15 Worst Trades in Toronto Maple Leafs History (Part 2 of 3)
Welcome to Part Two of the worst trades in Toronto Maple Leafs history. One thing I should mention is that I did not consider any trades from before 1967. The reason is because the Original Six NHL was incredibly different from the one today, and the majority of awful Leaf trades happened after the 70’s anyways.
To recap, here is the list so far from Part One (which can be read here):
#15: Toronto trades Tukka Rask to the Boston Bruins for Andrew Raycroft
#14: Toronto loses Gerry Cheevers to the Boston Bruins in the Intra-League Draft
#13: Toronto trades Fredrick Modin to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Cory Cross and a 7th Round Pick in 2001 (Ivan Kolozvary)
#12: Toronto trades Larry Murphy to the Detroit Red Wings for Future Considerations
#11: Toronto trades Kenny Jonsson, Sean Haggerty, Darby Hendrickson and a 1st Round Pick in 1997 (Roberto Luongo) to the New York Islanders for Wendel Clark, Mathieu Schneider and D.J. Smith
And now, on with the list!
#10: As compensation for signing RFA Mike Craig, Toronto sends Peter Zezel and Grant Marshall to the Dallas Stars
Right off the bat, I will admit to some fairly blatant bias here. I HATE Mike Craig. I hated him in Minnesota/Dallas, and I LOATHED him in Toronto. I have never hated a Maple Leaf player before or since; but I hated Mike Craig. He was a 15-goal, 30-point player that the Leafs signed to an offer sheet for who-knows-what reason. And in 3 seasons in Toronto, 172 games… he managed 20 goals. No, not a season… TOTAL. 20 freakin’ goals and 50 points. Oh, and in the playoffs? One assist in 8 games. ARGH. And the compensation package was ridiculous. Peter Zezel didn’t last very long with the Stars, but he was an incredibly competent checking centre for a grind line that the Leafs SORELY lacked for a number of years after the Berg-Zezel-Osborn combination was disbanded. What’s worse, the Leafs also lost decent prospect Grant Marshall (their first round pick from 1992!). He played 402 games with Dallas, recording 134 points as a decent two-way player. And SINCE Dallas, he has played another 298 games. Oh, and did I mention he’s won a pair of Stanley Cups, one with Dallas and one with New Jersey? A strong two-way forward who has (so far) played 700 career games, and the loss of Zezel for 172 games from Mike f’n Craig. It would have been better if Cliff Fletcher (or whoever made the decision to sign Craig) offered me $20 to ro shambo him. No I’m not bitter, why do you ask?
#9: Toronto trades Lanny McDonald and Joel Quenville to the Colorado Rockies for Pat Hickey and Wilf Paiement
This was a trade that began the franchise’s descent into the hell that was the 80s, a decade in which the Leafs had a record of 301-481-98 between 79-80 and 89-90 (a win percentage of .398, during a time in which surrendered 660 more goals than they scored). It is also widely reported that the deal was intended to demotivate Leafs captain Darryl Sittler. Only in Toronto would a personal vendetta come before the success of the club.
Pat Hickey was an unexpected bonus at first; he recorded 22 goals in just 45 games during his first half-year with the club. But the next season he was quite ordinary, and one game into the following season he was gone. Meanwhile his counterpart Joel Quenville was a servicable defenseman for Colorado, following the club to New Jersey. He went on to play 710 games after leaving the Leafs.
At first glance, the superstars in this trade worked out well. Toronto got 187 games and 203 points out of Paiement, while Colorado got 142 games and 141 points from McDonald. Paiement even recorded a stellar 40 goals and 97 points in his first full season in Toronto. But when he dropped to 18 goals and 58 points the following seasons, the Leafs traded him to Quebec for Miroslav Frycer and a 7th rounder. Yes, that’s right; Miroslav Frycer was all the Leafs had to show for dealing heart-and-soul Lanny McDonald. Colorado didn’t fare much better; they dealt McDonald to Calgary, where he played another 492 games (!!!), and won a Stanley Cup in his final season (1988-89). Lanny scored 66 goals in his first full season in Calgary, and ironically Joel Quenville ended up in Calgary as well.
This trade is #9 for two reasons. First, looking at the numbers, the trade isn’t as bad as you might suspect. Paiement’s contributions in Toronto were superior to McDonald’s in Colorado, and the Rockies traded McDonald for spare parts Bob MacMillan and Don Lever. This prevents the trade from being higher. But what keeps this trade in the “Top” 10 is the fact that the Leafs were TRYING to shoot themselves in the foot to hurt their captain, AND they squandered the resources they received (Paiement) for a player (Frycer) who was a regular “contributor” on some of the worst Leaf teams of all time.
