Some NHL fans are currently salivating, while others are in sheer disappointment and it all stems from the trade deadline. Some fans are happy their team made a big splash at the deadline. Habs fans are over the moon from acquiring Thomas Vanek. Wild supporters have to be happy about Matt Moulson going to the Twin Cities. The Rangers landed the reigning Art Ross trophy winner Martin St. Louis, although they gave up their captain Ryan Callahan in return. While the Blues didn’t make the deal at the deadline, they acquired Ryan Miller and Steve Ott from Buffalo, with many believing they have their final piece for a Stanley Cup run. Do big trades land teams Stanley Cups? Do Cup teams really find their missing pieces at the trade deadline? In June, do the Stanley Cup champions look back at February/March and say, that’s where we won our Stanley Cup? Let’s take a look back on whether deadline deals bring home championships. Here are the Stanley Cup champions of the last 10 years and what they did at the trade deadline. Was that the answer?
10. 2003 New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils were quiet at the trade deadline 11 years ago. On deadline day they didn’t add any pieces. Their two late moves came the day before the deadline. They added some depth, acquiring defenceman Richard Smehlik for a fourth-round pick and forward Grant Marshall for a conditional draft pick.
Smehlik played only five games in New Jersey’s playoff run. Marshall made a difference, scoring six goals and playing in all 24 games for the Devils that playoff run. He scored the series winner against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round in a triple overtime marathon in Game 5.
Marshall proved to make somewhat of a difference for the Devils, but he was no deadline splash. The Devils simply added some depth near the deadline to an already talented roster with a stingy defence and went on to win their third Stanley Cup in eight seasons.
9. 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning built their 2004 championship team through the draft and some key acquisitions over the course of a few seasons. They traded for goalie Nikolai Khabibulin in 2001 and signed captain Dave Andreychuk. They were a lowly team at the time, but they entered the 2003-04 season primed to be Cup contenders. Their deadline move in 2004 made no headlines, simply adding defenceman Stan Neckar for a draft pick.
He played just two games for the Lightning but it didn’t matter. The team was ready for a Cup run long before the trade deadline and what they did in March didn’t matter. In June the franchise had its first and only Stanley Cup and had no rental players. Only homegrown stars and veterans added in the mix, allowing the team to gel over a few years.
8. 2006 Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes managed to reel in one big fish on deadline day in 2006, acquiring veteran scorer Mark Recchi from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for two prospects.
Recchi proved to be a very key acquisition for the Hurricanes, scoring seven goals and totalling 16 points in Carolina’s playoff run, which culminated in a Game 7 win over the Cinderella-story Edmonton Oilers. The Hurricanes already looked like Cup contenders before acquiring Recchi, but the added scoring and veteran leadership he brought proved to be quite a valuable addition for them.
Perhaps the biggest reason for their success was pulling Martin Gerber in favour of 20-year-old Cam Ward. Had they not, they wouldn’t have gotten past Round 1. While that was perhaps the biggest reason, acquiring Recchi proved to be a great move and he provided just what they were looking for.
7. 2007 Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks were the third straight Stanley Cup winners who were first-time champions. The year before they were ousted in the conference final by the Oilers, but coming into the 2007 season they were expected to be contenders once again and were stronger than ever.
They made their big move in the offseason, acquiring Chris Pronger who had just helped Edmonton to a finals appearance. Paired with Scott Niedermyer and having Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Andy McDonald up front proved to be too much for the rest of the NHL and the Ducks marched to their franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
The Ducks merely added Brad May at the trade deadline who we’ll remember mostly because of Sabres announcer Rick Jeanneret more than anything. The Ducks were Cup contenders long before the deadline and made the right call by not tinkering with their potent lineup late in the season.
6. 2008 Detroit Red Wings
The 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings were a team of seasoned veterans mixed in with stars in their prime such as Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. They were a well balanced team with all the ingredients of a Stanley Cup champion. They proved it that season, as they were the best team from start to finish. They won the President’s Trophy with 115 points in the regular season and beat the up and coming Pittsburgh Penguins in the Cup Final.
The Red Wings were all set for a Cup run. At the trade deadline, they picked up some depth on defence, adding Brad Stuart. He had seven points in Detroit’s playoffs and meshed well with a well oiled machine in Motown. No major moves were needed and the Wings stuck the course to their fourth Cup in 11 years.
5. 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins were the ones who made the big splashes at the 2008 trade deadline, adding Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis and Hal Gill. They watched the Red Wings hoist the cup on their own ice, but would gain redemption in 2009.
