One of my favorite things to think of and discuss is trade speculation. Y'know, usually, one'll discuss making a trade with another team, but it's rarely a straight up player-for-player trade. "X-and-a-3rd" is a popular formula. But think about that third rounder for a second! Many of these picks get traded again, or again and again. They have adventures. See the sights. Perhaps get a little drunk in a hotel room and make bad decisions.
Okay, maybe not.
The other night, I got lost in a wormhole on NHLTradeTracker.com researching the trades of Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli (I was of the opinion his trades kinda suck, Kessel trade aside), and stumbled upon this gem:
Holy hell. Jamie Benn could've been a Boston Bruin. But no, the pick used to select him was traded to Columbus for Adam McQuaid (whom the Bruins got some use out of, I won't disagree with, but JAMIE BENN...)
So Jamie Benn could've also benn (hur hur) a Columbus Blue Jacket, only that selection was packaged with two other fifth round picks to Dallas in return for a fourth round pick (which ended up being Maksim Mayorov, who is not Jamie Benn either).
I mean, Boston's (now Dallas') 2007 fifth round pick only became a player who scores at .82 PPG over his career thus far and is also their captain and plays alongside Tyler Seguin (another player that was also practically gifted to Dallas by Peter Chiarelli) as one of the most productive lines in the NHL and also punches Henrik Zetterberg in the head and has no chin. I guess there's some latent Blue Jacket and/or Bruin left in him after all.
This got me thinking, how many other big name players could be playing somewhere else, if not for that final trade? If a team had made the first trade to get the pick and didn't later trade it away, how different would they be?
If Columbus had held on to that pick, how different would they be with Jamie Benn presumably in the lineup? Would Rick Nash still be there?
For the sake of this post, let's assume that all players would be drafted in the slots they were drafted in, even though the pick is held by a different team. Let's also pretend these players made the NHL in the same time frame and developed at the same rate and produce as they do currently.
Alex Edler: Dallas StarOn the day of the 2004 NHL Draft, Dallas had a few different trades, shuffling around a couple first round picks. Dallas traded their first round pick, 20th overall, to New Jersey for their first rounder, 22nd overall, and a third rounder. Fun to note - the 20th overall pick was Travis Zajac. Sorry, Dallas. Later on, Dallas would trade the 22nd overall pick to San Jose (paired with a fifth rounder) in exchange for San Jose's first, second, and third round picks. The third round pick? Well, that was 91st overall. That's Swedish defenseman Alexander Edler. Dallas wouldn't end up drafting him, because later in the draft, Dallas traded the 91st overall pick for a third rounder in 2005, and Edler became a Canuck.
Another fun note: the third rounder Dallas received for 2005 was used to draft tough guy, good Twitterer, and good story Richard "Dicky" Clune.
Travis Hamonic: Edmonton OilerHey, remember when Chris Pronger was traded to Anaheim back in 20-aught-Six? That means "2006", I'm just talking like a grandpa. Rockin' the onion belt. Anyway, like another great Canadian player before him (I forget his name), Pronger left the cold Mars-at-night-like temperatures of Edmonton for the warm beaches of Southern California. Anaheim gave up Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, a 2007 first round pick, a 2008 second round pick, and, if Anaheim reached the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals, which they did, a 2008 first round pick (which ended up being Jordan Eberle).
The next year, the 2008 second round pick Edmonton received from Anaheim would be traded to the New York Islanders for a third round pick and a guy named Allan Rourke, who seems to not have played hockey since 2010 (but did play 13 games for the Oilers in 2008, but didn't score any points).
That 2008 second round pick was used to select Travis Hamonic, a bright spot on the Isles' blueline, one of the big reasons for the their resurgence, and a great story as well.
Brian Gionta: Edmonton OilerWe're going way back for this one. In August 1997, the Oilers traded Jiri Slegr to the Pittsburgh Penguins in return for a third round pick in the 1998 draft.
On the day of the 1998 draft, the Oilers traded that third round pick to the Devils in exchange for a fourth round pick, a fifth round pick, and rights to a player. None of the picks the Oilers received ever played in the NHL, and the player's NHL resume only includes eight games played with only two penalty minutes to show for it before heading back to Sweden for another decade.
That third rounder the Devils got though? He'd only go on to win the Stanley Cup in 2003, set a Devils franchise record for goals in a season with 48 in 2005-2006, as well as become captain for the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres. That's Brian Gionta. Not bad...except for Edmonton.
Patrick Sharp: Nashville PredatorPatrick Sharp is a very handsome man. He is also a very adept goal scorer, and one of the lone offensive bright spots on an obviously offensively challenged Blackhawks team...yeah right. He also could've been a Nashville Predator!
At the 2000 NHL Draft, the Detroit Red Wings traded their 2001 third round pick to Nashville for their 2000 fourth rounder, which they used to select goaltender Stefan Liv, who would only play 34 games in the AHL before going back to Sweden and would ultimately pass away in the terrible Lokomotiv airplane crash.
Detroit's third rounder in 2001 would be used to select Patrick Sharp, although not by Nashville. Nashville would trade that pick to Philadelphia for Mark Eaton. Ol' Sharpy wasn't all that great in Philly, so they packaged him with some crap in exchange for other crap and long story short, he scored a bunch of goals and Chicago apparently won some Stanley Cups or something, I don't know. Whatever. WHATEVER.
Valtteri Filppula: Nashville PredatorThis one's really funny. Prior to the 2002 NHL Draft, the Anaheim Ducks gave - they gave - the Predators their third round pick because Nashville promised not to select Joffrey Lupul with their first round pick. Nashville's first rounder was one ahead of Anaheim's that year, and so Nashville ended up selecting Scottie Upshall and Anaheim got Joffy Loops. Later on, the Detroit Red Wings acquired the pick (which was used to select Valtteri Filppula) in exchange for a third round pick in 2003 (which Nashville used to select Grigory Shafigulin, who never played in North America).
Marc Staal: Atlanta ThrasherHow about one for the Thrashers? Remember the Thrashers? You look at some of the players they drafted and that played for them and wonder how they could consistently suck as bad as they did for so long. Ilya Kovalchuk. Dany Heatley. Marc Savard. Marian Hossa. ....Patrik Stefan.
There were many great forwards, but not many in terms of great defensemen. Marc Staal is a very good defenseman though, and he could've been Atlanta's. The San Jose Sharks acquired Atlanta's first rounder in 2005 (8th overall) in exchange for the 12th, 49th, and 207th overall picks. San Jose used the 8th overall pick to select Devin Setoguchi, who is best known for doing whatever the hell this is. As you may know, the 12th overall pick in 2005 was Marc Staal, and the Thrashers had him!! ....except they didn't, because they traded the 12th overall pick to the Rangers in exchange for the 16th overall pick and 41st overall pick. 16th overall was Alex Bourret, who never cracked the NHL and barely cracked the AHL and is seen as a HUGE bust, and the 41st overall pick was Ondrej Pavelec, who is seen as Ondrej Pavelec.
Joe Pavelski: Philadelphia Flyer
Brandon Saad: Toronto Maple Leaf
James Reimer: Chicago Blackhawk OR Carolina Hurricane
CAROLINA ACQUIRES: Anton Babchuk, future considerations
Jakub Kindl: Washington Capital
(source for all of these: NHLTradeTracker.com)