A big trade can completely change the outlook of a sports franchise. Acquiring a superstar player sets up a team for years of success. While trades are a huge part of every major sport, they seem to have more impact in the NHL. One hockey player can have a much bigger impact on the outcome of a game than almost every other sport. These are the four biggest trades in NHL history.
Wayne Gretzky to Kings
There may not be a more iconic trade in sports history than when the Edmonton Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988. Gretzky had led the Oilers to four Stanley Cups in the last five years, but the team knew they could not afford to resign the greatest player of all time. While the trade helped popularize hockey in California, Gretzky never won a championship in Los Angeles.
Eric Lindros to Flyers
The Quebec Nordiques used the top pick in the 1991 NHL Draft to select Eric Lindros despite his plans to never play for the team. Quebec used this one draft pick to completely retool their struggling franchise. Sending Lindros to the Flyers netted Quebec Ron Hextal, Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Steve Duchesne, and four other players. This trade helped turn the Nordiques into instant contenders. Lindros had a great career in Philadelphia, but he could never live up to the massive expectations.
Patrick Roy to Avalanche
Three years after sending Lindros to Philadelphia, the Quebec Nordiques officially relocated to Colorado. Shortly after this move, the team pulled off another historic trade. They acquired Patrick Roy from Montreal in the middle of their first season as the Avalanche. The best goalie in NHL history instantly proved his worth by leading the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup later that year. Roy was also a critical piece in Colorado’s championship season in 2001.
Cam Neely to Bruins
After struggling in his first three years in the league, the Vancouver Canucks decided to ship Cam Neely to Boston for Barry Pederson in 1992. Neely instantly found his groove in a Bruins uniform. Neely built a Hall of Fame career in Boston where he scored more than 340 goals. Neely is so beloved in Boston that he now serves as the team’s president.