Loving Alexei Yashin
In 2001 the New York Islanders acquired Ottawa Senators Russian Center Alexei Yashin via trade. The big Russian was a top producer at the NHL level at the time of the trade.
In seven seasons with the Ottawa Senators Yashin had 491 points in 504 NHL games. Including two 40 goal seasons and two seasons with more than 80 points. Yashin was undoubtedly a good player.
But within that period of production was a period of incredible controversy. Yashin wanted to be paid like one of the top players in the league. The year before the trade Yashin would play a season in Switzerland before eventually returning to the Senators as he held out for a larger contract.
In Yashin, Mike Milbury thought he had found his number one center and franchise cornerstone, so he traded Bill Muckalt, Zdeno Chara, and the Islanders 2001 first round second overall pick. A pick the Sens would use to draft Jason Spezza.
Sure, Alexei Yashin would go on to score 290 points in 346 games for the Islanders and help the Isles make the playoffs three years in a row between 2002 and 2004. But then again, missing out on Chara and Spezza was one heck of a price to pay.
Spezza would score 888 points in 989 NHL games between the Senators and the Dallas Stars. Zdeno Chara would go to win a cup with the Bruins, add a Norris Trophy, be a seven-time all-star and score 628 points in 1423 NHL games in an inevitable Hall of Fame career.
In acquiring a number one center with Yashin, the New York Islanders traded a number one center and a number one defender that the league has never seen before.
Oh. Making this worse was the ten-year contract the Islanders would give to Yashin. A contract the New York Islanders would buyout five years later. Being so in love with Yashin was a terrible decision for the Islanders.