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Every GM’s Best and Worst Trade: Central Division

During this era of no sports, I’ll be doing a series of the best and worst trades from every GM in the NHL since 2010. Today, it’s the Central Division.

Pacific Division

St. Louis Blues

Doug Armstrong

Best: St. Louis acquires Ryan O’Reilly from Buffalo for Vladimir Sobotka, Patrick Berglund, Tage Thompson, 1st round pick, 2nd round pick

Worst: Washington acquires TJ Oshie from St. Louis for Troy Brouwer, Phoenix Copley, 3rd round pick

Armstrong’s going on a decade as Blues GM, and he’s made his share of blockbusters. His best was acquiring Ryan O’Reilly, who is young, controllable, and one of the best two way centers in the league, for what is all intents and purposes nothing. The three players Buffalo got back are either gone or provided negative value to the Sabres. So the Sparknotes are the #31 picks in 2019 and a 2021 first for O’Reilly, a ridiculous fleecing, and he got a few trophies this past spring that we aren’t going to talk about.

On the other hand, he traded TJ Oshie with two years left on his deal for not much at all. They got one fairly productive season, and a Game 7 winning goal, out of Brouwer, an entire 83 minutes of goaltending from Phoenix Copley, and a 3rd rounder which is marginal value. Hard to believe Armstrong couldn’t have gotten more for Oshie. 

Colorado Avalanche

Greg Sherman

Best: Colorado acquires Semyon Varlamov from Washington for 1st round pick, 2nd round pick

Worst: Ottawa acquires Craig Anderson from Colorado for Brian Elliott

I’m going to be honest, I did not know Greg Sherman was a person who existed, probably because he didn’t do very much that was especially good or bad. He made one blockbuster, the Kevin Shattenkirk/Erik Johnson blockbuster that ended up being rather unspectacular for both teams, though St. Louis ended up with the best player in Shattenkirk. He stole a 23 year old starting goalie from Washington for a first and a second, which ended up being a worthwhile investment as Varlomov backstopped the Avs for 8 seasons, but the first ended up turning into the Filip Forsberg pick, which… we’ll get to that later.

Elliott and Anderson were both struggling goalies on expiring contracts, so the Sens and Avs swapped the two to see if one of them would catch fire. It worked out great for the Sens, as Anderson finished the season with a .939 sv% and resigned in Ottawa, and has been their backbone for almost a decade. Elliott continued to struggle in Colorado, and walked as a free agent, signing with St. Louis and leading the league with a .940 sv%. Somewhat poor luck for Sherman with goalie voodoo, but in hindsight, what they gave up was a lot more than what they got. 

Joe Sakic

Best: The Matt Duchene trade

Worst: Avalanche acquire Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov, JT Compher, 2nd round pick for Ryan O’Reilly, Jamie McGinn

Sakic’s tenure started shakey and looked like it was about to end with the Avs’ historically terrible 48 point 2016/17, but it all turned around with one deal. Matt Duchene was publically unhappy in Colorado and wanted out. In a 3 team deal that also sent Kyle Turris to the Predators, the Avs got a total package of Sam Girard, Vladislav Kamenev, Shane Bowers, Andrew Hammond, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks. Girard is a stud on the back end at just 21 years old, Bowers was a first round pick just 4 months earlier, and after the trade, the Senators entire franchise turned into a dumpster fire, giving the Avs a lottery pick and drafting Bowen Byrum. All that and more for just Matt Duchene, who went on to be a part of two last place finishes with Ottawa.

Trading Ryan O’Reilly is a bad idea. It’s sort of a theme here. The Avs did a little better than the Sabres, but still not good. Compher is the saving grace, as he’s been useful for Colorado, and Zadorov has played but not particularly well. St. Louis, don’t trade him. 

Dallas Stars

Joe Nieuwendyk

Best: Dallas acquires Kari Lehtonen from Atlanta for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 4th round pick

Worst: Dallas acquires Alex Goligoski from Pittsburgh for James Neal and Matt Niskanen

Lehtonen played the majority of the games in net for the Stars every year from 2011 to 2017, so getting a 26 year old for the price of a guy who never played in the NHL after the trade and a mid round pick was a total steal. He also got a first from Boston for Jaromir Jagr on a 1 year deal, but that’s about where Nieuwendyk’s good deals end. Acquiring a 25 year old defenseman who had 3 seasons under his belt and a cup run was an attractive opportunity, but it cost him a 23 year old sniper in James Neal who would score 40 for the Penguins the next season, and Matt Niskanen who is best known for “getting his kisser arranged by Sheriff Shane Hnidy”, but also won a cup in Washington and is on his way to 1000 games. It was a swap of young players that Pittsburgh came out of well on top.

Jim Nill

Best: Dallas acquires Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, and Ryan Button from Boston for Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Matt Fraser, and Reilly Smith

Worst: Kings acquire Jack Campbell from Dallas for Nick Ebert

Acquiring Tyler Seguin for three years of Loui Eriksson, and three wild card prospects was a no brainer at the time and might be the most lopsided trade we saw this decade. Seguin is, well I don’t need to explain that, Morrow never made the show full time, Fraser fizzled out after a playoff OT winner, and Smith has gone on to be a legit top six scorer, but that was of no use to Boston after they dealt him for Jimmy Hayes. Love to get 20 year old superstars for free.

