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Startling:
The Canucks made their first two trades on June 10, 1970, picking up John Arbour and Andre Boudrias for cash.

Let's Make a Deal

This article was written ten years ago. Although the historical information remains accurate, there have been recent developments that are not included here.

Since joining the NHL in 1970, the Canucks have made hundreds of deals (trades, drafts, free agent signings, waivers). The most dramatic deals are the trades. Players switch teams as General Managers try to find that hidden gem that will make their team better while pawning off their flotsam to unsuspecting competitors. Here are some of the best (and worst) deals the NHL Vancouver Canucks have ever made (in chronological order).


Best Deals

June 10, 1970: The Canucks get Andre Boudrias for a song.
Okay, so it was a song worth $30,000 and a couple of late round draft picks. Still, Boudrias went on to be the Canucks' leading scorer in four of the team's first five seasons and later served as Canuck captain. He finished his career in Vancouver having recorded 388 points in 458 games and is still among the top ten all-time Canuck scorers.

October 6, 1980: Goaltender stolen from Islanders
What did it take to get one of the best goaltenders in Canuck history? An exchange of fifth round draft picks. Not a fifth round draft pick, an exchange of fifth round draft picks. Instead of drafting 105th in 1981, the Islanders received the 94th overall pick. Richard Brodeur was obtained as a backup to "the franchise" Glen Hanlon, but when Hanlon was injured early in the 1980-81 season, Brodeur took over the number one role. He remained the number one netminder for six seasons.

September 10, 1987: A two for one deal
When Pat Quinn took over as general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, the team did not have many assets (I said assets). In one of his first trades, Quinn sent Patrick Sundstrom to New Jersey for Greg Adams and a minor league goaltender named Kirk McLean (there were a few draft picks thrown in just to make it more confusing). Sundstrom actually went on to have a good career in New Jersey, playing just over four more seasons. However that was only half the time Greg Adams spent in Vancouver. In addition, Kirk McLean turned out to be the best netminder in team history. McLean played over 500 games, recorded over 200 wins, 20 shutouts (plus 6 in the playoffs) and was named to the second NHL All-Star team in 1991-92.

September 6, 1988: A gift from the Flames
In the late 1980's, Calgary and Edmonton were two of the league's powerhouse teams. The Flames decided to share some of their wealth with the Canucks. The theory was that if the Canucks were a better team, they might be able to beat the Oilers now and again, which would be good news for Calgary. So the Calgary Flames gave Paul Reinhart and Steve Bozek to the Canucks for a third round draft pick. The plan worked beautifully. The season before, the Canucks did not register a win against the Oilers. In 1988-89, the Canucks took five of eight games between the two clubs. The plan, however, almost worked too well for the Flames. The Canucks made the playoffs and forced the Flames to overtime of game seven before finally bowing out to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions. Guess who scored two of the three Canuck game winning goals: Paul Reinhart.

March 6, 1990: The Habs make a mistake (part I)
Pat Quinn always had a touch for making deals at the trade deadline. As part of his wheeling and dealing this day, he picked up Jyrki Lumme from Montreal for a second round draft pick. The Habs used that pick to select Craig Darby who played a whopping ten games for Montreal. In return, the Canucks received one of the best defensemen in their history. Lumme stayed in Vancouver for nine seasons, recording 321 career points.

January 12, 1991: The Habs make a mistake (part II)
If Jyrki Lumme was worth a second round draft pick, what was Gerald Diduck worth? A fourth round draft pick. Diduck played five seasons patrolling the Vancouver blueline, recording 72 points in 265 games. The player Montreal picked (Vladimir Vujtek) played an amazing two games with the Canadiens before moving on.

January 31, 1991: Pat Quinn hires a new coach
Okay, so this isn't a trade. But it was still a big deal. When Pat Quinn fired Bob McCammon and placed himself behind the bench, the Canucks had just one win in their last ten games. In Pat Quinn's first game, the Canucks lost 9-1 in Los Angeles. However, by the end of the season, Quinn's team had made the playoffs (barely) and his coaching record was 9-13-4. The following season, the Canucks earned 96 points and Quinn won the NHL's coach of the year award. In 1992-93, Quinn guided his charges to a 101 point season and we all remember what happened in the spring of 1994. Whatever you think of Pat Quinn the general manager, Pat Quinn the coach was the one of the most successful in team history.

