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 Los Angeles Kings trade history, finding the best and worst of all time.
Los Angeles Kings Trade History: Best and Worst Trades of All-Time
The longest lasting California team in NHL history, the Los Angeles Kings have had their fair share of blockbusters. A team who once boasted players like Marcel Dionne, Rob Blake and Luc Robitaille will of course come with big trades. But which was the best and worst?
Acquiring Dionne was of course a steal for the franchise and possibly the worst move in Red Wings history. He was a superstar in California before it was in style. But somehow the Kings outdid that trade just 13 years later in “The Trade”.
The Los Angeles Kings trade Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, 1st round picks (1989, later traded to New Jersey – New Jersey selected Jason Miller), 1991 (Martin Rucinsky) and 1993 (Nick Stajduhar) and $15 million USD to the Edmonton Oilers for Wayne Gretzky, Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski
The Kings somehow convinced the Oilers to give up The Great One. In return they sent two players, three picks and a ton of cash. The two players heading directly to the Oilers were Gelinas and Carson. Gelinas had yet to play a game for the Kings, as he was drafted just a few months prior to the trade. He would play five seasons in an orange and blue jersey before being traded to the Quebec Nordiques with a sixth round pick for Scott Pearson. He never really made an impact with the Oilers, putting up a high of 20 goals and 40 points and only exceeding the 30 point mark in that one season.
Jimmy Carson was supposed to be the centrepiece heading Edmonton’s way at the time of the trade. The year prior he put up 55 goals and 107 points for the Kings after all. His first year in Edmonton showed signs of continuation, as he managed 49 goals and 100 points in 80 games. But after just one year the Edmonton brass must have seen something they didn’t like.
Carson was traded after just four games the next year to the Detroit Red Wings along with Kevin McClelland and a fifth round pick for Petr Klima, Joe Murphy, Adam Graves, and Jeff Sharples. Carson would never reach his 100-point mark again, only breaking 70 points once in his remaining six seasons in the NHL. Klima and Murphy would enjoy some limited success in Edmonton where as Graves and Sharples would struggle. In fact, Sharples was never able to play a game for the team.
The draft pick the Kings sent Edmonton’s way didn’t help the Oilers very much. The 1989 pick was later traded to the New Jersey Devils for Corey Foster. Foster would never play a game for the Oilers. The 1991 pick turned into Martin Rucinsky. Rucinsky would play a total of just two games for the Oilers, never recording a point. He was traded to the Quebec Nordiques for Ron Tugnutt and Brad Zavisha. Tugnutt joined the list of players to struggle in Edmonton, posting a two-year total of just 13 wins and a 4.23 goals-against-average and an .877 save percentage. Zavisha played just two games for the Oilers.
With the 1993 draft pick the Oilers selected Nick Stajduhar. A defenseman with offensive upside coming out of junior. Stajduhar never made an impact in the NHL. He joined the likes of Rucinsky and Zavisha, only playing two games for Edmonton and never recording a point.
When all was said and done the best pieces returning to the Oilers in the trade for The Great One was $15 million dollars. Although it is unclear exactly how the money was used, it was the only consistent piece Edmonton received.
Although Gretzky was the main piece headed LA’s way, they received two other players in this deal. McSorley was a key piece to the Edmonton cup runs, albeit in a physical aspect. He was the grit that protected the star players like Gretzky. In fact, in just three seasons, 160 games exactly, in Edmonton prior to the trade McSorley put up a ridiculous 647 penalty minutes. He took to protecting his teammates like very few players did.
After arriving in LA McSorley didn’t slow down as he put up 350 penalty minutes in his first season. But something changed and McSorley began to find a small offensive game. His point total would increase through his first three seasons in LA.
McSorley’s best season for the Kings came in 1992-93 as he managed to score 15 goals and 41 points. By no means a world beater he also managed to put up 399 penlaty minutes easily leading the league in the category. His production would continue into the playoffs as well. McSorley put up 10 points in 24 games, helping the Kings make their first Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately for Marty, it was a stick infraction on his part that led to the Montreal Canadiens gaining control of the series and ultimately winning. He would be traded that off-season and eventually end up back in LA for a second stint. His impact was bigger than most people believe.
Krushelnyski would have some success in LA after the trade as well. Only four years removed from a career high 88 point season in Edmonton, Krushelnyski would manage 62 points in his first season in LA. He finished seventh on the team in that category behind players like Gretzky, Bernie Nicholls, and Luc Robitaille. The next season would see Krushelnyski’s production dip down to only 41 points. He was traded the next season after just 15 games and only six points. He packed his bags and headed North to the Toronto Maple Leafs for John McIntyre.
Of course we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the impact The Great One had on the Kings. Just three years removed from his NHL record (to this day) 215 point season, Gretzky was sent to LA in tears. He took his otherworldly talents and became the new face of hockey in the South. His first season saw him put up 168 points, leading the Kings to the playoffs. They even managed to win a series, against Edmonton of all teams. Gretzky put up 22 points in just 11 playoff games that year, helping beat the Oilers in seven games before falling in four straight to the Flames.
Gretzky and the Kings would go on to make the playoffs in the next four years. For his part, Gretzky would put up point totals of 142, 163, 121, and 65 respectively in those four years. The 1992-93 season, his fifth in La La Land, Gretzky would miss 37 games due to injury. After returning, Gretzky would help lead the team through a tough playoff stretch, including two six-game series and one seven-game series in the conference final. Of course, Leafs fans still argue that Gretzky high-sticked Doug Gilmour in game six and the series should have ended there. But the Kings won game six to force the seventh and deciding game.
