NHL Trade Deadline: Six Degrees (Trades) of Separation

Six degrees of separation often relates to one person knowing just about everyone in the world through their contacts. Go on Linkedin and see how many people you know through your second- and third-degree contacts. However, with NHL trades, it can show that trading one player to acquire another is only the beginning of the story.

Trades have wide-ranging effects that last much longer than we notice. And with the NHL Trade Deadline approaching, what better time to take a look at a string of related trades that helped the Detroit Red Wings ultimately bring home three of their four recent Stanley Cups.

It all started when the Detroit Red Wings drafted Larry Trader in the fifth round of the 1981 Draft. Hailing from Barry’s Bay, Ontario, the rugged defenseman put up solid number with the London Knights before joining the Red Wings during the 1982-83 season. However, Trader could not manage to hold down a full-time role with the Red Wings and bounced back-and-forth from Detroit and the Adirondack Red Wings for a few seasons. Then, he was traded and the Red Wings, though they did not know it, were on their way to bringing home the Stanley Cup.

Detroit trades Larry Trader to St. Louis for Lee Norwood.

In a time when NHL trades occurred much more frequently, Detroit acquired Lee Norwood from St. Louis for Trader. The 1986 trade sent a future journeyman defenseman to St. Louis for an already tenured journeyman defenseman. Norwood patrolled the Red Wings’ blueline for four-plus seasons—often quite well—until he was traded to New Jersey in 1990. During that time, Norwood helped mentor the likes of Darren Veitch, Steve Chiasson, and Yves Racine in Detroit.

Detroit trades Lee Norwood to New Jersey for Paul Ysebaert.

Still a prospect with potential at the time of the trade, the Red Wings acquired the 24-year old Paul Ysebaert for an established defenseman in 1990. Today, many teams trade prospects for established players, hoping to improve the roster now, as opposed to later. Norwood improved New Jersey right then. Ysebaert still had a lot to learn, but managed to crack 30 goals in each of his second and third years in Detroit. He improved the future roster through goal-scoring and when he was traded in 1993.

Detroit trades Paul Ysebaert to Winnipeg for Aaron Ward and a 4th Round Pick in 1993.

In Aaron Ward, the Red Wings acquired a highly rated draft pick that may have been picked too high in the 1991 Draft. Winnipeg reached and ultimately shipped Ward to Detroit for Ysebaert. The Red Wings let Ward ripen in the AHL before promoting the physical defenseman for the 1997 and 1998 championships.

The draft pick acquired by the Red Wings in the Ysebaert-Ward deal turned out to be John Jakopin. After a solid career at Merrimack College, Jakopin turned pro, but did not catch on with the Red Wings. Some draft picks acquired in trades just don’t turn out. Yet, some do.

Detroit trades Aaron Ward to Carolina for a Conditional Draft Pick.

The summer before the 2001-02 season was one of change for the Detroit Red Wings. They acquired Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull, and Dominik Hasek through free agency and trade, and eventually won the Stnaley Cup. Ward’s trade fell under the radar. However, the lasting impact was the draft pick that actually turned out for the Red Wings: Jiri Hudler.

Yep. Detroit drafted Jiri Hudler with that pick. Hudler would go on to be a contributing member of the 2008 Stanley Cup champion team and the 2009 team that lost in the finals. After Hudler signed with Calgary prior to the 2012-13 season, the trade loop finally closed. In the end, Detroit traded Larry Trader for Jiri Hudler and managed to win a few Stanley Cups in between.

When your team makes a move at the NHL Trade Deadline, make sure to remember that the extra draft pick thrown in or the journeyman player sent packing could ultimately have a large impact in the future—for your team or another. A trade lasts much longer than the initial swap.

Related: Detroit Red Wings Mock Trades and Trade Deadline Targets: Forwards