What have been the best acquisitions at the trade deadline that led to the acquiring team winning a championship in the salary cap era? Originally, I wanted to make this list out of only trade deadline day deals, but there was a stunning lack of options. There are very few big blockbuster trades made by the eventual champions. So, to fill up a top 10 list I’ve had to expand the definition of “deadline” to mean the 2 weeks leading up to the deadline. Most of the trades on this list occurred before deadline day.
1) Jeff Carter, LA 2012: It cost the Kings a first round pick (that became Marko Dano), and was worth every penny. He helped them win 2 Stanley Cups with 18 playoff goals over those two championship seasons. That's an A+.
2) Marian Gaborik, LA 2014: The Kings traded 2nd and 3rd round picks to acquire Gaborik, and he scored 14 Goals in the playoffs en route to a Stanley Cup victory. Great trade, but the 7-year contract they gave to the 32-year-old player that summer was not so great. He only played 4 playoff games for the Kings in the 3 years following the Cup win.
3) Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh 2009: Kunitz would go on to score 388 regular season PTS and 76 playoff PTS in a Penguins jersey, winning 3 Stanley Cups. The Pens traded Ryan Whitney to get him, and the Ducks flipped him less than a year later for Lubomir Visnovsky. It worked out for both teams, but more so for the Penguins.
4) Justin Schultz, Pittsburgh 2016: A few months after I joked that he was the worst defenseman on the worst defense in the league (Edmonton), he was hoisting a Stanley Cup for the Penguins. He only had 4 PTS in that 2016 playoff run, then made his greatest contribution the following season filling in for the injured Kris Letang, putting up 14 PTS in the 2017 Cup win.
5) Bill Guerin, Pittsburgh 2009: It only cost a 3rd round pick to bring in this veteran player, and he scored 15 PTS in the playoffs as the Penguins won the Stanley Cup.
6) Rich Peverly, Boston 2011: This is a tough trade to judge. They traded Blake Wheeler, a 2018 MVP candidate who has scored 482 PTS and counting for the Jets organization. On paper, this should be an all-time terrible trade. But Boston won the Stanley Cup and Peverly scored 12 PTS that post-season playing an important role in the victory. If Bruins fans had a time machine, they might not want to undo that trade.
7) Mark Recchi, Carolina 2006: Recchi only lasted a few months in Carolina, but he scored 16 PTS in the playoffs, winning the Cup. They acquired him from Pittsburgh for marginal players and a 2nd round pick.
8) Brad Stuart, Detroit 2008: The Red Wings traded 2nd and 4th round picks to get Stuart, and he played a major role in the Red Wings advancing to back to back Stanley Cup finals, winning one.
9) Ron Hainsey, Pittsburgh 2017: It cost the Pens a 2nd round pick to bring in this veteran defender, and he didn't disappoint, drawing comparisons to Bobby Orr in he Stanley Cup final. Sure, the comparison to Orr came from me as a joke after a single scoring play where he took the puck coast to coast, but still…
10) Michal Handzus, Chicago 2013: The Blackhawks only needed to part with a 4th round pick to get Handzus, who only had 2 PTS in 28 GP with the Sharks. Handzus scored 11 PTS in the playoffs to help Chicago collect another championship. He was less impressive in the 2014 non-championship post-season.