Montreal Canadiens: Worst 10 Trades Since 1993

(Photo by Francois Laplante, Getty Images)

Last week I counted down the 10 best trades the organization had made since last winning the Stanley Cup in 1993. It’s only fitting that I should examine the other side of the coin and list off what I see as the 10 worst trades in the same time span. Maybe a disclaimer should be in effect, as some of these transactions may bring back terrible memories, even fits of rage for Habs’ faithfuls.

#10 Marc Bureau for Brian Bellows

Although not as significant as some of the other trades we’ll revisit later on in the countdown, Bellows was always a consistent goal scorer. Clearly at the tail end of his career, with a Stanley Cup ring in his back pocket, he still managed to put up 33 goals for Montreal the year after the Cup run. Followed by a difficult lock out shortened season for Bellows, where he only lit the lamp 8 times in 42 games, he was sent off to Tampa Bay that summer and regained some of his scoring touch, chipping in 23 goals and 26 assists his first year with the Bolts. Numbers that Bureau couldn’t match in three seasons combined with the Canadiens; recording 22 goals and 22 helpers in 182 games.

#9 A 1st, 2nd and 5th round pick for Vincent Damphousse

Continuing the trend of the tear down of the last championship team, GM Rejean Houle, who may get mentioned more than once here, traded then captain Vincent Damphousse to the San Jose Sharks on trade deadline day in 1999. A point could be made that this particular transaction failed due to bad drafting more than getting hosed in the actual trade, as the return for what was to be a rental was fair value. But Damphousse went on to play 385 games for the Sharks, adding 289 points to his career totals in the process, and the fact that Montreal drafted Marcel Hossa, Kiel McLeod and Marc Andre Thinel with the draft picks, is why this trade had to be on this list, especially considering the figure Damphousse had become in Montreal.

#8 Andrew Shaw for two 2nd round picks

Looking to add toughness to his roster, GM Marc Bergevin swung a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks on draft day in 2016. Restricted free agent winger Andrew Shaw was targeted in exchange for two 2nd round picks in that very draft. With the 39th overall pick the Hawks drafted what has become a very exciting young player in Alex DeBrincat and adding a promising young left handed defeseman when they selected Chad Krys just a few picks later at 45. Considering the direction the organization has taken in the last couple seasons, it’s fair to say those two assets would have greatly helped the youth movement. Although there’s no telling if Bergevin would have selected those very two players, in hindsight it’s one he’d probably like to have back.

#7 Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a 2nd round pick for Michael Cammalleri, Karri Ramo and a 5th round pick

In one of the stangest trades in NHL history, Habs star winger Mike Cammalleri was pulled from a game against the Boston Bruins and traded to the Calgary Flames; the team he left as a free agent to sign with the Canadiens three years prior. Comments made by Cammalleri to the media regarding some of his teammates accepting defeat too easily may have been at the root of it but there’s no denying that GM Pierre Gauthier didn’t get fair value for fan favorite and sniper. He battled through injuries for some time after his departure but still managed to score over 100 goals in the next five seasons following the trade. Aside from an excellent playoff showing in the Spring of 2014, Rene Bourque’s four seasons we’re less than impressive; often injured and always inconsistent as he sometimes found himself the odd man out as a healthy scratch. Holland played five games for the Habs and he was held pointless. The 2nd, 51st overall, was used to select Dalton Thrower who had some promise but injuries derailed his career. He is currently in the ECHL.

#6 Patrick Poulin, Igor Ulanov and Mick Vukota for Darcy Tucker, Stephane Richer and David Wilkie

When acquiring former 9th overall pick Patrick Poulin, the Canadiens’ hopes were that he would rediscover the scoring touch he had in Juniors. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition for Poulin, netting just 31 goals in 279 games over five seasons with the team. Ulanov, an old school, hard-hitting defender was reliable but forgettable in his short stay. Mick Vukota racked up 74 minutes in penalties in 22 games and no points in Montreal. Darcy Tucker, love him or hate him, went on to score 20 plus goals five times over his time in the league, four of which came while playing with hated rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs. For the second time in eight years, the Canadiens traded Richer but this time around, the veteran winger was clearly less significant; he went on to play for four different teams over the next five seasons before calling it quits. David Wilkie, once regarded as a potential top-4 pairing defenseman was selected 20th overall by the Canadiens in 1992. Much like in Montreal, he struggled to establish himself in TB and was out of work in the NHL after only 167 games.

#5 Shayne Corson, Murray Baron and a 5th round pick for Pierre Turgeon, Rory Fitzpatrick and Craig Conroy

Corson’s second go around with the Canadiens was a costly one for the organization as they clearly were not acquiring the same player they once had. He had lost a step and his offensive numbers were on the decline. Baron was a hard-nosed defeseman who only played 60 games for the Habs before being sent off to the Coyotes. Pierre Turgeon had plenty of good hockey left with 82 and 74 point seasons in St. Louis. Conroy went on to reach the 1000-game plateau, finding success most notably with the Calgary Flames, where he played nine seasons over two stints in Alberta. Fitzpatrick played 287 games over his career, only three for the Blues.

