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Jim Rutherford’s extensive NHL trade deadline history hints at how the Canucks might approach it in 2024
1 month ago
There’s been an awful lot of discussion about the 2024 Trade Deadline ever since the calendar flipped over to January, and with good cause.
Said deadline, set at March 8, 2024, is now just two months away. And from the perspective of the Vancouver Canucks, it’s also the first deadline in quite some time in which the team is projected to be “buyers” attempting to load up for the playoffs.
It’s undeniably more exciting than wondering aloud how high of a draft pick they might get in return for Tyler Motte.
All this Trade Deadline chatter has naturally led to discussion of the Canucks’ current front office and their history of deadline-related transactions.
It’s a short history for Patrik Allvin, a first-time general manager with the Canucks. He’s gone through two deadlines in Vancouver thus far, and they’ve been relatively uneventful: flipping Motte and Travis Hamonic for draft picks and acquiring Travis Dermott in 2022, and then the flipping of Curtis Lazar and Wyatt Kalynuk last year (though it’s worth noting that Allvin also acquired Filip Hronek just days before the 2023 deadline.)
But there’s a lot more history to be parsed through when it comes to President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford, what with his almost three decades of GM experience in Hartford, Carolina, and Pittsburgh.
That history has been the subject of speculation this past week. The basic notion goes that since Rutherford once famously traded for Mark Recchi at the 2006 Trade Deadline and then proceeded to win his first Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes, Canucks fans should perhaps anticipate a similar big swing this year.
But we’re not quite convinced of that. Primarily because, in his nearly three decades at the helm of NHL franchises, the Recchi acquisition was a fairly atypical one for Rutherford. With that in mind, we decided to go through the archives and list out each and every one of Rutherford’s past deadline deals, so as to get a better picture of the sorts of habits he might be imparting into his protégé Allvin.
1994/95 Hartford Whalers
-Rutherford’s first season as GM came the same year OJ Simpson was found not guilty.
It was a lockout shortened season with a strange April deadline, and Rutherford and Co. went without any transactions.
1995/96 Hartford Whalers
-Look, the NHL Trade Deadline just didn’t use to be as big of a deal as it is now. Rutherford went tradeless in his first two times at bat.
1996/97 Hartford Whalers
Kelly Chase to Toronto for an 8th Round Pick (Jaroslav Svoboda)
-Rutherford’s first deadline deal was an unexpected coup, gaining a late, late pick that would wind up being a solid defender for the franchise in exchange for an enforcer.
Mark Janssens to Anaheim for Bates Battaglia and a 4th Round Pick (Josef Vasicek)
-Two in one day! This is another “enforcer for young pieces that will play long-term roles in Carolina” deal, and it was perhaps an even better one for the Hurricanes.
A 5th round Pick (Adam Edinger) to NYI for Derek King
-This one was probably just Rutherford wanting to bring some toughness back into the organization after dealing away Chase and Janssens.
Gerald Diduck to Phoenix for Chris Murray
-We’re going to find as we move through this list that Rutherford has a strange penchant for trading and acquiring players with strong ties to the Vancouver Canucks. It’s almost like he was destined to eventually come here.
1997/98 Carolina Hurricanes
Kirk McLean to Florida for Ray Sheppard
-Speaking of strong ties to the Canucks, the first “big” deadline trade of Rutherford’s career has to be his flipping of Vancouver legend McLean to the Panthers for a modest return. This was also the first year following Hartford’s move to Carolina.
1998/99 Carolina Hurricanes
-We can only speculate that Y2K concerns were the primary reason for a quiet ’99 Trade Deadline.
1999/00 Carolina Hurricanes
Kent Manderville to Philadelphia for Sandy McCarthy
-This is a “middling defender for frightening enforcer” deal, and that’s all that it was.
2000/01 Carolina Hurricanes
-For a guy nicknamed “Trader Jim,” it’s odd that five of Rutherford’s first eight deadlines as GM were tradeless. But that’s really more a reflection of the times than it is of Rutherford.
2001/02 Carolina Hurricanes
-This can be considered the first season in which Rutherford really found himself at the helm of a playoff contender. Still, it was a bit of a shock when his Hurricanes made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
-Rutherford made no deadline deals on route to the Finals, but he did acquire Kevin Weekes and ditch Tom Barrasso in the days leading up to the deadline.
