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article imageOp-Ed: Three NHL playoff stars and three terrible trades

By Ben Morris     May 21, 2014 in Sports
Whether transactions are made because of salary dumps, a playoff push, or the removal of a player that wants a change of scenery, the art of a trade is one that often leaves one team in heaven and one team in hell.
The final four of the NHL playoffs have built teams through the draft, free agency, and with trades that set the final duck in the row. These teams have acquired key players that have played a lot of minutes, and have fit into roles their teams have needed in order to play with cohesion, and success. Without these players their current teams could very well be without Stanley Cups, or long playoff runs.
Ryan McDonagh
In the first two games of the Eastern Final series against Montreal, McDonagh has 6 points. The reliable d-man who sits on the Rangers top pair is the product of a fleece job many sports journalists continue to laugh about. In a trade for a player who quickly went over the hill, McDonagh has destroyed the very team that dealt him in this year's playoffs.
McDonagh was a first round pick of the Canadiens in 2007 two years later he was sent to Broadway for a package that included Scott Gomez. Gomez was a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the New Jersey Devils, who signed a massive deal with the Rangers and completely lost all the skills he had that contributed to him scoring 84 points in the 2005-2006 season. When he was traded by the Rangers, he had five years and more than $30 million to collect. In 2008, he rewarded the Rangers by scoring 128 points in 156 games. The Rangers were desperate to get rid of Gomez and then Canadiens G.M Bob Gainey took the bait. At the time Gainey said "He is an outstanding playmaker and an excellent skater. Having won the Stanley Cup twice with the New Jersey Devils, he brings to our team a lot of playoff experience. Scott is an elite player who will certainly contribute to the success of our team for years to come." Gomez scored 108 points in three seasons with Montreal before being bought out, giving Montreal zero Stanley Cups. McDonagh has scored 122 points in four seasons as a Rangers defenseman, playing more than 20 minutes a game five on five, and special teams. Clearly the Canadiens would rather have McDonagh and his six points in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals.
Patrick Sharp
He is a two time Stanley Cup winner, and an important piece in the Cup-contending machine known as the Chicago Blackhawks. Patrick Sharp is also a product of another trade that should have never been made by the team that got rid of him. In 2005, the Philadelphia Flyers traded Sharp, along with Eric Melonche to the Blackhawks for Matt Ellison and a 2006 first round pick. Matt Ellison flew away into thin air, and Sharp has played in 100 playoff games scoring 62 points with a +/- of 10. In the 2010 Cup Final against Philadelphia, Sharp scored a second period goal in game 6 helping the Blackhawks end their decades long Cup drought. The Flyers meanwhile are in a continued state of limbo that gives them a playoff spot every year, but no championships. The Sharp trade is one of two disastrous deals the Flyers made that cost them players who won a Calder Cup for the Flyers AHL affiliate.
Mike Richards
Possibly next to only Jonathan Toews, no player in the NHL has a history of winning like Mike Richards. The winner of an OHL Championship, Memorial Cup, WJHC gold medal, Calder Cup, is also an Olympic Gold Medal winner who won a Stanley Cup. Whatever situation it is, whatever championship it was, Mike Richards delivered. Flyers then-general manager Paul Holmgren had that proven winner on his team, but after a second round exit following their Stanley Cup run, Holmgren and Flyers owner Ed Snider panicked, trading their captain Richards to the Los Angelas Kings for Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, and a 2nd round pick on the same day they traded Jeff Carter to Columbus, who ended up joining Richards in L.A for their Stanley Cup run. Simmonds has played pretty good for Philadelphia, but Schenn has not developed into the player many expected. With the money they saved, Philadelphia signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9 year $51 million dollar deal, they ended up buying out. Since Richards was traded he has been to three conference finals, and has hoisted the Cup. Philadelphia hasn't been back to the Cup final since the Richards, and Carter trades.
These three trades have shown deals made at the time may appear to set your team up for success, can blow up in your face. Montreal may have swept Tampa Bay, and upset Boston on their trip to the Stanley Cup semi finals, but a defensive core of Subban, Gorges, Markov, Emelin, and McDonagh could have been one of the best defenses in the NHL. Without the underachieving Gomez, and his huge cap hit, Montreal could have used that cap space to get a quality player to help them win a cup.
By keeping Sharp, would Chicago have had another player score that key second period goal in game six? If they kept Richards, Philadelphia would have a great leader who shows up for big games, and wins. These trades have shown general managers the importance of knowing what you have, and to not panic. Chicago got knocked out in the first round two consecutive years after they won the Cup in 2009, but they didn't trade Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. They stuck with their core and repeated as champions.
Patience is virtue, and Stanley Cups are virtuous when you don't make terrible trades.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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