February 23, 2012

Original Six: Worst Bruins trades of the last two decades

By Jesse Connolly

From the famous Neely-for-Pederson swap more than a quarter-century ago to last year’s pivotal pickups of Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, the Bruins have come out on top in a number of trades throughout their history. However, that isn’t to say there haven’t been a number of dismal deals that didn’t make sense at the time and only seem more baffling today. Here are the worst Bruins trades of the past two decades:

6. Round Robyn

To Colorado: First-round pick in 1998

To Boston: Landon Wilson, Anders Myrvold

Guilty GM: Harry Sinden

What exactly do I remember about Landon Wilson’s tenure in Boston? He actually scored a playoff goal once — against the Hurricanes in 1999, for those wondering. As for Anders Myrvold? Not a darn thing.

That’s exactly what the Bruins got in return when they sent a first-round pick to the Avalanche in a 1996 swap.

Colorado went on to select Robyn Regehr, one of the top shutdown defensemen in the game, who played a huge role in Calgary’s run to the finals in 2004.

Now in Buffalo, he’ll likely play in career game No. 900 this season, an accomplishment neither Wilson nor Myrvold came within a country mile of.

5. Joé? No way!

To Washington: Joé Juneau

To Boston: Al Iafrate

Guilty GM: Harry Sinden

In a move that defines shortsightedness, the Bruins decided that second-year pro Joé Juneau — fresh off a 102-point rookie year — was expendable when they shipped him to the Capitals during the 1993-94 season, acquiring defenseman Al Iafrate.

The man with the balding mullet and booming shot thrived down the stretch and in two rounds of postseason play, but that was all she wrote for Iafrate in Boston, as the wacky rearguard’s career was derailed by injuries.

Juneau never was as sensational as he was in those first two seasons but proved to be a reliable winger with a propensity for clutch playoff performances for a decade following the deal.

4. Superstars? We’ll pass

To San Jose: 16th pick in 2003

To Boston: 21st, 66th and 107th pick in 2003

Guilty GM: Mike O’Connell

Let’s not kid ourselves here. Gritty D-man Mark Stuart was as well-liked as any Bruin both inside the dressing room and throughout the stands during his days in Boston. But that can’t change the fact that the Bruins made a huge blunder when they traded away the 16th pick knowing they could grab Stuart 21st overall back in 2003.

Sure, San Jose picked an eventual journeyman in Steve Bernier, but realizing that a few soon-to-be superstars went in the next few spots must send a shiver down the spines of any Bruins fan.

New Jersey selected current captain and four-time, 30-plus goal scorer Zach Parise 17th. Anaheim nabbed their current captain, 6-foot-4 workhorse Ryan Getzlaf, with the 19th overall pick.

3. A Cup for Ray

To Colorado: Ray Bourque, Dave Andreychuk

To Boston: Brian Rolston, Martin Grenier, Sami Pahlsson, first-round pick

Guilty GM: Harry Sinden

Everyone understood why the Bruins shipped off their longtime captain, Ray Bourque, to Colorado in 2000. The Avalanche were a contender, and No. 77 was never going to hoist hockey’s Holy Grail in Boston. Still, the swap was emotionally devastating at the time.

In terms of a silver lining — aside from the joy of seeing Bourque win it all the following season — B’s fans got four very solid seasons out of Rolston, but that was about it.

Boston foolishly gave up on Pahlsson too quickly, Grenier bounced around the minors for a number of clubs and the first-rounder (Martin Samuelsson) was a total bust.

2. Flash in the pan

To Chicago: Kris Versteeg

To Boston: Brandon Bochenski

Guilty GM: Peter Chiarelli

With 22 points in 31 games for the Bruins, Brandon Bochenski was nearly the saving grace for the Black and Gold during their miserable 2006-07 season. Boston fans genuinely thought they’d found the next Glen Murray.

Roughly five minutes later, that dream got thrown in the barrel and dragged to the curb.

Bochenski “bulked up” (I’m winking at you) during the following offseason, couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat and promptly was traded away. He’s now in the KHL.

Kris Versteeg, meanwhile, almost won Rookie of the Year, helped Chicago win the Cup and now averages nearly a point per game for the Panthers.

1. A Jumbo mistake

To San Jose: Joe Thornton

To Boston: Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau, Marco Sturm

Guilty GM: Mike O’Connell

Many fans like to rationalize the 2005 deal that sent Joe Thornton to the Sharks. But no matter how much they think Thornton’s a playoff choke artist or that the move paved the way for signing Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard, they’re just slapping lipstick on one homely pig.

The trade, quite simply, stunk on infinite levels. The Bruins traded the face of their franchise — and drove a large portion of their fan base to the exits — in exchange for a slightly-above-average scorer in Sturm, a dime-a-dozen grinder in Primeau and a malcontent who never lived up to the hype in Stuart. O’Connell got fleeced and, not too long later, fittingly got canned.

This article originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of New England Hockey Journal.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com