Acquiring winger Reilly Smith from Vegas for a third-round pick seems a good trade for the Penguins. Whether it’s a great trade remains to be seen.
But there’s no doubt about the worst trade in Penguins history, and it wasn’t even made by Ron Hextall.
On March 20, 1996, the Penguins traded winger Markus Naslund to Vancouver for winger Alek Stojanov.
Naslund went on to captain Vancouver, scoring 346 goals in 884 games for the Canucks. Stojanov scored two goals in 45 games for the Penguins.
Each was a first-round pick in 1991: Stojanov went seventh overall, Naslund 16th.
Each had a different skill set: Stojanov was a 6-foot-4, 225-pound freight train, Naslund a very skilled 6-foot, 195 pounds.
Before getting traded, Naslund played much of the ’95-96 season on Mario Lemieux’s line, racking up 19 goals and 33 assists in 66 games. He ranked among the NHL scoring leaders early on. But his abject lack of physicality seemed to frustrate Lemieux.
Whatever the reasons for making that trade, it was unspeakably awful. The numbers speak for themselves.
Naslund was a steady producer during 11-plus seasons with Vancouver, topping 80 points three times and scoring 40 or more goals three times. His best output was 2002-03 when he posted 48 goals and 56 assists for 104 points. Naslund also developed a gritty side with the Canucks. (Grittier, anyway.)
Stojanov’s best NHL season was one goal. (He did it twice.)
Naslund was good at hockey. Stojanov wasn’t.
Craig Patrick was Penguins GM from 1989-2006. He won two Stanley Cups and had a Hall-of-Fame career. He didn’t make many bad trades.
Naslund for Stojanov was his worst.
The runner-up for worst Penguins swap might be a second-round pick for Mikael Granlund at this past season's trade deadline. (Hextall had to work his way into this conversation.)