Over the years, the Pittsburgh Penguins have had continued success that has made this franchise well known throughout the sports world. Furthermore, the Pittsburgh Penguins, like any franchise have seen their share of blockbuster trades that have gone great for the organization. However, as the saying goes, the best trade is the one you don’t make, as others have proven to be disastrous for the Pens. Let’s look back at the five worst decisions and trades in Pittsburgh Penguins history.
July 8, 1995-D Larry Murphy was traded to Toronto for D Dmitri Mironov and a 2nd round pick in the 1996 entry draft.
Scouting reports mean nothing till you’ve seen the player in person in action. Unfortunately for the Penguins, Larry Murphy was traded for a head-case, a complete bust in, Dimitri Mironov. Larry Murphy anchored the Penguins blue line for their back to back Cup runs, Murphy is then traded to the Red wings to anchor their blue line for their back to back Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998. Furthermore, Murphy went on to become one of the all time highest scoring defenseman in the NHL.
March 20, 1996– LW Markus Naslund to Vancouver for RW Alex Stojanov.
Markus Naslund was drafted in the first round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, the Penguins had hoped he would develop into an All-Star caliber goal scorer in the NHL. He did. Naslund became a perennial All-Star and captain of the Vancouver Canucks while scoring 395 goals, while Stojanov was forced to retire after 45 games due to injuries he sustained in a car accident.
June 22, 1996– The Penguins trade D Sergei Zubov to Dallas for D Kevin Hatcher.
Sergei Zubov and Mario Lemieux never saw eye to eye as these two struggled to mesh. With Lemieux being the team captain and savior of Pittsburgh, Zubov was traded to the Dallas Stars on June 22, 1996 for Kevin Hatcher. On paper, this looked to be a win-win for both of these teams as the Penguins were looking for a big, tough defenseman who plays on the edge. Unfortunately for the Penguins, his name is Derian, not Kevin. Meanwhile, Zubov anchored the Dallas blue line in its cup winning run in 1999. In 13 years with the Stars, Zubov would average around 10 goals and 55 assists per season.
July 11, 2001– RW Jaromir Jagr and D Frantisek Kucera to the Washington Capitals for centers Kris Beech and Michal Sivek, D Ross Lupaschuk and future considerations.
Sometimes, bad trades are made by choice. Unfortunately, in this case, they are forced upon you. Jaromir Jagr wasn’t happy in Pittsburgh as many including myself believe that Jagr felt overlooked, undermined, and disrespected by the return of Mario Lemieux after a three-year retirement. Jagr decided that he wanted to play elsewhere and demanded a trade.
The Penguins traded, in my opinion, their second best player in their history with more than 1,000 points and multiple scoring titles for three prospects. While Jagr would continue to play at an MVP level, none of the prospects that the Pens received ever developed into NHL caliber players and all of them were either later traded or simply released.
February 10, 2003– RW Alex Kovalev, LW Dan LaCourture, and defensemen Janne Laukkanen and Mike Wilson to the New York Rangers for defensemen Joel Bouchard, and Richard Lintner and right wings Rico Fata and Mikael Samuelsson.
In 2003, The Penguins were looking down the barrel of a bankruptcy nightmare as their shrinking budget and uncertain future became more evident with each passing day. The Penguins organization was faced with a choice, a dilemma: Should they allow star players to leave in free agency or trade them away in an effort to rebuild? on February 10, 2003, In an effort to rebuild, traded Alexei Kovalev, one of the top goal scorers and true snipers in the NHL, along with Dan LaCouture, Janne Laukkanen and Mike Wilson to the New York Rangers for Mikael Samuelsson, Rico Fata, Joel Bouchard, Richard Lintner and cash.
Every team in the NHL has traded a player that has backfired down the road. Cam Neely to Boston, Teemu Selanne to Anaheim, Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Chris Simon, a 1st round draft pick, and $15 million to Quebec, and the great one to the LA Kings. All of these trades over the years have made fans, players, coaches, and general managers scratch their heads.