March 5, 1991: The Blues Brothers arrive
As the Canucks entered the 1990-91 playoff turtle derby, they knew they needed some help to make the playoffs. The Canucks sent Dan Quinn and Garth Butcher to St. Louis for Geoff Courtnall, Robert Dirk, Sergio Momesso and Cliff Ronning. Quinn spent 14 games in St. Louis before kicking around with several teams. Butcher stayed three seasons in St. Louis, racking up 634 penalty minutes. In return, the Canucks received four quality players who all played over 200 games for the Canucks. Not surprisingly, the Canucks made the playoffs in 1991 and the five seasons after that.

October 1, 1992: A backup for Kirk
Sometimes it's unwise to give up on a goaltender-of-the-future. This was not one of those times. The Canucks sent prospect netminder Corrie D'Allesio to Hartford for Kay Whitmore. Whitmore played 74 games in a backup role over three seasons. He posted an impressive record of 36-28-6 and recorded one shutout. D'Allesio managed to play one NHL game after leaving the Canucks.

January 15, 1994: A valuable waiver pickup
Martin Gelinas was one of those players whose potential did not match his production. His career had fizzled with the Oilers and the Nordiques and he was destined for the minor leagues when the Canucks snatched him up. He started living up to his potential, working hard every night and twice being named unsung hero. In his fourth season with Vancouver, he led the team in goals with 35 and was named the most valuable player. Overall he recorded 171 points in 258 games before being traded away.

March 20, 1996: Toughness for scoring touch
Pat Quinn's fatal flaw was his belief that the NHL was moving away from rock-em, sock-em hockey towards a skating and finesse game. Still, he did pick up some talented players. One of these was Markus Naslund, whom the Canucks obtained from Pittsburgh for Alek Stojanov. Naslund has blossomed into one of the NHL's best offensive players. Stojanov played 45 games with the Penguins and has been in the minors since.

November 13, 1996: The Habs make a mistake (part III)
Perhaps in part to replace Alek Stojanov, the Canucks obtained the services of Donald Brashear for defenseman Jassen Cullimore. Brashear spent six seasons in Vancouver, accumulating over 1100 minutes in penalties. Jassen Cullimore spent 52 games in Montreal before moving to the Tampa Bay organization.


Worst Deals

February 18, 1980: The good go young
The Canucks have made a habit of trading away their first round draft picks. In this deal they traded away two at once. Rick Vaive went on to eight great seasons with the Maple Leafs and had three 50+ goal seasons. Bill Derlago spent five years in Toronto, although he wasn't as successful as Vaive. In exchange for Derlago and Vaive, the Canucks received Tiger Williams and Gerry Butler. Williams was a welcome addition to a Canuck team lacking in leadership, but he could never put up the point totals of Derlago or Vaive (let alone both of them). Butler was a defensive forward who was sent to the minors in his second season with Vancouver.

January 15, 1983: Not quite over the hill (part I)
When the Canucks shipped Ivan Boldirev off to Detroit for Mark Kirton, most people assumed the 33 year old player was close to retirement. Boldirev, however, recorded his highest career point total the following season for Detroit (83 points) and spent another full season with the Red Wings. Kirton never caught on with the Canucks, spending most of his time with the Fredericton Express.

May 18, 1984: Sorry, wrong number
When 33 year old Bill LaForge was hired as coach of the Vancouver Canucks, he was younger than some of the players on the team. LaForge had an impressive resume, but had no experience with NHL players. Still he stated that the Canucks would win 50 games in 1984-85, because, after all, losing 30 games was quite a lot. By the time training camp ended, players were in near revolt to Bill LaForge's amateur antics. He survived 20 games as coach, posting a record of 4-14-2 before being fired. At that rate, it would have taken over three full seasons to register 50 wins.

June 21, 1984: Not quite over the hill (part II)
Harold Snepsts was, and still is, one of the most popular players ever to wear a Canuck uniform (and he wore more different uniforms than anyone else). When he was traded away in 1984, Canuck management must have assumed he was nearing the end of his career. The Canucks received veteran Al MacAdam who played one full season for the Canucks. Snepsts, on the other hand, played a full season in Minnesota, three more with Detroit, two more with Vancouver and then was traded again (to St. Louis this time).

August 8, 1984: Something for nothing
Tiger Williams was the next veteran player to be exiled from the Canucks. He was sent to Detroit for Rob McClanahan, a veteran of the 1980 Gold Medal winning Olympic team. I have no idea what happened to him, but he never made the Canucks and never played professional hockey again (perhaps he was unimpressed by Bill LaForge's promise of 50 wins). Williams played a season in Detroit, before being sent to Los Angeles (where he could play against the Canucks on a regular basis) and finished his career in Hartford.

