NY Islanders History: Trevor Linden dealt to Montreal by Mike Milbury

Trevor Linden #32...
Trevor Linden #32... / Robert Laberge/GettyImages

On May 29, 199 the New York Islanders traded Trevor Linden to the Montreal Canadiens.

Financial considerations were, unfortunately, a driver of many moves for the Isles during the 1990s. After 1998-99 came to a close, there was one final cost-driven casualty, when the team's 29-year-old captain was traded to Montreal for a first-round pick in the 1999 NHL Draft.

"It was a tough decision, he’s a class act and a good player. I won’t kid you - there were financial considerations in moving him."

Isles GM Mike Milbury

Linden made $2.5 million in his only full season on Long Island. He scored 18 goals and had 29 assists while playing all 82 games. He was set to be a restricted free agent and signed a four-year extension with the Canadiens after the deal became official. The Montreal pick was No. 10 overall, and with it, the Islanders selected D Branislav Mezei, one of four first-round picks made by Milbury in 1999. Mezei was traded for D Jason Weimer in 2002.

Linden was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 6, 1998, and it is widely considered one of the best trades in Canucks history because, more than a decade later, the impact of that trade was still being enjoyed by Vancouver fans. In the move, Milbury traded Todd Bertuzzi, the team's young captain Bryan McCabe and a third-round draft pick for Linden.

For a time, Bertuzzi developed into one of the best power forwards in the game and McCabe would have a long career as a top-four defenseman, but not for Vancouver. The Canucks traded McCabe to Chicago for the Blackhawks’ first pick in the 2000 NHL Draft. They then used that asset to put themselves in a position to draft both Henrik and Denis Sedin in 1999.

Todd Bertuzzi
Columbus Blue Jackets v Vancouver Canucks / Jeff Vinnick/GettyImages

Seven years later in 2006, Bertuzzi became the centerpiece of a deal that landed former Islanders goaltender Roberto Luongo from the Florida Panthers. Luongo was, of course, traded by Milbury with Olli Jokinen for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha - in another ill-fated Islanders deal.

The Linden trade is a footnote in Islanders history, one of several trades that perhaps wouldn't have happened if the team's ownership situation (or GM) was different. It ended up indirectly setting the Canucks up for more than a decade of success and led to the acquisition of three Hall-of-Fame caliber players.