2002/03 Carolina Hurricanes
Bates Battaglia to Colorado for Radim Vrbata
-The Hurricanes slid back down the standings in 2003, leading them to sell off one of the best names in hockey for a young sniper named Radim Vrbata. Days earlier, Rutherford had also dealt franchise legend Glen Wesley for a pick.
2003/04 Carolina Hurricanes
Ron Francis to Toronto for a 4th Round Pick (Jared Boll)
-Hands up if you knew that Ron Francis was once traded (technically) for longtime middleweight fighter Jared Boll? This one was more of a favour to Francis than anything else, with Toronto clearly his preferred destination and the cost at well below market value.
2004/05 Carolina Hurricanes
-This is the season that was lost entirely to lockout, and so there wasn’t a Trade Deadline.
2005/06 Carolina Hurricanes
Niklas Nordgren, Krystofer Kolanos, and a 2nd Round Pick (Kevin Marshall) to Pittsburgh for Mark Recchi
-You’ve already heard plenty about this one. For what amounted to basically nothing, Rutherford picked up future Hall of Famer Recchi on route to the Stanley Cup. Recchi would put up 16 points in 25 postseason games.
-It’s also worth noting that Rutherford preceded this trade by picking up Doug Weight in January. Weight was also a key contributor to the Cup win.
2006/07 Carolina Hurricanes
-2007 was a bit of a harsh comedown for the defending champs. Rutherford and Co. made no trades at the deadline, but they did flip Anson Carter for a draft pick a few days before.
2007/08 Carolina Hurricanes
Andrew Ladd to Chicago for Tuomo Ruutu
-Here we have the first deadline deal that could be called a clear-cut loss for Rutherford. He traded a third-year Ladd (who would go on to star in Chicago) for Jarkko Ruutu’s less-famous brother. Ruutu did perform adequately in Carolina for parts of seven seasons thereafter, but that paled in comparison to Ladd’s ongoing contributions in Chicago and elsewhere.
2008/09 Carolina Hurricanes
Justin Williams to Los Angeles for 2nd Round Pick (Brian Dumoulin)
Patrick O’Sullivan and 2nd Round Pick (Jesse Blacker) to Edmonton for Erik Cole and a 5th Round Pick (Matt Kennedy)
-A rare three-way trade! Back in the hunt for the playoffs, Rutherford more or less swapped out a struggling prospect in O’Sullivan and a playoff hero in Williams for former franchise icon Cole, with a few draft picks thrown around for good measure. An underrated part of this transaction was the eventual drafting of Dumoulin, who would wind up following Rutherford to Pittsburgh.
2009/10 Carolina Hurricanes
Joe Corvo to Washington for Brian Pothier, Oskar Osala, and a 2nd Round Pick (Tyler Wotherspoon)
-It’s Rutherford’s busiest Trade Deadline ever, and he’s selling! First up is a veteran defender for depth pieces and a pick.
Andrew Alberts to Vancouver for a 3rd Round Pick (Austin Levi)
-Then it’s our old friend Andrew Alberts on the way to Vancouver.
Aaron Ward to Anaheim for Justin Pogge and a 4th Round Pick (Justin Shugg)
-Another trade of a veteran defender for two busts named Justin.
Stephane Yelle and Harrison Reed to Colorado for Cedric McNicoll and a 6th Round Pick (Tyler Stahl)
-There’s a lot of names here, but the only one that really mattered was Yelle making his return to Colorado.
Scott Walker to Washington for a 7th Round Pick (Ricard Blidstrand)
-Another trade, another familiar face. It’s Bruce Boudreau’s assistant coach to Washington for a late, late pick.
2010/11 Carolina Hurricanes
Sergei Samsonov to Florida for Bryan Allen
-2010/11 was another lockout shortened year, and it featured Rutherford swapping the mercurial Samsonov to Florida for one-time fourth overall pick Bryan Allen, who had arrived there by way of the Roberto Luongo trade.
2011/12 Carolina Hurricanes
-In the midst of a string of playoff-less years, Rutherford decided to go tradeless one last time.
