Islanders underrated worst trade in franchise history

New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs / Graig Abel/GettyImages

Picked up as the main piece in the Pat LaFontaine trade to the Buffalo Sabres, Pierre Turgeon lit the lamp while wearing a New York Islanders jersey. In 255 games he put up 340 points for the Blue and Orange.

But on April 5 1995, GM Don Maloney wanted to change the Islanders direction and moved his top player alongside defenseman Vladimir Malakhov. In return, the Isles got Kirk Muller, Mathieu Schneider, and Craig Darby.

It was a disastrous trade for the Islanders. Maybe not as bad as the Chara/Spezza/Muckalt for Yashin or Luongo/Jokinen for Parrish/Kvasha trade, but it's up there.

New York Islanders: Underrated worst trade in franchise history

The Islanders were looking to "set a new course" as Maloney said back in 1995. A course that would see the Isles make an "attitude adjustment". The team needed "competitors and leaders" Maloney added. That was the reason for the deal.

Darby played 13 games for the Islanders before he was placed on waivers and claimed by the Philadelphia Flyers just 14 months after being acquired. So, not great already.

Schneider didn't stick around long either but he wasn't bad while he was here with 56 points in 78 games. A competitor from the blueline he fit what the Isles were looking for in the trade.

Schneider would be moved to the Toronto Maple Leafs the next season with Wendel Clark and D.J. Smith. The return; Sean Haggerty, Darby Hendrickson, Kenny Jonsson, and a 1st in the '97 draft. That draft pick would be used to select Roberto Luongo.

Muller, who was in his 28yo season when the trade was made, was the core of the whole "attitude adjustment" move by Maloney (he was the Habs captain). And boy did that blow up in his face.

Muller had received an assurance from the Habs that he wouldn't be traded. And well, obviously, they didn't stick to that promise. But instead of Muller embracing a move to a new home (a move that wouldn't be changed no matter how much he complained to Serge Savard), Muller sulked.

He failed to report after the trade and when he eventually did his play also failed to report. Muller didn't want to be there, putting up 15 points in 27 games before the Isles just straight up asked him to not play while they found him a new home.

Muller was eventually shipped to Toronto with Don Beaupre for Ken Belanger and Damian Rhodes.

Goal Achieved?

Did the Islanders achieve their goal of bringing in "competitors" or "leaders"? God no. Muller didn't want anything to do with the Isles let alone lead them. Darby didn't turn into anything. Mathieu Schneider was the better part of the deal for the Isles and was moved for a solid return.

Lost in the deal was a true number one center and top-five player in the NHL (Turgeon was 5th in Hart voting for his 1992-93 season with the Isles) and a top-four defenseman. So not only did the Islanders not get good value in terms of what they gave up, but they didn't even achieve the goal of trade. They brought in no leadership and very little competitiveness (credit to Schneider as the only 'competitive' player acquired).

This was an absolute flop of a trade. Again, not as bad as the Chara/Spezza or the Luongo/Jokinen trades, but this one is right up there. The only redeeming piece of that trade was the subsequent move with Toronto that returned Jonsson and Luongo. Without that trade, there's no doubt this is one of the worst trades ever.