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There have been some bad trades in the history of the NHL. Real bad. Joe Thornton for Wayne Primeau, Brad Stuart, and Marco Sturm. Alexi Yashin for Zdeno Chara, and a 2nd overall pick (Jason Spezza). Brett Hull, Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall, all sent packing for a slew of scrubs.
But none of them changed the face of the NHL like the one that happened on June 16th, 1990.
The Calgary Flames were just coming off their best season in franchise history, winning the President’s Trophy and their only Stanley Cup. Even with the mighty Edmonton Oilers in their backyard, they were the tops of the NHL. Joe Nieuwendyk, Theo Fleury, Doug Gilmour, Al MacInnis, the team was stacked with Hall of Famers.
They had a solid goaltender in Mike Vernon who was coming off 39 and 37 win seasons and some Vezina nominations. But Vernon had some back issues and the Flames knew they needed a goalie that could take the reins in a few years time. And the 1990 NHL Entry Draft was where it would happen.
Coming into the draft, it was clear who the highest ranked goalie was. Trevor Kidd was just named the CHL Goaltender of the Year. He would end up winning a Memorial Cup the next season and two Gold Medals for Canada at the World Juniors. The kid was a stud. So the Calgary Flames, who were sitting at the 20th overall pick, decided to trade up to draft him. A gutsy call, but what’s the worst that could happen, right?
The Calgary Flames traded their 1st round pick (20th overall), and a couple 2nd round picks to the New Jersey Devils for their 1st round pick (11th overall). The Flames got their guy, and Trevor Kidd slipped on the Flaming C.
The Devils were happy with the trade, because they had their eye on another goaltender who wasn’t Trevor Kidd, would who would be available at 20th overall anyways. So with the pick acquired from the Flames, the Devils selected, from the St. Hyacinthe Lasers: Martin Brodeur.
Oh you know him, right? The winningest goaltender of all time? Three Stanley Cups? Two Olympic Gold Medals. Four Vezina Trophies (and nine nominations). And if the Flames didn’t make that trade (or the Devils bought into the Trevor Kidd hype) he could have been theirs.
Imagine Martin Brodeur joining a squad of the Flames’ calibre. The Hall of Fame core that they would have never traded away if they had another Hall of Famer tending their goal. The 90’s got bleak for the Flames, with multiple seasons under 30 wins, threats of relocation, and seven straight seasons without a playoff appearance. All of that would be reversed with Martin Brodeur in the net. Maybe Gilmour, Nieuwendyk, MacInnis, and Fluery never get traded. Jarome Iginla stays in Dallas, is he enough to help Dallas to their Stanley Cup?
You have to think that Flames squad wins at least one more Stanley Cup. Two more? Three more like the Devils did? What a dynasty that could have been.
And out east, what a different picture it is without Martin Brodeur and the Devils dominating the scene. Maybe the Leafs get their much desired Stanley Cup. Buffalo and Ottawa had some great teams in the 2000’s, but could never get over the hump. Maybe a conference without arguably the GOAT goalie helps them get there.
Of course, I know all of this is bullshit, but it is fun to think about. You could also look at it the other way and say Brodeur was a product of the system he played, and Trevor Kidd would have done just as well or better on the Devils. Maybe Brodeur never flourishes in Calgary and we don’t even know his name anymore. Either way, as Marty gets inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, it is cool to think what could have been.