Notable Hart Trophy Winners Who Got Traded

The NHL created the Hart Trophy in 1924 after Dr. David A. Hart denoted the award to the league. Furthermore, the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) votes every season for the league’s most valuable player, the award recipient.

The Hart Trophy remains the league’s oldest trophy, awarded one season before the Lady Byng Trophy (1925) and two years before the Vezina Trophy (1926). Except for three winners, Tommy Anderson, Al Rollins, and Jose Theodore, the remaining retired winners have all earned enshrinement at the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

Regarding clarification with this list, the names below represent significant players dealt away from the team where they were Hart Trophy winners. For example, Joe Thornton will not be included on this list because he was traded before winning his only MVP award.

Thus far, there have been 21 Hart Trophy winners traded away from the teams they won it with; however, these are ten of the biggest names. 

Patrick Kane – Feb. 28, 2023

Hart Trophy – 2016 (Chicago Blackhawks)

The Chicago Blackhawks selected Patrick Kane with the first overall pick in 2007, and within three years, they were celebrating their first Stanley Cup championship since 1961. Interestingly, Kane was part of the Core Four, with Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook, who won three titles together. However, he was by far the most gifted player of them all. 

Patrick Kane New York Rangers
Patrick Kane, New York Rangers (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Furthermore, he’s won five significant awards in his career, including the Hart Trophy in 2016, becoming the 21st dealt away after winning it. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, with Kane being the latest member of those championship teams to depart the Windy City. 

Jaromir Jagr – July 11, 2001

Hart Trophy – 1999 (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Before Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin began their assault on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ record book, most team milestones belonged to Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr. Together, the duo dominated the league in the mid-1990s swapping scoring championships from 1994 to 1999. 

Jaromir Jagr Washington Capitals
Jaromir Jagr, Washington Capitals (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the Penguins were on the verge of bankruptcy at the turn of the century, and Jagr’s contract became a significant issue for the books. After 11 seasons and two Stanley Cup titles, the Penguins dealt him to the Washington Capitals on July 11, 2001. 

Mark Messier – Oct. 4, 1991

Hart Trophy – 1990 (Edmonton Oilers)

Mark Messier remains the only player in NHL history to captain two franchises to a Stanley Cup victory. After Gretzky left the Oilers in 1988, the hockey world wondered if the club would win again, which Messier achieved in 1990, claiming his fifth ring and first Hart Trophy win in the same season.

Mark Messier New York Rangers
Mark Messier, New York Rangers (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI)

However, despite his success in his hometown, Messier needed a new challenge and accepted a trade to the New York Rangers on Oct. 4, 1991. Within three seasons, he assisted in breaking a 54-year championship drought in New York, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest leaders of all time. 

Related: Notable NHL Captains Who Got Traded

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Jacques Plante – June 4, 1963

Hart Trophy – 1962 (Montreal Canadiens)

There have been many iconic goalie names in NHL history, yet there will always be one that stands out above the rest regarding the evolution of the position. On top of winning six Stanley Cups and Vezina Trophies with the Montreal Canadiens, Jacques Plante will always be the first netminder who wore a goalie mask in an NHL game on Nov. 1, 1959. 

Jacques Plante, Montreal Canadiens, NHL
Jacques Plante, Montreal Canadiens (THW Archives)

Plante was the first in a long line of legendary goalies who played in Montreal. However, losing was never a preferred outcome during his tenure, and despite all his success, the Canadiens traded him to the Rangers on June 4, 1963. 

Nels Stewart – Oct. 17, 1932

Hart Trophy – 1926, 1930 (Montreal Maroons) 

Nels Stewart won his only Stanley Cup championship during his rookie season in 1925-26, the same season he won the Hart Trophy as MVP. Interestingly, he became the first player to win the award twice, claiming it again in 1930.

Related: 2022-23 Hart Trophy Tracker – December Update

As a member of the Montreal Maroons, Stewart routinely scored 20 goals a season, becoming the league’s first goal-scoring record holder in 1937. Eventually, the Maroons franchise would fold, and the club traded away Stewart’s contract to the Boston Bruins on Oct. 17, 1932. 

Dominik Hasek – July 1, 2001

Hart Trophy – 1997, 1998 (Buffalo Sabres)

In the late 1990s, no goalie had more individual success than Dominik Hasek, who became the first netminder in history to win the Hart Trophy in back-to-back years in 1997 and 1998. Although the Buffalo Sabres never won a Stanley Cup with Hasek in goal, he continuously set NHL records while playing the position in the most unorthodox way possible. 

