Penguins Deadline Deals: Doozies ‘n’ Duds – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Deadline Deals: Doozies ‘n’ Duds

Although it’s a little bit after the fact, here’s a quick sampling of the Penguins’ five best (and worst) deadline deals. The trades had to occur after February 1 in order to qualify.

1. March 4, 1991—Center John Cullen, left wing Jeff Parker and defenseman Zarley Zalapski to Hartford for center Ron Francis and defensemen Grant Jennings and Ulf Samuelsson.
Known in Pittsburgh simply as “the Trade.” The Whalers’ all-time leading scorer at age 27, Francis was a superb two-way center and the perfect compliment to Mario Lemieux. Samuelsson and Jennings provided backbone to a defense that was sorely in need of some. With one bold stroke, Craig Patrick acquired the missing pieces to the Pens’ Stanley Cup jigsaw puzzle.

2. February 19, 1992—Defenseman Brian Benning, right wing Mark Recchi and a first round choice in the 1992 Entry Draft (acquired from Los Angeles) to Philadelphia for defenseman Kjell Samuelsson, right wing Rick Tocchet, goaltender Ken Wregget and a conditional third round choice the 1993 Entry Draft.
Parting with Recchi was tough, but the return was even greater. Blessed with the wingspan of a jumbo jet, Samuelsson made life miserable for opposing forwards. Wregget was a solid backup goalie who proved to be worth his weight in gold. But the key to the deal was Tocchet, the rough-hewn warrior winger who willed the Penguins to their second Stanley Cup.

3. March 4, 2009—Third round choice in the 2009 Entry Draft to the New York Islanders for right wing Bill Guerin.
A Ray Shero gem. Guerin, a former NHL All-Star and Stanley Cup winner with New Jersey, was languishing with the last-place Islanders at the time of the trade. Reborn in Pittsburgh, the 38-year-old winger supplied much-needed scoring, leadership and toughness while sparking the Penguins to a third Stanley Cup.

4. February 26, 2008—Right wing Colby Armstrong, centers Erik Christensen and Angelo Esposito and a first round choice the 2008 Entry Draft to Atlanta for left wing Pascal Dupuis and right wing Marian Hossa.
In only his second year at the helm, Shero pulled off a blockbuster of epic proportions. One of the premier right wings in hockey, Hossa blended with superstar Sidney Crosby like peas and carrots while pacing the Penguins with 12 postseason goals. Dupuis emerged as a speedy, reliable foot soldier who provided diligent two-way play and secondary scoring.

5. February 26, 2008—Second round choice in the 2008 Entry Draft and a fifth round choice in the 2009 Entry Draft to Toronto for defenseman Hal Gill.
On the heels of the Hossa deal, Shero acquired the mammoth Gill from Toronto for a pair of draft picks. An underrated cog in the Penguins’ machine, Gill paired with incumbent Rob Scuderi to form a shutdown defensive tandem during the team’s march to the 2009 Stanley Cup.

Honorable mention
February 26, 2009—Defenseman Ryan Whitney to Anaheim for left wings Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi.
Displaying the brass of a riverboat gambler, Shero exchanged the talented but enigmatic Whitney for a scoring winger (Kunitz) and a prospect (Tangradi). Slotted alongside Crosby, Kunitz provided the hustle, inspiration, and jam that had been missing from the Penguins’ mix. Although he struggled to find the net in the postseason, “Kuny” was an underrated contributor during the 2009 Cup run.

February 21, 2011—Defenseman Alex Goligoski to Dallas for defenseman Matt Niskanen and left wing James Neal.
Shero acquired promising power forward Neal and undervalued defenseman Niskanen for Goligoski in a classic “two-fer” trade. Although the former Stars struggled mightily upon their arrival, each emerged as a major contributor for the Pens in 2011-12—Neal with his big-time scoring and Niskanen with his surprisingly solid defensive play.

1. March 20, 1996—Left wing Markus Naslund to Vancouver for right wing Alek Stojanov.
Perhaps the most lopsided one-for-one trade in hockey history. A productive power forward in junior hockey, Stojanov proved to be no more than a fourth-line mucker. Naslund blossomed into a perennial all-star and team captain in Vancouver while racking up 395 career goals. An assist (or a raspberry) goes to coach Eddie Johnston, who had soured on Naslund.

2. March 8, 1997—Right wing Glen Murray to Los Angeles for center Ed Olczyk.
Patrick swapped an up-and-comer for a fading former star. While Olczyk was extremely popular with his new teammates his production declined—especially after the arrival of defense-first coach Kevin Constantine. Murray struggled during his two seasons with the Pens, but found new life on the west coast. The big winger would bang home 283 goals after leaving Pittsburgh.

3. April 7, 1995—Center Martin Straka to Ottawa for defenseman Norm Maciver and center Troy Murray.
A former Selke Trophy winner and 40-goal scorer, Murray was prized for his two-way play and leadership. However, the veteran center was well past his prime and faltered badly in the ‘Burgh. Maciver, a mobile little defenseman, skated 45 games for the Pens before he too, was traded. Patrick softened the blow by signing Straka to a free-agent deal in 1997.

