What Got Us Here: 5 Trades That Shaped Today’s GWMHL

In GLP, SAL, SCA, Special Features, WIN, WVR on June 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm

With trading set to reopen once the finals are done and back-room talks already ramping up, it’s a good time to look back at some of the bigger deals in recent years – the moves that shook the GWMHL, shifted the balance of power, and got us where we are today.

GMs haven’t exactly been shy about moving marquee names, but these five game-changing trades are different: their effect is still being felt in the GWMHL today.

5. South Carolina trades Dany Heatley, Braydon Coburn, and Rich Peverley to Salem for Loui Eriksson, Jeff Carter, and Tomas Kaberle (2010)

Why? Heatley, Peverley and Coburn are all producers for the Fire Ants, there’s no question. Heatley, in particular has scored 38 and 40 goals as a Fire Ant, and the trade is pretty equal when you consider each team’s needs at the time.

But the move came at a time when the Wannabees were turning into serious contenders. If there’s a move that made its current run to the Gump Cup Finals possible, it’s this one. Eriksson has already had two 40-goal years for the Wannabees, and tallied 119 points this season. Carter had a down year behind Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Backstrom but is only a season removed from 54 goals. And Kaberle took a deep defense corps and made it ridiculous.

4. West Virginia trades Derek Roy and Ruslan Fedotenko to South Park for Thomas Vanek and David Legwand (2009)

Why? Derek Roy is South Park’s top centre – he’s averaged 76 points in three seasons with the Cows. He’s been one of the bright spots in an increasingly shallow group of South Park forwards.

But if you’re looking for a reason for West Virginia’s emergence as a league power, look no further – Vanek and Legwand are the kinds of support the River Rats needed to complement stars Sidney Crosby, Eric Staal, and Alex Semin. The Rats were dealing from a position of strength when they moved Roy and it paid off – Vanek emerged as one of the best-producing left-wingers in the game and the team relies heavily on Legwand’s defensive play.

3. Bristol trades Nicklas Lidstrom and Martin Gelinas to South Park for Marco Sturm, Rostislav Klesla, and Sami Salo (2004)

Why? Considering he’s one of the best blueliners ever to suit up in the GWMHL and cracked 1000 career points this season, Lidstrom’s bounced around an awful lot. But he’s just wrapped his seventh straight season with the Cows and he’s been the team’s best player that whole time. And when he was dealt to the Cows during the ’03-’04 season, he took an up-and-coming squad and made it legit. South Park may be struggling now, but this move drove the team to their first Gump Cup as the culmination of Lidstrom’s first full season with his new team.

2. Altoona trades Jarome Iginla, Cory Stillman, and Kyle Wellwood to Portland for Patrick Marleau, Max Talbot, Nikolai Zherdev, and Kris Beech (2008)

Why? We’ve covered this ground before – this move is more or less what propelled Portland into perennial contention.

But hey, the Railroaders got a pretty good return for its star winger, right? Zherdev was highly thought of at the time, Max Talbot’s a good character guy, and Patrick Marleau… that’s a bonafide star, right?

All that was true, for one day, until Altoona flipped the deal’s centerpiece…

1. Altoona trades Patrick Marleau, Duncan Keith, Max Talbot, and a 1st in ’08 to Salem for Alexei Yashin, Ladislav Nagy, Ray Whitney, Andy Sutton, Derian Hatcher, and a 1st in ’08 (2008)

Why? This is quite possibly the most lopsided deal in league history. To put it in perspective, defenseman Hatcher would play just 39 games for Altoona before retiring. Nagy played two injury-shortened seasons and Yashin managed just 45 games. Whitney’s still on the team, a decent 20-goal guy, and Sutton is too – although he’s averaged just 39 games per season since coming to Altoona.

The flip side: Marleau and Keith are drivers on a Salem squad that’s made the Gump Cup Finals two years running. The former’s coming off a 77-goal year and Keith is the team’s best defenseman – and that’s saying something.

But what about those draft picks? Well, if you can believe it, Salem moved up in this trade – Altoona had the second overall pick in the 2008 rookie draft, which the Wannabees would use to draft Nicklas Backstrom – currently centering its first line. Altoona would up with Salem’s former 17th overall choice and almost – almost – saved the deal right there and then by picking up blueliner Tobias Enstrom. But as good as Enstrom is, the Railroaders sacrificed playoff contention – and may very well have helped crown a new Gump Cup champion before long.


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