This time of year, most people find themselves demonstrating behaviors that do not mirror their version of normal. Eleven months of the year people tend to steer away from the things that frighten them. However, once October hits and the Halloween season begins, we welcome the idea of walking into a haunted house and being scared beyond our wits. For an Islanders’ fan, one of the most terrifying things to do involves looking back on trades the team has made in the past and observing how badly managed screwed up. There is nothing scarier than taking the time and pondering what could have been. In the spirit of Halloween, I dare Islanders’ Nation to take a trip back with me a relive three deals that will forever haunt the blue and orange.
All for Alexei Yashin
On June 23rd, 2001, the Islanders traded away Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt, and their 2001 first round pick to the Ottawa Senators for Alexei Yashin. That draft pick turned into Jason Spezza.
When this deal was made, it was very difficult for anybody to chalk it up as a bad one. The Isles had received a star-caliber player for a very large defensive prospect, a nobody (sorry Bill), and a draft pick. Nobody could have predicted that Chara would turn into the Norris Trophy winning, Stanley Cup hoisting, scary slap shot shooting, defensive powerhouse we all know him as today. The same can be said about Spezza. We cannot even guarantee that the Isles would have used the draft pick on him. Unfortunately for New York, Spezza also turned into a star who knows how to put up points with the best of them.
Yashin had himself two good years with New York, earned a monster contract, and then was bought out by the organization. We all know that hindsight is twenty-twenty but we can now see how bad the Islanders messed up making this deal. The past 10-plus years could have looked a little different for the blue and orange if both Chara and Spezza were skating for them.
Wait, They Did What?
On June 24, 2000 the Isles sent Olli Jokinen and Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish.
General manager of the Isles at the time, Mike Milbury, expected Kvasha to be a star in the NHL. Unfortunately, things did not pan out the way he planned and Kvasha turned out to be a complete bust. Parrish had a pretty decent tenure with blue and orange scoring some key goals and winning the hearts of the Islander faithful.
Parrish might have been a decent addition to the Islanders but when you look at who the New York gave up, you cannot help but pull a few hairs from your skull. Jokinen turned into a pretty valuable player in the National Hockey League, experiencing most of his success with the Florida Panthers and the Calgary Flames. However, the Islanders really messed up giving away Luongo who turned into one of the most dominant goaltenders in all of hockey. Yes, the Isles are now happy with Halak but imagine how different the past might look if Bobby Lou was hanging out in crease for all those years.
Potential For A Declining Forward
On February 6th, 1998, he Vancouver Canucks acquired Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe, and a third round pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for Trevor Linden. With the third round pick from New York, the Canucks selected Jarkko Ruutu.
Linden had a very solid career during his tenure with the Canucks and fans were extremely disappointed to see their team’s captain be sent elsewhere. In his first stint with Vancouver, Linden never saw his point total drop below forty and was always a valuable asset on the ice. Unfortunately he was not the same player when he joined the Isles and only recorded 64 points in his 107 games played.
Both Bertuzzi and McCabe went on to have long and successful NHL careers. After being traded there, Bertuzzi spent the next eight years in Vancouver and put up some very solid numbers. He recorded 188 goals and 261 assists with the Canucks and always provided the team with an aggressive presence on the ice. McCabe did not reach his full potential until he joined Toronto. Once he became a member of the Maple Leafs, he experienced a great deal of individual success. McCabe recorded 297 points in 523 games with Toronto and emerged as one of the team’s leaders.
When it comes down to it, the Islanders parted with way too much potential in order to acquire a player whose best days were behind him.
Just imagine Luongo, Chara, Spezza, Jokinen, and McCabe crushing it for the New York Islanders. Instead of years in the gutter of the National Hockey League, the Isles could have been a constant in the postseason. Who knows? Maybe they would have been able to bring a couple more Stanley Cups to Long Island. Unfortunately, bad deals sent these gentlemen elsewhere packing and they experienced their success as members of other franchise. For that reason, these trades made by the New York Islanders will forever haunt them and their fan base.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.