Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 07/10/13 at 12:20 PM ET
from Sean McIndoe of Grantland,
Let’s just say that NHL history is filled with examples of teams giving up on young players too soon. So many, in fact, that you could probably fill out an entire roster using nothing but future stars that some unfortunate team let slip away. And today, that’s exactly what we’re going to do....
Cam Neely, 21 (Vancouver Canucks)
Neely had been a top-10 pick in the 1983 draft, but hadn’t managed to crack the 40-point mark during his first three seasons in Vancouver. He wasn’t getting along with coach Tom Watt, who didn’t like his defensive game, and his development seemed to have stagnated. So the Canucks traded him to Boston for Barry Pederson, a good young center who was just two years removed from a 116-point season.
The deal backfired almost immediately. Pederson had a pair of reasonably good seasons in Vancouver but was never an elite offensive player again. Meanwhile, Neely quickly became one of the league’s best power forwards, scoring 221 goals in his first five years in Boston. His career was eventually derailed by injuries, but he was dominant enough that he was still inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
By the way, the Canucks also gave up a first-rounder in the deal that ended up being the third overall pick. There’s a reason it’s generally considered one of the worst trades in NHL history.
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