Islanders: Grading every trade made with the Montreal Canadiens

Thomas Vanek #26 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Thomas Vanek #26 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Over 48 years the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens have made a handful of trades, here’s a grade for every single one of them.

The New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens have a long history. But they aren’t typical trade partners. The two teams have made 19 trades since 1972, but most of those transactions were cash deals.

According to, 12 of those trades were for cash. At the 1977 draft, the Islanders and Habs swapped eight picks for cash. Leaving only six deals where both sides swapped non-cash assets over 48 years.

I was hoping to highlight a few of the top trades the Isles made with the Canadiens made over the years (like I did for the Maple Leafs a few weeks back), but with the low volume of trades, I figured it would be more interesting to look at them all and grade them all with the full context of history.

(Note: I’m not going to grade cash trades because it’s not possible to know how much cash was received.)

Trade Grades

NYI acquires: Alex Campbell, Dennis DeJordy, Chico Resch, and Germain Gagnon
MTL acquires: 1973 2nd (Glenn Goldup) and cash

Traded to the Islanders on expansion draft day, Resch wasn’t a factor for the Habs who already had Ken Dryden and Michel Plasse. With the Islanders, Resch finished second for the 1976 Calder Trophy behind teammate Bryan Trottier. Resch recorded 23 wins with an incredible 0.928SV% and 2.08 GAA. Those are great stats today let alone in an era before the butterfly.

Resch would win a Stanley Cup, a Masterton Trophy, and average a 0.911SV% and 2.56GAA over an eight-year career with the Islanders.

Goldup would play 18 games with Montreal and score one point before being traded to Los Angeles.

Grade: A+ 

NYI acquires: Craig Ludwig
MTL acquires: Gerald Diduck

Ludwig didn’t stick around long with the Isles. He had nine points in 75 games while posting a -24, his worst +/- over his entire career. The defenseman was shipped to the Minnesota North Stars for Tom Kurvers nine months after the Islanders acquired him. Kurvers was a nice pick-up, he would score 134 points in 192 games with the Isles. Good save by The Architect.

Diduck lasted about as long in Montreal. They shipped him to Vancouver for a fourth-round pick four months after getting him.

Grade: C+ (I boosted the grade from a C to C+ because of that nice save with the Kurvers deal.)

NYI acquires: Craig Darby, Kirk Muller, Mathieu Schneider
MTL acquires: Vladamir Malakov, Pierre Turgeon

They traded one of the better players in the league in Turgeon and a top-end defenseman alongside him in Vladamir Malakov in an “attitude adjustment” deal.

There’s no way the Islanders were ever going to win this trade. And of course, they didn’t. But like it was a spectacular fail.

Muller (the main piece in the deal for the Isles) didn’t even want to play here. Islanders fans are still upset – and rightfully so – when Muller’s name is brought up. Darby played 13 games for the Islanders. And Schneider was traded to Toronto in the Wendel Clark/Kenny Jonsson deal a year later after 78 games and 56 points.

Grade: F

NYI acquires: 1999 3rd round pick (Mattias Weinhandl)
MTL acquires: Scott Lachance

Lachance (a fourth overall pick in 1991) was a solid defenseman for the Islanders. Getting a third-round pick for a fourth overall when he should have been at his peak isn’t great.

Weinhandl played 155 games with the Isles scoring 49 points. That’s even worse.

Grade: D

NYI acquires: 1999 1st round pick (Branislav Mezei)
MTL acquires: Trevor Linden

Linden was let go by the Isles in a cost-cutting measure a year and a half after getting him, which makes you wonder why they acquired him in the first place? But, getting a first-round pick, the tenth overall selection, should have been a good return.

Too bad the 1999 draft wasn’t any good. After the Sedin twins, the next best player in the draft was Henrik Zetterberg who was taken until the seventh round. Mezei was traded in 2002 for Jason Wiemer.

Grade: C (Good return, poor pick)

NYI acquires: 2011 2nd round pick (Johan Sundstrom)
MTL acquires: James Wisnewski

Almost ten years ago, the Islanders traded defenseman James Wisnewski to the Habs for two picks. One was a conditional fifth-round pick that was likely tied to the Habs ability to keep Wisnewski beyond the 2011 season. With the Habs trading Wisnewski’s rights to the Blue Jackets, the Isles didn’t get the conditional pick*.

The Isles had Travis Hamonic coming up and could move Wisnewski and get something for him rather than losing him for nothing in free agency. A second was a good return for the power-play specialist.

Sundstrom played eleven games in the NHL and is currently playing for Frolunda in the SHL.

*It seems that condition may have also been linked to the number of games Wisnewski played for the Habs in the playoffs and that the pick was moved to a fourth in 2013? Though the only pick the Isles made in the 2013 fourth round was their own pick. 

Grade: B-

NYI acquires: Sebastien Collberg, 2014 conditional 2nd round pick
MTL acquires: Thomas Vanek, 2014 conditional 5th round pick

The Islanders had to move Vanke after he declined a huge contract offer (seven years at $50 million) to stay long-term. So getting something for Vanek, who would have left as a free agent, was good.

Vanek never wanted to stay. He hated the travel between the practice facility and the arena. Garth may have known that about Vanek when he made the trade, but he likely thought Vanek might want to stay if he and John Tavares could link up well and put up points. Which they did. Vanek scored 44 points in 47 games. But that wasn’t enough to sway him.

The return Garth got was underwhelming. Collberg never made the NHL and is currently playing in Germany. And that second-round pick was packaged with a Rangers second-round pick to select Josh Ho-Sang. As we all know, Ho-Sang is still in the AHL trying to breakthrough.

Almost six years after this trade was made the Islanders not only have nothing to show for it, but it likely showed Tavares that the Islanders probably couldn’t secure an elite winger to play with him.

Grade: D-