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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

The great Gretzky trade trees

Anyone who is even a casual fan of hockey knows pretty much all there is to know about Wayne Gretzky. So rather than rehash his career in this post, I decided to take a look at the players that were involved in the two trades Gretzky was part of in his career. It is not often that a player deemed to be the greatest of all-time in his sport is traded, let alone traded twice, but this is another superlative that can be added to The Great One.

Card 436 - Chris Joseph

A defenceman, Joseph was drafted fifth overall by Pittsburgh in the 1987 draft. He started the 1987-88 season with Seattle in the WHL, turning pro mid-season, playing 17 games for the Penguins. In November he was traded to Edmonton alongside three other players for Paul Coffey and two players. Joseph split the balance of the season between Edmonton and the AHL.

Joseph yo-yo’d between the Oilers and the AHL for the next five seasons, playing 7, 44, 4, 49, and 7 games respectively with the Oilers during that time. During the 1990-91 season in which he played 49 games he scored five goals and 22 points.

Early in the 1993-94 season Joseph was traded to Tampa Bay for Bob Beers. Between the two teams he set career-highs in goals (11), points (31) and penalty minutes (136). Joseph returned to the Pittsburgh organization at the start of the 1994-95 season after being claimed off waivers, lasting two seasons before being claimed by Vancouver in September 1996. In 63 games with the Canucks he scored three goals and 16 points.

Joseph’s career continued with a two-year stint with the Philadelphia Flyers organization, followed by signing with Ottawa as a free agent in 1999-00. Before ever playing for the Senators he was claimed off waivers by Vancouver, playing 38 games with the Canucks before being claimed off the waivers for the fourth time in his career, this time by Phoenix. Joseph’s final NHL season game in 2001-01, where of course he would be claimed off waivers again, this time by Atlanta, where he played his final NHL games.

Perhaps sick of the waiver wire, Joseph moved to Europe for five seasons, playing in Finland, Germany and Italy, winning an Italian league title in his final season. In 14 NHL seasons Joseph played in 510 games, scoring 39 goals and 151 points. In retirement he has worked as a firefighter and also runs hockey camps. His son Jaxon was one of the young men killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2018, and Chris now dedicates a portion of his time to advocating for safer roads.

YouTube clip: fighting Stephane Matteau during December 1990 game versus Calgary. The fight kicked off a large brawl between the two Alberta teams.

Card 437 - Wayne Gretzky

August 9, 1988: Traded by the Edmonton Oilers with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley to the Los Angeles Kings for 1st round draft pick in 1989, 1st round draft pick in 1991, 1st round draft pick in 1993, Jimmy Carson and Martin Gelinas.

  • First round pick in 1989: Oilers traded the pick to the Devils (used to select Jason Miller) for Corey Foster. Foster was quickly packaged to Philadelphia with Dave Brown and Jari Kurri for Craig Berube, Craig Fisher and Scott Mellanby. Berube was flipped to Toronto before the start of the season as the third player in the Grant Fuhr/Glenn Anderson trade that landed the Oilers Vincent Damphousse, Peter Ing, Luke Richardson and Scott Thornton. The other Craig, Fisher, was traded to Winnipeg for cash, never playing for the Oilers either. Mellanby played two seasons for the Oilers, scoring 38 goals and 82 points before he was claimed by Florida in the 1993 expansion draft.

  • First round pick in 1991: Oilers selected Martin Rucinsky 20th overall. He played two games for the Oilers before he was traded to Quebec for Brad Zavisha and Ron Tugnutt. Zavisha also played two games for the Oilers before he was traded to Philadelphia for Ryan McGill. McGill played a total of eight games for the Oilers in 1994-95, his final pro hockey games. Goalie Tugnutt played in 29 games (10-13-2 record) over two seasons before being claimed by Anaheim in the 1993 expansion draft.

