Just call it Wildcard Wednesday: On a day that had already seen big names Vinny Lecavalier, Luke Schenn, Ryan Johansen and Seth Jones swapped in separate deals, the biggest splash came just before midnight as the Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames arranged a literal three-team trade, a stunning coda to what will ultimately be seen as a watershed day in the NHL trades.
“We felt we had to do something drastic to shake up the club,” noted Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “We’ve said for years that if [Wayne] Gretzky can be traded, anyone can. We felt the best way to establish our identity is with a fresh start.”
As far as NHL trades go, “drastic” doesn’t even begin to tell the story. The Wayne Gretzky trade was a big splash; Wednesday’s megadeal is a 100-foot tsunami that no one in the league saw coming.
The entire Anaheim Ducks roster — including the rights to all picks and prospects currently in the system — will be heading to a new-look Boston team trying to make its way back to the Stanley Cup Final. Boston, meanwhile, has shipped off its entire roster to the Calgary Flames, who look to be restocking in anticipation of another tightly-contested Pacific Division race, sending their up-and-coming team back to Anaheim to complete the triangle.
“Sure, it’s tough to see a guy like [goaltender Tuukka] Rask go. And Bergy … and Krejci, Krug, Hayes, Chara and vets like Seids and McQuaid. But you have to give something to get something, and it’s not every day you get a chance to bring in everyone from a bonafide Cup contender in Anaheim,” Sweeney added.
“We wish our guys all the best in Boston,” Anaheim GM Bob Murray said in a statement released by the team. “We can’t thank them enough for their years of valuable service to the team, the fans and the greater Anaheim community as a whole. It will be hard to forget them, but we’ve never been more excited about the future of the franchise.”
An ‘unprecedented deal’ in sports history
Never before has any sport seen such a blockbuster trade take place, let alone several months before the trade deadline. Still, it’s hard to find fault with any team’s reasoning: Boston adds a team in Anaheim that looks poised to dominate a relatively weak Atlantic Division almost immediately, while Calgary and Anaheim both get solid replacement squads capable of battling division rivals Los Angeles for several years to come. Moreover, there’s no need to worry about team chemistry, so all three clubs should be able to hit the ground running.
“Sometimes, you see a guy and think ‘Maybe he just needs a change of scenery.’ We tend to agree with that logic, and we felt it happened to be true of, well, literally everyone in Boston,” Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving quipped during his team’s press conference. “I mean, the teams that find success in this league are the ones who aren’t afraid to try new things, and this unprecedented deal is the kind of bold statement Flames fans deserve.”
Winners and losers
It remains to be seen how the rest of the league will respond in the wake of what is, without question, one of the three or four craziest trades the league has seen in the last several months. One league source suggested, on the condition of anonymity, that “several teams” were beginning to look to “other sports” for talent, with names like former NFL linebacker Patrick Willis and current MLB superstar Giancarlo Stanton drawing attention for their impressive physical and mental attributes. Regardless of the outcome, these are truly heady times for the National Hockey League.
As of press time, rumors that all four New York-area teams were preparing to combine into one Voltron-like superteam were unconfirmed.