Gretzky would go on and put up his best playoff game of his career, in his opinion. The Kings would win the series and head on to face the Canadiens. Ultimately they would fall in five games but the love for hockey had grown to fever in California.
The Kings would fail to make the playoffs again with Gretzky in the fold. But his impact on the game in California is still being felt to this day. The California coast went from barely caring for hockey to now being home to three separate clubs. Without Gretzky skating in a Kings jersey it is hard to say what would have come from the California experience. But without a doubt, he was the catalyst for hockey in the South.
Honourable mentions: Los Angeles Kings trade Dan Maloney, Terry Harper, and 1976 second round pick (Jim Roberts) to the Detroit Red Wings for Marcel Dionne and Bart Crashley; Los Angeles trades Jack Johnson and 2013 first round pick (Marko Dano) to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jeff Carter; LA acquire Justin Williams from the Carolina Hurricanes for Patrick O’Sullivan and 2009 second round pick (Brian Dumoulin); Los Angeles acquires Ziggy Palffy, Bryan Smolinski, Marcel Cousineau, and 1999 fourth round pick (Daniel Johansson) from the New York Islanders for Olli Jokinen, Josh Green, Mathieu Biron, and 1999 first round pick (Taylor Pyatt)
The Kings best trade is so well known that it has come to be known as “The Trade”. Their worst trade may not have had as big of an impact as “the Trade” but it was still a terrible move for the organization.
Los Angeles trades Rob Blake and Steve Reinprecht to the Colorado Avalanche for Adam Deadmarsh, Aaron Miller, a player to be named later (Jared Aulin) and two first round picks (2001 ,David Steckel, and 2003, Brian Boyle)
Somehow the Kings thought this trade was a good idea at the time. Reinprecht was supposed to be a throw-in for the Avalanche, who were giving up two first round picks. He turned into a solid third line centre, even putting up 46 and 51 points in his two full seasons in Denver. He was part of the Stanley Cup Champion Avs team in 2000-01 season after arriving from LA. From his perspective, this trade helped his career. He was traded in 2003 to the Buffalo Sabres for Keith Ballard and subsequently sent to the Calgary Flames the same day with Rhett Warrener for Chris Drury and Steve Begin.
The big piece for Colorado was always going to be Blake. Prior to the trade Blake had put up 429 points in a Kings jersey. Sure he did that in 662 games, but he was a defenseman after all. His impact was not forgotten easily. Blake played alongside Gretzky during the Kings Cup run in 1993 and continued to be a force on the blue line until this trade.
After arriving in Colorado mid-way through the season in 2000-01, Blake didn’t miss a beat. He put up 10 points in the remaining 13 games that season. His offensive output continued into the playoffs, where Blake managed six goals and 19 points in 23 games. The Avalanche would go on to raise the Cup that year, with Blake getting his hands on it for the first and only time in his career. Blake played four full seasons in Colorado before signing back in LA. He will go down as one of the best defensemen to ever play for the Avalanche organization.
The trade allowed the Avalanche to win a Stanley Cup and continued their path as perennial contenders. Blake would go on to have his number retired by the Kings in 2015, showing how important he was to the organization.
For one of the best defensemen in team history, the Kings got very little in return. Deadmarsh would end up having one solid season for LA, putting up 62 points in his first full season. Unfortunately for him and the Kings he would only play 20 games the next year due to a concussion. That same concussion would keep him out of the entire 2003-04 season. He would have to retire in 2005 without playing another game in the NHL.
Despite the bad luck the Kings had with Deadmarsh, Miller was even worse. Like Deadmarsh, Miller had his best season in 2001-02, putting up 17 points as a defenseman. Also like Deadmarsh, he was ravaged by injuries throughout his Kings career. The most notable absence came when he had a cervical spine injury in 2003-04 and missed the majority of the year. When it was all said and done Miller played in 309 games across six seasons in LA. He scored only seven goals and put up 47 points in total. Not exactly the defensive replacement for Blake the Kings were hoping for.
The player to be named later came in the form of Jared Aulin. Aulin was a second round pick by the Avs in the 2000 NHL entry draft. He never played a game for the club before being sent to LA. After arriving in LA Aulin played all of 17 games, scoring two goals and registering two assists. That would be the end of his NHL career as he never managed to crack another roster.
Boyle may be the only decent piece LA received, and they didn’t even know they were getting him. The problem was Boyle didn’t last long in the organization. After being selected 26th overall in 2003, Boyle was unable to crack the Kings line-up until 2007-08. He only managed to play in eight games that year and followed that up with a 28 game season in 2008-09. Boyle was then traded to the New York Rangers for a third round pick and that was the end of the Boyle experiment in LA. He would go on to become a face-off specialist in the NHL and a solid fourth line centre with third line capabilities.
The other draft pick for the Kings turned into David Steckel. He never managed to play a game for the Kings But would go on to have a nine-year career in the NHL.
All this for a player who would later have his number retired by the organization just seems like the Kings lost this trade badly. But no Colorado fan will ever argue.
Dishonourable Mentions: Los Angeles trades Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, and a second round pick in 2012 (Devin Shore) to the Philadelphia Flyers for Mike Richards and Rob Bordson; Los Angeles acquires 2008 first round pick (later traded) (Jake Gardiner) and a second round pick in 2009 (later traded) (Brian Dumoulin) from the Calgary Flames for Mike Cammalleri and a second round pick in 2008 (Mitch Wahl); Los Angeles acquires Jimmy Carson, Marc Potvin and Gary Shuchuk from Detroit for Paul Coffey, Sylvain Couturier and Jim Hiller.