  • First round pick in 1993: Oilers select defenceman Nick Stajduhar 16th overall. He played two games for the Oilers in 1995-96 and left the organization the following season. Played in the minors until the 2000-01 season.

  • Jimmy Carson: the centrepiece of the deal, Carson was coming off a 55-goal season. He played one full season in Edmonton, scoring 49 goals and 100 points before demanding a trade. Carson was sent to his hometown Detroit Red Wings with Kevin McClelland and a draft pick for Adam Graves, Petr Klima, Joe Murphy and Jeff Sharples. Graves played two seasons for the Oilers, scoring 14 goals and 46 points before signing as a free agent with New York in 1991 and blossoming into a 50-goal scorer. Klima played four seasons with Edmonton, scoring 119 goals and 209 points, famously remembered for scoring the overtime winner in Game 1 of the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals. He left Edmonton in a trade to Tampa Bay for a third round pick, Brad Symes, who never played in the NHL. Murphy played three seasons for Edmonton (69 goals and 169 points) and was traded to Chicago for Igor Kravchuk and Dean McAmmond. Kravchuk played four seasons for the Oilers (160 games, 88 points) and was shipped to St. Louis for Donald Dufresne and Jeff Norton. McAmmond played 303 games over six seasons, scoring 161 points before being sent back to Chicago in a seven-player trade. The final piece, Jeff Sharples, played one season for the Oilers’ AHL team before being traded to New Jersey for Reijo Ruotsalainen. Ruotsalainen played 10 games for the Oilers in 1989-90 before returning to Europe.

  • Martin Gelinas: Gelinas played five seasons for the Oilers, scoring 60 goals and 120 points. Like Graves, Klima, and Murphy he was part of the 1990 Cup winning team. He was eventually traded to Quebec with a sixth round pick for Scott Pearson. Pearson scored 32 points in 100 games for the Oilers before getting shipped to Buffalo for Ken Sutton.

Overall the Oilers didn’t make much use of the three first-round picks. The best return on investment was the 1989 first round pick, which eventually turned into a season of Vincent Damphousse, who himself was flipped for three seasons of Shayne Corson. Jimmy Carson was the major talent, and the Oilers were able to flip a disgruntled player for three moderately talented players who helped the team win a fifth Stanley Cup. Ditto for Gelinas. So overall, a pretty decent deal when you look back on it, especially compared to what Los Angeles got for Gretzky less than seven years later. We can't forget that the $15 million owner Peter Pocklington got was the key part of the deal.

February 27, 1996: Traded by the Los Angeles Kings to the St. Louis Blues for 5th round draft pick in 1996 (Peter Hogan), 1st round draft pick in 1997 (Matt Zultek), Craig Johnson, Patrice Tardif and Roman Vopat.

  • Fifth round pick in 1996: Kings selected Peter Hogan 123rd overall from Oshawa. The highest level of hockey he played was a handful of games in the AHL.

  • First round pick in 1997: Kings selected forward Matt Zultek 15th overall. He never signed with Los Angeles, re-entering the draft in 1999, where he was selected 56th overall by Boston. Zultek was also a career minor-leaguer with a handful of AHL games.

  • Craig Johnson: a young prospect, Johnson played eight seasons with LA, appearing in 429 games, scoring 62 goals and 141 points. He left the Kings in 2003 to sign with rival Anaheim as a free agent.

  • Patrice Tardif: a young centre who displayed a scoring touch at Maine, he played 15 games with the Kings in 1995-96, scoring two points. Tardif signed as a free agent with Buffalo in September 1997 and never again played in the NHL but had a long career playing semi-pro in Quebec.

  • Roman Vopat: a prospect from the Czech Republic, Vopat played parts of three seasons with the Kings, scoring 12 points in 57 games. He was traded with a sixth round pick to Colorado for Eric Lacroix. This would be Lacroix’s second stint in LA, playing 27 games and recording one assist. Lacroix was traded to the New York Rangers in 1999 for Sean Pronger. The brother of Chris, Sean played 13 games with the Kings, also scoring one assist before signing with Boston as a free agent.

