July 16 has not been the busiest day in National Hockey League history. However, a pair of Hockey Hall of Famers found new homes and two playoff heroes were born on this date, as well.
Stevens Heads to St. Louis
The St. Louis Blues signed free-agent defenseman and future Hockey Hall of Famer, Scott Stevens, on July 16, 1990. He had spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Washington Capitals, where he scored 98 goals and 429 points while racking up 1,628 penalty minutes, in 601 games.
Stevens played just one season with the Blues. He had 44 assists to along with his five goals and a plus-23 rating. On Sept. 3, 1991, he was sent to the New Jersey Devils as compensation for the Blues signing free agent Brendan Shanahan.
At first, it looked like the Blues won this trade-off with Shanahan scoring 156 goals and 306 points in four seasons for St. Louis. However, in the long run, the Devils benefitted the most. Stevens played in 956 games over 13 seasons for the Devils. He was a part of three Stanley Cup championships in 1995, 2000 and 2003. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy, for being the most valuable player of the playoffs, during the 2000 championship run.
Clark Lands in Tampa Bay
Wendel Clark’s second of three stints with the Toronto Maple Leafs officially ended, on July 16, 1998, when he signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. After just 12 goals and 19 points in 47 games for the Maple Leafs during the 1997-98 season, Clark rebounded nicely with the Lightning. In 65 games, he scored 28 goals and 42 points.
Clark was traded to the Detroit Red Wings, at the 1999 trade deadline, for a second-round pick in 1999 NHL Entry Draft. The Lightning used that pick to select current Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Odds & Ends
Eight years after signing Stevens, the Blues inked free agent and two-time Stanley Cup-winner Scott Young on July 16, 1998. Young played the next four seasons in St. Louis and scored a career-high 40 goals and 73 points during the 2000-01 season. After two seasons with the Dallas Stars, Young returned to the Blues for the 2005-06 season, his last in the NHL. Over his five seasons with the Blues, he scored 125 goals and 254 points.
On July 16, 2001, the Atlanta Thrashers signed a trio of free agents by bringing in Tony Hrkac, Bob Corkum, and Todd Reirden. Hrkac was the most effective of the three players. He scored 27 goals and 70 points, in 160 games, over two seasons with the Thrashers.
Happy Birthday to You
Claude Lemieux was born in Buckingham, Quebec, on July 16, 1965. He embodied the type of player you hated playing against but would take on your side in a heartbeat. The Montreal Canadiens originally drafted him in the second round (26th overall) of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. Lemieux made his NHL debut and scored his first goal the following season, but he did not become a full-time player in the league late in the 1985-86 season.
Lemieux scored 379 goals and 786 points in 1215 regular-season games, but it was in the postseason where he made a name for himself. In the 1986 playoffs with the Canadiens, his first postseason run, he scored 10 goals and 16 points helping Montreal win their first Stanley Cup since 1989. Two of his 10 goals came in overtime.
In 1995, Lemieux won his second Stanley Cup, this time with the Devils. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy by scoring 13 goals in 20 games. He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche the following summer and won another Stanley Cup in 1996. He had five goals and 12 points during that championship run.
Lemieux returned to New Jersey for the 1999-2000 season and won a fourth Stanley Cup championship. In his career, he made the Stanley Cup playoffs 18 times and scored 80 goals and 158 points in 234 games.
There was more than one Conn Smythe winner born on this date. Duncan Keith was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on July 16, 1983. He was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round (54th overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He was the 15th defenseman taken in the draft and Jay Bouwmeester is the only player of the 2002 draft class to play in more games than Keith.
Keith made is NHL debut on opening night of the 2005-06 season and has been a fixture on the Blackhawks’ defense ever since. He won the Norris Trophy, for being voted the best defenseman in the league, in 2010 and again in 2014. He was a huge part of three Stanley Cup wins in Chicago and won the Conn Smythe Trophy during the team’s 2015 championship run.
Other players born on this date include Jyrki Lumme (54), Brian Lashoff (30) and Nate Schmidt (29).