#8: Toronto loses Brian Bradley to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1992 Expansion Draft
While this is technically not a trade, the Leafs had the option to leave anyone they wanted available in the expansion draft for Ottawa and Tampa Bay. Mike Krushelnyski was nearing the end of the road, as was Mike Foligno. Joe Sacco was a nothing prospect of limited potential. Mike Eastwood, Dave McLlwain, Ken Baumgartner. Granted, I’m not 100% certain who was protected, but there had to be someone else besides Bradley that could be protected. He finished sixth on the club in scoring in 91-92! But for whatever reason, the Leafs let Tampa Bay snag him. And what happened? He scored 42 goals and 86 points for the Lightning, and then proceeded to record 300 points in 328 games over six seasons before retiring due to injuries. He was the Lightning’s face of the franchise until Vincent Lecavalier came along, and he lead the Bolts from game one to their first playoff birth in 1996. And the Leafs let him walk for nothing. Just to put Bradley’s 300 points in perspective; do you know how many Leafs have scored 300 points in Toronto? 32 players. In 72 YEARS.
#7: Toronto trades Jason Smith to the Edmonton Oilers for a 2nd Round Pick in 2000 (Kris Vernarsky) and a 4th Round Pick in 1999 (Jonathon Zion)
Leafs GM/Coach Pat Quinn was not a fan of Jason Smith, and shipped him off to Edmonton. And you know what we kept hearing on TV and in the papers for the next few years? “We could really use a big, physical defenseman to clear the net and project (Curtis) Joseph in goal.” Gee, where can we find one of those? Oh, I know… EDMONTON. Jason Smith became one of the most popular Oilers since Doug Weight and Ryan Smyth, playing 542 games and eventually being named team captain. He has since been traded to Philadelphia, which caused Oiler Ethan Moreau to say the following: “I didn’t even ask who we got. I don’t really care right now if we’re better or worse, it’s more the human side of it. You lose a great friend and a great leader, the longest standing Oilers captain of all time.” Obviously a very talented, very respected player. And a true leader. Well the LEafs must have gotten something good in return, right? Hell, you already know the answer to that; if it was “yes”, then it wouldn’t be on this list. Mr. Zion (who sounds like an extra from the Matrix) never played in the NHL. Kris Vernarsky played 17 games… but not in Toronto. The Leafs traded him to Boston for Ric Jackman. And RIGHT before Jackman became a decent defenseman for a few seasons… the Leafs traded him for Drake Berehowsky. So to sum up, the Leafs traded an additional 619 games (and COUNTING) of Jason Smith for 42 games (and 8 points) from Ric Jackman, and 9 games (3 points) from Drake Berehowsky. Huzzah.
#6: Toronto trades Darryl Sittler to the Philadelphia Flyers for Rich Costello, a 2nd Round Pick in 1982 (Peter Ihnacak) and Future Considerations (Ken Strong)
This was a dark day for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They traded their captain, their best player since Dave Keon, and a man just 84 points away from becoming the first Toronto player ever to record 1,000 points in a Maple Leaf uniform. And he would have done it for SURE; he recorded 178 points in 191 games as a Flyer, and then added one last season in Detroit before retiring and going on to the Hall of Fame. It’s just sad what they settled for in return. Ken Strong? 15 NHL games, then disappeared to Austria for a decade. Rich Costello? 12 NHL games. Only Peter Ihnacak made the club. He recorded 28 goals and 66 points and then recorded just 201 points in his final 337 games as a Leaf before returning to Europe. He’s right up there with Frycer as regulars on some of the worst hockey teams in Toronto (and NHL) history. A dark day, a bad trade… and a team that will likely not see a 1,000 point scorer in our lifetime; Sundin has 987 points as a Leaf, but he’s as good as gone, and the next closest active Leaf is Tomas Kaberle with 402 points.
It’s trades like these that give people the justification to make photos like THESE.
Well that wraps up the second portion of our list. Part Three has been posted here after a few days break (necessitated by a combination of the time required to compile and rank the trades, and a need to walk away from the sheer amount of RAGE that builds up whenever I research just how truly godawful these trades were). Feedback is always welcome, either here in the comments or via email at email@example.com.