In all sports draft picks become players, players get traded so forth and so on. Like a stone thrown into a pond, there are ripples that reverberate out into the wake of the future.
With the 18th pick in the 1980 NHL entry draft the Boston Bruins selected Barry Pederson. Considering that he went on to have the 10th most career NHL points from that draft, it would be safe to assume that the Bruins got value out of this draft pick. That, my friend would be the understatement of the NHL century. Some Bruins fans may lament the the trade of Joe Thornton. He was the former #1 Pick and corner stone of the franchise. Reluctant to sign Jumbo Joe to a jumbo sized contract after years of coming up small in the playoffs, the Bruins shipped him to San Jose for what really was pennies on the dollar*. More seasoned Bruins fans remember the Bruins making a similar trade, only being on the other side. In a trade that is widely considered one of the greatest thefts in NHL history, the Bruins traded Pederson to the Vancouver Canucks for Cam Neely and Vancouver’s first round pick in the 1987 NHL draft.
A little bit of background on the deal, Barry Pederson was an offensive dynamo for the Bruins, in his first 3 full seasons he played 237 games, scored 129 goals along with 186 assists. Pederson had some back luck with a tumor on his shoulder that cost him a vast majority of the ’84-85 season. He bounced back with a respectable season in ’85-86, but the Bruins were wary of his future. Vancouver, in desperate need for a true scorer made the aforementioned, and the rest is history.
Really, this was highway robbery. Pederson only lasted 4 seasons with the Canucks, and was never the same player. Neely blossomed into a star, and to boot… the Canucks pick turned into the #3 pick in the draft. The funny thing is, they were a mere 2 points ahead of the Buffalo Sabers and the New Jersey Devils for the worst record and what could have been the #1 pick. Just to digress for a second, the prize of the 1987 NHL entry draft was Pierre Turgeon. While Turgeon turned out to be a fine NHL player (a bit of a understatement, he was superb on offense), he was considered to be the next great player going into the draft. They hype around him (and remember, this was pre-internet) was equal to that of Sydney Crosby. Had the Bruins landed him, who knows what would have come (can you imagine him and Neely?). With the #3 pick the Bruins took Glen Wesley, who was an excellent 2 way defenseman who helped the Bruins go to the Stanley Cup finals twice.
There, done…Neely and Wesley for Barry Pederson. For a player who’s best days were behind him, the Bruins got a franchise icon and a very solid player. I have never met a Canucks fan, but I would assume that they are pretty bitter over this. Yet, if we continue to peel away, the Bruins would reap even more reward form this already one-sided trade.
You see, in 1994, the Bruins traded Glen Wesley to the Hartford Whalers (R.I.P.) for 3 first round picks (’95,’95′,97).
In 1995, with the 9th pick acquired from the Whalers, the Bruins selected Kyle McLaren. Solid, one way defenseman, traded to San Jose in 2003 (after a bitter contract dispute) for a pair of Jeffs, Hackett and Jillson. The next season, the Bruins traded Jeff Jilson back to San Jose for Brad Boyes. Boyes was a nice goal scorer, who the Bruins surprisingly traded, after scoring 26 goals for them in ’05-06 to St. Louis for Dennis Wideman. This one was a real head scratcher, as the Bruins lacked goal scorers, and Boyes had shown quite a bit of skill. Still, the Bruins said that they needed a puck moving defenseman and to be honest, in the ’06-07 season, they sucked. Now at first this trade looked like a big mistake, as Boyes went on to score plenty of goals in STL, but in ’08-09 Wideman had a fantastic season (as did most of the Bruins), but then took a big step back the next season. Going into the 2010 NHL draft, the Bruins had the #2 pick from Toronto as a part of the Phi Kessel trade (a future column?). A couple days before the draft, the Bruins shipped Wideman and their own first round pick #15 to Florida for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell. As of right now, that one looks like another gem for the Bruins.
Now, on to the 1996 pick, #8 in the draft, the Bruins took Johnathan Aitken. This one did not turn out to well. Aitken would go on to play 44 games in his NHL career (3 with the Bruins) and get a grand total of 1 assist. Let’s move on…
With the 1997 pick, #8 overall (so the Bruins got 3 top 1o picks for Wesley) the Bruins took Sergei Samsonov (the Bruins also had the #1 pick in the draft from a result of them sucking, and took Joe Thornton… who there is still more to come on). Here is where I need to take a brief turn and discuss another phenomena, sports cards. In the early 1990′s the industry took off. New brands were popping up every year, and each brand would cover each sport and put out multiple different brands within the brand. It was a crazy time I tell you. The corollary effect of this was, kids were being somewhat educated on the upcoming prospects. This was a big deal because Hockey players were flooding over from Europe and the only way us young fans learned about them was from their cards (and Beckett). Samsonov was one of the most hyped guys. For some reason, he played a season in the IHL (abnormal for a Russian prospect) and got lots of American press for the year leading up to the draft. When the Bruins netted the two most talked about prospects, thousands of boston area kids dished out all of their allowance in an attempt to get Thornton and Samsonov cards. Needless to say, it seemed that the Bruins had drafted what would be their goal scoring future. Samsonov was undersized, but very skilled. He went on to win the Calder Trophy, while Thornton took more time to develop. Samsonov was a fan favorite, and he scored goals reasonably well, but the Bruins were going nowhere and he was traded to Edmonton in 2006 for Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny and the Oilers second round pick in 2006 NHL draft.
With the 50th pick in the 2006 NHL draft, the pick acquired in the Samsonov deal, the Boston Bruins selected…. wait for it…..
To recap.. the Bruins traded Barry Pederson for….
Franchise Icon, and current team President, Cam Neely and 7 quality season of Glen Wesley.
Wesley became 3 top 10 picks that eventually spawned current Bruins Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell and Milan Lucic.
Now that is what you call, return on investment.
*the Thornton trade, in return for him the Bruins got Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart. They traded Stuart (who was never going to re-sign with Boston when his contract was up) and Primeau to Calgary for Chuck Kobasew and Andrew Ference. The Bruins flipped Kobasew to the Wild for Alexander Fallstrom (?), Wild 2nd round pick in 2011 (who knows?) and Craig Weller. The Bruins sent Weller along with Byron Bitz and a 2nd round pick to Florida for Dennis Seidenberg, Matt Bartkowski. So in the end, directly and indirectly the Bruins did end up with 2 of their 6 current defensemen for Thornton. Not exactly Neely, Horton, Campbell and Lucic..but not nearly as bad as we originally thought after the deal.