Collector's Corner: Top 5 Players That Got Away
This edition of the Collector's Corner was written by Brett Foulke!
The NHL trade deadline is just around the corner and it is this time where it is fun to think about the players who never got a chance with the team that drafted them. For some players they never got the chance because of a trade and others never signed after the draft or did not want to play for the team they were drafted by. No matter the reason it is always in the mind of hockey fans what would have happened if these players stayed put. Some of these moves happened years ago and some were more recent but fans all over the world still wonder what state these franchises would be in today if these players stay put. Here are my top 5 players who got away.
Tuukka Rask was drafted 21st overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Less than a year later his rights were traded to the Boston Bruins for goaltender Andrew Raycroft. Tuukka has never looked back since he got his time to shine with the Bruins after goalie Tim Thomas walked away from the Bruins. He led the team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 and won the Vezina in 2014. Toronto for years struggled to find consistent goaltending until landing star goalie Frederik Andersen. Toronto let one get away in Rask and it is fun to think about what the Maple Leafs would have been like with Rask as their franchise goaltender.
Blake Wheeler was looked at to be a key piece of the Coyotes future when they selected him 5th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. After failing to come to terms on an entry contract, Wheeler signed with the Boston Bruins. The Coyotes came out on the short end, after drafting him 5th overall and getting nothing in return. Blake Wheeler who is now the captain of the Winnipeg Jets and one of the top power forwards in the game is a player the Coyotes wish they never lost and would love to have. Certainly, a move the Coyotes are wishing they could have back almost 15 years later.
Filip Forsberg and Martin Erat will forever be tied together in one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history. After being selected by the Capitals 11th overall in 2012, the Capitals traded Forsberg to the Predators for Erat and Michael Latta. George McPhee, who was the GM of the Capitals at the time, has come out publicly and said he regrets that move and would easily redo it if he could. NHL fans sometimes really think about this one and wonder what would it have been like if Forsberg stayed in Washington. Would he have been a wingman with Ovechkin? Or would he have been a Swedish dynamic duo with Backstrom? It is for sure a move that forever changed two franchises.
In 1995, the Dallas Stars drafted Jarome Iginla with the 11th overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft. Before making his NHL debut, Iginla was traded to the Calgary Flames as well as Corey Millen for Joe Nieuwendyk who was refusing to sign a contract extension with Calgary. This trade turned out great for both franchises. Although Iginla never brought a Stanley Cup to Calgary he is one of the best players in their history. He served as their captain and holds the franchise record in games played, points and goals. Dallas made out well in this trade but letting a player go like Iginla who never got a chance to make his NHL debut is never easy.
The Quebec Nordiques held the 1st overall pick in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft and used it to draft Eric Lindros. Lindros held out and made it clear he did not want to sign with Quebec. A year later after the mess between the Rangers and Flyers was settled, the Flyers traded for Lindros. The trade came at a major cost and the Flyers gave up Steve Duchesne, Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci, $15 million in cash, the 1993 1st-round pick(#10 Jocelyn Thibault) and future considerations(1994 1st-round pick 10th overall Nolan Baumgartner) After all the dust settled and years later it is clear the Nordiques who became the Colorado Avalanche clearly won this trade. This trade brought the franchise 2 Stanley Cup titles and no regrets to this day. This trade is still one of the biggest in NHL history and changed the future for both franchises immensely.
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