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50 years of the NHL Draft - Excitement of draft day deals

Shane McNeil, TSN.ca

6/18/2012 11:41:09 AM

To commemorate the 50th NHL Draft which takes place Friday in Pittsburgh, TSN.ca looks back at 10 memorable storylines from the history of the event in 10 days. Today, we look back at one of the most exciting things anticipated on the draft floor - the draft day trade.

In its early years, the NHL Draft didn't quite have the same importance it has taken on in the following decades.

Due in large part to direct club sponsorship, the best junior talent was kept out of the universal draft until 1970. But once the top players became available in the draft another phenomenon emerged: The Draft Day Trade.

While Montreal Canadiens general manager Sam Pollock would wreak havoc on the draft throughout the 1970s with savvy trades, the draft floor deal would really take off in the late 1990s.

First overall picks had been dealt in the past either before the draft – in the case of Guy Lafleur – or after they'd been selected in the cases of Eric Lindros and Bryan Berard.

The 1999 NHL Entry Draft would take it to another level.

The case of twin brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin posed a difficult dilemma for the league's general managers. The pair were believed to be inseparable, but with only so many first-round picks to go around the task of getting two picks high enough to draft both twins was daunting.

That did not stop then-Vancouver Canucks general manager Brian Burke.

Already possessing the third overall draft pick, Burke would deal young defenceman Bryan McCabe and a future first-round selection to the Chicago Blackhawks to secure the fourth overall pick. Burke would then flip the fourth pick along with a pair of thirds to secure the first overall pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

With the first and third picks in hand, Burke made a final deal to give the Atlanta Thrashers the first overall selection, which they would use on top prospect Patrik Stefan.

Burke then stepped up to the podium and selected Daniel and Henrik second and third overall respectively, beginning a run of 11-plus seasons in Vancouver that would see the pair emerge as one of the most formidable in the league.

Three of the next four drafts would feature major draft day deals.

The New York Islanders won the 2000 Draft Lottery and used the first overall selection on Boston University goaltender Rick DiPietro. While the pick would not be dealt, the Islanders were so convinced that DiPietro would be their goaltender of the future they dealt incumbent starter Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers.

The deal saw Luongo and a young Olli Jokinen head to the Panthers in exchange for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha.

DiPietro has battled injuries throughout his NHL career, while Luongo would emerge as one of the decade's best netminders. Jokinen would captain the Panthers from 2003 to 2008.

GM Rick Dudley would also engineer a pair of deals after the Florida Panthers won the Draft Lottery in 2002 and 2003.

Knowing then-Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Doug MacLean's desire to get Rick Nash, Dudley sent the first overall selection to the Jackets while still securing prospect Jay Bouwmeester at third overall.

The next year Dudley would connect with the Penguins, again dealing the first overall pick so Pittsburgh could select Marc-Andre Fleury. Acquiring an extra second round pick and forward Mikael Samuelsson, Dudley would land highly-touted prospect Nathan Horton with the third overall pick in what would go down as one of the best draft classes in NHL history.

Follow the TSN Quizmaster on Twitter and get more from this story as the draft draws closer. TSN and TSN.ca have exclusive coverage of the 2012 NHL Draft on Friday, June 22 at 7pm et/4pm pt live from the CONSOL Energy Centre in Pittsburgh.