Biggest trades of the decade
Ray Bourque's trade to Colorado led to a Stanley Cup and one of the decade's most emotional moments.
1. Ray Bourque and Dave Andreychuk to the Avalanche from the Bruins for Brian Rolston, Samuel Pahlsson, Martin Grenier and a first-round pick; March 6, 2000
After two decades spent redefining excellence in Boston, Bourque was finally put out of his Stanley Cup-less misery by Bruins owner Harry Sinden. The Avs saw the future Hall of Fame defenseman as a missing piece. Though they didn't win the Cup that season, Bourque immersed himself in the team's culture for the full campaign of 2000-01. The desire to win one for the highly regarded veteran served as a rallying point. In a touching moment, captain Joe Sakic handed the chalice to an emotion-wracked Bourque after their Game 7 finals win over the Devils.
2. Joe Thornton to the Sharks from the Bruins for Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau; Nov. 30, 2005
He was their captain and leading scorer, and the Bruins couldn't wait to get rid of him. Thornton, a former first overall pick, was deemed too soft and unmotivated to lead the Bruins after a dismal playoff against Montreal that may (or may not) have been influenced by a rib injury. That Jumbo Joe was dealt wasn't a shock. What was nearly unfathomable was that the Bruins chose to forego shopping him around the league. Still, the deal worked out fairly well for both sides. The B's used their freed-up cap space to sign Marc Savard, while the Thornton-led Sharks became one of the NHL's most dangerous teams...during the regular season, at least.
3. Chris Pronger to the Ducks from the Oilers for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, a 2007 first-round pick, and a 2008 first-round and second-round pick; July 3, 2006
You have to hand it to Brian Burke. As soon as Anaheim's GM heard rumors that Pronger's wife was Yoko-ing the defenseman's relationship with the Oilers, he put together a sizable package to bring Big Trouble to The Pond. It was a risky move. Lupul was coming off a 28-goal season, and moving three first-rounders (including Smid) guaranteed empty shelves in the prospect cupboard. Still, Pronger had been a monster in the 2006 playoffs, and he brought the truculence that defined how Burke wanted his Ducks to play. Though he stayed just three seasons, Pronger proved an astute acquisition. He led the franchise to its first Stanley Cup in 2007, the same year he was honored as a Norris Trophy finalist. He was named team captain the following year and finished among the league leaders in time-on-ice each season.
4. Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen to the Panthers from the Islanders for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha; June 24, 2000
Armed with the first overall pick in the 2000 draft, Islanders GM Mad Mike Milbury had his choice of dynamic scorers -- Dany Heatley or Marian Gaborik -- but was enthralled by DiPietro, the brash puck-moving stopper from Boston University. Milbury already had one of the game's best young keepers in Luongo, so rather than overload at the position, he sent Luongo to Florida with disappointing sophomore Jokinen. Luongo lived up to his promise and became an elite goaltender. Jokinen became an All-Star who led the Panthers in scoring five times. The oft-injured DiPietro had his mail forwarded to the trainer's room. Parrish became a serviceable secondary scorer, but Kvasha redefined plodding. Amazingly, Milbury lasted another six years on the job.
5. Tomas Fleischmann and first- and fourth-round picks to the Capitals from the Red Wings for Robert Lang; Feb. 28, 2004
This was a less dramatic deal than, say, the August 2005 exchange that saw Ottawa send Marian Hossa to Atlanta for Dany Heatley, but the swap just ahead of the trade deadline exemplifies what every team hopes to accomplish when it dishes an established veteran for a handful of magic beans. In this case, the cash-strapped Caps dumped their leading scorer for a pair of players who are now part of the core of their Cup-contending squad. The fourth-rounder (Luke Lynes) was a flop, but Fleischmann has matured into an exciting, if raw, secondary scorer. And that first-rounder? The Caps used it to select Mike Green, the anchor of their blueline and one of the game's premier offensive defenders.
Best free-agent signings
1. Marc Savard, Bruins; July 1, 2006
Written off as too small by the Rangers and one-dimensional by the Flames, the crafty Savard finally emerged as an elite scorer in his third NHL stop, with the Thrashers. Questions persisted, though, as he entered free agency. Was he really an offensive sparkplug or merely a product of playing with Ilya Kovalchuk and Heatley? The Bruins bet $20 million over four years on the former, and reaped a big payoff. Savard has led them in scoring in each of his first three seasons (262 points in 238 games) and, to his credit, has evolved into a reliable two-way player under coach Claude Julien.
2. Tim Thomas, Bruins; Sept. 14, 2005
Coming off an MVP season in the Finnish league, the 31-year-old Thomas blew off a secure deal with Jokerit for one last shot at his NHL dream. With Andrew Raycroft holding out, the Bruins were looking for some low-cost insurance between the pipes. Their one-year, $450,000 risk paid off for both sides. When the door opened, Thomas played well enough to turn Raycroft into trade bait and earned himself a permanent gig. Before long, he was established as one of the league's best and most exciting stoppers. A two-time All-Star, he entered this season as the reigning Vezina Trophy-winner and is a likely member of Team USA for the 2010 Olympics.
3/4. Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille, Red Wings; July 2001
Getting sent home early by the hated Avalanche two years in a row was bad enough, but being spanked by the Kings in 2001 -- in the first round, no less! -- demanded swift, decisive action by GM Ken Holland. He dealt for top goalie Dominik Hasek, then took a Steinbrenner-esque dive into the free agent pool by adding a pair of aging 500-goal scorers to a club that was already buying Grecian Formula in bulk. Both legends responded to their two-year, $9 million deals with 30-goal seasons. Hull added 10 more to lead the team in the playoffs and Robitaille was also a key contributor to Detroit's 2002 Stanley Cup.
5. Chris Osgood, Red Wings; July 1, 2006
Further proof that a free agent doesn't have to cost more than a private jet to make a dramatic impact. The Wings repatriated the oft-maligned Osgood from the Blues for $1.8 million over two years to serve as backup to Hasek. His first season was derailed by injuries, but Osgood earned his keep in 2007-08. With Hasek sidelined by a bad back, Osgood played well enough to earn a spot in the All-Star Game. Hasek's reputation earned him the start when the playoffs began, but when he struggled against the Predators in the first round, Osgood stepped back between the pipes, going 14-4 with a 1.55 GAA to lead the Wings to the Cup. And while Osgood was brutally inconsistent last season, he again found his form in the playoffs. Though the Wings failed to repeat, his sparkling play made him the team's leading Conn Smythe-contender had they beaten the Penguins in Game 7 of the final.