As we mentioned in one of our previous articles, the Buffalo Sabres are looking at losing key stars. Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall are both showing obvious signs of displeasure. Based on how this season is progressing, it seems only a matter of time before they are on the trading block. In the past, we have had a number of NHL trades that have been difficult, surprising or even game-changing.
The trades listed below didn’t all happen because things were running smoothly and often they have caught fans, players and front-office personnel off guard. Let’s look at some of the best NHL trade sagas. Perhaps one day Eichel and Hall will be active on this list!
1. Wayne Gretzky to the LA Kings (1988)
When a trade is still referred to as ‘The Trade’ nearly 33 years later then it was one hell of a blockbuster. Wayne Gretzky had helped build one of hockey’s greatest dynasties and the Edmonton Oilers were unstoppable between 1983 to 1988 winning 4 cups. This trend seemed set to continue, expect behind the scenes something was build. Two hours after their 1988 cup win, Gretzky learned from his Dad Walter that he was to be traded!
The Oilers owner Peter Pocklington was heavily in debt to the Alberta government. His business ventures had gone belly up and he needed cash fast. Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall had been after The Great One for years. When he heard Edmonton’s most vital asset was available, his dream came true! On August 9. 1988 shockwaves went through Canadian hockey fans. A visibly emotional Gretzky was traded to LA along with bodyguard Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, 15 million dollars and LA’s first-round picks in 1989, 1991 and 1993.
Immediately afterwards the trade was condemned by Canadian fans. Gretzky was declared a traitor and soon after effigies of Peter Pocklington were burned by Oilers fans. However, despite this trade being hard for Canadian fans, it was vital for Californian hockey. Getting the game’s best player kick-started a whole hockey revolution. The Kings became a new force and it became apparent that this game could exist in the Golden State. ‘The Trade’ still ranks as the biggest hockey saga even today.