The San Jose Sharks have been an elite club since their Western Conference Finals appearance in 2003-04, making the playoffs in 10 out of the last 11 years. Though some seasons have been more hopeful than others, the franchise has always been competitive.
One of the more promising years was in 2007.
San Jose looked like a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup in the middle of the 2006-07 season, and they wanted to make a run at a championship. This meant the team was willing to give up future assets to achieve success.
Defenseman Josh Gorges was in the midst of his second season with the Sharks at the time. Despite having a respectable rookie campaign the year before, he fell into the typical sophomore slump. He recorded fewer points despite playing in more games and saw his plus/minus rating drop by nine.
In addition, San Jose’s first-round draft pick that year was projected to be late in the round, making it expendable in the eyes of general manager Doug Wilson. With this in mind, he wanted to use it to help his club in the present.
Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens were not looking like a team that could go deep in the playoffs.
Their alternate captain, Craig Rivet, was having a mediocre year on the blue line, recording just 16 points in 54 games along with a minus-7 rating.
Rivet’s contract was set to expire at the end of the year, making him an unrestricted free agent unless he was re-signed by his team. However, the Canadiens had no intention of keeping the defenseman; they wanted to move him for young talent. It was either that, or let him walk for nothing.
Given the circumstances, it seemed like the Sharks and Canadiens were perfect trade partners.
On February 25, 2007—two days before the trade deadline—the two teams reached an agreement. The San Jose Sharks traded Josh Gorges and their 2007 first-round selection to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Craig Rivet.
Result: San Jose Sharks
Rivet’s play improved dramatically after being traded to San Jose. He earned eight points in 17 games while helping the Sharks finish fifth in the NHL that season.
Unfortunately, San Jose’s new acquisition was on the negative end of the plus/minus category in the postseason, and the Sharks were bounced in the second round by the Detroit Red Wings. This was his worst playoff performance despite averaging a career high 25:18 of ice time.
The Sharks, however, signed the former Canadien to a four year, $14 million contract in the offseason.
Rivet’s first full season in San Jose saw him earn a career high in points with 35. He also had a dominate 54 percent corsi-for percentage at even strength—a skill that carried into the playoffs.
The 2007-08 season would be Rivet’s last in San Jose though, as he was traded with a 2010 seventh-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2009 second-round pick and a 2010 second-round pick.
The 2009 second rounder became William Wrenn, who never panned out. However, the 2010 second-round choice was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for Niclas Wallin and a 2010 fifth-round selection.
Wallin was as irrelevant as they come, posting 10 points in 97 games and registering an even rating and a 50.8 percent corsi in all situations. He wasn’t great, but he chewed up minutes for the Sharks. However, the defenseman retired after his first full season in San Jose.
The 2010 fifth-round pick became Cody Ferriero, a prospect who has yet to play in the NHL.
Result: Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens came out of this trade with two fantastic pieces.
First of all, they gained a steady defenseman in Josh Gorges. While with the Canadiens, Gorges played 464 games and earned a plus-34 rating. The one downside he had was that he only registered a positive corsi differential once in his seven years with the franchise.
Gorges was eventually traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2016 second-round selection. As it turns out, the pick was sent to the Chicago Blackhawks at the draft as part of the deal that brought Andrew Shaw‘s rights to Montreal about three weeks ago. Shaw then signed a six-year deal with the Habs, carrying a $3.9 million annual average.
As revealed in the title, the first-round pick the Canadiens acquired from San Jose became star forward Max Pacioretty, who was drafted 22nd overall.
The American forward has played eight seasons in Montreal, earning 344 points in 481 games. In that time, he has finished one season with a plus-38 rating and has represented Team USA at the 2008 World Juniors, 2012 World Championships, and 2014 Olympics.
Pacioretty also won the Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2012 after coming back from a concussion and fractured vertabrae. This injury was suffered during the infamous incident with Zdeno Chara and the stanchion.
The Canadiens came out of the deal with a steady defenseman and an above-average forward. They then flipped their defenseman for a piece that eventually led to signing Shaw in the 2016 offseason. All of the original assets from the trade currently play for Montreal or have ties to a player who is now on the roster.
Meanwhile, the Sharks’ trade tree died when Wallin ended his NHL career and Cody Ferriero failed to make the NHL. Rivet was good in San Jose, but Pacioretty was better in Montreal. Couple that with the acquisitions of Josh Gorges and Andrew Shaw, and that makes this deal look fairly one sided.
For these reasons, the Montreal Canadiens are the winners of this trade.