4. February 10, 2003—Right wing Alexei Kovalev, left wing Dan LaCouture and defensemen Janne Laukannen and Mike Wilson to the New York Rangers for defensemen Joel Bouchard and Richard Lintner and right wings Rico Fata and Mikael Samuelsson.
Patrick dumped a superstar (and his salary) and got next to nothing in return. Of the grab-bag collection of players he received for Kovalev, only the speedy Fata experienced any success with the Penguins. Samuelsson would develop into a solid player, albeit with Detroit. Bouchard and Lintner were gone by the start of the 2003-04 season.

5. March 2, 2010—Left wing Luca Caputi and defenseman Martin Skoula to Toronto for left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky.
What looked like a steal at the time turned into a rare Shero clunker. The hulking Ponikarovsky—a perennial 20-goal scorer with Toronto—fizzled in Pittsburgh while displaying little chemistry with Evgeni Malkin. Fortunately, Caputi turned out to be a bust as well, netting just one goal in 26 games for the Maple Leafs.

Dishonorable mention
March 4, 1972—Right wing Rene Robert to Buffalo for left wing Eddie Shack.
At the behest of coach Red Kelly, Jack Riley sent promising young forward Rene Robert to Buffalo for Kelly’s old friend and teammate, Eddie Shack. While “The Entertainer” provided a spark during his season and change in Pittsburgh, he was nearing the end of the line. Robert would shine in Buffalo as a member of the deadly “French Connection Line.”

*Be sure to check out Rick’s new book, “100 Things Penguins Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die” at TriumphBooks.com. It features 296 pages of bios, stories, anecdotes and photos from the team’s colorful past in a compelling, easy-to-read style. Whether you’re a die-hard booster from the days of Jean Pronovost or a big fan of Sid and Geno, this book is a must have for any true Penguins fan.

Don’t forget to check out Rick’s first book, “Total Penguins,” at TriumphBooks.com. A complete and comprehensive book on the team’s rich and storied history, it’s filled with season-by-season summaries, player profiles and stats, bios on coaches, general managers and owners, photos from the “Post-Gazette” archives, and much, much more.

*Be sure to check out Rick Buker’s books,
available at TriumphBooks.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com

Shop.NHL.com Outlet


  1. February 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick, just wanted to let you know, you accidentally put the Mark Recchi trade under Doozie when it was the #1 DUD easily (you probably saw this coming)

    Here are a few facts for you. In 1991 the Penguins had a dynasty in the making. They had 6 of the NHL’s top 15 scorers ever on their roster. Five of which were in their prime. The only team to ever come close to that was the Edmonton Oilers who won four cups in 6 years with 3 of the top 15 players ever.

    Mark Recchi was fresh off leading the Penguins in scoring and without Recchi the Penguins wouldn’t have even made the playoffs yet alone their first cup, he also was second in scoring in the playoffs for the Penguins. At trade deadline the next season Patrick trades away two of the best players in NHL history in their prime (Paul Coffee and Mark Recchi) for a forward that couldn’t skate, a defenseman that was a worse skater and a backup goalie.

    The Penguins went on and won the cup that year, yes, which they would have done anyway. In selling their dynasty, they only won 6 playoff series in the 7 years that followed that. Let me say that again in capital letters, THE PENGUINS ONLY WON 6 TOTAL PLAYOFF SERIES IN THE SEVEN YEARS AFTER THE SECOND CUP and this is the reason (given by the Penguins) the Penguins were not able to meet payroll and we almost lost the Penguins to another city because of bankrupsy.

    Rick Tocchet was traded at the end of the next season when it was discovered the slow plodding winger was useless without Lemieux. Only playing 2 1/4 seasons with the Penguins.

    The Penguins did Ken Wreggett did do a fine job as BACKUP goaltender.

    The human pylon Kjell Samuelsson was pretty much booed out of Pittsburgh a year after Tocchet and went back to Philly.

    At the same time Recchi and Coffee were putting up incredible numbers. Recchi finished 5 times in the top five scoring in the NHL, 8 times in the top ten. So all things considered, trading away a Dynasty ranks as the number one DUD in Pittsburgh Penguins history.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      February 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Phil, I saw this one coming (I was ducking for cover as soon as I posted the article … 🙂

      Obviously, we’ll agree to disagree on this one. At the time of the trade, the Pens were in a complete funk (something like 4-11-2) and were in serious danger of sliding out of a playoff spot. As much of an offensive force as Coffey was (he was brilliant with the puck), he was … to be kind … weak defensively, a fact that didn’t escape coach Scotty Bowman.

      Recchi was a terrific offensive player (70 points in 58 games, I believe) but was something like a minus-15 (I’m at work and so I don’t have the exact numbers).

      The bottom line is, the mix the Penguins had wasn’t working. They had too many of the same type of players. Both the Rangers and Capitals were mauling the Pens in head-to-head competition.