Nick Ebert was drafted last overall pick, #211, in the 2012 draft. Jack Campbell was drafted #11 overall in 2010. So just on principle, something clearly went wrong here. While Campbell hasn’t lived up to his draft position, he’s become a competent backup who can push a starter. Ebert never made it. Nill gave up on a high pick too early, but having this as the biggest blemish on your resume isn’t bad.

Winnipeg Jets

Kevin Cheveldayoff

Best: Winnipeg acquires Michael Frolik from Chicago for a 3rd and 5th round pick

Worst: Winnipeg acquires Kevin Hayes from the Rangers for Brendan Lemieux, 1st round pick, and 4th round

“Chevy” was notorious for not trading, ever, in his first couple years in Winnipeg. He didn’t make a trade that involved 2 NHL players until the Evander Kane blockbuster in February of 2015, almost 4 years into his tenure. The Kane deal didn’t end up being lopsided enough to be on either end of the spectrum, but before he went out on a limb and traded actual NHL players, he stole Michael Frolik from Chicago for a good price as a cash dump. The Hawks needed to dump Frolik to create cap space, and the Jets took him for a low price and got two very productive, 42 point seasons out of him. On the flip side, the Jets decided to go all in last year, paying the price to acquire Kevin Hayes from the Rangers. Hayes was productive, but the Jets bowed out in 6 to the Blues. Tough to justify that price when you win 2 playoff games. 

Nashville Predators

David Poile

Best: Nashville acquires Filip Forsberg from Washington for Martin Erat and Michael Latta

Worst: Nashville acquires Ryan Hartman and a 5th round pick for Victor Ejdsell, 1st round pick, 4th round pick

For a guy who’s literally been around for the Preds’ entire existence, it’s pretty impressive that he’s managed to not screw up that badly. Acquiring Filip Forsberg for 31 year old Martin Erat is hilarious, there’s no other way to put it. It goes down as one of the worst deadline deals ever, from Washington’s perspective. 

Hartman was a first rounder who followed the young, scoring power forward mantra nicely, and Poile thought he was getting a guy for now and down the line. Hartman was a solid play driver, but not enough to justify the first rounder plus. He was flipped a year later for a rental. A close second was his part in the Duchene deal, trading Sam Girard for a guy who was a scratch earlier this season.

Minnesota Wild

Chuck Fletcher

Best: Minnesota acquires Devan Dubnyk from Arizona for a 3rd round pick

Worst: San Jose acquires Brett Burns, 2nd round pick from Minnesota for Charlie Coyle, Devin Setoguchi, 1st round pick

Dubyk was sent home by the Canadiens at the end of the 2014 season, but showed a sign of resurgence as Arizona’s backup. With the Wild rotating the ghost of Niklas Backstrom with a green banana Darcy Kuemper and John Curry, Fletcher took a risk on Dubnyk. All that happened after that was him putting up a .936 sv%, a 3rd place finish for the Vezina, fourth for the Hart, and a 5th place finish for the Vezina 2 years later. He’s come back down to earth in recent years, but Dubnyk worked himself up to the top tier of goalies for a few years, all for just a third rounder.

I wrote a whole bunch about Burns from the Sharks’ perspective in the Pacific division write up, but from the Wild’s side, Burns was a year away from free agency. He was definitely useful, but they still hadn’t decided if he was a forward or a defenseman and he wasn’t close to his ceiling, so they cashed in on the return of Coyle, Setoguchi, and a first/second rounder swap. Especially considering Burns signed a 5 year extension with San Jose just 2 months after the deal, the Wild would have been wise to keep the player, stick him on the top pairing, and see how it went. 

Paul Fenton

Best: Minnesota acquires Kevin Fiala for Mikael Granlund

Worst: Carolina acquires Nino Niederreiter from Minnesota for Victor Rask

If you’re unfamiliar with Paul Fenton’s 14 months as Wild GM, just take a scroll through this. He traded Nino Niederreiter straight up for Victor Rask after the Wild had apparently done zero scouting on Rask, who Carolina had been planning to buy out the following summer, and has contributed all of 7 goals and 16 points to the Wild. Meanwhile, Niederreiter scored 30 points in 36 games as a key part of Carolina’s run to the East finals. A mind-numbingly terrible trade, and the lack of research showed. Trading Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato and a 4th round pick is also looking like a big loss, but we’ll give Donato a little more time to show what he can do.

He did get a good deal for a year and a half of Mikael Granlund, acquiring 22 year old, 11th overall pick Kevin Fiala, who was really breaking out when the NHL’s season was paused. It was the only, and I cannot emphasize this enough, only good trade Fenton made against a number of terrible trades.

Bill Guerin

Best: Pittsburgh acquires Jason Zucker from Minnesota for Callen Addison, Alex Galchenyuk, 1st round pick

Worst: Pittsburgh acquires Jason Zucker from Minnesota for Callen Addison, Alex Galchenyuk, 1st round pick

Guerin was thrust into the position of taking over for Fenton, and has taken the high road, only making one deal in his first 8 months as GM. Zucker was almost traded twice by Fenton, once to Calgary and once to Pittsburgh, and was clearly bothered by being in such limbo. A first, prospect, and an experiment in Galchenyuk isn’t a terrible return, but Zucker is a great player signed on an affordable deal for 4 more seasons. It’s too early to make a definitive statement, but it’s Guerin’s only deal so far, but he’s already off to a better start than Fenton. 

Pacific Division

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