(Puck Daddy presents its annual look back at the year in hockey. Check back every day through the New Year for our many lists and hot takes.)
Players come and go; it’s part of the business of hockey.
In 2014, the business just so happened to include many star-studded trades. Some of the reasons for the trades were pretty clear cut (i.e. get me the hell out of [location]), and others not so much.
Now we look back at the famous faces that changed places. Enjoy!
10. June 29, 2014: Sam Gagner dealt twice in same day
Remember that one time in 2012 when Sam Gagner had an eight point game for the Edmonton Oilers, and no one thought he’d leave the organization ever? Then he was signed to a four-year contract extension before the 2013-2014 season? Well that love-fest had run its course after just one season on the books. Gagner was initially dealt by the Oilers to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Teddy Purcell. It looked like a good fit for Gagner, but Lightning GM Steve Yzerman decided to flip Gagner (plus B.J. Crombeen) a mere 90-minutes later to Arizona for a 2015 sixth-round pick. Gagner barely had time to react to the news of the first first trade before learning of the other.
9. June 27, 2014: Ryan Kesler gets his wish – to leave Vancouver.
Pretty much anyone who follows hockey saw this trade coming. We all knew Kesler wanted out of Vancouver, it was just a matter of when and to whom would the center go. After a couple false starts, it appeared the Blackhawks and the Ducks were the final two bidders with Anaheim coming out on top. In the other direction, the Ducks sent draft picks, marginal defenseman Luca Sbisa, and breakout player Nick Bonino. Kesler gives the Ducks the ‘one-two punch’ down the middle, and as the team is beset by injuries/mumps, he’s filling in with needed offense adding 26 points in 34 games.
8. March 4, 2014: Anaheim trades Dustin Penner to Washington Capitals for 2014 fourth-round pick
In the off-season, Dustin Penner signed an one-year, $2-million UFA contract in order to return to his former team, the Anaheim Ducks. Penner was reunited with besties Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, and thus stopping the revolving door of left wingers Anaheim attempted to play with the two. In 46 games with the Ducks, Penner had 32-points (13 goals, 19 assists). Not too shabby. That’s why it was a shock to most that he was sent packing to Washington. Ducks GM Bob Murray said it was for ‘cap room’, Boudreau didn’t seem to care too much for his effort, and Penner called the move ‘cold’. As expected, the affable forward responded to the trade via Twitter in the way only Dustin Penner can:
.@BarackObama hey i know this is last minute & I hate asking on such short notice but can I crash for a few days? I’m great with kids
— Dustin Penner (@Dustinpenner25) March 4, 2014
7. July 1, 2014: Dallas ropes Jason Spezza
Like Kesler above, it was pretty clear that Jason Spezza wanted out of Ottawa. Part of the difficulties in trading Spezza was getting someone to take $7-million cap hit, and gamble on if he would re-sign with whatever team he landed on. In walks a Dallas franchise that was on an upswing after a surprisingly successful first full season of head coach Lindy Ruff, the leadership of GM Jim Nill, and the explosion of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Spezza came to Dallas, and just a month into the regular season, he signed a new deal with the Stars for four years, $30-million.
6. June 23, 2014: Scott Hartnell sent packing from Philadelphia to Columbus for R.J. Umberger
Scott Hartnell was the quintessential Philadelphia Flyer. He was an annoying, repugnant, smart-ass who reveled in the bad boy persona of Broad St. Despite a lousy lockout shortened season, Hartnell earned himself a six year, $28.5-million contract extension. In the first year of the deal, he notched 52 points in 78 regular season games played. It wasn’t enough to keep him on head coach Craig Berube’s good side; at least, that’s who Hartnell believed played a role in his trade.
5. March 5, 2014: Dean Lombardi steals Marian Gaborik from Columbus
If the Blue Jackets haven’t figured it out yet, let’s help them out: stop trading with the Kings. When Columbus does deal with the devil Dean Lombardi, they always end up giving up a lot and receiving very little in return (Jeff Carter, anyone?). Columbus was aiming to get rid of the forward and they found the bidder in LA, who sent for Matt Frattin (who has since gone to Toronto) and draft picks the other direction. Gaborik ended up bolstering a sometimes stagnant Kings offense all the way to the team’s second Cup. He was rewarded by LA in the off-season with a new seven year, $34.125-million contract.
4. June 27, 2014: James Neal traded to Nashville from Pittsburgh
Even the winger himself admits he was ‘blindsided’ by the trade that sent him to Nashville in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. While in Pittsburgh, He was designated as Evgeni Malkin’s wingman and the partnership was a success with Neal scoring 61-points in 59 regular season games. He looked to be one of several pieces to fall in the franchise’s multiple changes after another disappointing run in the playoffs. His time with the Penguins was not without controversy and that likely played into why he was moved. As Wysh notes after the trade, “Neal was a divisive player, with multiple suspensions and some scuttlebutt about difficulties in the Penguins locker room.”
3. March 4, 2014: Vancouver unloads most of Roberto Luongo’s contract on Florida.
Saddled with a gigantic contract that doesn’t expire until 2022, it seemed highly unlikely that the Canucks were going to be able to find a suitor for the oft-maligned netminder (who had a no-trade clause). In walks the Florida Panthers, the team Luongo came from (and Todd Bertuzzi was sent the other way) in 2006. Bobby Lu maintained ties to the Florida area and was happy to go back. Vancouver retains $800,000 of Luongo’s salary for the remaining life of the contract.
2. February 28, 2014: Ryan Miller comes to St. Louis from Buffalo
Right when this trade happened, the hockey world started collectively assuming Miller was the missing piece that St. Louis had been looking for all along. Yeah…you know what the old saying is about ‘assuming’, right? In the regular season, Miller went 10-8-1 with a 2.47 goals-against and .903 save-percentage. Not terrible. The Blues expected Miller to come through in the playoffs, and well, he didn’t. He won the first two games of the series and then proceeded to drop four straight against Chicago. All that remains in St. Louis from this trade is Steve Ott, who came over with Miller. Miller left in the off-season via free agency for Vancouver.
1. March 5, 2014: Martin St. Louis traded to Rangers for Ryan Callahan
Prior to the trade, Martin St. Louis was considered to be a player with a sterling reputation; he stuck around Tampa Bay when he definitely could have gone elsewhere for more money. That’s why it was so surprising to hear that he asked for a trade after being initially snubbed from the Canadian Olympic team, a roster that was overseen by his boss in Tampa, Steve Yzerman. The captain-for-captain swap appears to have benefited both teams. With St. Louis, the Rangers went all the way to the Stanley Cup final. Callahan enjoyed his time with the Bolts so much he signed a six-year, $34.8-million contract.