If you’re an NHL general manager pulling the trigger on a trade, there are a few ways the move can blow up in your face. Maybe the star player you get back has nothing left. Maybe the deal messes up your team chemistry. Maybe somebody gets hurt. Maybe your owner panics and forces you to overpay.
Or every once in a while, maybe you get what has to be a GM’s worst nightmare: when an established player you’ve traded away suddenly takes his game to the next level.
We’re not talking about the long shot prospect who develops into a star down the road. We mean the guy you had on your roster and thought you knew pretty well, who almost immediately transforms into one of the league’s elite players. Suddenly, a deal that might look defensible or even downright smart at the time it's made ends up haunting a franchise for a generation.
Here are eight deals that saw teams give up on a player who turned out to be a year or less away from making the leap to superstardom: