Ranking the worst Islanders trades of all-time


The website NHLTradeTracker.com is wonderful for so many reasons. Just when you wanted a list of every trade in NHL history, the wonderful folks at that URL come through in the clutch.

I’ll cut to the chase and keep this more about the bullet points you’re about to read and less about a longwinded analytical breakdown of why the Islanders have failed on so many trades over the years. It seems like more than the average team, but in reality most teams in all sports make goofball decisions. That’s why general managers don’t last too from team to team.

Putting contracts, walk years, and trade deadline thinking aside, just eyeballing these trades based on star power and how some of these names developed will tell you enough about a handful of the mistakes made by the Isles front office.

Here it goes (key player lost is in bold):

*2013-2014: Thomas Vanek acquired from Buffalo for Matt Moulson, 2014 1st Round Pick and 2015 2nd Round Pick. Then Vanek was traded to Montreal at the deadline for Sebastian Collberg and a 2014 conditional 2nd Round Pick.

*2000: Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen traded to Florida for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish.

*2001: Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and 2001 1st Round Pick (Jason Spezza) to Ottawa for Alexei Yashin.

*1999: Ziggy Palffy, Bryan Smolinski, Marcel Cousineau and a 4th Round Pick in 1999 to the Kings for Mathieu Biron, Josh Green, Olli Jokinen and a 1st Round Pick in 1999 (Taylor Pyatt).

*1999: Robert Reichel, 1999 3rd Round Pick and 1999 4th Round Pick to Phoenix for Brad Isbister and a 1999 3rd Round Pick.

*1998: Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe and a 1998 3rd Round Pick to Vancouver for Trevor Linden.

*1996: Darius Kasparaitis, Andreas Johansson to Pittsburgh for Bryan Smolinski.

*1996: Wade Redden and Damian Rhodes to Ottawa for Don Beaupre, Bryan Berard and Martin Straka.

There are certainly more, but giving away players like Bertuzzi, Luongo, Chara or Redden way before their primes, or fan favorites like Palffy or Kasparaitis, for little in return tends to sting.

Why Reichel, you ask? He’s the one example of a veteran player who still have some solid years left in the league, but was dealt for little in return. There are dozens of others who fit that bill as well.

Be mindful that other trades may not have happened either without certain pieces being in place over time. Pat LaFontaine was traded to Buffalo for Pierre Turgeon (and other players). Later, Turgeon was traded to Montreal for Mathieu Snider (and other players). Then Snider was traded to Toronto along with Wendel Clark in the deal that brought a first round pick (eventually Luongo) and Kenny Jonsson, a future Islanders Hall of Famer.

Two morals of this story: NHLTradeTacker.com is an awesome and easy to use platform with more info then you’ll ever need and front offices make a ton of decisions that are fun to look back on decades later.

chris vaccaro

Chris R. Vaccaro is a journalist, author and professor from Long Island. Vaccaro, who serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Topps Company's digital division, is an adjunct journalism professor at Hofstra University, the President of the Press Club of Long Island and has written five books about Long Island sports history.