Perhaps knowing that Gretzky was an upcoming free agent, the Blues were able to get the Great One without having to give up any established NHL talent. The Kings poor drafting and development may also have played a role, as the trade of Gretzky represented the end of the first golden era of hockey in Southern California.

Card 438 - Jocelyn Lemieux

A right winger, Lemieux was drafted 10th overall in 1986 by St. Louis. He scored 125 points during his draft season with Laval, turning pro after the draft and appearing in 53 games with the Blues, scoring 10 goals and 18 points. The following season Lemieux scored only one goal in 23 games, spending part of the season with Peoria in the AHL.

He received a fresh start in 1988 when he was traded in the off-season to Montreal for goalie Vincent Riendeau. Lemieux played in a single game for the Habs in 1988-89, and after 34 games the following season was traded to Chicago for a third round draft pick. He found a home with the Blackhawks, where he played the next five seasons, playing in 60 or more games each season. The Hawks made the Stanley Cup Finals in 1992, with Lemieux scoring three goals during the playoffs. The following season he scored a career-high 31 points and in 1993-94 Lemieux netted 18 goals, also a career-high. Late in the season he was traded to Hartford in a four-player swap.

Lemieux played an additional one and a half seasons with the Whalers before he was traded to New Jersey in December 1995. His stop with the Devils was brief (15 games) as he was traded to Calgary in a five-player deal that landed the Devils Phil Housley. Lemieux’s final NHL games came with Phoenix between 1996 and 1998; he played his last pro season with Long Beach in the IHL in 1998-99.

In 12 NHL seasons, Lemieux played in 598 games, scoring 80 goals and 164 points. He currently works as an analyst for RDS broadcasts of Ottawa Senators games.

YouTube clip: an absolute slugfest between Lemieux and Harold Snepsts during Game 6 of the 1990 Norris Division Finals

Card 439 - Garry Galley

A defenceman, Galley was selected 100th overall by Los Angeles in the 1983 draft. Prior to the draft he played two seasons of college hockey with Bowling Green, returning for one season before turning pro in 1984. In Galley’s rookie season with the Kings he scored eight goals and 38 points.

After splitting his sophomore season between the Kings and the AHL, Galley was traded to Washington part way through the 1986-87 season. His time in Washington lasted less than two years before he signed with Boston as a free agent. In his first two seasons as Bruin Galley scored eight goals each season and eclipsed the 30 point mark each season. He also played in the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals, contributing three goals and six points in 21 playoff games and played in the 1991 all-star game.

January 1992 saw Galley traded to Philadelphia with Wes Walz and a draft picks for Gord Murphy, a prospect and two draft picks. Moving to the Flyers, Galley saw his offensive production explode, scoring 13 goals and 62 points in 1992-93, and then 10 goals and 70 points in 1993-94. He also made his second all-star game appearance in 1994.

Partway through the lockout shortened 1994-95 season he was traded to Buffalo one-for-one for fellow blueliner Petr Svoboda. Galley played three seasons with the Sabres, scoring 10 goals and 54 points in his first full season. He moved back to Los Angeles as a free agent in 1997-98, playing three seasons with the Kings before one final pro season in 2000-01 with the New York Islanders.

In 17 NHL seasons, Galley played in 1149 games, scoring 125 goals and 600 points. He was an assistant captain with three separate franchises (Washington, Philadelphia and Los Angeles). In retirement Galley transitioned to broadcasting, starting first as a colour analyst with the Ottawa Senators before joining CBC for Hockey Night in Canada for the 2010-11 season. When Sportsnet landed the national coverage for NHL, Galley was moved over as part of the broadcast team, a position he still holds today.

YouTube clip: scoring the overtime winner in Game 2 of the 1990 Adams Division Finals against Montreal.

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