Blockbuster Trade That Helped Both Teams Turns 20

During the first intermission of Thursday night’s Stars-Flames game, Fox Sports Southwest Host Josh Bogorad had a feature on the 1995 blockbuster trade of Jarome Iginla for Joe Nieuwendyk. The Flames also received Corey Millen, a diminutive journeyman center, in the deal.

Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the deal which ultimately contributed to the Stars winning their first and only Stanley Cup in 1998-99. Oh, and it wasn’t a bad trade for the Flames either. In fact, it might be the most even blockbuster trade in NHL history.

What made the trade special, wasn’t that it was two great players being traded for each other in their prime. It was a great player in his prime being traded for a highly touted prospect.

Blockbuster Trade

Joe Nieuwendyk was in a contract dispute with Calgary and held out until they traded him on December 19, 1995. The Flames had offered Nieuwendyk a three-year $6M offer. Shortly after the trade, Dallas signed him to a five-year $11.3M deal.

Prior to the trade the Stars lacked depth up the middle behind Hall of Famer Mike Modano. “Detroit had Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov and Colorado had Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. We had Modano and we didn’t feel like we could compete unless we got Mike some help.”Former Stars director of player personnel Craig Button recalled with Mike Brophy of The Hockey News last June. At the time of the trade, Joe Nieuwendyk had won a Cup with the Flames and was their all time leading scorer.

In 1995 Jarome Iginla was a dominant power forward for the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League. Iginla was also the Stars first round pick in 1995 (11th overall). When he first heard the trade news, Iginla initially thought he was being traded to another junior team. He was actually relieved to find out it was an NHL trade. At the time Kamloops was a powerhouse junior team. Iginla had a ridiculous 63 goals in 63 regular season games with Kamloops in 1995-96. He followed that up with 16 goals in 16 playoff games for the Blazers.

HOFer and Future HOFer

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Nieuwendyk was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP when the Stars captured the Stanley Cup in 1998-99. He had 11 goals and 10 assists in 23 playoff games.  He would spend three more seasons with Dallas before winning a third Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2002-03. In 2011, Nieuwendyk was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Nieuwendyk’s career stats games 1257 goals 564 assists 562 points 1126.

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Jarome Iginla would go on to break Joe Nieuwendyk’s record as Calgary’s all time scoring leader. After sixteen seasons with the Flames, Iginla has had brief stints with Pittsburgh (2013) and Boston (2013-14) chasing an elusive Stanley Cup. Now 39 years old, Iginla is in his second season with Colorado.
Iginla’s career stats games 1426 goals 598 assists 645 points 1243.

Could the Stars have won a Cup with Iginla? What if the Flames never let Nieuwendyk get away? We’ll never know.

A lot has changed in 20 years, but strength down the middle is still critical to team success. As evidenced by Jim Nill’s initial trades (Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza) as Stars’ GM. Fortunately for the Stars, the return on those trades shouldn’t cost anything close to Iginla.