Winnipeg Jets Trade History: Best and Worst Trades of All-Time

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 9: Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets in play against the Buffalo Sabres at the KeyBank Center on January 9, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. The Jets beat the Sabres 7-4. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)
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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 Winnipeg Jets trade history, finding the best and worst of all time.

Winnipeg Jets Trade History: Best and Worst Trades of All-Time

The Winnipeg Jets trade history has been an interesting one. Seeing as this is the second variation of the Jets in Winnipeg, many get the two franchises confused. This version was originally the Atlanta Thrashers, a team that could never really find a footing. With only one playoff appearance during their time in Atlanta, and only one since, you would think they struggled with trades. But as with every team, sometimes you have to look deeper than the team record.

The Best

While the Thrashers struggled to find trades to help their team, they did manage a few that bolstered the squad prior to moving to Winnipeg. Trading Ilya Kovalchuk hurt, but they received multiple picks that were later used to acquire Dustin Byfuglien. But both of those trades pale in comparison to their best trade.

The Trade

The Atlanta Thrashers traded Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to the Boston Bruins for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik.

Traded Away

This trade was an interesting one. For Atlanta, Peverley was coming off a career year, which saw him record 55 points. Through the first 59 games of the 2010-2011 season Peverley had 39 points. It was supposed to be good. Unfortunately, after the trade away from Atlanta, he only managed seven points in 23 games. A slight bounce back the following season saw him hit 42 points, but after that he was really never the same.

Of course Peverley now is known for the scary incident that occurred in 2014 while he was a member of the Dallas Stars. Peverley collapsed on the bench during a game due to his heart flatlining for two minutes. The scary scene ended Peverley’s career, but helped him start his heart-health awareness campaign.

The other member of the trade that Boston received was Boris Valabik. He was the throw in for the Bruins and never played a game in the NHL after the trade.

The Return

Mark Stuart managed a successful run in Boston prior to the trade. The defenseman had 40 points in 283 games – not mind-boggling numbers, but his presence on the back end was a force for the Bruins. After arriving in Atlanta, Stuart continued his success on the blueline. He put up 53 points in his 390 games with the franchise and was a staple on the back end when they moved to Winnipeg. He would finish his career after the 2016-2017 season.

The big-ticket player in this deal turned out to be none other than Blake Wheeler. After two-and-a-half solid seasons in the black and yellow of Boston, Wheeler was shipped to Atlanta where he managed 17 points in the final 23 games of the 2010-2011 season.

Since then, he has not only become one of the best players in the Jets franchise history, but one of the best assist-men in the league. He’s managed at least 35 assists and 61 points every season for the franchise every year except the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season. He currently sits second in franchise history and has been the captain of the Jets for the past two seasons.

Honourable Mentions: Atlanta trades Ilya KovalchukAnssi Salmela and second-round choice (Jonathon Merrill) in 2010 Entry Draft to the New Jersey Devils for Johnny OduyaNiclas BergforsPatrice Cormier and first-round pick (later traded to Chicago – Chicago selected Kevin Hayes) and second-round pick (later traded to Chicago – Chicago selected Justin Holl) round choices in 2010 Entry Draft, Atlanta trades Marty Reasoner, Joey Crabb, Jeremy Morin, 2010 first-rounder (see above), and 2010 second-rounder (see above) to the Chicago Blackhawks for Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager and Akim Aliu, Atlanta acquires Vyacheslav Kozlov and a 2003 second-round pick from the Buffalo Sabres for a 2003 second-round pick and a 2003 third-round pick.

The Worst

While the best trade in team history bagged the Thrashers/Jets with their eventual captain and possibly the franchise’s leading scorer, the worst saw them trade a perennial 30-goal scorer. Not exactly what you want to hear as a franchise.

The Trade

The Thrashers trade Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and 2008 first-round pick (Daultan Leveille)

Traded Away

This trade was made by the braintrust that is the Pittsburgh Penguins, and they left no doubts about that after. With a firm position in the playoff hunt, the Pens wanted to pick up multiple scorers. Many thought they would need two trades but they managed to pull it off with just one.

Pascal Dupuis only played in 79 games with the Thrashers after arriving from the New York Rangers. Dupuis entered the Pens on the third line playing alongside Jordan Staal. They made it to the Stanley Cup Final, but lost to the Detroit Red Wings in six games.

Dupuis remained with the club the next year to great success. The Pens would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season, this time defeating the Red Wings in seven games.

Dupuis would play seven more seasons with the Penguins before a medical condition related to blood clots ended his career. He finished with 247 points in 452 games for the Pens.

But the true scorer in the trade was Marian Hossa. Hossa had already managed seven seasons with at least 29 goals, all before he reached age 29. He was a well-known commodity playing on an otherwise bad Thrashers team. And then the 2007-2008 season saw more of the same. Prior to the trade he managed 26 goals in 60 games – well on pace to reach his 29 goal minimum.

After arriving in the steel city, Hossa actually struggled, only managing 3 goals in 12 games prior to the playoffs. Thankfully for the Penguins, Hossa found a new gear in the playoffs. He scored 12 goals and managed 26 points in just 20 games, good for second on the team behind captain Sidney Crosby.

The biggest surprise about Hossa’s Penguins career was the length. The remainder of the 2007-2008 season and the corresponding playoffs were the only games Hossa played for the club. He signed as a free agent the following season for the team that beat the Pens in the cup final. Unfortunately, he would once again lose in the final, losing to his former club in the process. He would again move on the next offseason, joining the Chicago Blackhawks and the remainder of his career would be spent with the Chicago-based club.

When it was all said and done, Hossa accumulated 229 goals after being traded to the Penguins. He also managed 496 points in the 620 games after the trade. Had he stayed with the Jets/Thrashers, no one would know what the results would have been. But he most definitely could have helped a struggling club.

The Return

Giving up a 30-40-goal scorer is a tough loss. Giving one up for very little return hurts even more. That’s what happened in this trade though and the Thrashers were hurting afterwards.

The first-round pick was used to take Daultan Leveille. Unfortunately the 29th pick of the first round never amounted to an NHL player. Instead, he spent the majority of his professional career playing ECHL hockey. He did manage to make the AHL but only played in 24 total games.

Angelo Esposito made about as much impact as Leveille. While Esposito managed to stay in the AHL for most of his career, he did produce to the level that was expected. He managed only 38 points across 124 games in the AHL he signed a free agent contract in Europe following the 2012-2013 season, where he stayed for the remainder of his career.

Christensen was never a point producer. While he managed a career high 33 points the season prior to the trade, the Thrashers knew they weren’t getting a top-line centre. But at the end of his Thrashers career, Chirstensen only managed 23 points in 57 games. He was shipped out the next year to Anaheim for Eric O’Dell. He tenure is one easily forgotten.

Perhaps the best player acquired by the Thrashers in this deal was Colby Armstrong. Armstrong managed a respectable 74 points in 127 games in his first two years in the league. It looked like the WHL product was going to have a good career. His 2007-2008 season started off the same way with 24 points in 54 games. The trade saw him shipped out of the Penguins system and sent to a struggling Thrashers team.

While he did manage to score 41 goals and 80 points in his two and a half seasons with Atlanta, Armstrong never really reached his potential. He eventually signed as a free agent for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Armstrong only played for a year a half before suffering an ankle injury. He tried to return the year after with the Montreal Canadiens, but never made an impact in his 37 games.

All these players arrived while giving up a 30 goals scorer and two eventual cup champions. Not the smartest decision.

Dishonourable Mentions: Atlanta trades Braydon Coburn to the Philadelphia Flyers for Alexei Zhitnik, Atlanta trades 1999 first-round pick (Daniel Sedin) and 2000 conditional third-round pick (Max Birbraer) to the Vancouver Canucks for 1999 first-round pick (Patrik Stefan)

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