The History of Trade is a mini series going through each team’s best and worst trades of all time. Each team has their own history and some may cross over, but the series will try to stick to each team. This article will focus on the Boston Bruins trade history, finding the best and worst of all time.
The first original six team in the series, the Boston Bruins, are definitely not shy when it comes to trading stars. Plenty of amazing NHLers have worn the black and yellow.
Somehow back in 1928, the Bruins managed to “trade” for Tiny Thompson from the AHA’s Minnesota Millers for cash. Thompson turned into one of the best goaltenders in team history. However, the Thompson trade would not crack the top two best trades in team history.
The Bruins may have made one of the best deals in NHL history with this one. In exchange for two of the top players to play for Boston, the Bruins gave up almost nothing. Jack Norris went on to play only 10 games in Chicago, posting a 4.42 goals-against average. His career would be spent mostly in the WHA where he would post a 3.17 career goals-against-average and an .897 save percentage.
Gilles Marotte managed to play in the NHL for 12 more seasons. He would put up a respectable 286 points in 690 games outside of Boston. Although solid numbers, Marotte never really became a shut down defenseman in the league like the Blackhawks would have hoped. He also only stayed in the windy city for two and a half years before being shipped to the Los Angeles Kings in a package with Jim Stanfield and Denis DeJordy for Bryan Campbell, Bill White, and Gerry Desjardins.
Pit Martin was the only solid return in this deal for Chicago. Martin managed to stay in Chicago for 11 seasons, scoring 243 goals with 384 assists across 740 games. He even reached 60 points on six separate occasions in the windy city. Jim Pappin and Dennis Hull flanked Martin for most of his Chicago career. The Blackhawks would go on to win the division four of the next five seasons after the trade, with Martin winning the Masterson Memorial trophy in the 1969-70 season.
Although Phil Esposito was the centrepiece of this deal, the Bruins made out like bandits in this trade. All three players turned into solid, if not great, players for the black and yellow B’s. Fred Stanfield, who may have had the least successful Boston career still managed to put up 409 points in 448 games. For a third player in the deal he became a solid Bruin.
Ken Hodge Sr. blossomed after the deal. He managed only 58 points prior to the move to Boston. His first year in bean town Hodge scored 25 goals and 31 assists, nearly doubling his career total. He would go on to put up 60 points in six of his nine seasons for the Bruins. His lowest goal total came in the 1971-72 season in which he dealt with injuries. Hodge finished as the seventh leading scorer in Boston history. He was then traded to the New York Rangers after the 1975-76 season for Rick Middleton, who would go on to become one of the greatest Bruins to ever don the wheeled B.
The focal point of the trade was Phil Esposito. While a good player in Chicago, Esposito became one of the best players in the league in Boston. He was named a second team All Star his first season, putting up 84 points. He never looked back from there, as he exceeded that total every season in Boston after that. Esposito was named a two-time Hart Trophy winner and five-time Art Ross winner across his eight full seasons as a Bruin. It was clear to anyone who watched him that Esposito was one of the greatest Bruins of all time.
After Boston, Esposito was traded to New York where he would continue to put up 78-or-more points until the 1979-80 season. In his last season Esposito only played in 41 games, struggling to produce before retiring.
This last year, Esposito was named to the NHL top 100 players of all time.
Honourable Mentions: Boston trades Barry Pederson to the Vancouver Canucks for Cam Neely and the 1987 first round pick (Glen Wesley); Boston trades Andrew Raycroft to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the rights to Tuukka Rask; Boston acquires Adam Oates from St. Louis for Craig Janney and Stephane Quintal; Boston acquires Tiny Thompson from the Minneapolis Millers for cash consideration (debated if it was just the purchase of his contract).
Despite Boston’s long history in the NHL, the team has not made many bad trades. Of course every team has a bad trade, and the Bruins may have made one of the worst in league history.
The Bruins may have made a really bad decision trading away Jumbo Joe. The former first overall pick had a slow start to his career. He reached the 60-point plateau in his third season with the club. After that, the league learned what it meant to face Joe Thornton. He put up no fewer than 68 points, even reaching the 100-point total in 2002-03.
The Bruins traded away their captain mid-way through the 2005-06 season. Thornton, clearly a little hurt, turned in the season of a lifetime putting up 92 points in the remaining 58 games in San Jose. He led the league in scoring that year and won the Hart Trophy. From there, Jumbo Joe never looked back to the Boston days as he put up no fewer than 49 points in a season until this past year. He became one of the most efficient centres in the league, posting a career 54.7 faceoff percentage as well.
Although Wayne Primeau was a consistent player, he only lasted parts of two seasons in Boston. He played 101 games for the black and yellow, scoring 13 goals and adding 16 assists in that time. He was then traded to Calgary along with Brad Stuart, one of the other pieces in the Thornton deal, and a draft pick for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew.
Speaking of Brad Stuart, he faired slightly better than Primeau in Boston. With 17 goals and 31 assists in 103 games, Stuart managed very little else before being shipped off to Calgary.
Marco Sturm ended up being the best player sent to Boston in this trade. He continued to be a 20-goal scorer after arriving in Boston. Sturm finished the 2005-06 season, scoring 23 goals in Boston before following that the next season with 27. He suffered an unfortunate knee injury in the 2008-09 season, forcing Sturm to miss all but 19 games. Sturm returned the next season to his scoring ways, putting up 22 goals and 37 points. After that season, Sturm was traded to Los Angeles for future considerations (still to be determined). Unfortunately for Sturm he was never able to return to his goal scoring putting up a total of eight goals across his last two seasons.
No matter how well Sturm played for the Bruins, it will never compare to the loss of Joe Thornton.
Dishonourable Mentions: The Boston Bruins trade the rights to Ken Dryden and Alex Campbell to the Montreal Canadiens for Guy Allen and Paul Reid. Boston Trades Kris Versteeg to the Chicago Blackhawks for Brandon Bochenski