Welcome to the Vancouver Canucks best trades series. In this series, we at The Hockey Writers look back at the Canucks’ trading history with every NHL team and pick what we believe to be the best transaction between them and the other 31 organizations. This article focuses on their trade history with the Florida Panthers.
Over the years, the Canucks and Panthers have been involved in some big trades that included multiple Hockey Hall of Famers being dealt between the two franchises. Overall, the teams have completed over 10 trades since the 1993-94 season, which included four from June 2010 and Feb. 2011. While not every trade resulted in a win for Vancouver, here are the two biggest victories for the Canucks.
Canucks Get a Haul For the Russian Rocket
Anytime a team deals away a superstar; it is hard to recoup the value they lost. This was the thought back in 1999 as the Canucks dealt Pavel Bure to the Panthers as part of a nine-piece trade. Looking back on the trade over 20 years later, it may have been more balanced than some originally thought.
Starting with what Vancouver gave up, Bure, who was the main piece, would go on to play 223 games with the Panthers, winning two Rocket Richard trophies and recording 251 points during that time. The other pieces that went to Florida included defenceman Bret Hedican, who recorded 68 points in 202 games, defenceman Brad Ference, who, in 167 games, had 28 points and a third-round pick in 2000 that turned into Rober Fried, who did not play a game in the NHL. Overall, it was a good trade for the Panthers as not only did they get the Russian Rocket, they received two decent defencemen who played a role for the organization for multiple seasons.
While the Canucks did not get a 58-goal scorer, their return should not be overlooked. The biggest piece was defenceman Ed Jovanovski who, while he never won any NHL awards, played 434 games with the Canucks and represented Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey and the Olympics. Included in the trade was also goaltender Kevin Weekes who was later traded for Felix Potvin. The Canucks also received a first-round pick, which turned into Natan Smith, who had a strong career with the Manitoba Moose while occasionally being called up to the NHL.
Finally, as for the other two pieces, Dave Gagner and Mike Brown, their times with the Canucks were short, as neither played over 50 games with the organization. While the overall trade was not a win for Vancouver, they did get some value back which was impressive considering the trade request and predicament Bure had put them in.
Canucks Aquire A Hall Of Fame Goaltender
On June 23, 2006, the Canucks swung for the fences, acquiring goaltender Roberto Luongo from the Panthers. The future Hall of Famer had played 70-plus games in each of the previous two seasons and had represented Canada at the World Cup of Hockey and the Olympics. At 27, he was one of the best goaltenders in the NHL and ready to become the face of the franchise in Vancouver.
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Luongo wasn’t the only piece the Canucks got back in this deal. They also would acquire defenceman Lukas Krajicek who played two seasons in Vancouver and a sixth-round pick. That pick would turn into Sergei Shirokov, who played with the organization for two seasons before being traded back to Florida in 2011. While neither of these players worked out long-term for the Canucks, they both were able to help the organization at the NHL and American Hockey League (AHL) levels.
In the trade, the Canucks gave up three players. This included defenceman Bryan Allen as well as goaltender Alex Auld. The biggest piece, though, was forward Todd Bertuzzi, who was the best power forward in the NHL prior to his incident with Steve Moore in 2004. In a way, being able to move the former star was also a win for the organization as it allowed the team to get rid of any distractions that may have lingered from the incident.
Over Luongo’s career with Vancouver, he became the Canucks’ all-time leader in wins and shutouts while also guiding them to within one game of a Stanley Cup. He also was the captain of the team for two seasons and won gold for Canada at Rogers Arena during the 2010 Olympics. One of the greatest players to wear a Canucks jersey; it is clear this was a massive win for the Canucks
Canucks’ Best Trade With the Panthers
While there are plenty of deals to pick from, it is clear the Canucks acquiring Luongo was the biggest win for Vancouver. Not only was it their best trade with the Panthers, it was one of the best trades in franchise history. Whether it was on or off the ice, the man they call “Bobby Lu” had an impact on this organization that few others can match.