Dominik Hasek Detroit Red Wings
Dominik Hasek, Detroit Red Wings (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

After the Sabres lost in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final, they started to break up the team and, in an attempt to lower payroll, traded Hasek to the Red Wings on July 1, 2001. Eventually, he won two rings with Detroit in 2002 and 2008, but never found the same level of individual success he experienced in Buffalo. 

Phil Esposito – Nov. 7, 1975

Hart Trophy – 1969, 1974 (Boston Bruins)

In 1967, the Bruins acquired Phil Esposito from the Blackhawks in a blockbuster deal, creating an offensive juggernaut in Beantown for the next half-decade. As one of the most gifted goalscorers of all time, he routinely scored over 100 points with teammate Bobby Orr as Boston won the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cups. 

Phil Esposito New York Rangers
Phil Esposito, New York Rangers (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Although he continued to produce at extraordinary rates until 1975, Esposito argued with Bruins management that he did not want to give up a chunk of his playing time. Ultimately, the club parted ways with one of their greatest players, trading Esposito to the Rangers on Nov. 7, 1975. 

Howie Morenz – Oct. 3, 1934

Hart Trophy – 1928, 1931, 1932 (Montreal Canadiens)

Howie Morenz is one of professional hockey’s original superstars, winning three Stanley Cups and Hart Trophies while starring with the Canadiens from 1923 to 1934. Furthermore, the Ontario native routinely scored 20 or more goals and became one of the first NHLers to reach 40 goals in a season, accomplishing the feat in 44 games in 1929-30.

Unfortunately, Morenz started to rapidly decline after 1930 at just age 28, when he went from 50 points down to 21 by 1934. Furthermore, although he had no interest in playing for another franchise, the rumors of a trade began circulating. Eventually, the Canadiens traded away their star to the Blackhawks on Oct. 3, 1934.  

Eddie Shore – Jan. 25, 1940

Hart Trophy – 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938 (Boston Bruins)

Eddie Shore is a Bruins legend who became the first player in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy on four occasions, a record he held for 46 years until Gretzky broke it in 1984. During the first 14 years of his career, he won the Stanley Cup twice and earned eight All-Star selections. 

The Hockey Hall of Famer retired after winning a ring in 1939 to buy an American Hockey League (AHL) team. Eventually, Shore became a player-owner with the Springfield Indians (AHL). However, in 1940, he rejoined the Bruins, but after growing unhappy with his situation, he forced a trade to the New York Americans on Jan. 25, 1940. After ten games, he retired from the NHL on March 24, 1940. 

Wayne Gretzky – Aug. 9, 1988 & Feb. 27, 1996

Hart Trophy – 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987 (Edmonton Oilers), 1989 (Los Angeles Kings)

When Wayne Gretzky retired in 1999, he officially owned over 60 NHL records. Interestingly, he was the first player to win the Hart Trophy on two separate teams, the Oilers and Kings, while holding the distinction as the only player traded by both teams where he was a winner. 

Wayne Gretzky, St. Louis Blues
Wayne Gretzky, St. Louis Blues. (THW Archives)

After four Stanley Cup championships and seven consecutive MVP wins from 1980 to 1987, the Oilers traded The Great One to the Kings on Aug. 8, 1988, in one of the most shocking deals in NHL history. Although he didn’t win the award in 1988, he found instant success in California, winning the Hart Trophy for a record ninth time in 1989. 

Even though Gretzky set the all-time scoring record in Los Angeles, the Kings never won a championship, and the game’s greatest player got traded to the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 28, 1996. Despite all the individual success at the tail end of his career, he never quite dominated the game like he did during his first decade.

Honorable Mentions

Surprisingly, some of the biggest names in hockey have been named MVPs and ended up traded at some point in their careers. Conversely, the remaining players that found new homes after winning the Hart Trophy include Taylor Hall (2019 New Jersey Devils), Martin St. Louis (2004 Tampa Bay Lightning), Jose Theodore (2002 Canadiens), Chris Pronger (2000 Blues), Eric Lindros (1995 Philadelphia Flyers), Andy Bathgate (1959 Rangers), Sid Abel (1949 Red Wings), Max Bentley (1946 Blackhawks), Babe Pratt (1944 Toronto Maple Leafs), Herb Gardiner (1927 Canadiens), and Frank Nighbor (1924 Ottawa Senators).

Related: History of Hart Trophy Winners From Non-Playoff Teams

It is an honor to win any NHL award. However, being named the most valuable player is the next best thing to winning a Stanley Cup. Overall, although being considered the best player in the league for a season doesn’t guarantee long-term success, especially with the franchise you win it with, the award showcases the skills and dedication required from a player to perform at the highest level for 82 nights.

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