The NHL is built on players. Star players push a team into a new stratosphere. Usually, teams try to acquire star players in the NHL Draft, but when a team fails to draft well, they see making trades as the easiest way to move the franchise forward. Other times, teams are handcuffed by star players who may want to play for another franchise.
Either way, this pressure leads to bad moves. Each team has a move that just makes fans scratch their heads. Sometimes, the trade is clearly terrible right off the bat. Other times, it takes years to see the ramifications of a move. Every time, a bad trade sets a franchise back. Sometimes it takes more moves to recover from a bad trade, and other times it sends a team in a full-fledged rebuild.
Some trades look bad on paper this offseason. Seth Jones to the Blackhawks, and the ensuing $9.5 million AAV contract that came with it, Rasmus Ristolainen heading to the Philadelphia Flyers, and whatever that Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland deal with the Vancouver Canucks was have us all giving bad grades to NHL GMs. And that all happened on the same day.
Now, let’s look at the entire history of the NHL. What was each team’s worst trade scenario? We look at the players they traded away, who came back in return, and the long-standing impacts on the franchise. Maybe the deal made sense on paper, but these trades really set these teams back.