Martin St. Louis, Marian Gaborik among best trade-deadline acquisitions in the past five years

Martin St. Louis was a good get for the New York Rangers. Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

For every shiny bauble a general manager reaches for at the trade deadline, searching for pieces that fit perfectly into a playoff-drive or Stanley Cup puzzle, there are countless others with hidden jagged edges that end up leaving a franchise bloodied and battered.

With the trade deadline just two weeks away, here's a look at the best and worst deals since the 2012 lockout.


March 5, 2014: Los Angeles Kings acquire winger Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets for winger Matt Frattin, a second-round pick and a third-round pick.

Why it worked

Even though the Kings didn't give up a lot for the skilled Gaborik, I was skeptical from the outset given the winger's up-and-down playoff history and his lack of durability. But he turned out to be a perfect fit for head coach Darryl Sutter's blend of skill and grit up front and helped the Kings win their second Stanley Cup in three years. Gaborik led all playoff scorers with 14 goals and also had 22 points. Playing for the most part with Anze Kopitar, Gaborik was especially clutch against the Anaheim Ducks in the second round, tying Game 1 with seconds left and then scoring the overtime winner, all on the road.

March 5, 2014: New York Rangers acquire winger Martin St. Louis and a second-round pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning for winger Ryan Callahan and two conditional picks (which would turn out to be two first-round picks).

Why it worked

This was one of the most interesting trade-deadline deals, given that St. Louis, now retired and likely on his way to the Hall of Fame, would agree to go only to the Rangers after telling the Lightning he wanted to be traded. And given those limitations, Tampa general manager Steve Yzerman did yeoman's work getting as much value as he did for St. Louis. Although you can quibble with the long-term contract to which the Lightning signed Callahan after the trade, they went to the Stanley Cup finals in 2015 and the Eastern Conference finals last spring after that blockbuster deal. As for the Rangers, St. Louis provided an important presence in the locker room as they advanced to their first Stanley Cup finals since 1994. St. Louis led the way with eight goals and 15 points in spite of the death of his mother early in the playoffs. St. Louis was especially important during the Rangers' second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in which they overcame a 3-1 series deficit. This was a good deal for both sides.

Feb. 27, 2016: Pittsburgh Penguins acquire defenseman Justin Schultz from the Edmonton Oilers for a third-round pick.

Why it worked

This under-the-radar deal has to be considered in tandem with an equally unremarkable deal made by GM Jim Rutherford a year earlier, when he acquired Ian Cole from the St. Louis Blues for Robert Bortuzzo and a seventh-round pick. The defensive corps was supposed to be the Penguins' Achilles' heel last spring, but it turned into a strength as they won their first Stanley Cup since 2009, allowing an impressive 2.29 goals per game through four rounds. Schultz, who had struggled mightily with the Oilers, filled in admirably at various times for Kris Letang and Olli Maatta, and he has continued to see his role grow exponentially with a team that should take a serious run this spring at back-to-back championships. Throw in the steadying presence of Cole, and the Pens added two smart, puck-moving defenders who meshed incredibly well with head coach Mike Sullivan's up-tempo game plan -- and without giving up any appreciable assets.

April 1, 2013: Chicago Blackhawks acquire center Michal Handzus from the San Jose Sharks for a fourth-round pick.

Why it worked

Critics figured the Blackhawks weren't deep enough down the middle to fend off the Kings and other contenders after the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. And they still figured that after this deal. But Handzus had more in the tank than skeptics believed, and head coach Joel Quenneville loves playing his veterans. Handzus took key draws, killed penalties and ended up with 11 postseason points as the Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins in six games in the 2013 finals. The fact the lockout limited the regular season to 48 games (Handzus played 39) probably didn't hurt.


Feb. 28, 2014: St. Louis Blues acquire goalie Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott from the Buffalo Sabres for goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a first-round pick and a third-round pick.

Why it didn't work

At the time, this looked like Blues GM Doug Armstrong might have found the long-awaited final piece to a Blues Stanley Cup puzzle. But it turned out the Blues' Cup picture remained wholly out of focus. Miller, the hero of the 2010 Olympics for Team USA and at the time the face of the Sabres, never quite found his groove with Ken Hitchcock's Blues. Certainly injuries hampered a strong team, but the Blues were one-and-done in the playoffs -- Miller was not himself, turning in an .897 save percentage during the Blues' first-round loss to the Blackhawks.

March 5, 2014: Montreal Canadiens acquire winger Thomas Vanek and a fifth-round pick from the New York Islanders for winger Sebastian Collberg and a second-round pick.

Why it didn't work

The Islanders had paid a huge price to acquire Vanek from the Sabres but later that season turned into a seller, and the Habs were able to pick up a pure scoring winger for little in return. In the end, even a little was too much. Vanek struggled again to deliver when it mattered most, failing to score in his final seven playoff games and scoring in just three playoff games for the Canadiens, who would lose to the Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals.

Feb. 26, 2016: Chicago Blackhawks acquire winger Andrew Ladd, defenseman Jay Harrison and winger Matt Fraser from the Winnipeg Jets for winger Marko Dano, a first-round pick and a conditional draft pick.

Why it didn't work

The veteran Ladd was the most sought-after forward on the trade market last year, and he looked to give the Blackhawks an excellent chance at winning back-to-back championships. Sometimes, though, looks can be deceiving. The plan was for Ladd, who'd won a championship with Chicago in 2010, to fill in a void on the team's top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. While he did score eight goals and added four assists in 19 regular-season games, Ladd could never find a groove in the playoffs, scoring just once and adding an assist in a terrific seven-game series loss to the Blues.

Feb. 25, 2015: Los Angeles Kings acquire defenseman Andrej Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes for a first-round draft pick and prospect Roland McKeown.

Why it didn't work

The Kings, defending Stanley Cup champs at the time, figured adding one of the top defensive assets available would push them over the top. They figured wrong. Although the Kings were desperate for defensive help, Sekera simply wasn't a big enough boost to get them into the playoffs -- he registered only four points after the trade -- and the loss of the first-round pick was a significant blow to GM Dean Lombardi, who didn't have the cap space to re-sign the pending free-agent Sekera. You don't hit if you don't swing, but this was one of those deals that in hindsight would have been better left undone for the Kings.