Islanders history: 20 years mistake of trading Roberto Luongo to Florida

Olli Jokinen #21 of the Calgary Flames watches as Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Nick Didlick/Getty Images)
Olli Jokinen #21 of the Calgary Flames watches as Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Nick Didlick/Getty Images) /

Twenty years ago the New York Islanders made a big mistake when they traded Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen.

“(Mike) Milbury’s on a rampage,” they warned of New York’s general manager and coach. “You better get up there before he does something stupid.” That’s a warning Bryan Berard received (subscription required) from a few New York Islanders assistant coaches moments before he was told that he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That was January of 1999.

Some 18 months later, Milbury would be at it again when he traded Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen to the Florida Panthers for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. That trade was 20 years ago today. It was a mistake then just as much as it is a mistake now.

Big Mistake

With the number one pick at the upcoming 2000 draft, and with goalie Rick DiPietro the likely not go number one, Milbury thought it was a good time to move Luongo to give Rick a clear path to becoming the Isles starter.

He received a few offers, but the one he settled on was from Florida where he got Parrish and Kvasha. A deal that even Parrish himself thought was a bad deal for the Islanders at the time.

Parrish wasn’t the only one.

Butch Goring was behind the bench for the Isles at the time of the trade. The Isles had just come off a 57 point season in 1999-2000 and were now moving a promising young goalie and a promising young center for a good winger in Parrish and maybe a top-six player in Kvasha.

Goring wasn’t a fan of the deal either.

Luongo would become a top-tier goalie in the NHL with 1,044 games played, 489 wins, 77 shutouts, and an average 2.52GAA and 0.919SV%. Jokinen would be a top-line center putting up 750 points in 1,231 NHL games.

Parrish was a good player for the Isles with 118 goals and 214 points in 345 games with the club. Oleg Kvasha would play 332 games for the Isles and score 156 points. His best season was in 2001-02 when he scored 13 goals and 38 points.

This trade was a huge mistake for the New York Islanders. Don’t just take my words for it. Take it from the man who made the trade.

In 2003, Milbury was on WFAN’s Mike and the Mad Dog to discuss the firing of Peter Laviolette. During a grilling by Chris Russo, who had bluntly asked Milbury why he was still in the job, Milbury indicated that if Kvasha didn’t become a 60 point player, the Luongo trade would have been a mistake.

(Go to 5:18 to hear Mike talk about the Luongo trade.)

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Just about everyone but Mike Milbury seemed to know it was a bad deal back in 2000. Fast-forward 20 years even Mike Milbury has to know it was a mistake.