The annual trade deadline is almost upon us. And so it got us to thinking about trades that worked -- really worked. It doesn't always happen. In fact, it's easier to identify the trades that went over like a led zeppelin (to throw in a little classic rock reference). But we're a glass-is-half-full sort here at ESPN.com, so here are our top trades of the past five seasons, plus a bonus one thrown in for good measure.
Let's discuss how the former Flyers sniper got to Columbus in the first place another time (hint: it's not a red-letter moment for Columbus) but credit Kings general manager Dean Lombardi for identifying that Carter was not a good fit in one marketplace and finding a way to bring him into the Kings' fold. Carter has been a key component to the Kings' two Stanley Cup runs, collecting 25 points during the 2014 Cup run after scoring eight goals in the 2012 postseason -- tied for most in the league. His work with young players such as Tyler Toffoli cannot be understated in helping the Kings remain a perennial Cup contender. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
The Seguin trade remains the ultimate cautionary tale for teams who become disenchanted with a young prospect who doesn't evolve as quickly as hoped. Could Seguin have achieved what he's achieved in Dallas if he stayed in Boston? Which is to say, could he have become one of the game's most electrifying offensive figures had he not been traded? Moot point, but Seguin understood the trade represented a chance at a clean slate. He has embraced his role as one of the team's bright young core stars and has worked hard to be a complete player under Lindy Ruff. Teaming with captain Jamie Benn, the two have re-energized the marketplace and made the Stars must-see entertainment. Next on the to-do list for the former No. 2 overall draft pick: a long, smoking-hot playoff run.
Who knew that when the aging Jagr was dealt at last year's trade deadline that his arrival in South Florida would herald a mighty resurgence for the long-dormant Panthers? Jagr just turned 44 and has become a kind of spiritual fulcrum for the youthful Panthers. Some might have thought GM Dale Tallon daft when he re-upped Jagr for an additional season after the Panthers fell short of the postseason a year ago. But the sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer has played on the team's top line most of the season and has helped create a winning atmosphere as the Panthers head toward the 2016 trade deadline in first place in the Atlantic Division. With fan support surging on a daily basis and a team that is built for the long haul, this trade might go down as one of the most important in franchise history.
Whatever other missteps there were with Lou Lamoriello's final seasons as GM in New Jersey, this wasn't one of them. With Martin Brodeur nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career and no obvious heir apparent in sight, Lamoriello boldly snapped up the promising Schneider, who had been part of the emotional goaltending rollercoaster in Vancouver along with Roberto Luongo. Schneider has evolved into a world-class goalie and is the centerpiece of what has been a surprising renaissance in New Jersey this season. His personality is the perfect fit for a team looking to recapture glory, and his skill set has him at least on the edge of the Vezina Trophy discussion.
At the time of this deal, Tampa Bay was in a state of flux with their goaltending. A year earlier they'd acquired Anders Lindback from the Nashville Predators in the hopes he might evolve into a starting netminder. But it was Bishop who far exceeded expectations, emerging as a front-line performer who guided the Lightning to a Stanley Cup finals appearance last June. He has followed that up with another solid season and has become one of the most popular players in the Lightning locker room.
Bonus: June 30, 2015: Brandon Saad, Michael Paliotta and Alex Broadhurst to the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Chicago Blackhawks for Artem Anisimov, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp, Marko Dano and fourth-round pick in 2016.
This trade is important on many levels for both teams, not the least of which is that Chicago GM Stan Bowman, fearing an offer sheet being presented to restricted free agent Saad, actually got terrific value for a rising young star whom he didn't believe he could sign. Bowman had long sought a second-line center to play behind Jonathan Toews, and Anisimov has been a great fit with Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. So instead of taking a step back after shedding key pieces of their Cup-winning team last June (Saad, Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya), the Blackhawks look poised for another deep playoff run thanks in part to this deal. Columbus, meanwhile, got off to a dreadful start but has played better under coach John Tortorella, and Saad has found a nice groove, leading the Blue Jackets in goal scoring and game-winning goals. He will be a cornerstone offensive figure for Columbus for years to come. In short, this is one of those rare hockey deals that has a positive impact on both teams involved in the deal.