      Patrick (correctly) deduced that the Pens needed more fire and toughness. (Don’t forget the Pens had an emerging Jaromir Jagr behind Recchi.) They got it in spades with Tocchet, who was a consistent 30-40 goal man at that stage of his career, not to mention a darn tough fighter. And while Samuelsson would never make anyone forget Coffey, he was a very effective defensive d-man (much better plus/minus than “Coff” during their Pens career).

      Don’t forget. Even though Tocchet’s Penguin career was relatively brief (he had back problems in 1993-94) Patrick parlayed him into Luc Robitaille (who was traded for Petr Nedved). These guys were at least as productive as Recchi during that span.

      Don’t get me wrong. I loved Recchs and was thrilled when the Pens got him back. But without this trade, the Pens don’t win a second Cup.

      Okay, I’m done … 🙂 I’m waiting for the Neal/Niskanen for Goligoski shoe to drop … 🙂

    • February 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Tell me how you really feel about this…

    • PJ's Gravatar PJ
      March 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      To Krundle,
      I have re-read your response to Bukers article several times. Rick backs up each one of the trades he lists with facts. Your response is a mixture of some facts and some opinion…E.G. “they would have won the second cup anyway”. The fact is they did win the second cup and aquiring Rick Tocchet was a HUGE reason why.

      • March 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

        Sorry PJ all the facts I can respond with is that Patrick dismantled a Stanley Cup winning team, traded away two of the best players in NHL history for 3 losers and the Penguins went on and only won 6 playoff series in 7 years after the cup and almost went bankrupt and lost the team to another city. You are correct that I cannot produce the facts that they won another cup that is just an extremely educated guess. Please tell me which player you would rather have lead the team when Mario Lemieux had Hodgkin lymphoma, Tocchet or Recchi? Recchi already lead the team to glory, Tocchet was already proven useless and that is a fact.

        • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
          March 2, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

          Wow, Phil. I absolutely don’t agree with your labeling Tocchet “useless.” Yes, he had a down year (14 goals in 51 games) for the Pens in 1993-94 (this was on the heels of a 48-goal season in 1992-93). Remember, he played through a back injury that year. But in the five seasons after he left the ‘Burgh he averaged 24 goals, 47 points, and 62 games a year (not to mention 131 PIM). I’d hardly call that useless.

          Now let’s look at Recchi’s numbers during that span. From 1994-95 through 1998-99 Recchs averaged 25 goals, 66 points, and 71 games a season. Give Recchi the edge in overall production and durability, and Tocchet the nod for toughness. But “Toc” actually had a higher goals-per-game average (.388) than Recchi (.348).

          FYI, Tocchet also had a higher goals-per-game average for his career (.384 to .349). Recchs had the advantage in points-per-game (.928 to .832). To me they both were terrific heart-and-soul players who were huge contributors to the Pens’ first two Cup wins.

          • March 2, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

            Oh boy, fun with stats 🙂 What Tocchet did before the trade does not have anything to do with the value of the trade. If that was the case, a trade of Crosby even up for Teemu Selanne right now would be considered good. Mark Recchi had 436 points in the five seasons after the trade. Rick Tocchet had 284.

            Recchi 171 goals Tocchet 130. In that sense Mark Recchi had almost as many points in those five years than Tocchet had the rest of his career. 436 for Recchi in 5 years 458 for Tocchet the entire rest of his career.

            To make that stat even better Recchi went on and scored 1370 points after being traded. Recchi scored more points after being traded than Guy Lafleur, Denis Savard, Jean Beliveau, Teemu Selanne and many other great players scored their entire careers.

            Just the points Recchi scored after being traded would rank him 22 highest scorer in NHL history.

            Tocchet was useless because without Lemieux he was worthless. Which showed in his 40 points in 51 games -15 the year Lemieux was out.

      • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
        March 1, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for backing me up, PJ. But the reason I push back so hard with Phil (and have to dig up so many stats) is that he always makes a lot of good points to the contrary. I just don’t want to look silly … 🙂

        • March 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          Rick, I have some big debates in the comments with PJ over the years. You have me looking up stats now so I don’t look silly also. There is nothing like a good hockey debate with knowledgeable hockey people.

  2. Disco Stu's Gravatar Disco Stu
    February 29, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Broke my heart when they traded Rene Robert to Buffalo. Was never a fan of the trade that sent Greg Polis to St. Louis for Steve Durbano and Ab DeMarco either.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      February 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      I was just starting to follow the Pens when they made the Robert-Shack trade. But the Polis-“Bugsy” Watson for “Battleship” Kelly, Durbano and DeMarco deal is one of my all-time favorites (it happened in January … too early to be considered a deadline trade).

      • Disco Stu's Gravatar Disco Stu
        February 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        I looked at it like the trade of a skilled player like Polis, which broke up the Bi-Centennial line for goons like Kelly(Although always loved hearing Anchors Aweigh when he hit the ice) started the Penguins on their downward spiral from a decent team in the early 70’s to the joke that they were until about ’79/80


Follow PenguinPoop

Shop.NHL.com Outlet

PenguinPoop Unique Visitors