Yesterday, Brendan Shanahan sent perhaps the biggest jolt through the fanbase in his time in Toronto by hiring Lou Lamoriello out of New Jersey. There have been bigger moves, most notably the Babcock hire in May for a dump truck full of money, but Lamoriello leaving the swamp after TWENTY-EIGHT years to head up things in Toronto was far, far more surprising, without question.
Now that we’ve had a moment to pick our brains up off the floor, let’s take a look at what Lamoriello’s all about. The guy has made headlines a number of times in his time with the Devils, and his overall body of work is something to be marveled at, but let’s break things up a little and see where he’s done some of his more notable work.
First up, trade history, and there’s a lot of it.
You might want to debate who came out on top of these deals, but in some cases general managers were just fleeced and hearts were broken. Oh, that Lou.
Let’s just get this one out of the way early, mainly for crying reasons. I don’t like to judge trades involving picks too much based on who was selected but, of course, in this situation with a top-three pick involved, it would be insane not to mention this trade.
Kurvers wasn’t a bad player and actually put up some good numbers through the eighties, but trading him for the third overall pick and landing Niedermayer set up the Devils with arguably their biggest piece for the next fifteen years. Kurvers played a season and a half for the Leafs and was sent to Vancouver. Just a disaster for Toronto.
Ah, it’s nice to see a rival feel the wrath of Lou here. Turgeon had a solid career through the eighties and was a great scorer with the Whalers but quickly after acquiring him from Hartford in 1989, Lou flipped him for the somewhat later-blooming Claude Lemieux. I don’t really have to explain to you how good Lemieux was – the guy basically defines the NHL playoffs in the 90’s and was pure evil on skates. [The perfect Devil, you might say. Har har har.]
I sort of forgot this deal even happened. Either way, you don’t see many Marek Posmyk Leafs jerseys floating around, and Andreychuk went on to put up 150 points in 224 games for the Devils from 1996 to 1999.
To be fair this isn’t as lopsided as it seems. The Leafs dealt a guy in his thirties from a team whose window was closing for a couple picks. Lou got some good years out of him, though, so he wins again.
Here’s another trade that isn’t totally one-sided but is definitely notable. Guerin was a good Oiler and put up numbers in Edmonton, but the younger Arnott was a center and definitely a more important piece for the Devils.
It’s Lemieux’s second go-around and he’s just as evil as ever. It’s doubtful he’s even bothered to wash Kris Draper’s blood from his hands yet before he’s raising the Cup with Jersey again in 2000.
But this wouldn’t be a good trade in the long term. The much younger Rolston went on to produce at a high level through much of the 2000s and Lemieux was out of Jersey again quickly after getting his third ring. Though, like we mentioned before, Lemieux was forged in the fires of Mount Doom to win Cups and gambling on him here again paid off for Lou in the short-term.
This was a deadline deal Lou used to get some scoring for that same 2000 Cup run, and though Mogilny didn’t provide much offence in those playoffs, he did get a ring and was like someone shot out of a cannon the following season, notching 43 goals and 40 assists – his highest total in five seasons. The deal worked out for both clubs as Morrison went on to have a solid career as the resident nice guy with Vancouver while they pretended to be good through the 2000s.
This is easily Lou’s biggest trade – one of the biggest ever for a deadline deal, I would think. Kovalchuk is one of the best players of our generation and selling off some futures to get him and keep him was one of Lamoriello’s best series of moves to keep the Devils competitive – Kovalchuk basically put the team on his back to drag them to the Final against L.A. just three years ago.
Unfortunately Kovalchuk’s tenure with the Devils ended poorly when he went back overseas to play in the KHL in 2013, but “Loophole Lou” made sure Jersey wouldn’t hurt too much from it, edging him into “retirement” and taking him off the books completely.
This seemed like a risky move at the time since putting value on a goalie is incredibly difficult and giving up a top-ten selection is a steep ask. However, with Schneider’s cap-friendly contract and obscene skill level, you could argue Lamoriello has set the Devils up between the pipes with elite goaltending for the foreseeable future, which is probably worth Bo Horvat or anyone else they may have looked at in a not-so-strong draft.
THE SCOTT STEVENS THING
I saved this one for last because it isn’t really a trade. It’s more like the exact thing that caused Lamoriello to earn the “Loophole” part of his nickname (besides the other trillion things).
I forgot how this broke down so I actually had to consult Wikipedia. Good stuff, that Wikipedia.
Alright, so first off, in 1990 the Blues signed Scott Stevens, who was an RFA (leaving Washington), to a four-year deal. As compensation, the Capitals ended up receiving five first-round picks from St. Louis.
The following year, the Blues went after Brendan Shanahan – also an RFA – in basically the exact same fashion, and plucked him from the Devils. Lou was now entitled to some return, but the Blues were drained of first-round picks from the Stevens move the summer before, so now other compensation had to be arranged. The Blues offered up Curtis Joseph and Rod Brind’Amour but Lamoriello was like “Nah, I want Scott Stevens instead” and didn’t let it go. Because he was so adamant about Stevens and nothing could be worked out, the case eventually went to arbitration, where Stevens was awarded to the Devils just before the 1991-92 season started.