Post trades that were terrific for one team, that nobody seems to talk about. Let's try to stick to trades from the last decade or so, and if possible, give some context for the trade (contract issues, off ice problems, etc.).
I'll start with the Lehtonen deal.
To Dallas: Kari Lehtonen
To Atlanta: Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 4th round pick
This deal happened late in the 2009/10 season. Lehtonen had undergone back surgery around the start of the season, and was only just getting back at the time of the trade, having played a few games in the AHL. He was set to become an RFA in the offseason, so I guess Atlanta didn't want to have to give him a new contract coming off a major injury. Dallas took the chance, and it paid off phenomenally well. He has been one of their best players since the trade, a very solid #1 goalie, and they literally got him for nothing. He was just 26 at the time of the trade too. They didn't even have to pay him that much as an RFA, signing him for 3 years to a $3.55 mil cap hit contract, then extending that contract for another 5 years (at a $5.9 mil cap hit) just a few weeks ago. Not often do you get a good, young #1 goalie for free, but that's exactly what Dallas did.
Was there more to this story? I looked up the trade, and apparently Buffalo even moved up slightly in the draft as well (it was Briere and a 3rd for Gratton and a 4th). Briere was in his early/mid 20s, the season before the trade he had put up 32 goals/60 points (lead the Coyotes in goals, and almost tied for the lead in points), and when he was traded he was more or less on pace for a 2nd straight 60 point season. Were there contract or off ice issues, or was it simply a case of the smaller player being underrated, and the big power forward being overrated?
Even if Sgarbossa and Connolly don't come to anything this was a masterpiece of a trade.
__________________ ďItís embarrassing. Iím embarrassed to be here right now. Itís not even funny. And itís just embarrassing, the way we, you know, the energy we have in the room and the way we approach practices and the way we approach this game. Itís not how youíre going to win any games in this league." - Jean-Sebastien Giguere, April 8 2013
Neither was doing anything with their team when they were traded, and both were major parts of their new team's blueline. Nikitin actually had the quietest 32 points (in 54 games) that you'll ever find from a defenseman.
Also, the three components of the Jeff Carter trade, in my opinion, are vastly underrated. Philly - trades a talented player who had become a distraction for an excellent young winger (Voracek) and a first-rounder that unexpectedly became a excellent young center (Couturier) Columbus - traded a young forward who looked to have stalled and a draft pick for a 35-goal scorer (Carter). When that soured, they traded Carter for a first-pairing defenseman (Jack Johnson) and a first-round pick (which has yet to be used). Johnson was stellar down the stretch with Columbus, is signed long-term, and has already asserted himself into a leadership position. Los Angeles - traded a defenseman (Johnson) and a future draft pick for a 35-goal scorer. Johnson wasn't doing much of anything with the Kings, and shipping him out allowed Slava Voynov to step into the lineup on a regular basis.
All three teams traded pieces and improved short-term and long-term with what they got back.