#4 Janne Niinimaa and a 5th round pick for Mike Ribeiro and a 6th round pick

One of GM Bob Gainey’s most memorable blunders saw shifty but problematic center Ribiero traded to the Dallas Stars for underachieving Finnish blueliner Niinimaa. He played a total of 50 games for the Habs, chipping in three assists. Ribeiro on the other hand enjoyed a career spanning over a thousand games and 793 points, including six seasons in Texas.

#3 Mark Recchi and a 3rd round pick for John Leclair, Eric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne

In an attempt to add some offensive punch to his lineup, GM Serge Savard acquired star winger Mark Recchi from the Flyers. In what would be his last blockbuster transaction, as he was relieved of his duties only a few months later, Savard agreed to part ways with big power winger John LeClair, defenseman Eric Desjardins and winger Gilbert Dionne. LeClair was immediately paired up with Eric Lindros upon his arrival in Philadelphia. The two went on to become one of the most intimidating duos of that era; LeClair scored 260 goals in his first 441 games alongside Lindros. Desjardins further established himself as a solid two-way defender, even being named the 11th captain in franchise history. Mark Recchi was no slouch, his stay in Montreal spanned over five seasons where he totaled 332 points in 346 games, but the price proved to be way too steep over the next few years; although it remains hard to imagine LeClair would have became a 50-goal scorer without Lindros.

#2 Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt and Mike Busto for Ryan McDonagh, Chris Higgins, Pavel Valentenko and Doug Janik

Determined to revamp his roster in the summer of 2009, GM Bob Gainey reached out to the New York Rangers to acquire overpaid and underachieving C Scott Gomez. Once regarded as one of the best two-way forwards in the game, Gomez was a shadow of his former self with a hefty price tag no less. To make matters worse, Ryan McDonagh, selected 12th overall by Montreal in 2007, was set to become what fans believed the franchise blueliner for years to come, was the main piece going to the Big Apple. Often injured winger Higgins was also sent packing, his impact with the Rangers was minimal, only taking part in 55 contests, recording six goals. It was McDonagh who proved to be a major loss, the American defenseman was a standout for eight seasons patrolling the Rangers’ blue line. Gomez was a disaster with the Canadiens; he struggled for three seasons in Montreal, playing in 196 games and only managing 21 goals before finally being bought out in the summer of 2013.

#1 Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko for Patrick Roy and Mike Keane

The clear cut winner, probably the worst trade in franchise history, maybe the entire league. All world goalie Patrick Roy and captain Mike Keane were sent off to the Colorado Avalanche for a trio of players who clearly were not a justifiable return for what most consider to be the greatest goaltender of all time. Kovalenko only played 51 games for the Habs, putting up 17 goals in that time before being sent to Edmonton for fourth line forward Scott Thornton. Rucinsky’s stay was a little more significant, playing in 432 games over seven seasons, hitting the 20-goal mark four times. Jocelyn Thibault was faced with the task of filling Roy’s crease and it did not go so well, the once highly touted prospect only played two full seasons in Montreal, where he struggled mightily under the pressure. He was eventually sent off to Chicago in a six-player deal in November of 1998 for G Jeff Hackett.

Are there any trades that you consider to be worse than those on the list? What were they?

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3 Responses to Montreal Canadiens: Worst 10 Trades Since 1993

  1. Ribeiro was a POS…Niinimaa was awful, but on the day of the trade I said he will get a lot of assists, but his teammates will hate him and the team will win jack squat. It was purely by definition addition by subtraction. The whole league knew it and Habs were lucky to get rid themselves of him. He could pass and so could the Habs.

    Me January 20, 2019 at 11:43 am Reply
  2. pernel-karl being sent away 2 days before his no trade clause was going to kick-in,
    in my modest estimation;this was unthinkable,incoherent and a killer of many a spirit of la sainte-flanelle CH.point a la ligne.i love shea weber.but this was not a trade to get him.this was an act of inexperience,pride and hockey incoherence on the part of the deputizing,he should have stayed in chicago,perhaps they knew what they were doing when they referred him to mr.molson and serge savard at the time of hire,,,they were trying to politely get rid of him,,,.
    subban was the heart/soul of our club.incorrigible spirit and love for the team.the CH was not only tattooed to his heart,the CH was his heart.a pearl of a steal in the draft by trevor timmins.he was to be our future captain,much like ryan mcdonough a few years back as well.i still cry in my heart,day after day.we got to get him back,gotta get him back to where he belongs.

    fononda heeney January 21, 2019 at 12:02 am Reply
  3. fononda,you got a good point my friend.
    we dont seem to learn from our past very well.
    we seem to trade away our best players at times.
    doing the “unthinkable” like you say.
    and of course sending away some of our best young talents and watch them blossom elsewhere.
    bergevin has got to go,not the person for our team.
    ciao,bye for now

    dino langis January 21, 2019 at 12:10 am Reply

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