Let’s talk about some Lamoriello trades

Yesterday, Brendan Shanahan sent perhaps the biggest jolt through the fanbase in his time in Toronto by hiring Lou Lamoriello out of New Jersey. There have been bigger moves, most notably the Babcock hire in May for a dump truck full of money, but Lamoriello leaving the swamp after TWENTY-EIGHT years to head up things in Toronto was far, far more surprising, without question.

Now that we’ve had a moment to pick our brains up off the floor, let’s take a look at what Lamoriello’s all about. The guy has made headlines a number of times in his time with the Devils, and his overall body of work is something to be marveled at, but let’s break things up a little and see where he’s done some of his more notable work. 

First up, trade history, and there’s a lot of it.

You might want to debate who came out on top of these deals, but in some cases general managers were just fleeced and hearts were broken. Oh, that Lou.

neidermayer

Let’s just get this one out of the way early, mainly for crying reasons. I don’t like to judge trades involving picks too much based on who was selected but, of course, in this situation with a top-three pick involved, it would be insane not to mention this trade. 

Kurvers wasn’t a bad player and actually put up some good numbers through the eighties, but trading him for the third overall pick and landing Niedermayer set up the Devils with arguably their biggest piece for the next fifteen years. Kurvers played a season and a half for the Leafs and was sent to Vancouver. Just a disaster for Toronto.

lemieux 2

Ah, it’s nice to see a rival feel the wrath of Lou here. Turgeon had a solid career through the eighties and was a great scorer with the Whalers but quickly after acquiring him from Hartford in 1989, Lou flipped him for the somewhat later-blooming Claude Lemieux. I don’t really have to explain to you how good Lemieux was – the guy basically defines the NHL playoffs in the 90’s and was pure evil on skates. [The perfect Devil, you might say. Har har har.]

andrey

I sort of forgot this deal even happened. Either way, you don’t see many Marek Posmyk Leafs jerseys floating around, and Andreychuk went on to put up 150 points in 224 games for the Devils from 1996 to 1999. 

To be fair this isn’t as lopsided as it seems. The Leafs dealt a guy in his thirties from a team whose window was closing for a couple picks. Lou got some good years out of him, though, so he wins again.

arnott

Here’s another trade that isn’t totally one-sided but is definitely notable. Guerin was a good Oiler and put up numbers in Edmonton, but the younger Arnott was a center and definitely a more important piece for the Devils. 

In his best stretch of hockey, Arnott would go on to put up 20 points in 23 playoff games in the 2000 Devils Cup run, including this double-overtime winner that took down the mug. 

lemeiux

It’s Lemieux’s second go-around and he’s just as evil as ever. It’s doubtful he’s even bothered to wash Kris Draper’s blood from his hands yet before he’s raising the Cup with Jersey again in 2000.

But this wouldn’t be a good trade in the long term. The much younger Rolston went on to produce at a high level through much of the 2000s and Lemieux was out of Jersey again quickly after getting his third ring. Though, like we mentioned before, Lemieux was forged in the fires of Mount Doom to win Cups and gambling on him here again paid off for Lou in the short-term. 

mogilny

This was a deadline deal Lou used to get some scoring for that same 2000 Cup run, and though Mogilny didn’t provide much offence in those playoffs, he did get a ring and was like someone shot out of a cannon the following season, notching 43 goals and 40 assists – his highest total in five seasons. The deal worked out for both clubs as Morrison went on to have a solid career as the resident nice guy with Vancouver while they pretended to be good through the 2000s. 

koval

This is easily Lou’s biggest trade – one of the biggest ever for a deadline deal, I would think. Kovalchuk is one of the best players of our generation and selling off some futures to get him and keep him was one of Lamoriello’s best series of moves to keep the Devils competitive – Kovalchuk basically put the team on his back to drag them to the Final against L.A. just three years ago. 

Unfortunately Kovalchuk’s tenure with the Devils ended poorly when he went back overseas to play in the KHL in 2013, but “Loophole Lou” made sure Jersey wouldn’t hurt too much from it, edging him into “retirement” and taking him off the books completely.

schneid

This seemed like a risky move at the time since putting value on a goalie is incredibly difficult and giving up a top-ten selection is a steep ask. However, with Schneider’s cap-friendly contract and obscene skill level, you could argue Lamoriello has set the Devils up between the pipes with elite goaltending for the foreseeable future, which is probably worth Bo Horvat or anyone else they may have looked at in a not-so-strong draft.

THE SCOTT STEVENS THING

I saved this one for last because it isn’t really a trade. It’s more like the exact thing that caused Lamoriello to earn the “Loophole” part of his nickname (besides the other trillion things). 

I forgot how this broke down so I actually had to consult Wikipedia. Good stuff, that Wikipedia.

Alright, so first off, in 1990 the Blues signed Scott Stevens, who was an RFA (leaving Washington), to a four-year deal. As compensation, the Capitals ended up receiving five first-round picks from St. Louis. 