2012/13 Carolina Hurricanes
Adam Hall and a 7th Round Pick (Joel Vermin) to Tampa Bay for Marc-Andre Bergeron
-The Hurricanes got a little bit closer to returning to the playoffs in 2013, and they tried to supplement that by picking up longtime power play specialist MA Bergeron. They did not, however, make the playoffs.
2013/14 Carolina Hurricanes
Tuomo Ruutu to New Jersey for Andrei Loktionov and a conditional 3rd Round Pick (Morgan Geekie)
-This was Rutherford’s last deadline as GM of the Hurricanes. He flipped former deadline acquisition Ruutu to New Jersey for what would eventually become Geekie and not much else.
2014/15 Pittsburgh Penguins
Robert Bortuzzo and a 7th Round Pick (Filip Helt) to St. Louis for Ian Cole
-In Rutherford’s first deadline as GM of the Penguins, he picked up someone he would eventually become quite familiar with in Cole. It’s worth noting that Bortuzzo did go on to have a long career with St. Louis, including contributions to a Cup win, but Cole was still undoubtedly the better defender of the two.
Ben Lovejoy to Anaheim for Simon Despres
-Rutherford also traded a reverend for a defender with a lot of potential, but terrible luck with concussions.
2015/16 Pittsburgh Penguins
Matia Marcantuoni to Arizona for Dustin Jeffrey, James Melindy, and Daniel O’Donoghue
Sergei Plotnikov to Arizona for Matthias Plachta and a conditional 7th Round Pick (condition not met)
-So, as it turns out, a big swing trade is NOT a requirement for a Rutherford team to win the Stanley Cup.
-We can only assume this largely meaningless trades between Pittsburgh and Arizona were split into two transactions to save the NHL’s central registry from wrist cramps. The only player of any real note in the mix is Dustin Jeffrey, who had previously played a depth role in Pittsburgh but never played in the NHL again following this trade.
-It’s worth noting that Rutherford also acquired Justin Schultz for a third round pick several days before the 2016 deadline.
2016/17 Pittsburgh Penguins
Eric Fehr, Steve Oleksy, and a 4th Round Pick (Vladislav Kara) to Toronto for Frank Corrado
-For this Cup victory, Rutherford’s big swing acquisition was…Frankie Corrado? While Corrado would eventually blossom into an A-tier analyst, we can all agree he’s not quite at the same tier as a Mark Recchi-type.
A 4th Round Pick (Paul Cotter) to Tampa Bay for Mark Streit (with retention)
-Rutherford’s actual big acquisition at the 2017 deadline was Streit, who only wound up playing in three postseason games during the Cup run.
2017/18 Pittsburgh Penguins
Greg McKegg to Carolina for Josh Jooris
-It’s Greg McKegg, with a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg. This was just a trade of depth piece for depth piece as the Penguins failed in their bid for the threepeat.
2018/19 Pittsburgh Penguins
Tanner Pearson to Vancouver for Erik Gudbranson
-Wow, we’ve arrived in the modern day all of a sudden. Everyone remembers this trade, and everyone should also remember that it was a major win for the Canucks…which made it a loss for Rutherford. Unless, of course, he was already planning his move.
Jean-Sebastien Dea to Florida for Chris Wideman
-Not much to discuss here, just Jean-Sebastien Drug Enforcement Agency in exchange for a depth defender.
2019/20 Pittsburgh Penguins
A conditional 3rd Round Pick (Luca Munzenberger) for Patrick Marleau
-The Penguins attempted to supplement their roster with another veteran. Perhaps the ultimate veteran, if games played are any measure. Then COVID hit, things got weird, and Pittsburgh eventually got bounced in the qualifying round of the bubble playoffs.
Dominik Kahun to Buffalo for Evan Rodrigues and Conor Sheary
-That eventual loss doesn’t take away from this, Rutherford’s final deadline transaction as a general manager. Dealing the inconsistent Kahun away for two reliable scorers in Rodrigues and Sheary is a win no matter how you slice it.
-Midway through the 2020/21 season, and months ahead of the 2021 Trade Deadline, Rutherford would resign as Penguins’ GM. Next stop: Vancouver.
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