June 6, 1986: Buyer beware
When the Canucks traded Cam Neely and a first round draft pick to Boston, they received Barry Pederson in return. On paper it didn't look like such a bad deal. After all, Pederson had recorded two 100+ point seasons for the Bruins and the Canucks desperately needed offensive punch. In the first couple of seasons after the deal, both players averaged about a point a game, but it was the later years that made this such a bad deal. Pederson was traded away after three seasons in Vancouver, while Cam Neely spent ten seasons in Boston. During those ten seasons, Neely had three 50+ goal seasons and was named to the second all-star team four times. Oh, by the way, did I mention that the Bruins also got our first round draft pick. They used it to select Glen Wesley who spent seven seasons on the Boston blueline.

March 22, 1993: One for the price of two
When the Canucks traded Robert Kron to Hartford for Murray Craven, the deal didn't look so bad. Unfortunately, the Canucks also sent Jim Sandlak to the Whalers after the season as "future considerations". Craven played a full season in Vancouver, while Sandlak spent two seasons in Hartford before coming back to Vancouver. Meanwhile, Robert Kron had a productive career in Hartford, Carolina and now Columbus.

July 8, 1995: Unwelcome reunion
When the Canucks announced the blockbuster deal of the 1995 Entry Draft, it seemed like a pretty good idea at the time. After all, the Canucks would now have both Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny on the same team. Unfortunately, no one noticed that both players were right wingers and wouldn't work together well. Mogilny has been a good player for the Canucks over the past five seasons, but nowhere near the player he was in Buffalo (well, except, perhaps, the moody side). In exchange for Mogilny, the Canucks gave up Mike Peca, Mike Wilson and (you think we would have learned by now) a first round draft pick. Peca has become the leader of the Sabres, playing over 300 games and recording over 200 points. Wilson spent over three seasons with the Sabres before moving on while Jay McKee (the player Buffalo picked with our draft pick) is now playing regularly in the NHL (with Buffalo).

July 28, 1997: What a mess
When the Canucks introduced Mark Messier to the Vancouver media, they presented him with a number 11 jersey, despite the fact that the number had been retired by the team 25 years earlier. No one from the team had even bothered to contact the family of Wayne Maki (whose number had been retired) before the press conference. Perhaps this was an omen of things to come. Messier was supposed to be the missing piece of the puzzle that would push the Canucks to the next level. Early in the 1997-98 season, it became clear that the team was divided as some players were waiting for the six million dollar man to lead them to victory. Instead the general manager was fired in the midst of a team record ten game losing streak and the coach was fired soon after. Long time Canucks Trevor Linden, Martin Gelinas, Kirk McLean, Mike Sillinger, Gino Odjick, and Dave Babych were traded. The team missed the playoffs that season and each season since. What has Messier done since joining the Canucks? His career point total as a Canuck is near such notable players as Gary Lupul, John Gould and Moe Lemay. All that production for the low, low price of just $18,000,000.00!

January 3, 1998: There goes the neighbourhood
When Mike Keenan joined the Canuck organization, it was clear the housecleaning was about to begin. It didn't take "Iron" Mike long to start the purge. His first deal involved sending the most valuable player from 1996-97 (Martin Gelinas) and the team's all-time best goaltender (Kirk McLean) to Carolina. In exchange, the Canucks received three players who played a grand total of 38 games for the Canucks before being exiled themselves.

February 2 and March 24, 1998: A two for none deal
As the Canuck purge continued, Keenan made a pair of deals with the Philadelphia Flyers. In the first, he sent Mike Sillinger to the Flyers for a fifth round draft pick. Less than two months later, he sent that draft pick back to Philadelphia along with Dave Babych for a third round draft pick. A veteran and a role player for... Justin Morrison (the player the Canucks chose with that wonderful third round pick).

December 19, 1999: The future is now
This deal will take awhile to evaluate. The Canucks traded their "goalie of the future" plus two other prospects and received a "goalie of the past". When the Canucks sent Kevin Weekes, Bill Muckalt and Dave Scatchard to the New York Islanders for Felix Potvin, it put tremendous pressure on Potvin to regain his form from a few years earlier. Potvin was inconsistent as a Canuck before being sent to Los Angeles where he began showing his game saving form. Weekes has been good for his teams, while Muckalt and Scatchard have been producing offensively. Check back in five years to see how this one turns out.

Content copyright 2001-2010 David Marchak
This page last updated July 27, 2010