The following year, the Blues went after Brendan Shanahan – also an RFA – in basically the exact same fashion, and plucked him from the Devils. Lou was now entitled to some return, but the Blues were drained of first-round picks from the Stevens move the summer before, so now other compensation had to be arranged. The Blues offered up Curtis Joseph and Rod Brind’Amour but Lamoriello was like “Nah, I want Scott Stevens instead” and didn’t let it go. Because he was so adamant about Stevens and nothing could be worked out, the case eventually went to arbitration, where Stevens was awarded to the Devils just before the 1991-92 season started.  

All trades listed from NHLTradeTracker.com

    • Jeremy Ian

      If Schneider was traded for the 10th overall pick, we should be able to get a mid to low first round pick for Bernier. I wouldn’t trade Reimer as he is undervalued in the league.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Cool summary. If Kovalchuk hadn’t bolted for the KHL we’d be touting LL as still one of the great managers of the game.

    Does anyone know why Brodeur didn’t return to the Devils’ front office and signed with the Blues?

  • Jeremy Ian

    Here’s another thing to think about concerning the Niedermayer/Kurvers trade.

    How much worse is Toronto without Kurvers, and who do they end up taking in the 1990 draft?

    They acquired Kurvers 5 games into the 1989-90 season after a horrific start, going 1-4 and averaging 6.00 goals against per game. By the time he laced up for them, they were 2-5, giving up 10 more goals in those 2 games (including a Mario Lemieux hat trick).

    Kurvers’ arrival would immediately pull them out of the tail-spin, with them whipping the Washington Capitals in his first game, an 8-4 victory over a rookie goalie named Olaf Kolzig. Kurvers would play 70 games for them that season, putting up 52 points, and the Leafs would finish as a .500 team with 80 points in 80 games. They made the playoffs, but were bounced in 5 games by the Blues.

    Their .500 record was good enough (or bad enough) to land them the 10th pick in the draft, which they used to pick Drake Berehowski. Drake Berehowski, while no Leafs legend, wasn’t a complete bust. He played 549 NHL games with 6 teams, even returning to Toronto in 2003-04 to end his NHL career. 30 players drafted after him played more NHL games than him, including Keith Tkachuk (19th), Martin Brodeur (20th), and Doug Weight (34th).

    But what about the players drafted before him?

    According to http://www.hockey-reference.com, Kurvers was worth 5.3 Point Shares for the Leafs that season, so in theory, they would have finished with 74 to 75 points without him, giving them the 7th or 8th pick. Who were the 7th and 8th picks that year? Only a couple All-Star defensemen with a combined 2336 games and 838 points between them, the backbone of the Dallas Stars’ 1999 Stanley Cup winning team, Darryl Sydor and Darian Hatcher.

    Had they finished with 73 points and worse than the Islanders and gotten the 6th pick, they may have picked bust Scott Scissons (2 NHL games). But what if Kurvers had made an 8 or 9 point difference to the Leafs that season? They may have had the 5th pick and drafted Jaromir Jagr.

    1 QUE 31 Owen Nolan
    2 VAN 64 Petr Nedved
    3 DET 70 Keith Primeau
    4 PHI 71 Mike Ricci
    5 PIT 72 Jaromir Jagr
    6 NYI 73 Scott Scissons
    7 LAK 75 Darryl Sydor
    8 MIN 76 Derian Hatcher
    9 WSH 78 John Slaney
    10 TOR 80 Drake Berehowsky

    (However, I have no idea if the Leafs would have actually drafted Jagr if given the chance at #5)

    • Jeremy Ian

      Oh, and neither Sydor nor Hatcher played in the 90-91 season, so had the Leafs drafted them instead of Berehowski, they still finish 2nd last and draft 3rd overall in 91 (but who knows if they draft Niedermayer or Scott Lachance or Aaron Ward).

  • Jeremy Ian

    Fixing that table..

    1 QUE 31 Owen Nolan

    2 VAN 64 Petr Nedved

    3 DET 70 Keith Primeau

    4 PHI 71 Mike Ricci

    5 PIT 72 Jaromir Jagr

    6 NYI 73 Scott Scissons

    7 LAK 75 Darryl Sydor

    8 MIN 76 Derian Hatcher

    9 WSH 78 John Slaney

    10 TOR 80 Drake Berehowsky

  • Jeremy Ian

    Tom Kurvers was originally a third round pick selected by the Montreal Canadians. He was paired with another rookie defenceman to run the power play for the Habs. Some guy named Chelios.

    Montreal soon got tired of his defensive liabilities and shipped him off to New Jersey for a FOURTH ROUND PICK. Well the genius himself, one wacko Harold Ballard got it in his head that Kurvers a defensive liability just had to put on the leaf jersey and presto the leafs give up their first round pick.

    Similar to Charles zero O’Finley’s of the Oakland A’s crusade to give his star players away and thus force the league to intervene, Ballard should have had this trade nullified by the N.H.L.

    So Lou used a third round pick to get a first round pick who became a hall of famer. Seems only fitting that the leafs had to give up a third round pick to get Lou to come to Toronto.

    Lou is only going on 73 which is a year or two younger than Phil Jackson who was hired to run another team that has been mired in mediocrity for 43 long years, namely the New York Knicks, who the Toronto Raptors love, but that is a different story.