This is typically the time of year where trade activity picks up around the league with the trade deadline immediately on the horizon. Of course, this season is different and we’re still six weeks away from reaching that point. So instead of looking ahead to what will be coming on the trade front, let’s instead take a look back at one of the busiest trade deadlines in recent memory in the 2008 trade deadline, held 13 years ago today.
There were a total of 24 trades made that day which, in itself, isn’t a particularly high number. However, it’s who was dealt that made this one more memorable. Here’s a look back at some of the more notable moves. (A full listing of the trades can be found here.)
Capitals Add Veterans
Where did Sergei Fedorov finish his Hall of Fame career? While he was in Detroit for the majority of it, he actually finished up with Washington as the Caps acquired the center as a rental player in exchange for defenseman Theo Ruth, a college prospect at the time that ultimately never made it past the AHL level. Fedorov made an impact down the stretch and was one of their better performers in what turned out to be an abbreviated playoff run, earning himself another year with the Capitals in the process.
Washington also took the rare step of acquiring a starting goaltender, bringing in Cristobal Huet from Montreal for a second-round pick (which was later dealt and was used to pick Jeremy Morin who had a brief NHL career). Huet was blocking the pathway to playing time for their goalie of the future in Carey Price and he was nothing short of dominant after being acquired, posting a 1.63 GAA with a .936 SV% following the move. Unfortunately for him and the Capitals, he faltered in the playoffs as Philadelphia knocked out the Southeast champs in the opening round and Huet moved on to Chicago in free agency. What made this trade even more unique was that the Canadiens weren’t a typical seller as they wound up the number one seed in the Eastern Conference that year.
Foote Returns To Colorado
The Adam Foote era in Columbus didn’t last particularly long. Less than three years after leaving the Avalanche via free agency, Colorado opted to re-acquire him as a rental player, sending a first-round pick and a fourth-rounder to the Blue Jackets to bring back the then-36-year-old. Foote logged more than 20 minutes a night both in the regular season and playoffs and went on to sign to play three more years with them, albeit in a much more limited capacity. Meanwhile, the two picks the Avs gave up turned into Luca Sbisa and David Savard, both of which are still in the NHL today with Savard still being in Columbus where he’s a fixture in their top-four.
The Hossa Trade
The big prize on the rental market was Marian Hossa. Atlanta was going to move him, it was just a matter of where and for how much. Pittsburgh wound up being the destination as they acquired Hossa along with Pascal Dupuis in exchange for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, the rights to Angelo Esposito, and their first-round pick. At the time, this seemed like a sizable return for the Thrashers, effectively acquiring three first-rounders (Armstrong and Esposito were picked in the first round) plus a promising center for a pair of rentals.
But things didn’t go as well as planned for Atlanta. Christensen struggled and was eventually moved for a minimal return while Armstrong left in free agency two years later. Esposito, a high-scoring junior star, struggled mightily in the minors and never made it to the NHL while they used the first-round pick on Daultan Leveille, a player they didn’t even wind up signing, opting instead for a compensation selection in 2013 at the 59th spot which was used on Eric Comrie who has been bouncing around on waivers in recent years. What was supposed to be a haul of assets to give the Thrashers a boost for the future turned into next to nothing.
On Pittsburgh’s end, Hossa didn’t quite lead them to the Stanley Cup but he led the team in goals in the postseason and was one goal and point shy of grabbing a share of the league lead in those categories. Of course, he then moved on to Detroit in free agency, the team that beat them for the title. As for Dupuis, he decided to stay with the Penguins and spent eight more years with them, becoming a fixture in their middle-six. In the end, even with Hossa ultimately leaving, they still wound up with the better of the trade.
Richards To Dallas
This wasn’t a deadline where just premium rental players were on the move. How about someone on a max contract? Back when the salary cap was instituted, the 20% max AAV was $7.8MM which a handful of players had, including Brad Richards. With three full years left on his contract, the Lightning decided to part ways with Richards along with goaltender Johan Holmqvist to the Stars for winger Jussi Jokinen, center Jeff Halpern, goaltender Mike Smith, and a fourth-round pick (Kyle Bigos who never signed).
In Richards, Dallas got a premier center that, statistically speaking, was at his best with them as he averaged more than a point per game over parts of four seasons with the team before moving on to the Rangers in free agency. Holmqvist hardly played but Marty Turco was entrenched as the starter so it didn’t matter much.
Tampa Bay was hoping that Smith could become their starter of the future but while he played relatively well – albeit inconsistent at times – it didn’t come to fruition and he left for Phoenix in 2011. Jokinen was gone less than a year later for a package of depth players while Halpern moved on two years later in another late-season trade. While it wasn’t the most impressive of returns, the Lightning did manage to get some much-needed cap space; yes, even then they were looking for more money. Most of their savings went to Vincent Lecavalier’s 11-year, $85MM contract that summer.
Every good trade deadline needs a ‘pure hockey trade’, one that isn’t primarily fueled by a losing team selling assets or a cap-strapped team moving a player primarily to free up some cap space. There was one of those at this deadline when Carolina dealt winger Andrew Ladd to Chicago for winger Tuomo Ruutu in a one-for-one swap. Both teams were playoff-bound but the Hurricanes wanted a bit more grit and sacrificed some offensive upside to do it.
The deal worked out a bit better for Carolina with Ruutu ultimately spending parts of five more years with them, putting up a pair of 50-plus-point seasons along the way. Ladd, meanwhile, was only with the Blackhawks before being moved to Atlanta in 2010 when they knew they weren’t going to be able to afford to re-sign him as a restricted free agent. He briefly returned as a trade deadline rental in 2016 before becoming a member of the ill-fated UFA class that summer that several teams are really regretting right about now.
Campbell To San Jose
The Sharks decided to make a run at a long playoff run when they acquired blueliner Brian Campbell (along with a seventh-rounder) from Buffalo in exchange for promising winger Steve Bernier and a first-round pick (used on Tyler Ennis who is still in the league today). Campbell was great in a San Jose uniform, picking up 19 points in 20 games following the move although he managed just a single goal in 13 playoff games before leaving for Chicago in free agency. As for Bernier, he wasn’t in Buffalo for long as he was flipped to Vancouver for a 2009 third-round pick (which turned into Brayden McNabb) and a 2010 second-round selection which they then later traded.
Other veterans of some note that were on the move that day were defensemen Brad Stuart (Detroit), Ruslan Salei (Colorado), and Hal Gill (Pittsburgh) while Matt Cooke (Washington) and Frederik Sjostrom (NY Rangers) were among the forwards moved.
No one really knows what this year’s trade deadline is going to be like with it being a shortened season with only divisional play, a tight salary cap, and various quarantine restrictions. It’s safe to imagine it won’t be quite as busy as the 2008 deadline was but if it comes anywhere close to this, it would certainly make for an exciting one.