The New Jersey Devils are three-time National Hockey League (NHL) Stanley Cup champions and were a model of consistency from 1987-88 to 2011-12. The franchise also reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2000-01 and 2011-12. Many of the team’s key contributors in this era were acquired via trade. The following five trades are among the best in the team’s history.
1990 Draft Pick Exchange with Calgary
The success of trades involving draft picks ultimately depends on the development of the players involved. In that regard, the Devils received a better haul in their June 16, 1990 trade with the Calgary Flames. The Devils traded their first-round pick, 11th overall, and their second-round pick, 32nd overall, to the Flames in exchange for the 20th, 24th, and 29th overall picks in the 1990 NHL Draft. This was a smart trade based on the value of those picks, but one that was made even better by the player the Devils took with the 20th overall pick.
New Jersey selected goaltender Martin Brodeur with the pick, while Calgary took goaltender Trevor Kidd 11th overall. Had these picks not been swapped and the Devils taken Kidd instead, there could be an argument as to whether or not the Devils would have won one let alone three Stanley Cups. Brodeur spent 21 seasons in New Jersey and was the team’s goaltender for each of its three championships. The seven-time All-Star and four-time Vezina Trophy winner and the league’s top goaltender holds the NHL record for most wins with 691—140 more than second-place goaltender Patrick Roy—and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.
Claude Lemieux for Sylvain Turgeon
The Devils made three trades involving four-time Stanley Cup winner Claude Lemieux in the 1990s, the first of which stands out as one of the best in franchise history. The team traded Pat Verbeek to the Hartford Whalers for Sylvain Turgeon in 1989.
However, the Devils flipped Turgeon in the summer of 1990 to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Lemieux. The right-winger scored 30 goals in each of his first three seasons with New Jersey and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP for his league-leading, 13-goal performance. New Jersey traded Lemieux in the following offseason, but reacquired him prior to the 1999-00 season. They won the Stanley Cup again that year.
Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson
While this trade didn’t directly or indirectly help the Devils win a Stanley Cup, it did net them a Hart Trophy winner in Taylor Hall. New Jersey traded defenseman and former first overall pick Adam Larsson to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Hall, who was also selected first overall in the NHL Draft. Hall played four seasons in New Jersey and recorded 208 points through 211 regular season games, but was most effective in his second year with the team in the 2017-18 season. The left-winger recorded a career-best 93 points and won the Hart Trophy. Larsson, meanwhile, had only 58 points through his first four seasons in Edmonton.
The Ilya Kovalchuk Trade
Ilya Kovalchuk was a key figure in the Devils’ 2011-12 playoff run that ultimately ended in the Stanley Cup Final. The Russian winger had a league-leading eight goals in the playoffs and finished 10th in Hart Trophy voting after registering 83 points through 77 regular season games. New Jersey acquired Kovalchuk, along with Anssi Samela and a second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, from the Atlanta Thrashers in February of the previous season for Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, Johnny Oduya, and a first- and second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. A veteran of 926 regular season games in the NHL, Kovalchuk recorded 201 points through parts of four seasons with the Devils.
Acquiring Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner
It’s not often that a team trades one of its best players and nonetheless wins the deal, but that’s what happened when New Jersey sent Jason Arnott, along with Randy McKay and a first-round draft pick, to the Dallas Stars in March 2002 in exchange for Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner. Arnott was a productive player for the Stars, but Nieuwendyk and Langenbrunner were key contributors for the Devils during its 2003 Stanley Cup run. Langenbrunner led all players in goals during the 2003 playoffs and recorded 385 points throughout 564 regular season games with the Devils.
Featured Image courtesy Doug Kerr | Flickr