appreciate THN’s Top 10 trades of 2013, first we must understand: what constitutes a truly good trade?
It’s not simply a “big” trade, a much speculated upon deal like Jarome Iginla going to Boston Pittsburgh last April. He didn’t have a strong enough impact on the Penguins to help them win a Stanley Cup.
A trade isn’t good just because good players are involved, either. So far, so bad for the Matt Moulson/Thomas Vanek swap. Neither party should be satisfied with assets received for now and we don’t know whether the Islanders will defer the pick they traded away yet.
To me, a trade good enough to make the top 10 is one that leaves one or both parties ecstatic. That could mean one team fleeced the other, like when I traded Frank Menechino for Roberto Alomar in a fantasy baseball league one season. Or it could mean both teams have benefitted, like the Flames and Stars did in my favorite trade of all-time: Joe Nieuwendyk for Iginla and Corey Millen.
Let the countdown begin.
10. Sharks trade Michal Handzus to Blackhawks for a 2013 fourth-round pick (Fredrik Bergvik)
APRIL 1 – This trade epitomizes the “overlooked deal that puts a contender over the top.” The hulking veteran Handzus arrived in Chicago as a checker but became its de facto second-line center through the Hawks’ run to the Stanley Cup. Handzus chipped in 11 points and was plus-7 in 23 playoff games.
9. Kings trade Jonathan Bernier to Maple Leafs for Ben Scrivens, Matt Frattin and a 2014 or 2015 second-round pick
JUNE 24 – The Leafs acquired a young, high-ceiling goalie who could push James Reimer to play better. At least in October and November, the experiment worked beautifully. The Kings got a speedy young forward with top-six potential (in theory, anyway) and a goalie they hoped was at least good enough to spell Jonathan Quick should something go wrong. It did, and all Scrivens has done is lead the NHL in save percentage.
8. Anaheim trades Bobby Ryan to Ottawa for Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a 2014 first-round pick
JULY 5 – Ottawa acquired a good player in Ryan and he’s been, well, quite good this season, maintaining his Ducks-caliber production. I still think Anaheim makes out fine in this one, too – Silfverberg has been injured, Noesen has potential and the Ducks should get a top-15 pick out of this deal.
7. Blues trade Kris Russell to Calgary for a 2014 fifth-round pick
JULY 5 – Who knew Russell would blossom like he has? He was a throwaway last spring for a stacked St. Louis team, but he’s arguably been Calgary’s best blueliner this season. He’s averaging 23-plus minutes per game, five minutes more than his previous career high, and he’s on pace to obliterate his personal best offensive totals.
6. Flames trade Jay Bouwmeester to Blues for Mark Cundari, Reto Berra and a 2013 first-round pick (Emile Poirier)
APRIL 1 – Bouwmeester was everyone’s favorite whipping boy, the smooth-skating, disappointing blueliner who played a million games without sniffing the playoffs. Then St. Louis took a chance on him. He clicked with Alex Pietrangelo and is not only playing the best hockey of his career, but nudging himself toward a Team Canada Olympic nod.
5. Blue Jackets trade Steve Mason to Flyers for Michael Leighton and a 2015 third-round pick
APRIL 3 – Credit Flyers GM Paul Holmgren for completing a Hail Mary pass on this one.
“Paul, be honest. You didn’t really know Mason would become good at stopping pucks again, did you? You got lucky on a desperation play, right?”
“Why, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Holmgren winks, mounts his horse and rides off into the sunset.
4. Blues trade David Perron to Oilers for Magnus Paajarvi and a 2014-second round pick
JULY 10 – Before you throw a fit, Blues fans: yes, I know the Perron trade was a salary dump and that no one believed Paajarvi was an upgrade over Perron. So you weren’t truly fleeced on this trade. Still, this is a big win for Edmonton, as Perron has been its best player. Is that more a reflection of how well he’s played or how poorly the Oil’s stars have played?
3. Sabres trade Jason Pominville and a 2014 fourth-round pick to Wild for Johan Larsson, Matt Hackett, a 2013 first-round pick (Nikita Zadorov) and a 2014 second-round pick
APRIL 3 – This deal makes the top three because I love it for Buffalo, not Minnesota. The Sabres demanded the moon for their captain and got it. Larsson is a coach’s pet two-way forward – who I’m high on. Matt Hackett has flashed future No. 1 goalie potential, though he’s regressed in Rochester. And I can’t say enough good things about the man Buffalo drafted with the first-rounder it received: beastly blueliner Nikita Zadorov, who I like to call Lil Chara. 'Lil' being 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. It's all relative.
2. Lightning trade Cory Conacher and a 2013 fourth-round pick (Tobias Lindberg) to Senators for Ben Bishop
APRIL 3 – This trade had it all for Tampa GM Steve Yzerman. It was ballsy as hell – Conacher was in the thick of the Calder Trophy race – and it landed the Lightning its long-desired starting goaltender. Yzerman understood pedigree, as Bishop was always a hyped prospect and Conacher, as inspiring as his story is, was an undrafted free agent. In hindsight, it’s not that surprising to see Conacher regress while Bishop soars. No longer playing with Steven Stamkos and Martin St-Louis ain’t great for a guy’s stats.
1. Bruins trade Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, and Ryan Button to Stars for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser
JULY 4 – Tyler Seguin was not the first 20-year-old star athlete to party too much and won’t be the last. That’s why it was silly for the Bruins to give up on the potential that made him worth drafting second overall in 2010. To the surprise of seemingly no one but Boston, Seguin, now 21, is a point-per-game player in Dallas and has helped his new linemate Jamie Benn to new heights. The Bruins didn’t get chopped liver in return, as Reilly Smith has been a pleasant surprise, but Loui Eriksson’s unexpected concussion woes makes the deal feel worse than it is for now.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin