The NHL’s annual trade deadline is a time of excitement for fans, and desperation for general managers.
The Vancouver Canucks have been active on deadline day over the years, wheeling and dealing in an effort to improve their team.
Here’s a look back at the most impactful deadline day trades in franchise history.
1. Naslund for Stojanov (1996)
No GM in Canucks history has made more impactful moves on deadline day than the late Pat Quinn, who pulled off some beauties during the 1990s.
His very best deadline deal stands up as the best trades in franchise history, when he moved Alex Stojanov for Markus Naslund on March 20, 1996.
Stojanov, a 6-foot-4 winger taken seventh overall by the Canucks in 1991, would go on to play just 45 more games in the NHL in what was an injury-riddled career.
Naslund, meanwhile, went on to become one of the best players in Canucks history.
2. Ronning, Courtnall, and more in a steal (1991)
Quinn pulled off a six-player deal at the 1991 deadline, which completely remade his team.
Giving up only Dan Quinn and Garth Butcher, the Canucks received forwards Cliff Ronning, Geoff Courtnall, and Sergio Momesso, plus defenceman Robert Dirk in return.
Ronning and Courtnall, both BC boys, flourished in Vancouver immediately, forming a new No. 1 line with Trevor Linden. The Canucks narrowly made the playoffs following the deal, and became a powerhouse the following season.
3. Brown, Hedican, and LaFayette (1994)
Ending a season-long saga involving a pair of holdouts, the Canucks received a trio of players on deadline day in 1994 for Craig Janney, who refused to report to Vancouver after being acquired as compensation following the RFA signing of Petr Nedved.
Sending Janney back to St Louis, the Canucks got Jeff Brown, Bret Hedican, and Nathan LaFayette in return. The move helped turn around the Canucks’ season, as the underperforming team came within one win of the first Stanley Cup victory in franchise history.
4. Making a smart bet on Lumme (1990)
A rebuilding team in 1990, the Canucks sent a second-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for a 23-year-old defenceman with offensive upside.
It turned out to be a stroke of genius, as Jyrki Lumme instantly became one of the team’s best blueliners. Lumme would go on to play eight more years in Vancouver and still holds up as one of the highest-scoring defencemen in franchise history.
The Canadiens chose Craig Darby with the draft pick.
5. Nonis gives away draft picks (2006)
The 2006 trade deadline was impactful for the wrong reasons.
Desperate to keep his team in playoff contention, Dave Nonis traded four draft picks in four separate trades on deadline day.
They all failed miserably.
With Ed Jovanovski and Sami Salo both lost to injury, Nonis gave up a second-round pick for Keith Carney, a third-rounder for Eric Weinrich, a fourth-round selection for Sean Brown. The trio of blueliners failed to help the Canucks make the playoffs, and none of them were re-signed after the season. Both Weinrich and Brown never played another NHL game after leaving Vancouver.
Nonis also traded for goaltending help, sending another second-round pick to Buffalo for Mika Noronen. The young goalie made just one start in net before the team was eliminated from contention, and left for the KHL in the offseason.
While we don’t know who the Canucks would have taken with the picks surrendered, Milan Lucic was one player available with either of the lost second-rounders.
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6. Higgins and Lapierre for the Cup run (2011)
Chris Higgins and Max Lapierre were important role players for the Canucks in 2011, when the team narrowly missed winning the Stanley Cup.
Acquired in separate deals, Mike Gillis gave up a third-round pick to Florida for Higgins and a third-rounder to Anaheim for Lapierre. Higgins remained with the team until 2016, while Lapierre was a Canuck for two more seasons.
The duo combined for seven goals during the 2011 playoffs, including Lapierre’s game-winner in Game 5 of the Cup Final.
7. AlMo-BMo swap (2000)
The Canucks and New Jersey Devils were two teams heading in different directions at the 2000 deadline.
The final year of the Messier era, the Canucks were destined to miss the playoffs once again. Meanwhile, the Devils were a Cup contender.
Brian Burke sent 31-year-old winger Alex Mogilny to New Jersey for centres Brendan Morrison and Denis Pederson. The move helped the Devils win the Stanley Cup, while Morrison became a No. 1 centre in Vancouver.
8. Uniting the Courtnall brothers (1995)
In a deal that Pat Quinn later said was a regrettable one, the Canucks sent Greg Adams to Dallas for Russ Courtnall.
The deal united Russ with his brother Geoff, but only momentarily, as Geoff signed with the Blues in the summer.
Adams was a heart-and-soul player who scored big goals for the Canucks during their Cup run one year earlier. Quinn regretted losing him.
9. Craven for Kron (1993)
One of the most underrated deals in team history, the Canucks picked up centre Murray Craven at the 1993 trade deadline. Craven went on to score 65 points in 88 regular season games in Vancouver over two seasons, to go with 23 points in 34 playoff games.
The Canucks gave up Robert Kron, who played 771 games in the NHL, along with future considerations, which later turned out to be Jim Sandlak.
A pair of draft picks were included in the deal, with the Whalers choosing Marek Malik with Vancouver’s third-rounder and the Canucks picking Scott Walker with Hartford’s fifth-round pick.
Craven’s biggest impact came in the spring of 1994, when he was a key member of Vancouver’s Stanley Cup Finalist team.
10. Hodgson for Kassian (2012)
Canuck Nation was shook on February 27, 2012, when Gillis surprised everybody, trading Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer to the Buffalo Sabres for Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani.
Hodgson had been enjoying a strong rookie season, with 33 points in 63 games, but trouble was brewing between him and management behind the scenes. Kassian, meanwhile, was still trying to establish himself as an everyday NHL player.
The move backfired, as the Canucks had trouble scoring down the stretch and into the playoffs. Kassian wasn’t much of a factor in the playoffs, where Vancouver was upset in the first round by the Kings.