Wayne Gretzky on a fateful day in Edmonton.

From Wayne Gretzky to Patrick Roy, a look back at memorable NHL trades

Pro hockey’s long history of wheeling and dealing continues despite salary cap

While the NHL’s introduction of a salary cap has made it more difficult for teams to make trades, there’s still a long history of wheeling and dealing.

Ahead of the Wednesday trade deadline, we look at some of the league’s most memorable – and infamous – swaps.


The list could begin and end with the Edmonton Oilers trading Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles in 1988. The Great One was coming off a fourth Stanley Cup in five years when Edmonton owner Peter Pocklington swung a deal with the Kings that included players, draft picks and US$15 million going to the Oilers. Fans in Edmonton and across Canada were furious, but “The Trade” changed the hockey landscape forever. It helped cement the NHL in California and paved the way for further expansion in the sunbelt.


Patrick Roy won two Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, but a particularly bad night in 1995 sealed the goalie’s fate with Montreal. Habs head coach Mario Tremblay left his star netminder in for nine goals in an 11-1 loss to Detroit at the Montreal Forum. After finally getting pulled, a furious Roy told team president Ronald Corey, who was seated behind the bench, that he had played his last game for Montreal. Roy was traded to the Avalanche, where he would win the Cup in the spring of 1996 before grabbing another in 2001.


The Quebec Nordiques selected Eric Lindros with the first pick in the 1991 draft despite the hulking forward having no interest in playing for the team. Quebec would eventually work out a deal with Philadelphia for Lindros the following year that included Peter Forsberg going to the Nordiques. While the Flyers were thrilled to get one of the most physically gifted players in NHL history, Quebec also benefited. But unfortunately for fans of the Nordiques, the club’s potential wasn’t fully realized until it moved to Colorado and won the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 1996.


The Vancouver Canucks selected Cam Neely ninth overall in 1983, but gave up on the power forward in a deal that also sent a first-round pick in the 1987 draft to Boston for Barry Pederson. A native of Comox, B.C., Neely never scored more than 39 points with the Canucks, but had 36 goals alone in his first season with the Bruins. He would finish with three 50-goal campaigns before retiring in 1996. Pederson scored 24 goals in his first year with Vancouver, but never again topped 20. And as if a Neely-for-Pederson trade wasn’t bad enough, Boston drafted defenceman Glen Wesley, who went on to have a 20-year career, with the pick included in the swap.


The Maple Leafs’ acquisition of Doug Gilmour in a 10-player trade with Calgary in 1992 helped propel Toronto to its best run since the city’s last Stanley Cup in 1967. Gilmour put up a combined 238 points in his first two full seasons with Toronto, leading the Leafs to back-to-back conference finals. The Flames got former 50-goal man Gary Leeman in the trade, but missed the post-season in 1992 and wouldn’t win another playoff series until 2004.


The Boston Bruins acquired Phil Esposito from the Chicago Blackhawks in a six-player trade in 1967. Esposito led the league in scoring in five times with Boston, including a 76-goal, 76-assist campaign in 1970-71. He also helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in both 1970 and 1972, Boston’s first titles since 1941.

– Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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