Commentary

The biggest trade-deadline deals since 1980

Updated: February 22, 2008, 2:46 PM ET
By David Amber | Special to ESPN.com

In 1982-83, the NHL trade deadline came and went, barely registering a blip with general managers or fans. Just one trade involving one player; that's all we saw that season.

But as years passed and salaries started to skyrocket, the league's biggest shopping spree began to bloom, culminating with last season's 25 deadline deals involving 44 players. To date, 103 active players (nearly 20 percent of the league) have changed zip codes at the deadline.

We take a look at the biggest deals since 1980 in the latest 10 Degrees.

[+] EnlargeLarry Murphy
Robert Laberge/Getty ImagesAfter being traded by Toronto in 1997, Larry Murphy helped the Wings win their first Stanley Cup since 1955.

10. March 14, 2000

• New Jersey obtains Alexander Mogilny from Vancouver for Brendan Morrison and Denis Pederson

Guess which team led the Eastern Conference in goals in 2000? The "defensive minded" New Jersey Devils. Seriously! Despite their scoring prowess, the Devils added six-time 30-goal scorer Alexander Mogilny at the deadline and the 11-year veteran fit perfectly into New Jersey's system. Mogilny put up modest scoring numbers (just seven points in the playoffs), but his presence on the ice opened up space for his teammates. Mogilny helped lead the Devils to their second Stanley Cup. In this deal, both teams came out on top (which rarely happens). Morrison didn't miss a game in his first six seasons with the Canucks, averaging more than 60 points per season.

9. March 18, 1997

• Detroit obtains Larry Murphy from Toronto for future considerations

Last place in the Eastern Conference and near the bottom of the league in goals allowed. That describes this season's Maple Leafs and their squad in 1997. That season, Larry Murphy was the target of Toronto fans' abuse. The 36-year-old future Hall of Fame defenseman was booed at home so mercilessly, Leafs management believed they had to trade Murphy. But after getting moved to Detroit at the deadline, Murphy got the ultimate vindication. He appeared in all 20 playoff games for the Wings, recording 11 points and leading all players in postseason plus/minus (plus-16) as the Red Wings captured their first Stanley Cup since 1955.

8. March 20, 1996

• Vancouver obtains Markus Naslund from Pittsburgh for Alex Stojanov

If you can't remember Alex Stojanov, don't worry, he didn't last long in Pittsburgh. The former first-round pick scored exactly two goals in 45 games after being traded to the Penguins before permanently returning to the AHL. Conversely, the Canucks landed Markus Naslund, who would become the club's captain and all-time leading goal scorer. After struggling his first two seasons in Vancouver under coach Mike Keenan, Naslund requested to be traded, but the team refused to move the forward, who has become one of the franchise's greatest players.

7. March 9, 2006

• Carolina obtains Mark Recchi from Pittsburgh for Niklas Nordgren, Krys Kolanos and a 2007 second-round pick

At the 2006 trade deadline, teams made 25 trades involving 40 players and none had a more immediate impact than Mark Recchi. The 38-year-old was pivotal in leading the Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup. He had already won one with Pittsburgh in 1991; he had the experience and showed he still had the ability. With Erik Cole out (neck injury), Recchi provided an offensive spark for Carolina. Recchi posted six of his 16 postseason points in the Cup finals, including the winning goal in Game 4 that put Carolina up 3-1 in the series vs. Edmonton. Recchi proved to be the perfect complement to Doug Weight, who Carolina acquired two months earlier from St. Louis.

6. March 10, 1980

• New York Islanders obtain Butch Goring from Los Angeles for Billy Harris and Dave Lewis

On the eve of the 1980 trade deadline, New York Islanders GM Bill Torrey got the ball rolling with a blockbuster deal that helped bring four straight championships to New York. Butch Goring came to Long Island as a noted two-way player with great leadership ability. The Islanders were unbeaten in their last 12 regular-season games before Goring led by example in the spring. He posted 19 points in 21 playoff games as the Isles won their first Cup. He would stick around for three more Cups and a Conn Smythe Trophy in 1981.

[+] EnlargeVincent Lecavalier
Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty ImagesA trade-deadline draft pick acquisition enabled Tampa Bay to pick Vincent Lecavalier in the 1998 draft. The rest is history.

