Trade rumors have been a hot topic in Detroit so far this year, mainly because we have the money to pull off a massive deal that could all but guarantee us the cup. We all know about some of the great draft steals, trades, and free agent signings that brought players like Zetterberg, Hull, Hasek, Shanahan and Chelios to the Wings, but what about the deals that almost happened. What would the Wings have looked like with Pavel Bure on Yzerman’s right, or Wayne Gretzky centering a line with Gerard Gallant and Shawn Burr? Here are some of the deals, steals, and trades that almost happened.
• The 1983 NHL draft gave new owner Mike Ilitch, and General Manger Jimmy Devellano the opportunity to bring the Wings out of the NHL basement by selecting the homegrown Little Caesars Hockey product Pat LaFontaine with the 4th overall pick. It just so happened that Devellano’s former employer, the New York Islanders had LaFontaine in their plans as well, selecting him with the 3rd pick they acquired from the now defunct Colorado Rockies. The Red Wings had to settle for a shy quiet Canadian kid with the unpronounceable name of Steve Yzerman.
• The 2007 season brought some uncertainty to the future of Pavel Datsyuk with the Red Wings. Due to a low salary cap, the Wings and Datsyuk were in ongoing contract talks when a rumor that almost turned into reality started floating around mid-season. The deal would send New Jersey forward Scott Gomez to Detroit for Datsyuk, at the time it was believed that Gomez was a better playoff performer who would fit into Mike Babcock’s system better than Pavel. What Could Have Been… Datsyuk for Gomez
• Before Wayne Gretzky was traded to the LA Kings he was asked where he would like to go. Gretzky responded by saying there’s only two places I’d like to be, LA and Detroit. His fathers favorite team, Detroit was only 3 hours from his boyhood home in Brantford, Ontario. His wife also pushed for it over LA stating that it was a hockey city. In the end LA paid a king’s ransom to the tune of $15M, Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, and 1st round picks in 89, 91, and 93.
• In the 1989 NHL Draft, The Detroit Red Wings had planned on drafting Pavel Bure with their 5th round selection, but were told he was ineligible by league officials stating he had not played in enough pro games. At the time the IIHF required draft eligible European players to play in at least 11 pro games with their club to be eligible to be drafted after the 3rd round. It turns out that Bure had played in the required amount of games and Vancouver selected him with their pick in the 6th round.
• After the Wings were swept by the New Jersey Devils in the 1995 Stanley Cup finals Yzerman’s ability to lead the team came into question. On February 26th Jimmy Devellano and Ottawa GM Pierre Gauthier agree to a deal that would have sent Steve Yzerman and Chris Osgood to the Senators for Alexei Yashin, Damian Rhodes and their 1st round pick in 1996 (Chris Phillips 1st) & 1997 (Marian Hossa 12th). The deal was even submitted for league approval until Devellano pulled the plug later that day. Where would this team be today if they had chosen to build around Yashin and Fedorov?
• Sergei Fedorov almost made a return to Detroit at the 2008 trade deadline. Holland made many attempts to retain the star forward, but Columbus insisted on sophomore forward Valtteri Filppula and Detroit’s 1st round pick in the 2008 draft. Fedorov ultimately was traded to Washington for Teddy Ruth.
What about you? Would you have pulled the trigger on any of these deals? who do you think the Wings should target this year? I’ve started to hear some Tuomo Rutuu buzz…(sad face)