The Penguins battled the Red Wings to a clash in Detroit for Game 7, and two goals by Max Talbot with a last-second save by Marc-Andre Fleury brought the Penguins their franchise’s third Stanley Cup and first in the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin era.
That year, the Penguins again made a significant move at the deadline, acquiring Bill Guerin from the New York Islanders. Pairing Guerin with the young phenom Sidney Crosby worked wonders. Guerin had 15 playoff points and helped the Pens exact revenge on Detroit.
4. 2010 Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks’ brass patiently built themselves a Stanley Cup winner, calmly waiting as they stockpiled on young talent via the draft like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Dustin Byfuglien.
By the time the 2009-10 season rolled around, the Blackhawks were primed to win their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. They gained valuable experience in their Western Conference Final loss to Detroit in 2009 and were Cup favourites heading into the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
They added Marian Hossa in free agency, but stood pat come trade deadline. GM Stan Bowman’s faith in his roster paid off and the Blackhawks rolled through the playoffs, knocking off the Canucks and Predators in six-game series before sweeping the top seeded Sharks in the Conference Final. They put the pesky Flyers away in overtime of Game 6 of the Cup Final and began a dominant run as perennial cup contenders.
3. 2011 Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins ending their 39-year drought came from a series of good drafts and swift roster moves from GM Peter Chiarelli. He made no roster moves near the 2011 trade deadline, with his string of acquisitions happening over the course of a few offseasons.
He got a steal in drafting Milan Lucic in the 2nd round of the 2006 draft. He signed Zdeno Chara in 2006. He traded for Mark Recchi in 2009. He traded for Dennis Seidenberg at the 2010 trade deadline. He traded for Nathan Horton in the summer of 2010. All these players played a huge role in the 2011 Bruins hoisting the Stanley Cup. The deals, even at the deadline, proved to eventually pay dividends for Chiarelli and the Bruins. It just took a couple of years for the team to learn from their playoff failures and make their run together in 2011.
There was no need to fiddle with anything at the 2011 trade deadline, and with Chiarelli’s job on the line, he showed tremendous faith in his team. Now he’s a hailed as a genius and the Bruins have many more good years ahead of them.
2. 2012 Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings were the first eighth seed to win a Stanley Cup and they made it look so smooth and easy. They knocked off the no.1, no.2 and no.3 seeds en route to the final, rolling over the top seeded Vancouver Canucks in five games, sweeping the Blues and knocking off the stubborn Coyotes in five.
After the New Jersey Devils cut a 3-0 series deficit to 3-2, the Kings manhandled the Devils 6-1 in Game 6 to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
The Kings had built up talent for years, drafting Conn Smythe trophy winner Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown. However, with the Kings underachieving with their core, coaches and management were on thin ice going into the 2011-12 season. They made some big moves in the summer of 2011. They traded for Flyers captain Mike Richards and prospect Rob Bordson, sending Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a second-round pick to Philadelphia. They signed Simon Gagne in free agency.
In the season, GM Dean Lombardi fired Terry Murray and replaced him with Daryl Sutter.
With uncertainty surrounding the Kings’ playoff chances, Lombardi made one final move a few days before the deadline acquiring a struggling Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jack Johnson and a first-round pick. All the moves finally paid off for Lombardi in June. They didn’t land Carter on deadline day, but it was a late-season move and it was clearly a finishing piece to a team that won the Stanley Cup and which now seems to be built several more playoff runs.
1. 2013 Chicago Blackhawks
This was a season where a GM would almost have to be crazy to make a late-season move. Why? The Chicago Blackhawks tore through last season, dominating the league from start to finish. They started a lockout shortened season with 24 games without a regulation loss (21-0-3). They finished with 36 wins in 48 games.
The season’s trade deadline came far later than usual at April 3. The Blackhawks only move to add to their roster came on April 1, adding Michal Handzus for their bottom six forwards. The team was ready for a run and won the President’s Trophy. They got by Minnesota easily in a five-game series. They erased a 3-1 series deficit against the Detroit Red Wings. They knocked off the defending champion L.A. Kings in the Conference Final. It was all capped off with a thrilling Stanley Cup Final win over the Boston Bruins, highlighted by the Hawks famously scoring the tying and cup-winning goals in a span of 17 seconds in game six.
It was another case of GM Stan Bowman knowing his team was fine just the way it was.
The consensus here is that the trade deadline can sometimes land you the finishing touch for a Cup run, but it’s never a guarantee. If your team is doing great, sometimes it’s best not to tinker with chemistry. We’ll see if our 2014 champion ends up being a team who was heavily active at this year’s deadline.