5. March 21, 1994

• New York Rangers obtain Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan from Chicago for Tony Amonte and the rights to Matt Oates

• Rangers obtain Glenn Anderson, the rights to Scott Malone and a 1994 fourth-round pick from Toronto for Mike Gartner

• Rangers obtain Craig MacTavish from Edmonton for Todd Marchant

No one was busier at the 1994 trade deadline than Rangers GM Neil Smith, who pulled off three deals that brought four veteran forwards to Broadway. Each played a pivotal role in helping the Rangers win their first Cup in 54 years. Stephane Matteau scored two overtime goals in the Eastern Conference finals against the Devils, including the Game 7 winner in double-overtime. Brian Noonan had 11 points (four goals in the playoffs) and was a physical forward throughout the postseason. Craig MacTavish and Glenn Anderson both played in all 23 playoff games, providing added leadership off the ice, as both enjoyed the final Stanley Cup run of their respective careers.

4. March 10, 1980

• Los Angeles obtains Jerry Korab from Buffalo for a 1982 first-round pick (Phil Housley)

It's hard to imagine how a mobile, puck-moving defenseman like Phil Housley would have performed with the Kings' Triple Crown Line. Thanks to the trade deadline, we'll never know. Looking to add some toughness to their blue line, the Kings acquired Jerry "King Kong" Korab from the Sabres. The two-time All-Star spent more than three years in Los Angeles, helping the team pull off a dramatic playoff upset against Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers in 1982. In return, the Sabres used their first-round pick in 1982 (six overall) to select Housley out of South St. Paul High School. Housley spent more than eight seasons in Buffalo, becoming one of the most prolific scoring defensemen in NHL history. Housley posted 1,232 points in 1,495 games over 21 seasons.

3. March 6, 2000

• Colorado obtains Ray Bourque and Dave Andreychuk from Boston for Brian Rolston, Samuel Pahlsson, Martin Grenier and a 2000 first-round pick

While this deal officially went down a week before the deadline, its magnitude gets it on this list. It's not often you can pick up 39 years of NHL experience in one trade. The Colorado Avalanche did just that in 2000, grabbing both Dave Andreychuk and Ray Bourque. The Avalanche immediately benefited from the deal, finishing the regular season with just two losses in the 15 games after the trade. Despite having a power play that was anchored by Bourque and Andreychuk, Colorado lost to Dallas in the Western Conference finals. The following season, Bourque had an All-Star season, leading Avs defensemen in scoring and winning that elusive Stanley Cup. Andreychuk would have to wait four more years before he hoisted the Cup as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

2. March 4, 1991

• Pittsburgh obtains Ron Francis, Grant Jennings and Ulf Samuelsson from Hartford for John Cullen, Jeff Parker and Zarley Zalapski

The 1991 trade deadline featured 14 deals involving 33 players. The biggest trade of all occurred one day earlier, when Pittsburgh and Hartford finalized a six-player swap that helped the Penguins capture back-to-back Stanley Cups. While Ulf Samuelson and Grant Jennings added toughness and depth to the Penguins' blue line, it was the addition of Ron Francis that was most important. The Hall of Fame center scored four game-winning goals that postseason, while posting nearly a point per game. All three Penguins additions were around the following season, when Pittsburgh won a second straight title.

1. March 24, 1998

• Tampa Bay obtains Andrei Nazarov and a 1998 first-round pick (Vincent Lecavalier) from San Jose for Bryan Marchment, David Shaw and a first-round pick (later traded to Nashville)

• Tampa Bay obtains Sandy McCarthy, a 1998 third-round pick (Brad Richards) and a fifth-round pick from Calgary for Jason Wiemer

For Tampa Bay, the road to the Stanley Cup went right through the 1998 draft as the Lightning obtained two pivotal draft picks through deals in 1998. After drafting Vincent Lecavalier (first overall) and Brad Richards (third-round pick), the Lighting built the foundation for their 2004 championship team. Lecavalier has evolved into one of the game's best players and respected leaders. Tampa's captain won the Maurice Richard Trophy in 2006-07 as the league's top goal scorer (52). Richards was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2004 after scoring 26 points, including seven game-winning goals. Two great trades, followed by some exceptional scouting, makes the 1998 trade deadline a memorable one for Tampa Bay.

ESPN reporter David Amber is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.